Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu got together with the ambassadors of 27 EU countries in Ankara upon an invitation by Ambassador Mr. Christian Berger, Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Turkey. Speaking of Turkey’s EU accession process, İmamoğlu made an interesting remark. “We are in the 57th year of the Ankara Agreement, which was signed on 12 September 1963. A person born that day would be now be 8 years my senior. So it seems this process is very prolonged and filled with obstacles. It has lasted even as long as a human’s lifespan,” he said.
Addressing the ambassadors, İmamoğlu stated that “each ambassador serving here in Ankara also acts as Turkey’s honorary ambassadors.”
“Positive steps to be taken in Istanbul will spread out across Turkey. These new beginnings, this positive environment -free from populism- coupled with a belief in democracy will have an impact on the entire Middle East. You will see. This process will also affect Europe, and hence the rest of the world. I invite you to be interested in this process, to take an active role and to establish sustainable relations with us,” Mayor İmamoğlu said.
During the visit, the Mayor was accompanied by Deputy Secretary-Generals of the IMM Ms. Şengül Altan Arslan, Mr. Orhan Demir and Mayoral Advisor Mr. Murat Ongun.
The keynote speech was delivered by Mr. Christian Berger. Speaking after Mr. Berger, Mayor İmamoğlu talked about his recent working visits to Europe, and shared his ideas on areas of possible cooperation with EU countries in this respect.
The Mayor also underlined the vital importance of mitigating Istanbul’s earthquake risk, and informed the participants about the ongoing Istanbul Earthquake Workshop.
“If we experience a major earthquake and we’re caught unprepared, expert opinions suggest that Istanbul will suffer a significant economic loss – one that will total over 150 billion dollars. Unfortunately, we have to make up for all the time that has been wasted over the last 20 years. Within this context, it is especially important that we are willing to cooperate with Europe, and talk about the possibility of receiving technological and investment support from Europe in this regard,” Mayor İmamoğlu said.
İmamoğlu noted that steps can be taken in the areas of arts, culture and music in order for closer ties to be forged between Turkey and the EU.
“We know that Istanbul’s distinctive structure is admired by Europe. We are aware that Istanbul is one of the most important and biggest cities in Europe,” he said.
“Istanbul is the capital of eastern Europe,” he added, while urging the envoys to organize events in Istanbul.
During the meeting, İmamoğlu told the EU ambassadors that positive steps taken in Istanbul would quickly spread across Turkey.
Following the meeting with the ambassadors, Mayor İmamoğlu also held a meeting with the sub-committees of the EU Delegation.