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Russian deputy minister of culture sees Riga as bridge to Baltic states for Russia

 RIGA, Feb 6 - Alla Manilova, the Russian Federation's deputy minister of culture, told a tourism forum in Riga today that the city has great potential to become the tourism center of the Baltic States and the initial bridge for Russia to them.

Manilova made the statement in opening the Russia-Baltic States Culture and Tourism Forum.

She pointed out that this is the first Russia Culture and Tourism Forum held outside Russian territory, and that Riga made a "wise and farsighted decision" in agreeing to organize it.

"Such a gesture will make Russia view Riga as the initial bridge to the Baltic and Nordic countries," the minister declared, adding that an advantage is that "Riga speaks Russian." In this regard, Manilova praised the courtesy shown in holding the Forum in the Russian language.

The minister, stating that competition in the tourism field is global, urged Russia and the Baltic States to begin thinking about creating joint offers in order to attract tourists from third world countries as one unified region.
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