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Turkey pulls out of Expo 2015 in Milan

Italy blames financial issues, weak currency for withdrawal

20 February, 14:18
Turkey pulls out of Expo 2015 in Milan (ANSA) - Ankara, February 20 - Turkey has decided it won't participate in Milan Expo 2015, Italy's ambassador to Ankara Gianpaolo Scarante told ANSA Thursday.

"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.

Weakness in the Turkish lira on currency markets as well as economic difficulties were behind the decision, he said.

Still, Italy has not lost hope in Turkey's participation.

"Nevertheless, we hope that Ankara's decision can be reviewed in order to ensure at Expo 2015 the presence of an important country such as Turkey," concluded Scarante.

He noted the good relations between the two countries, reconfirmed by Turkish President Abdullah Gul's visit to Rome at the end of January.

Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet broke the story, reporting that Turkey's unexpected decision shocked Italy, adding officials in Ankara provided no motive when they informed Italian authorities of its decision last week.

The newspaper suggested the reasons were not necessarily financial.

It suggested the decision "was taken after Italy failed to support (the Turkish city) Izmir's candidature to host the Expo 2020," as the newspaper said Italy had promised to do. The newspaper also suggested the decision was taken by senior officials, possibly as high as Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself, because, according to diplomatic sources, the foreign ministry was unaware of the reason behind such a choice.

Another reason behind the withdrawal, which the paper considered "less likely...would be economic, though the cost of taking part in Expo 2015 only totals $15 million".

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 Milan Expo in 2012 but the issue was one of the themes discussed by Gul during his official visit to Rome at the end of January.

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