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İzmir has intensified its efforts to host expo, the world’s premier business event, with transportation minister and İzmir’s governor and mayor calling on global leaders to back the Aegean city’s bid to welcome the world in seven years’ time.
In line with its goal to generate international support for Turkey’s Expo 2020 bid, İzmir Gov. Cahit Kıraç and İzmir Mayor Aziz Kocaoğlu hosted ambassadors accredited to Turkey at a reception in Ankara on Jan. 29. In a strong show of support, Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım, İzmir lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties, NGO representatives from İzmir and many members of the diplomatic community attended a reception at Ankara’s Sheraton Hotel.
Yıldırım said İzmir was the fourth fastest-growing city in the world according to a recent survey by the Brookings Institution.
“I believe that İzmir will provide substantial added value to the world expo,” Yıldırım said, while noting that the government had already collected written declarations of support from a lot of countries, without citing the total number of nations.
İzmir, the third largest city in Turkey with 4 million residents, is the city most ready to host Expo 2020, Yıldırım said, recalling its candidacy for Expo 2015.
İzmir previously competed against Italy’s Milan to host Expo 2015 but narrowly lost the final race by 21 votes. This time, competition will be tougher; the Aegean city is facing stiff competition from four other cities for the right to hold Expo 2020, namely, Sao Paulo in Brazil, Yekaterinburg in Russia, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Ayutthaya in Thailand. The winner will be announced in November this year following a vote of the 161 member nations of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), which is the organization that oversees world expos.
A global forum for all of humanity’s health
“Turkey’s rising economic power and its growing international soft power will be decisive for İzmir’s expo bid,” Ambassador Murat Ersavcı, Turkey’s chief delegate to the BIE, told the Hürriyet Daily News. While acknowledging that İzmir had challenging competitors, Ersavcı said he believed the city would ultimately win the right to host the expo.
Cities like İzmir that have previously campaigned to host such events have an advantage over first-timers, according to observers.
Expo 2010 was held in Shanghai and was visited by 73 million people. Expo 2015 in Milan will be held with a focus on “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.”
İzmir has chosen the theme “New routes to a better world / Health for all” for Expo 2020. All of humanity – not just İzmir and Turkey – will greatly benefit from Expo 2020 if İzmir is chosen, Kıraç said.
Stressing that half of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals were health-oriented, Kıraç said developing countries were still struggling to provide preventive medical services to their people while developed countries were trying to cope with issues like chronic diseases, rising health care costs and sicknesses arising from unhealthy lifestyles such as obesity and diabetes.
“We wish to create an expo in which all these problems will be addressed for the benefit of all of humanity. Our aim is to help create global cooperation by drawing the attention of the world to its problems and the regions and communities which are trying to combat them,” Kıraç said.
Recalling the government’s transformation program in Turkey’s healthcare system, Yıldırım said: “We know that the world is closely following the recent developments that have taken place in Turkey’s health services over the last 10 years. We want to share our experiences and successes globally thanks to İzmir Expo 2020.”
Kocaoğlu, for his part, said Expo 2020 in İzmir would serve as “a global forum at which all of humanity’s health can be discussed.”
Expo 2020 will take place between April 30 and Oct. 31, 2020, Hurriyet Daily reports.
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