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Turkish floating exhibition will set sail next year to Europe

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News | 6/22/2010 12:00:00 AM | BARÇIN YİNANÇ

A ship that will exhibit Turkish culture and industry will set sail next year and stop in 14 of the 27 EU countries.

A ship that will exhibit different aspects of Turkey’s culture and industry will set sail next year and stop in 14 of the 27 EU countries.

“Those questioning Turkey's axis should talk after looking at the destination of this ship,” said Turkey's chief negotiator Egemen Bağış on Tuesday.

The project was inspired by a similar initiative that took place in 1926. Under the instruction of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Republic, an exhibition ship went to Europe to promote the new Republic. Carrying Turkey's agricultural items, main exports and traditional artifacts, the present-day organizing committed claimed it was one of the first floating exhibitions in the world. The first floating ship visited 16 ports in 12 countries.

“What really excites me about this project is that it is a joint initiative of public and private sectors,” said Bağış, talking at the press conference. Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, Union of Aegean Exporters and Eskişehir Chamber of Industry, as well as several ministries are among the supporters of the project.

The 193-meter ship that was previously rented by International Road Transport Union, or UND, has a deck space of 12,000 square meters on its four floors. Both Turkey's traditional and contemporary wealth will be promoted, through the exhibition of Turkish traditional handicrafts and industrial products, from the automotive industry to the furniture industry. Turkish cuisine will be promoted, along side Turkey's tourism potential. A separate ship carrying representatives of the public and private sector as well as artists will sail along with the floating exhibition.

The journey will depart from Istanbul on March 8, and will end on 23 April. The ship will stay two days in each port, following the route from Istanbul to Pire in Greece, to Napoli in Italy, to Marseille in France, to Barcelona in Spain, to Lisbon in Portugal, to Le Havre in France, to London in Britain, to Anvers in Belgium, to Amsterdam in Holland, to Hamburg in Germany, to Copenhagen in Denmark, to Gdansk in Poland, to Riga in Latvia, to Helsinki in Finland and finally to Stockholm in Sweden.

“I hope this will be an opportunity for us to share Turkey's creativity with Europe. I hope this exhibition will show what a critical partner Turkey is for EU,” said Bağış.

“Half of our trade is with Europe,” said Bağış, emphasizing that Turkey does not need to avoid improving its relations with the East. His remarks came at a time when some people were questioning whether Turkey was changing its orientation from West to East.

“Our minister responsible of foreign trade is in Brussels today. Two days ago he was in Libya,” Bağış said, adding that a lot of Western countries are also investing in countries east of Turkey.

 

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