Dear IFES member,
Last week, IFES President Voicu Serfdianu and I spent time in Istanbul preparing for the IFES 2016 World Summit. We were just 1.5 km from Istiklal Cadesi when the suicide bomber attacked. We were not aware anything had happened until we received concerned phone calls from our friends. Expecting intense security measures, we left for the airport early for our scheduled departure. Surprisingly, the scene at Taksim Square appeared normal. The people of Istanbul were strolling about with their baby buggies, they were waiting at bus stops; the cafes and restaurants were crowded, and the traffic on the roads was, as always, heavy.
Just one day before, I spoke with Alexander Kuhnel, CEO of Hannover Messe Turkey. Kuhnel is a German citizen who has lived in Istanbul for more than ten years. He is also one of our keynotes at the upcoming World Summit. That day, the German Embassy in Ankara and the German Consulate in Istanbul closed due to terroristic threats. This led us to a discussion about safety issues.
This is what Kuhnel told me, “You know what? We opened a trade show today in Istanbul. And yes, my employees are asking me if we are more exposed to threats since our company is named ‘Deutsche Messe AG.’ I answered them by saying that terroristic threats exist where we all live. We value our freedom to go about our normal business, and we do not want to lose that which we value. Presently, trade shows and events are not the target of terrorists. If that changes, we have a serious problem not only in Turkey, but around the globe. So, I will continue to live my life the way I always do, otherwise, IS has won. And I will not let this happen.”
The people of Istanbul continue to live their lives without succumbing to the fear or terrorism. It is my opinion that we should do the same.
The World Summit Committee, IFES Board and IFES management office understand the gravity of this situation. We have altered the World Summit program to avoid crowded tourist sites. The ICC conference venue we have selected is one of the most secure and protected sites in Istanbul, and is just a five minute walk from our recommended hotels.
Please let me know what we can do to address any fears or concerns you may have about your safety. We will do our best to ensure that you feel confident and comfortable attending. We sincerely hope that you will join us in Istanbul for this year’s IFES World Summit.
Best regards + liebe Grüße,
p.s. I will join public viewing of the UEFA Euro 2016 in hopes that Mario Gotze does it again! 😉
And, I will be returning to Istanbul in May prior to the IFES World Summit.