RUSSIA, FINLAND LAUNCH CULTURE FORUM

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HELSINKI, September 30 (RIA Novosti's Olga Andrianova) - A 5th Russian-Finnish culture forum took start in Finland's Turku today. To step up partner-like contacts between the two countries' cultural activists is its principal goal, Tanja Karpela, the host country's Culture Minister, said in an opening address.

This year's forum program comprises four parts-practical partnerships, project financing consultations, thematic seminars, and plenary sessions.

Consultation points on joint project financing are opening tomorrow to offer expert advice to partners after negotiations. Some of those offices will concern a Good-neighborly Program, which envisages joint ventures in the two countries' neighboring areas, and Program CIMO for transnational expert exchanges to share know-how with each other and enhance proficiency.

The thematic seminar on, "Tourist Routes of Finnish and Northwest Russian Castles and Fortresses" will concern a budding world web portal-a virtual sightseeing itinerary. Another seminar, "Festival Management," will concern joint music festival organization.

The forum has gathered 53 Finnish and sixty Russian corporate participants to discuss 78 partner-like projects. Approximately three hundred have made personal applications to take part in thematic seminars and plenary sessions.

Russian-Finnish culture forums were launched in 2000. The two countries take turns to host the annual events. Turku was appointed for the present venue as a birthday city-once Finland's capital, it is celebrating its 775th foundation anniversary this year.

Forum sites have been appointed at the municipal Art Academy, Conservatory, the Forum Marinum naval center, and the Toronlinna Castle. The Sigun Conservatory Hall is hosting principal sessions.

The forum will last into October 2.

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