Essen to be European Capital of Culture 2010

11th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

11 April 2006, BRUSSELS - Istanbul, Hungary's Pecs and Germany's Essen should be the three "European Capitals of Culture 2010," the European Commission said Tuesday.

11 April 2006

BRUSSELS - Istanbul, Hungary's Pecs and Germany's Essen should be the three "European Capitals of Culture 2010," the European Commission said Tuesday.

A jury acting on behalf of the commission preferred Istanbul in EU accession candidate Turkey to Kiev, capital of Ukraine, which also wants to join the bloc.

Romania's Sibiu has been chosen as one of the European capitals of culture next year - a title that could coincide with that country receiving the green light to join the EU on January 1, 2007.

"Our choices are not political ones, but of course they have political implications," panel chairman Sir Jeremy Isaacs told reporters. "Politicians now have to say which move they want to take," he added.

Ukraine is part of the EU's so-called "neighbourhood policy" designed to forge stronger ties with countries on the bloc's borders. Kiev is also demanding EU membership but officials in Brussels say membership is not on the cards at present.

"Kiev presented itself as being rich in culture and ideas, but Istanbul had a slightly better case," said Isaacs, adding that Turkey's submission convinced the jury by being "open, forward- looking and inventive ... reminding us of what we share and what divides us,"

"Istanbul stands at the sort of a crossroads with Europe, and it has been interacting with Europe for centuries," he added.

Istanbul's bid for the title was launched by a group of non-profit cultural organizations and not by the Ankara government, Isaacs underlined.

As for Pecs, despite being a city of only 160,000 inhabitants "and a bit remote," its location in south-western Hungary will allow it to build cultural ties with neighbouring cities, therefore presenting "a gateway to the Balkans," the chairman said.

Essen, the second-largest city in Germany's former coal and steel Ruhr area, beat fellow German competitor Goerlitz by a wafer-thin margin, Isaacs said.

"Devastated by colossal industrial strength, Essen showed us the need for regeneration in Europe," he said.

The city convinced the jury to name it a European capital of culture in 2010 through its promotion of cultural activities and multiculturalism and by working hard to integrate its many different foreign communities, Isaacs said.

He also singled out Goerlitz and Zgorzelec in Poland for particular praise. The two, which were united until 1945, jointly applied for the title.

"Goerlitz and Zgorzelec have shown how two nations in one city can live together, thereby reminding us of the need for reconciliation in Europe," Isaacs said.

The European Parliament and the European Committee of Regions must now endorse the commission's recommendations before EU culture ministers have the final say on the matter at a meeting in November.

The Greek city of Patras is the 2006 European Cultural Capital, set to be followed in 2007 by Luxembourg and Sibiu. Liverpool and Stavanger have been selected for 2008, and Linz and Vilnius for 2009.

Following a lengthy squabble on the issue within the EU, 2006 will be the last year of the present selection mode, a commission official said.

New guidelines provide for two capitals of culture per year, one each from an old and a new EU member state.


Subject: German news

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