EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış kicked off the İstanbul leg of the 2012 7th Allgäu-Orient Friendship and Peace Rally on Friday in Sultanahmet Square.
Donning the signature blue cap of the car rally and climbing into a metallic blue convertible with the words “a stronger Turkey with EU reforms,” Bağış made a lap around the square before addressing the crowd Friday afternoon.
“I feel great honor to be among the organizers of this event and to support such an organization that reflects the spirit of friendship and peace together with close to 700 participants and 11 teams from 20 countries,” he said. “I believe this friendship caravan will leave deep and profound traces of peace and fellowship on every corner of the nearly 9,000 kilometers it will cover,” Bağış added.
The rally, which began in Germany and continued through İstanbul on Friday, will pass through 5-6 Mayıs Çorum on May 5-6, through Samsun on May 6-7, through Trabzon on May 7-8 and through Kars on May 8-9 before heading to Georgia and wrapping up on May 14 in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku.
“It is very meaningful for this rally to pass through our country,” said Bağış, who reminded the audience İstanbul is the 2012 European Capital of Sports. “Sports are an excellent way to promote peace and mutual understanding.”
Following the start of the İstanbul leg of the rally, Bağış inaugurated the sculpture entitled “Teşekkürler Deutchland-Danke Schön Türkiye.”
“This sculpture represents the 50th anniversary of the migration of Turkish migrant workers to Germany and the connection and friendship between Turkey and Germany,” Bağış said.