Turkey quits Expo 2015

Turkey has decided it will not take part after all in the Expo 2015 in Milan next year, Italy's ambassador to Ankara, Gianpaolo Scarante, told Italian news agency ANSA over the phone. Scarante was confirming a report published Thursday by Turkish daily Hurriyet.
 
“We have learned over the past few days with surprise and disappointment about the decision of Turkish authorities not to participate in Expo 2015," said Scarante.
 
According to the ambassador, the recent difficulties of the Turkish lira on international markets and the current economic situation in Turkey are the reasons behind Ankara's decision. “We nevertheless hope that Ankara's decision can be reviewed in order to ensure the presence of an important country such as Turkey in Expo 2015 ,” concluded Scarante, who recalled the excellent relations between the two countries, reconfirmed by Turkish President Abdullah Gul's visit to Rome at the end of January
 
Turkish daily Hurriyet wrote that Turkey's unexpected decision shocked Italy. The initiative of the Turkish government was announced to Italian authorities last week without an official motive, the paper wrote. But the daily added it has learned that “the decision was taken after Italy failed to support Izmir's candidature to host the Expo 2020” as it had instead promised to do.
 
“It is very likely that we will not participate in the Expo (in Milan) and this initiative is not political,” a Turkish diplomatic source told the newspaper, adding that “the Italian side hopes Turkey can change its mind and participate in the fair, though disappointment in Ankara's decision is clear.”
 
Though no official reason was given for Turkey's move, Hurriyet wrote that “one of the reasons for this cancellation could be the support given by Italy to the candidature of Dubai to host the Expo 2020 after promising it for the Turkish city of Izmir,” which lost.
 
Ankara believes, according to the paper, that such a decision was taken by the prime minister's office or Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself, because, according to the same diplomatic source, the foreign ministry is unaware of the reason behind such a choice.
 
Another reason behind the move, which the paper however considered “less likely”, “would be economic, though the cost of taking part in Expo 2015 only totals 15 million dollars.”
 
Ankara's decision to cancel its participation in Expo 2015, concluded Hurriyet, “has surprised many Turkish leaders” because not only was Turkey the first country to sign the protocol of participation in 2012, but this issue was one of the themes discussed by President Abdullah Gul during his official visit to Rome at the end of January, reported ANSA.

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