The Republic of Karelia (north-west) has become the first subject of the Russian Federation, which won the status of the European Region-2003 as a result of the special international contest. It was announced in Petrozavodsk (the capital of Karelia) on Tuesday.
A special agreement, fixing the decision of the European Region of the Year international organisation, was signed by President of Karelia Sergei Katanandov and President of the organisation Javier Tudela.
Since 2000 the organisation has been holding contests within the European Union in order to "extend the knowledge of the activities of European regions and to attract new participants into the process of European regional building", Javier Tudela told a press conference. This time not only the EU member states participated in the project.
All in all, 23 regions from 14 European countries were admitted to the European Region-2003 contest. The Balearic Islands (Spain) and the Republic of Karelia (Russia) were named winners. According to Tudela, these two regions are "the most promising for the promotion of their image at an international level". Within several weeks they should present a detailed programme of events for this purpose.
According to Katanandov, the year 2003 will be full of "image" events in Karelia, such as the celebrations of the 300th anniversary of Petrozavodsk, the international festival of chamber music, the festival of Finno-Ugric ethnic groups and many others. The European Region of the Year organisation promises to attract the attention of international media and sponsors.
"We expect this project to attract extra investments into Karelian economy," Katanandov said. "Taking into account that Karelia is the first Russian region, which won such a contest, we shall ask the Russian Foreign Ministry to make use of this project for Russia's popularisation in Europe," the Karelian president added.
In addition, the Republic of Karelia and the Balearic Islands will carry out a programme of cooperation, especially, in the sphere of tourism.