As the Turkish and Greek sides of Cyprus remain divided, some promising bilateral co-operation was taking place in Istanbul. The formation of an international leather technology research and development centre in Tusla’s leather zone was the subject of a two-day meeting in March.

It was attended by selected Turkish leather professionals and by D Papakonstantinou, Dr Ozlem Menderes and Nikos Pritsos from Elkede Technology and Design Centre, Greece; Dr Mehmet Kabasakal from the Istanbul Chamber of Industry and Erol Akdag, representing Cotance as an independent observer.

Professor Dr A D Covington, British School of Leather Technology, as well as Dr Victoria Addy, BLC research director, gave presentations on the services and strategies their institutions could provide. Some ten Turkish and European organisations will lend support.

The project is greatly indebted to Türkiye’s ‘father of leather’ Hasan Yelmen, a founding partner of garment producers Derimod. Yelmen has donated a completed building in the Tuzla Duty Free Tanning zone, where laboratories, experimental tanneries and other specialised offices will be housed.

On average Turkish companies spend less than 1% on R&D. Estimated costs for the Tuzla Research and Development Centre are €23 million and an EC contribution of €18 million has been requested. The project is scheduled to commence in 2004 for completion in 2009.