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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of Stay Ahead of the Games UK in Turkey

25th February 2013

Istanbul: bridges, tunnels, airports and – maybe – Olympics

London Olympics 2012

Two vast bridges spans a picturesque strait. Nearby, engineers are completing a rail tunnel which, like the bridges, will link Europe and Asia. A third bridge is under construction. A road tunnel is planned, together with a brand-new airport which, with a capacity of 150 million passengers, will be the world’s largest.

Welcome to Istanbul.

Did I mention that Istanbul is also bidding for the 2020 Olympic Games, using infrastructure which is largely being developed already?

Turkey offers a host of infrastructure opportunities, including numerous planned and hoped-for major events. In addition to Istanbul 2020, Turkey is also bidding for the 2020 Expo (Izmir 2020) and Euro 2020.

So it was terrific recently to welcome the UK Minister for Sport and Tourism, Hugh Robertson, to Ankara and Istanbul with a delegation of 15 UK businesses for a GREAT-branded Global Events Mission.

The Minister met leading Turkish politicians including the Mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topbas, and Turkish Sports Minister Suat Kilic, who noted the lessons Turkey could learn from the London 2012 Olympics. Mr Robertson and the business delegation also met the Turkish National Olympic Committee and Turkish business representatives including the Turkish Contractors’ Association and the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK).

The great thing about selling British global events and infrastructure expertise is that we have at our disposal the best possible advertisement for British skills – the awesome, entertaining, on-time, on-budget and unprecedentedly sustainable London 2012. British Businesses played a huge part in making London 2012 happen.

Those same businesses, together with our UKTI team in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, are ready to help deliver global sporting events and other big infrastructure projects in Turkey.

Let’s get started.

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.