Turkey will soon hold a tender for a huge canal on the edge of Istanbul and lay the groundwork for it in the summer, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday.
The Kanal Istanbul project will connect the Black Sea north of Istanbul to the Marmara Sea to the south and is estimated to cost 75 billion lira ($9.2 billion).
The government says it will ease traffic on the Bosphorus Strait and prevent accidents. Turkey approved development plans for the project last month.
Speaking to lawmakers from his ruling AK Party, Erdoğan said Turkey would push on with the plan "whether you like it or not", referring to criticism from opposition parties and other opponents, and added the canal would be a "new windpipe" for the region.
Turkey is determined to develop relations with countries around the globe on the basis of rights and justice, the nation's president said on Wednesday.
"Especially in places we have close relations with, such as the European Union, the United States of America, Russia, Iran, Central Asian countries, and the Arab world, we are determined to develop our relations with everyone on the basis of rights and justice," Erdoğan told his Justice and Development (AK) Party's parliamentary group in the capital Ankara.
Erdoğan reiterated that over the past two decades the number of Turkey's foreign missions worldwide surged significantly, rising from 163 in 2002 to 251 this year.
"We are actively working to find a permanent solution in every crisis region from Syria to Libya, from the Eastern Mediterranean to Aegean, from Cyprus to [Nagorno] Karabakh," he said.
Erdoğan added that Turkey continues to "make every effort for our neighbor Syria to attain a climate of peace, trust, and stability based on territorial integrity and national unity."
Syria has been ravaged by a civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN estimates.
Turkey has long been a major player in peace initiatives, including the Astana process and cease-fire efforts with Russia.
Turkey also hosts over 3.6 million Syrian refugees, more than any country in the world.
Erdoğan also said he was determined to see interest rates return to single digits soon.
Erdoğan said: "God willing, we will reduce interest rates to single digits and then further lower this number. We are determined."
In his address, Erdoğan also promised to "reduce inflation to single digits".
Erdoğan also criticized the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) over its links to Sunday's controversial statement by some retired admirals.
"Let me say this very clearly: The CHP itself is at the center of these retired admirals," he said.
Erdoğan accused the CHP of trying to sow chaos "by breaking the hope of our nation, especially our youth."
"We see this malignant mentality, which sees its power in calamity for the country and nation, as being as dangerous as terrorists and coup plotters," he said.
After an online statement by over 100 ex-admirals this Sunday warning against calling into question the 1936 Montreux Convention, top Turkish prosecutors launched a probe.
The controversial statement, which warned that Turkey could face "dangerous … events, risks, and threats to its survival, something which we know from our history," was seen by many observers as hinting at a coup.