ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

With a growing need for more higher education institutions in Turkey, a long-awaited Turkish-German university is set to open its doors next year once certain parliamentary procedures are finalized, the German ambassador said Tuesday. “The Turkish-German university will be one of the top in Turkey… We would certainly like to see it as a sign of real partnership between Turkey and Germany,” Ambassador Eckart Cuntz told the Turkish Daily News in an interview. In Berlin, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, signed an 11-article agreement Friday, officially committing the two governments to realizing the dream university in Istanbul. The project, which dates back to the 1990s, was first made public in September 2006 when President Abdullah Gül was foreign minister. The bill for the establishment of the university will soon be brought before Parliament for final approval, said Cuntz. All state and private universities are established by law in Turkey and operate under the supervision of the Higher Education Board (YÖK). The Turkish-German university was originally planned to be a foundation, namely a private university, but for a number of reasons, including insufficient financial resources, this did not happen. The ambassador explained that, as specified in the agreement, the joint university will follow the rules of Turkish state universities but will enjoy the advantages of being a Turkish-German venture. According to Cuntz, the date of the university's opening depends to a large extent on how quickly parliamentary transactions can be finalized. “I cannot predict how long the procedures will take in the Turkish Parliament, but the university is intended to open its doors for the first students in autumn 2009. I hope we'll be able to quickly go through the internal procedures of identifying a site in Istanbul and the buildings where the university will be hosted.”