The Guest Blog

Guest Post by Alexander Misharin, Governor of the Ekaterinburg region

For Russia’s regions and citizens last month’s EU-Russia summit has cleared away a lot of the obstacles that made building closer ties with Europe a challenging undertaking. Europe’s support for Russia’s WTO membership will strengthen trade, the reform of the visa requirements will make it easier to strengthen the cultural dialogue of citizens from all over Russia with our European neighbors and EU-Russia Partnership for Modernisation is already bringing together Russian and European academia, businesses and civil society. Russia is unique in its diversity and in its rich cultural and scientific heritage and our closer partnership with Europe will require understanding as well as appreciation for our diversity.

For every country, hosting the world fair is a great opportunity to put the nation on display to the whole world. It means opening up a country by showing its current achievements and by presenting a vision for the future. The world’s eyes don’t just focus on the ideals of an EXPO or on the hosting city, but on the whole country within the world community.

Ekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth largest city, has just launched its official bid to host the Expo 2020, to share with Europe and the world what Russia is about today and to bring the world closer to Russians. In the 160 year history of world fairs, this would be the first time for Russia to host an Expo.

Ekaterinburg is unique amongst its contenders for the 2020 world fair, because it stands firmly on two continents. Located just east of the Ural Mountains, it serves as the Eurasian link for 180 ethnic communities who for centuries have been sharing their cultures, traditions and ideas.

The Expo 2020 will give Russia the opportunity to demonstrate that modernization in our country is bearing fruit. We will show the reality of the modern and diverse Russia, which is increasingly interconnected with Europe and the world not only through politics, business and investment, but also science and culture.

Since 2010 Russia and the European Union are connected through the Partnership for Modernisation. We ask Europe to support our EXPO 2020 bid and let it be the next big highlight of our partnership. European nations are the natural partners Russia turns to for support but also for celebration.

A strong support from our European neighbors for Ekaterinburg’s 2020 EXPO will definitely change a growing mind-set in Russia, which is coined by the impression that the ties are weakening. Ultimately Ekaterinburg 2020 will give Europe and Russia a common goal and be a basis for a much broader partnership.

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