Istanbul 'Cultural Capital 2010' Enhances EU Bid

Turkey's bid to join the European Union (EU) has received a strong boost following a recommendation by a panel of experts for Istanbul to be the European Capital of Culture 2010, winning over the Ukrainian candidate Kiev in a contest that was seen as not

Istanbul 'Cultural Capital 2010' Enhances EU Bid

2010 will be the last year when a city outside the EU can carry the prestigious title, with EU hopefuls Turkey and Ukraine both keen to scoop the status for Istanbul and Kiev, according to EU Observer website.

After 2010, the number of European Capitals of Culture is to be limited to two at the same time each year, and they will be both within the EU.

Tuesday's jury verdict also included Hungary's Pecs and Germany's Essen as recommended capitals for 2010, with Essen winning over fellow German competitor Gorlitz, the EU Observer website reported.

Member states' culture ministers will make a final decision on the three 2010 capitals in November, but an EU official told the website "so far the council has always followed the jury's advice."

Political Race

The chairman of the jury, Jeremy Isaacs who leads the Royal Opera House of Covent Garden in London, told the website the advice presented by the jury was "not political," but he added "choices may have political implications."

There is little doubt, according to the BBC News Online, that the bids from Istanbul and Kiev are part of intense lobbying from Turkey and Ukraine to be recognized as truly European countries which deserve to be part of the EU too.

Turkey is a formal candidate country, which started membership talks last year, while Ukraine is currently treated by the EU as a close and valued neighbor, but no more.

The battle between Istanbul and Kiev has been closely followed in the European Parliament, with one MEP recently telling EU Observer "I'm sure all MEPs that are against Turkish EU accession support Kiev."

The MEP added "absolutely everything that has to do with Turkey is political."

Istanbul's bid had been actively supported by proponents of Turkish EU membership in the European Parliament, such as Italian liberal MEP Emma Bonino, Dutch Green member Joost Lagendijk and UK MEPs Andrew Duff (liberal) and Geoffrey van Orden.

The expert panel's chairman attributed Istanbul's winning over Kiev to the Turkish city's more detailed preparations and the fact that the candidacy had emerged from civil society.

"Interestingly, the Istanbul bid did not begin with the Turkish government or the mayor of Istanbul, but by groups of publicly spirited citizens," Isaacs said.

Istanbul had five years of preparation time, while Kiev picked up the idea to run as a candidate during the orange revolution, around one and a half years ago.

Kiev had "less to say to about [planned] events than other cities might have done," Isaacs said, although the jury in its report "acknowledged the wish of the city to become European Capital of Culture in order to highlight is European identity for which it has struggled so hard."

Great Joy

According to the BBC Online, there were gasps, applause and even some tears from the Turkish delegation when Isaacs made his announcement.

The reason for the panel's choice, he explained, was not only the well-known fact that Istanbul lies at a geographical cross-roads with Europe and has interacted with European civilizations for centuries, the BBC reported.

"Interestingly, the Istanbul application, the bid, did not begin either with the government of Turkey or with the government of the city of Istanbul, but with groups of public-spirited citizens, who took into their own hands the initiatives of leading their city towards this bid," he said, according to the BBC.

"As a consequence, groups of people within the city own the bid in their own right.

"They told us of the different elements that went to make up their bid, of their dialogue that they intend with Europe on issues which we share and on differences that distinguish us," he added.

The BBC commented on the jury's verdict saying that it may be rather optimistic to think that prejudice about Turkey in western Europe will disappear by 2010.

"But the title allows the chosen cities to draw more tourists, improve access to cultural events and boost infrastructure.

Past capitals like Glasgow in Scotland, Lille in France and Salamanca in Spain, took the opportunity to revamp city centers and market themselves as tourist magnets."



Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16