The concept of the East Cohesion Region is based on the integration of Slovenian cities, covering the southern parts and the whole geographical eastern part of Slovenia. The region is characterized by a low level of development; this is why one of the key development moments of the included towns should be exactly the awakening of cultural identity. The European Capital of Culture 2012 includes Maribor as its capital and five other partner cities from the region: Murska Sobota, Novo Mesto, Ptuj, Slovenj Gradec, and Velenje. Each town contributes its competitive advantages to the project and adds value to the integration of the region in Slovenia and Europe.
The European Capital of Culture Maribor 2012 also includes partner towns from the East Cohesion Region. Each participating town contributes its competitive advantages to the project.
Partner cities are:
Velenje will focus on its industrial heritage, Ptuj is the center of rich ancient finds and ethnological attractions (kurenti), Novo Mesto is a town of situlas, Murska Sobota will take over the culture of countryside, and Slovenj Gradec is a global town of peace.
According to statistical data and socioeconomic indicators, the East Cohesion Region meets only about 70% of the gross domestic product and is classified as non-developed according to European standards. It covers about 60% of the land and includes nearly 1.1 million people, i.e. more than half of the total population in Slovenia.
Culture and the activities that originate from it or are connected to it could certainly be one of the main factors in overcoming the differences between the developed west and undeveloped east. They could also be the factor or the generator of development in the coming years, as well as the potential for further activities and for the creation of new possibilities and opportunities. In Europe it is estimated that cultural services, creative industries, and cultural tourism are the fastest growing industries with the highest employment rate and therefore the future of the European service-oriented development.