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TurkeyISSUE 65 / ConfErEnCE & MEEtIngS World / 67Europe and Asia's meeting crossroadsStraddlIng EaSt and WESt, tUrkEy haS long bEEn a MEEtIngS MECCa WIth CloSE tIES to ItS nEIghboUrS In thE MIddlE EaSt and Strong aMbItIonS to bE part of EUropEurkey has a split personality. As a Eurasian country, it sits with 97 per cent of its area in Asia and the rest in Europe. It is a democratic, Muslim country with strong trading with the Middle East and former USSR states. However, it has become increasingly integrated with the West through membership in NATO and the G-20 and is in talks to become an European Union member. Turkey's economy expanded at a rate of 11 per cent in the first quarter of the year and investment in this emerging country is favourable with a market-friendly government that has increased in popularity since it came into power in 2002. This compares to a debt-ridden Euro zone and the politically-instable Middle East. And market confidence is reflected in its meetings industry. For the latest International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) country rankings, Turkey was 20th with 160 qualifying meetings, five places above its 2009 place. The shining star is Istanbul, which shot up 10 places in the city rankings to 7th thanks, for the most, to increased destination marketing and expanded facilities says the Istanbul Convention and Visitors Bureau. WordS Sarah O'DOnnell below: hagia Sofia Mosque at night, IstanbulTIf the world was a single country, Istanbul would be the capital of itnapOleOn BOnaparte