South Korean Transport Minister predicts more cooperation between Ankara and Seoul in the future

South Korean Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Kang Hoin (L) and Turkish Minister of Transport, Maritime and Communication Ahmet Arslan (R) attend signing ceremony of connection with the Canakkale 1915 bridge and highway project agreement, in Ankara, Turkey on March 16, 2017. ( Güven Yılmaz – Anadolu Agency )


Construction companies from Turkey and South Korea can work together to pursue opportunities in third-party markets, a Korean minister has told Anadolu Agency.

Transport Minister Kang Hoin described Turkey’s geographical position as “significant” and said the two countries could cooperate, using South Korea’s “power in finance and construction technologies”.

Kang was in Turkey to strengthen business partnerships between Korean and Turkish companies for large infrastructure projects.

On Thursday, Turkey and South Korea signed a memorandum of understanding on railroads, roads, research and development plus the expansion of joint economic cooperation.

Kang also joined the signing ceremony with Turkish Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan for a 10.35 billion Turkish lira ($2.80 billion) deal to build the world’s longest suspension bridge — the Canakkale 1915 Bridge — which will see Turkish and South Korean firms work together.

On Jan. 26, a consortium of South Koran companies — Daelim, SK E&C and Limak — and Turkey’s Yapi Merkezi OGG won a tender and a 192-month lease for the historic bridge in Canakkale, which is a gateway to the Gelibolu [Gallipoli] World War I battlefields, north of the narrow strait.

“The Canakkale 1915 Bridge can facilitate the country’s transportation. This project would enable Turkey to show its geopolitical position, natural beauty and cultural richness to foreigners,” Kang said.

Kang said finance and technology were vital points to continue such mega projects and he predicted future cooperation between Turkish and Korean firms.

Detailing the opportunities in the region, Kang said: “Turkey is a key country for both the Middle East and Central Asia wherein Turkey has good relations with other countries.”

Recalling targets set by Turkey to mark the country’s centennial in 2023, Kang said: “To achieve the targeted national income per capita, the Turkish economy should modify the structure of its industrial sector.

“The country has to use high technology in the construction sector to reach its goals.”

Kang said South Korea was ready to help Turkey in technology: “We know very well how the country’s geopolitical position is significant and how Turkey has great potential for economic growth.”

The minister pointed out how Turkish economic growth in the 2003-2013 period was similar to Korean development which focused on education, technology and infrastructure.

“Korea focused more on household appliances, automotive and shipbuilding industries during the 1980s. However, in the 1990s the country paid more attention to technology and informatics which brought economic growth,” he said.

“I believe Turkey would also go on the same path to achieve its 2023 targets, phase by phase,” Kang added.

Technology for mega projects

Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan told Anadolu Agency that technologies, which will be developed in research and development (R&D) activities, will be able to be used across the world, thanks to the memorandum of understanding signed with South Korea.

“We will develop technology, which is essential for these kinds of mega projects, by constructing the world’s biggest bridge in this geography.

“After completing this size of bridge, we will be able to do similar projects in all around the world,” Arslan said.

Arslan said the Canakkale 1915 Bridge would be the peak of Turkish-Korean relations which already have a partnership based in Eurasia Tunnel and Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge projects.

“We are conducting a crucial project, which is world record holder, in a significant place. We are undertaking a significant project which will recall the spirit of our ancestors in Canakkale, which is the symbol of the fight for independence,” the Turkish minister added.

By Bahattin Gonultas, Muhammed Ali Gurtas and Dilara Zengin