The expected has happened, Istanbul has been approved by the international jury to become the European Culture Capital in the year 2010. All that there is left to wait is the final approval of Council of Ministers formed by Ministers of Culture. Up to now, the Coucil has never rejected the approval of the international jury. This means that unless we are faced with a large scale political plot against us, Istanbul has been approved as European Culture Capital for 2010.
The city that connects two continents, since its history of 27 centuries has been the capital to Roman, Byzantium and Ottoman Empires, has been the heart of three celestial religions, and has been home to people living together in peace and harmony that come from different nationalities, religionsand languages, having found by the international jury worthty of this title, however, has become more important as it comes just in time when harmony and dialog between civilizations is gaining importance.
An important fact about this project is that in the beginning it has been an initiative of the non-governmental organizations, and later has expanded by the participation of Governorship of Istanbul, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Ministery of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture-Tourism and Prime Ministry.
Perhaps it was the first time in Turkey that the central government acted together equally with NGOs and local authorities to carry this prject forward.
The decleration of Istanbul as the European Culture Capital of Europe in 2010 will mean much more than the international culture and art festivities that will be organized, but will mean the promotion of Istanbul that posess the cultural heritage and texture and the cultural and touristic values of our country, Istanbul's urban transformation, and our country's efforts in the framework of joining the European Union
The 10 million tourists that we hope to draw to Istanbul and the echoes of the activities in the European media, will help promote Turkey to the citizens of European Union.
For this reason Mr. Prime Minister arranged a press conference on the 13th of March and acknowledged that as the governments support to this project in the accelerationg period leading to 2010, will continue.
I believe that this is one of the major chances that Istanbul has ever gotten.
For the last 4 years working hard in pursuit of its glory days in the golden pages of history, being the European Culture Capital in 2010 is as important project for Istanbul as the Habitat or the NATO summit.
As the Chairman of the Advisory Board of this initiative and as a Parliamentarian representing Istanbul, I would like to extend my sincere thanks from the bottom of my heart to all the Non Governmental Organizations that have participated to this project and to:
Prime Minister Honorable Recep Tayyip ERDOGAN;
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Honorable Abdullah GUL;
Minister of Culture and Tourism Honorable Atilla KOC;
Governor of Istanbul Muammer GULER;
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Honorable Kadir TOPBAS;
President of the Executive Board Mr. Nuri COLAKOGLU; and
all other friends in the Executive and Advisory Board
for their continued support in this initiative.