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Thursday April 3, 2008

Milan Wins Expo 2015

Lombard metropolis beats Izmir by 86 votes to 65. Excited mayor Letizia Moratti says: “I’m happy for everyone”.
PARIS – The last time was in 1906. Now, 102 years later, Milan has achieved a second success, winning the nomination to host the 2015 edition of the Universal Exposition (Expo) by 86 votes to the 65 that went to Izmir. The first round of voting was annulled because many of the delegates had difficulty with the push-button panel. In the second round, 151 delegates from the 154 participating countries took part, 33 from Europe, 31 from the Americas and the Caribbean, 40 from Africa, four from Oceania and 46 from Asia.
MORATTI’S DELIGHT – “I’m happy for Milan but I’m happy for everyone because this will be a Universal Exposition for everyone”. A visibly emotional mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti, was reacting to the award to the city of Expo 2015. A roar, then a torrent of applause and hugs all round in the corridors of the Palais des Congrès in Paris from the large Italian contingent greeted news of the award after delegates anxiously followed the last few minutes before the final result was announced. A crestfallen Turkish delegation looked on as Italian Tricolore flags waved alongside the cross of Milan in the halls of the Palais des Congrès. Meanwhile in Turkey, news of Izmir’s victory after the first vote, which was subsequently annulled, had sent people into the streets to celebrate.
CONGRATULATIONS AND BICKERING – There was chorus of “Letizia, Letizia” for the mayor. Romano Prodi congratulated Ms Moratti, observing: “This is an important victory for Italy and for my government. We moved in unison and the result is exceptional. But we were a little scared at the very end”. “This brilliant result rewards the joint effort and winning strategy of cooperation among the institutions involved, confirming that the excellence of the Italian system is fully acknowledged and appreciated internationally”, said the president of Italy Giorgio Napolitano in a message, later personally telephoning Mr Prodi and Ms Moratti. “It’s a really great result. Now Milan and Italy will be hosting an extraordinary event. It was a highly successful combined operation”, observed the foreign minister, Massimo D’Alema.
“In the final stages, there were one or two things that were less than crystal-clear. It might be better to review the voting mechanism and introduce an open vote”, said the minister for international trade, Emma Bonino before the vote. After Milan was declared the winner, she added that it was the outcome “of a good, credible project, lots of determination, teamwork and the ability to exchange ideas”.
Then came some rather more controversial notes. According to Silvio Berlusconi: “The award of the Expo to Milan is a very positive development but it will not make us forget all the difficulties we will have to face when we are back in power. This positive moment is very welcome. Of course, it’s no thanks to the leftwing government”. The prime minister was quick to reply: “In Italy, there’s always someone ready to run down anything good. My response is that he should be ashamed”. Democratic Party (PD) leader Walter Veltroni phoned his congratulations to Letizia Moratti. He said he felt “sorry and upset to see that on the occasion of a great victory for Italy, someone took the opportunity to engage in cheap electoral politicking”. Sergio Chiamparino, the mayor of Turin, said: “We stipulated an agreement to collaborate and we are ready to honour it, along with all the other initiatives already under way in Milan”. The mayor of Naples, Rosa Iervolino Russo, said: “Sincere congratulations to Milan and its mayor, Letizia Moratti”. Northern League leader Umberto Bossi commented: “If Milan had lost, the Left would have used that as an electoral weapon. But now they’re forced to celebrate”.
PRESENTATIONS – Previously, the candidatures had been presented. Giving Expo 2015 to Izmir means giving “an important opportunity not just to Turkey but to the entire Eurasian region”, said the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul. Ms Moratti responded by saying that Milan’s candidature “bears witness to one way of interpreting a project for the world, not for Milan and Italy”. Mr Prodi had however emphasised the fact that the candidatures concluded with Italians and Turks standing shoulder to shoulder on the stage.