USCM President Kautz Meets with Istanbul Mayor
By Tom McClimon
June 13, 2011
U.S. Conference of Mayors President Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth B. Kautz, along with Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran, met MAY 27 with Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas during a visit to Istanbul. Kautz and Cochran extended an invitation for Topbas to address the nationís mayors at the upcoming Conference of Mayors 79th Annual Meeting in Baltimore. Topbas accepted and will address the mayors at the June 17 luncheon.
During their hour long meeting with the mayor, Kautz and Cochran discussed common urban challenges faced by mayors in both countries. Istanbul is a city of 14 million people, most of whom are relatively young. The mayor presides over his city along with 39 other municipalities that form the Istanbul metropolitan area. The major challenges facing Topbas are providing job training, especially vocational training to women; and transportation and infrastructure improvements. The city is expanding its subway system to handle the increase in traffic congestion.
Cultural Capital 2010
In 2010, Istanbul was named by the European Union as the Cultural Capital for that year. During her visit to Istanbul, Kautz and Cochran met with Yilmaz Kurt, Secretary General of the Istanbul European Capital of Culture Commission. During last year, the Culture Commission sponsored some 600 projects, 10,000 activities, which drew over ten million people. The city saw a 30 percent increase in hotel occupancy as a result of these activities. Themes of the activities included: Conservation of Heritage, New Venues for Arts and Culture, and Increasing Volunteerism in Istanbul.
The European Capital of Culture Program began in 1985 to bring Europeans closer together by highlighting the richness and diversity of European cultures. More than 40 cities have been designated so far. The Commission of the European Union manages the program.
Istanbul was recently named the European Sports Capital for 2012.