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St. Petersburg Economic Forum to open on Thursday

(AGI) - S. Petersburg, June 15 - "Further from the centre, closer to Europe", th...

St. Petersburg Economic Forum to open on Thursday
Spief Forum di San Pietroburgo

(AGI) - S. Petersburg, June 15 - "Further from the centre, closer to Europe", the Russian news agency Ria Novosti headlined in its article presenting the tenth St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). The title refers to the forum's new location - the Expoforum exhibition centre near Pulkovo airport - and to the fact that this year's event sees the clear return of Europe to the dialogue with Russia. In fact, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker will visit the Forum on Thursday and Italian Premier Matteo Renzi the day after. The visits mark a clear change from the previous two years, when sanctions were in place against Moscow for the annexation of the Crimea. But this year, businessmen and politicians appear to have had no hesitation in participating in the traditional event - in the former tsarist capital, closely watched over by Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2014, U.S. businessmen complained about pressure from the White House not to participate in the SPIEF. But this year, despite the absence of government delegations, important managers like ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson will visit the event, according to Russian media. Italy has been awarded the status of 'guest country' for the first time in the history of the event. It will be represented by a pavilion put together by the 'Conoscere Eurasia' (Knowing Eurasia) Association, with the support of the embassy in Moscow, featuring 22 companies in five different clusters: mechanical high-tech, energy, agribusiness, infrastructure and finance, among the most strategic sectors for Russia. Some 10,000 participants, more than a thousand companies from around the world, more than 2,600 Russian and foreign journalists and over 120 countries are expected at SPIEF 2016. The budget is 1.8 billion rubles (over 24 million euros), of which 2.1 percent is paid by public funds. The new futuristic structure hosting the event also include an Orthodox church. (AGI) . .