ISTANBUL 2010 EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE RECEIVES STRONG SUPPORT FROM THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

Date

04 Feb 2010

Sections

Enlargement

Brussels, 3 February 2010

The international launch of the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture year was held yesterday in the European Parliament in Brussels. Over 500 people attended the event, which brought together high-level personalities from cultural organisations, EU, national and international institutions, think-tanks, academia, NGOs and the media, to celebrate a momentous year for the city. The evening began with a lively debate about Istanbul’s role as a European and global cultural centre moderated by BBC News Europe correspondent Jonny Dymond. Before an audience of over 180 senior guests, including 15 MEPs, Turkish Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış, Socialist and Democrat Group Standing Shadow Rapporteur on Turkey Richard Howitt MEP, Nilüfer Göle, Professor of Sociology at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and renowned international cultural commentator Prof. Yudhishthir Raj Isar exchanged views on the meaning and broader implications of the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture award.

As the institution which directly represents the people of Europe, the European Parliament embodies the coming together of a European cultural community founded on diverse identities and sharing common European values. In Istanbul the same idea of coexistence and diversity is at the heart of what makes the city a unique centre of European and world culture, where many artistic and cultural influences have converged since the beginning of civilisation itself, commented Minister Bağış. The debate was followed by a cocktail attended by some 500 guests, including several MEPs and Enlargement Commissioner-designate Stefan Fule.

The audience was addressed by a panel of four MEPs representing the four main political groups in the European Parliament, the European People's Party, the Socialists and Democrats Group, the Liberals and Democrats Group and the Greens. Andrew Duff MEP (Liberals and Democrats), Member of the EP Turkey Delegation, Hannes Swoboda MEP (Socialists and Democrats), Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Hélène Flautre MEP (Greens), Chairwoman of the EP Turkey Delegation, Ria Oomen-Ruijten MEP (European People's Party), EP Rapporteur on Turkey’s Progress Report, expressed their support for Istanbul as European Capital of Culture in 2010 and the significance of this title in enriching EU-Turkey relations.

The European Parliament is delighted to host this Brussels launch of the Istanbul Capital of Culture. Political and economic difficulties continue to frustrate EU-Turkey relations. But there can be no doubt of Istanbul's cultural preeminence and of its legacy to the history of both the European Union and Turkey, said Andrew Duff MEP addressing the cocktail. Minister Egemen Bağış, and Hüsamettin Kavi, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency, showed their appreciation for the MEPs’ support and invited all participants to take advantage of this special year to visit Istanbul. At the cocktail reception the Istanbul 2010 ECoC Agency picked the winner of a quiz competition for a week-end for two in Istanbul. The lucky recipient was Ms. Katherine Watson, Director of the European Cultural Foundation. The event ended with a live dance performance organised by Beyhan Murphy, choreographer at the State Opera and Ballet, and Theatre and Performing Arts Director of the Istanbul 2010 ECoC Agency. The performance included a break dancer, combining break and Turkish folk dance, followed by six talented dancers. Programme

The full programme of the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture is available on: www.istanbul2010.org

Media contact: Isabelle Coppens, Hill & Knowlton International Belgium

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