On Monday the 4th of April, during a stop over in Istanbul, the President of the Assembly of European Regions and Turkish regions agreed on the opening of an AER satellite office in the Bosphorus
While the slow opening of thematic chapters continues to delay the entry of Turkey into the European Union, the Assembly of European Regions (AER) proposed opening a branch in Istanbul, Turkey, following a meeting of the President of the Assembly of European Regions Michèle SABBAN and key representatives of the Provincial Council in Istanbul.
"We are principally based in Strasbourg and Brussels, that is to say in the institutional heart of Europe, which is also the heart of old Europe. By opening an office in Istanbul, we are saying that we are on the side of the future as well" said Michèle SABBAN. "No matter how long it takes for Turkey to join the European Union, our member Regions have been working for years in close cooperation with the Turkish Regions. As of today, AER counts seven Turkish members, the first region joining having been Kahramanmaras in 2006. From our perspective, there is absolutely no doubt that Turkey belongs to Europe and Europe needs Turkey today more than ever”.
The Istanbul satellite office, as the one AER opened in Alba, Romania in 2004, should enable easier working relationships with all the regions of Eastern Europe. AER took the opportunity to announce the opening of an AER office in Turkey during its second conference of the Black Sea in Batumi, Georgia, proving a strong commitment of European Regions to their neighbours of the Caucasus. 13 Turkish Regions made the trip to deal with issues of natural resource management and interregional cooperation.
“After our last General Assembly which we held in Istanbul, we took full measure of the aspiration to be part of Europe that inspired our colleagues and Turkish counterparts. And what better place than the Bosphorus Strait to play the integrating role to those who wish to work together for territorial development and the deepening of local democracy in Europe?", added Michèle SABBAN.
By September 2011, AER Committees 2 (social policy and public health) and 3 (culture, education, youth and international cooperation) will also hold their plenary sessions in the new premises of the Provincial Council of Istanbul, opened in August 2010.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER – aer.eu) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together 270 regions from 34 countries and 16 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.