Head of Turkey's Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB) on Saturday said festivals were a great way to combat Islamophobia and xenophobia which have recently grown stronger in Europe.
Abdullah Eren’s remarks came at the European Sports and Culture Festival (ASKFEST) in Germany’s Northwestern city of Hamm, which aims to boost ties between Germany and Turkey by bringing people of both countries together.
Eren said Turkish workers’ arrival at the European countries, which will mark its 60th anniversary in two years, especially Germany, helped them achieve significant development in the fields of culture and economics and festivals like ASKFEST would contribute to their integration to both local communities and national identity.
He said Islamophobia and xenophobia have recently grown stronger in some European countries and festivals would contribute to fighting such “diseases”, adding it was important that ASKFEST was organized with the cooperation of German authorities.
Turkish official went on to say that Turks’ integration into foreign communities abroad was a priority for the YTB, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly called on Turkish people living abroad to learn languages and get citizenships so that they could easily integrate into communities.
“Turkey and Germany are two friends and allies… Therefore, this festival has demonstrated that the authorities of these countries set a nice example in the fields of culture, sport and arts, in a professional manner,” Eren said.
Underlining that ASKFEST contributed to the unity and harmony of German and Turkish people, he went on to say that such festivals were of “crucial” importance to prevent racism from growing strong in the European continent.
The festival is being held under the theme "Do Sports Together! Have fun Together! Live Together!", and it includes a wide range of sports, cultural and entertainment activities.
Competitions in football and basketball matches, athletics, bowling, cycling, skateboarding and table tennis will also be held.
In addition to these modern sports, competitions in Turkish traditional sports such as archery and oil wrestling will be organized.The attendees can also taste Turkish and German cuisine and enjoy concerts.
Turkish and German celebrities, athletes and government officials such as Turkish Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoglu, Culture Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, YTB Chairman Abdullah Eren and Mayor of Hamm Thomas Hunsteger Petermann will attend the festival.
Anadolu Agency, national Turkish broadcaster TRT and Turkey's national flag carrier Turkish Airlines are among the contributors of the festival.
Hamm is located in Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia state, which is densely populated by Turkish people.