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Cablegate: Turkey: Mersin Pushing Forward to Prosperity, Wins Eu's

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DE RUEHDA #0035 2700842
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260842Z SEP 08
FM AMCONSUL ADANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4669
INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 1212
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 1026
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0003
RUEHMIL/AMCONSUL MILAN 0001
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RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 1274

UNCLAS ADANA 000035

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ECIN PREL TU ZM
SUBJECT: TURKEY: MERSIN PUSHING FORWARD TO PROSPERITY, WINS EU'S
REGION OF KNOWLEDGE" PROJECT

1. (U) SUMMARY: The Eastern Mediterranean port of Mersin has
become Turkey's first city to win funding under the EU's "Region
of Knowledge" (ROK) project, focusing on innovation in
agriculture and food processing. The project brings together 12
entities (government, private sector and NGOs) from Mersin,
Murcia (Spain) and Emilia-Romagna (Italy). Mersin's success
stems from energetic and outward-looking civic leadership that
sees increased trade and closer European integration as
essential for its economic growth. END SUMMARY

Tapping into the EU's Regional Funds
--------------------------------------------- ---

2. (U) Poloff met with Mersin's Secretary General for Special
Provincial Administration Ahmet Zahterogullari, who said he had
applied to the EU in March 2008 under the EU's seventh
framework, which seeks to advance European integration by
strengthening scientific and technological infrastructure,
providing support for industrial competition, and encouraging
cooperation among participating countries.

3. (U) Zahterogullari is hopeful the project, which aims to
establish a platform of agricultural "clusters" to develop
long-term research and innovation strategies, will ultimately
deliver much-needed economic growth and prosperity for Mersin
province, the primary income source for which is agriculture and
food processing. Teaming up with Spain, Italy, regional
authorities, private companies, and local chambers of commerce,
Mersin will undertake joint studies, and conduct exhaustive
sector analyses to identify strengths and weakness in the Mersin
market. With all parts working together, the result should be:
a) Local and regional authorities formulate new policies; b)
research institutes develop joint technologies that companies
need to have a larger share in international food and
agricultural market; c) Chambers of Commerce will direct
participating companies to come together; and d) companies will
join their forces to have a larger share in international food
and agricultural market. Zahterogullari hopes to duplicate -
and improve upon - an existing agricultural business model
established between a French company and a village in the
Silifke region west of Mersin. In this partnership, the French
provide the tomato seeds, cultivating know-how, expertise on
European product standards, and export-import assistance, and
the farmers provide the rest. He describes it as a pure win-win
relationship.

4. (U) The Mersin Chamber's ROK project builds on its 2006
strategic plan (also prepared with EU support) that identified
agriculture, tourism, and logistics as the province's main areas
of potential. It also helps to have an important "godfather,"
in this case Foreign Trade Minister Kursad Tuzmen, who
represents Mersin and is vocal in raising its national - and
international - profile.

Comment
-------------

4. (U) COMMENT: Mersin is benefitting from what many other
provinces lack: a cadre of dynamic leaders in local government,
and the NGO and business sectors who are resourceful in seeking
EU assistance. Mersin Chamber of Commerce representatives told
us they have six employees working solely on EU-related projects
and estimated that EU projects support a few dozen others in
offices such as the provincial education directorate. Mersin
stands to reap many benefits from the ROK project, beyond the
distinction of having been chosen as Turkey's first participant.
Establishing educational and commercial linkages with European
partners could help Mersin gain additional market footholds.
Such projects could also serve as one way for European and
Turkish regions to help reverse the negative momentum in
EU-Turkish relations and create constituencies outside of
Brussels and Ankara for this partnership. END COMMENT

GREEN

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