Turkish court orders injunction against Cirque, blocks departure

The Turkish customs authority has seized 23 trucks from the world renowned Cirque du Soleil, following a court ruling on Tuesday, the Middle East Monitor reports. The ruling related to financial losses accrued due to a number of cancelled performances during the failed coup attempt on 15 July.

A Turkish court in the northwestern border province of Edirne has passed an interim injunction ordering the seizure of 23 trucks belonging to the world-renowned Quebecois performance group Cirque du Soleil after the circus’ organizing firm decided to cancel an agreement with Turkish counterparts for a special show despite receiving advance payments.

Cirque du Soleil canceled 40 performances of 45 DEGREES’ show Blüm, which was scheduled from August 16 to September 17, 2016. Blüm was custom designed for EXPO 2016 – an international horticultural exposition in Antalya, Turkey, running until October 30. “We were not able to ensure the safety of our employees to our satisfaction.” – Marie-Hélène Lagacé, Senior Public Relations Manager of the Cirque du Soleil said at the time. A total of 70 people were involved in the show, many of whom are employees of Cirque du Soleil. “This is a decision for their safety,” repeated Marie-Hélène Lagacé.

The EXPO 2016 said that it lost more than $5 million as a result. Harun Guzel, the Cultural Programs Editor for EXPO 2016 said Cirque du Soleil unfairly canceled the contract.

Therefore, an Edirne court on Oct. 6 ordered the injunction against the group and blocked the departure of its trucks through the border gate of ?psala into Greece on Oct. 12 due to the legal dispute.

According to the agreement sealed by Événements 45 Degrees Inc. and Turkish ESO Organizasyon on March 10, Cirque du Soleil was paid 2,250,000 euros in cash to perform. On July 26, however, the Quebecois firm notified its Turkish counterparts that it was unilaterally canceling the agreement, citing security concerns in Turkey that arose from the failed July 15 coup attempt. The company also indicated that they would not make any refund for the 40 shows.

While the dispute between the parties remained unsolved despite efforts by the Turkish side to reach a reconciliation with the firm, the Turkish side was informed that the Cirque du Soleil team was scheduled to perform in Istanbul between Oct. 1 and 9. Upon this information, the Turkish party involved in the dispute applied to an Edirne court, demanding an interim injunction for the performance group’s materials which were to be transported over land with 23 trucks. Going into effect early on Oct. 12, the court resulted in 18 of the trucks being prevented from leaving Turkey for Greece. Five of the trucks, however, reportedly left the country before the decision went into effect.

The lawyer of the Turkish company, Eylem Akkayal?, said Événements 45 Degrees Inc. failed to abide by the terms of the agreement by citing the state of emergency in Turkey. “We are always ready for reconciliation. Our customer is also always ready for reconciliation. If they make the payment, of course we can lift the decision and come to an agreement. This situation has somewhat turned into an issue of national pride. Thus we demand that our losses be reimbursed,” said Akkayal?.