ISTANBUL (QHA) - The World Cities Culture Forum kicked off on Thursday in Istanbul, Turkey with the attendance of cultural leaders, policymakers and intellectuals, according to World Bulletin. The World Cities Culture Forum, a major global initiative on culture and the future of cities which aims to develop culture, was founded in 2012 with the participation of Johannesburg, London, New York, Paris, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo and Istanbul and has reached 23 members in a short period of time. The forum was organized around the key themes of promotion and positioning on the world stage, new cultural infrastructure, participation in and support for creative expression, and strategies for embedding culture across public services. "Cities are now political actors competing with states. We believe that global cities will succeed in what states could not succeed in. Istanbul is an ancient city, which has given a peace message to the region and the world so far," Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Omer Celik said during his speech. "Istanbul is a source of pride for our country. We are exerting efforts for it to become a source of pride for the world," Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said in expressing his pleasure at Istanbul's position. As reported, the inaugural World Cities Culture Summit was held in London in 2012 to mark the launch of the 2012 World Cities Culture Report, which coincided with London’s hosting of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.