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EXPO 2016 flag handed over to China

Organized under auspices of Presidency of Republic of Turkey, EXPO 2016 Antalya International Horticulture Exposition has come to an end with a closing ceremony held at EXPO 2016 Congress Centre. EXPO 2016 opened its doors on April 22 and stayed open for 6 months since then. International Horticultural Plant Producers Association (AIPH) President Bernard Oosterom, Director of Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) Steen Christensen, Turkey’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Livestock and Chairman of Board of Directors of EXPO 2016 Antalya Faruk Çelik attended the ceremony as well as Governor of Antalya Münir Karaloğlu, Mayor of Antalya Metropolitan Municipality Menderes Türel, ambassadors, members of EXPO 2016 Antalya Board of Directors and representatives from participant countries.

Inside the ceremony hall, children with flags in their hands were seated two rows in front of protocol seats. Invitees watched the ceremony sitting behind them.    

EXPO 2016 Antalya has become a cultural, educational and commercial meeting point for countries throughout its run. The show on the stage was witnessing that. Dozens of children with their costumes took to the stage in front of a giant screen on which animal figures were reflected to stage a dance show honouring the theme of EXPO, “Flower and Children”.

A video representation explaining what has done throughout EXPO’s 191 day run was reflected on to the screen after Turkish National Anthem and BIE’s anthem were played.

“TURKISH PEOPLE AND CITIZENS OF ANTALYA COULD BE PROUD OF THIS”

International Horticultural Plant Producers Association (AIPH) President Bernard Oosterom made an opening speech during the ceremony. He started his words saying that it was a privilege for him to be in Antalya for such an occasion. He stressed that it was important to finalize such a huge endeavour. He said: “I thank all of you who put effort in this. You have managed to such a thing that all Turkish people and citizens of Antalya could be proud of.”

He noted why it was important for the organization to be realized under auspices of Presidency of Republic of Turkey. “Although it was a time of disturbance in the world, EXPO took place and national days were celebrated here at this place. These all made us come together. EXPO made people come together. They discovered new things when they came to Antalya. The saw the wonders of horticulture and learned how important plants are for our lives”, said Oosterom.

He reminded that AIPH’s motto was “Flowers are the champions of the world”. He said: “We believe that every problem that was faced in lands, countries and cities can be solved with flowers. Living green will solve every problem and expos such as yours will convey this message to the world.”

Oosterom noted that EXPO 2016 was the first organization in Turkey that was approved by AIPH. He said he hoped that won’t be the last.       

“YOU SHOWED THE WORLD TURKISH HOSPITALITY”

Director of Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) Steen Christensen on the other hand, celebrated EXPO 2016 Antalya’s huge success. He said: “Even in a time of hardship, Antalya and Turkey managed to inspire people with expo spirit, stressed on cooperation and dialog. We should hail this show of friendship. You managed to show the world Turkish hospitality in the first EXPO you have ever organized.” 

BIE President mentioned about the benefits gained from EXPO 2016. He said:

“EXPO 2016 showed us importance of innovation and education and what can people achieve when they work hard. With the contribution of all participants, you have opened a new page for international horticulture expos. You set an example to celebrate green environment and nurture international cooperation.”

Then another video presentation appeared on the screen showcasing beauties of country gardens, municipal gardens and institutional gardens. After the video, Chairman of Board of Directors of EXPO 2016 Antalya Agency and Turkish Minister of Agriculture, Food and Livestock Faruk Çelik made his speech.

Minister Çelik noted that EXPO 2016 Antalya’s opening had taken place on April 23, a day that is very dear to Turkish people’s heart as the day that Turkish Grand National Assembly was opened and that later on was awarded to children of the world. He said: “EXPO’s closing also takes places on the following of a special day; our Day of Republic which celebrates declaration of Republic of Turkey.”

Çelik noted that notions of Republic, national will, democracy and freedom were very precious for humanity and Turkish People have paid heavy prices to achieve and maintain those. He said:  

“Coup d’états, memorandums… We witnessed youth, politicians getting hanged in the past. However on the night of July the 15th, Turkish people said ‘Enough is enough!’ and put an end to the power of tanks. They said: ‘We won’t let you to make flowers grow pale; we won’t let you to black out future of our children.’ Unfortunately our people’s cry for democracy hasn’t garnered enough attention and support from international community. Those who seem to advocate so-called “democratic” values, those who dare to teach us about rule of law with such arrogance, only sat back and watched this coup attempt. If those who declare state of emergency only after a single terror attack face terror attacks every single day, undergo a coup attempt every 10 years like us, could they ever spend a single normal day?”

Minister Çelik pointed out that there were critical developments in the region concerning Middle East during EXPO 2016. “We don’t have our eye on anyone’s land, but we have a right to say in the future of our region. However those who don’t have a say, have an eye on our geography. We are not here for oil interests; we are here for human interests. What we say is this: ‘Just give up already with the divisions that you created 100 years ago.’ We say ‘500 years later; there are still ones who conspire to pit Sultan Selim and Shah İsmail against each other once again. Don’t be fooled by that. Don’t let Karbala incidents happen again.’”

Minister Çelik noted that despite all the negatives, EXPO hosted 4,5 million visitors in 191 days. He said: “With that amount of visitors and 54 participant countries, EXPO 2016 Antalya had a significant place among horticulture expos ever been organized.” Among 4.5 million visitors, one third were children, he pointed out, and that was a proof of how sound was the decision to choose “Flower and Children” as EXPO’s theme. He said: “Here, there is life; there is friendship; there are flowers and children. There are country gardens; flowers of countries, side by side, giving a message of peace. Here we feel the happiness to make children and flowers meet. But we are sad at the same time. Because not very far away, about a thousand kilometres from here, sulphur clouds make flowers grow pale. Children lose their lives with bomb explosions in Aleppo, in Damascus.  We would have wanted likes of Baby Aylan and Baby Ümran come to visit us on these beautiful Mediterranean shores, but instead we pick their bodies from the ground perished while trying to escape to a new life.”   

MORE THAN 30 THOUSAND EVENTS WERE HELD IN 191 DAYS

Çelik noted that throughout those six months there was also considerable effort concentrated around the sub-themes of EXPO 2016 like history, biodiversity, sustainability and green cities to raise awareness about them. As part of these efforts, International Environment Summit and Green Cities Conference were held and more than 30 thousand events were organized including 16 thousand activities for children, 500 theatre spectacles, 400 stage shows and 150 concerts, 50 of which featured artists from abroad.

EXPO FLAG HANDED OVER

After speeches, Mayor of Antalya Metropolitan Municipality Menderes Türel, Secretary General of EXPO 2016 Antalya Fırat Işık, International Horticultural Plant Producers Association (AIPH) President Bernard Oosterom and Director of Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) Steen Christensen handed EXPO flag over to Deputy Mayor of Beijing Cheng Hong for EXPO 2019 which will be organized by China in Chinese capital with the theme “Live green, live better”. Taking over the flag, Deputy Mayor said they saw the success of EXPO 2016 in Antalya and were honoured to take over after such a beautiful city. “We will do the best we can. We want participation from all around the world”, said Hong.

Ceremony ended after group photos were taken.