Turkey to name major new bridge after Erdogan

The Turkish authorities are planning to name a major new bridge across the Euphrates river in the southeast of the country after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Hurriyet daily reported on Friday.

The spectacular cable bridge, which is expected to open in March this year, is one of the most ambitious engineering projects of modern Turkey and over half a kilometre long.

If confirmed, the bridge would be the most important structure that Erdogan has given his name to, amid complaints from critics of a growing cult of personality in Turkey.

"Our citizens have insistently expressed the wish for the bridge to be named after our respected president," Transport Minister Lutfi Elvan was quoted as telling one of the newspaper's top commentators.

"We will pass this (idea) on to our respected president. We think it is suitable if he agrees to have the bridge named 'Recep Tayyip Erdogan'," he added.

Erdogan, who has dominated Turkey for over a decade first as prime minister and now as president, has been seeking to etch his name into Turkish history with landmark engineering projects.

The authorities are planning a massive third airport in Istanbul and Elvan himself has previously suggested it could be named Recep Tayyip Erdogan International Airport (RTE).

Erdogan has already given his name to several facilities in Turkey, including a university in the Black Sea city of Rize and a stadium in Istanbul.

However the new bridge would be by far the biggest project to bear his name so far.

The bridge crosses at a point where the river forms the Lake Ataturk Dam, one of Turkey's great engineering projects of the 1980s and named after the founder of the modern secular state Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Critics have accused the Islamic-rooted Erdogan of seeking to usurp Ataturk's status as modern Turkey's national leader.

The Euphrates bridge is seen as Turkey's third great bridge of modern times after the two bridges that span the Bosphorus in Istanbul built in the last decades.