The Central European city fought off competition from Presov, Martin and Nitra to become the first Slovakian city to play host to a European cultural capital. It will share the honour with a French city in 2013.
Congratulating Košice on its nomination, EU Culture Commissioner Ján Figel' expressed delight over "the enthusiasm generated by the prospect of becoming the capital of culture for 2013 and the seriousness of the preparations".
Highlighting the role of EU cultural capitals in "promoting [Europe's] diversity and cultural wealth," Figel' praised the efforts of all the cities in contention for the nomination. "The competition was of a very high standard. I am convinced that those cities which were not chosen will also benefit from the experience," he said.
"The decision was tough. In the end we were deciding between Košice and Presov," said Sir Robert Scott, the chair of the selection panel, quoted by Slovak news service SK Today. He urged the two cities to consider working together on joint projects for 2013.
Slovakia's government intends to seize the opportunity presented by Košice 2013 to promote the attractions of not just the city but the country as a whole. It is expected to provide funds from the state budget to complement the city's own increased investment, with the rest of the cost met by sponsors.
Hailing the decision, the city's mayor Frantisek Knapnik said "Košice can reach the level of famous towns and regions which are already well established in European hearts and minds," quoted in SK Today. He said he expected the number of European visitors to the city to increase as a result of its nomination.
The choice of Košice will be formally endorsed by the Council in May 2009. Meanwhile, the jury will meet to decide upon France's cultural capital on 15-16 September 2008. Bordeaux, Marseille and Toulouse stand alongside favourites Lyon in the race for the nomination.
The title of European Capital of Culture was created in 1985. Capitals are chosen by an international panel of thirteen members, six of whom are appointed by the country concerned and seven by the EU institutions. While the final decision rests with the Council, their endorsement of the panel's decision is considered a formality.