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Couchepin kicks off "Extra Europa" festival

Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin is visiting Linz, Austria, for the start of a political and cultural festival spotlighting three non-European Union nations.

Extra Europa, a six-week-long festival and symposium, started on Thursday and lasts until May 3. It includes exhibits and events intended to raise debate over European identity.

To do that, organisers have invited Switzerland, Norway and Turkey – three non-European Union countries – to a symposium and cultural festival where leaders will discuss how Europe's non-EU member states feel about identity and EU membership.

Linz has been named the European Culture Capital of 2009 by the European Union, a distinction that turns attention to the area's cultural side. Switzerland has been invited to have a presence there along with Turkey and Norway. Together the countries have about 60 exhibits and events organised around the city.

While on his two-day trip to Austria, Couchepin will also meet Austrian President Heinz Fischer and the country's health minister, Alois Stöger.


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