( Turkishdailynews ) - Turkey's international defense industry fair, IDEF, an event showcasing new products in the defense industry, kicks off today in the Turkish capital with the participation of 448 companies from 45 countries from all over the world. Germany alone showed up with 59 companies to introduce its new wares.
Some 255 top-level officials including defense ministers and chiefs of staff will attend the internationally acclaimed fair that will continue until Friday under the auspices of the Defense Ministry at the Ankara Hippodrome.
Turkey is ranked 10th among countries that put aside most of its budget for defense purposes, a reason why global arms giants show an interest in the fair organized by the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation.
Some 157 Turkish companies will take part in the fair followed by 59 German, 31 U.S., 27 Italian, 26 British and 20 French companies respectively, according to the Anatolia news agency. Israel will be represented with 13 companies, South Korea with 15, Pakistan with six, Spain with seven, Sweden with eight and Switzerland with six firms.
Northern Cyprus, Iraq, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Lithuania, Denmark and Kazakhstan will be represented at the fair through their ambassadors.
The international fair will be inaugurated with an opening speech by retired Lieutenant Gen. Aydэn Юen, head of the foundation to strengthen the Turkish armed forces (TSK), and later Defense Minister Vecdi Gцnьl will address participants.
France is not expected to be represented in IDEF 2007 at a high level, but only through its defense companies. Last year, Turkish Defense Minister Gцnьl said France would not be invited to the international fair, a move that came after the French Parliament adopted a controversial bill criminalizing any denial of the alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.
Gцnьl emphasized at the time that France had not been officially invited to the fair. After the passage of the disputed bill, Turkey has suspended its military relations with France.