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EuroMed Ministerial Meeting on Culture and Cultural Dialogue concludes: Respect for diversity among members of different cultures leads to tolerance and respect for shared values

The two-day EuroMed Ministerial Meeting on Culture and Cultural Dialogue concluded today in Athens. Organised under the auspices of the Slovenian Presidency and the Greek Government, the event offered a platform for further, more intensive steps towards developing dialogue between cultures in the Euro-Mediterranean Basin. On the basis of a fruitful exchange of opinions, experience and different initiatives, conclusions were drafted which, taking into consideration successful joint actions and projects carried out so far, lay down guidelines for further action.

The Ministers supported the Euro-Mediterranean cultural strategy, which covers cooperation in the field of intercultural dialogue and cultural policy. Based on the principles of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression, the strategy is intended to highlight the cultural dimension of Euro-Mediterranean Partnership in innovative and concrete ways. To speed up the shaping of the strategy as much as possible, the ministers agreed that a ‘follow-up’ mechanism should be launched, which involves setting up a Euro-Mediterranean group of experts on culture that would meet regularly until the next ministerial conference.

The participants were also pleased to acknowledge that a great deal had been achieved in recent years, such as successful cooperation in different actions, initiatives and projects relating to various cultural fields. A good example of fruitful and successful cooperation is the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for Dialogue between Cultures, the main objective of which is to encourage intercultural dialogue and strengthen the visibility of the Barcelona Process on the basis of intellectual, cultural, civil and social exchange. The participants have also welcomed all initiatives directed towards promoting multilingualism and translation, the mobility of artists and intellectuals, the expansion of new technologies, the integration of young people and women, consideration of the needs of minorities and cooperation in sports events.

In his address, the President of the EU Council, Slovenian Minister of Culture Dr Vasko Simoniti, highlighted the fact that "the question of intercultural dialogue is an essential question; last but not least, it is a question of survival in the global sense. It is a matter of the system and the world we will live in. Exceptional technological development, social changes, migration flows, new ethnic communities, encounters between cultural, religious and social patterns and finally globalisation bring challenges which pose new questions that must be answered by politics and civil society. Therefore, it is necessary more than ever – particularly in the area of culture – to encourage dialogue on the possibilities of understanding humanity today, and on the values of humanity that give meaning to the world." In his address, Dr Simoniti also expressed thanks for the support for the Slovenian Presidency’s permanent contribution to dialogue between cultures in the Mediterranean region and beyond – the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean University with its seat in Piran. 

On the eve of the plenary session of the conference, the ministers also awarded prizes to four journalists, the winners of the second competition for the EuroMed Journalist Prize for Cultural Dialogue. The competition is organised by the Anna Lindh Foundation and the International Federation of Journalists. From among 76 candidates from 37 countries the following journalists were selected: Gideon Levy (Israel), Jamila Zekhnini (Belgium, Verichan Ziflioglu (Turkey) in Uroš Škerl (Slovenia) for their contribution to promoting respect for diversity.

The ministerial meeting was characterised by the high number of participating ministers; in addition to the two hosts, the Greek and Slovenian ministers of Culture, ministers from Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Hungary, Latvia, Morocco, Poland, Syria and Turkey attended the Meeting.


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Date: 30.05.2008