Culture - a cornerstone of EU neighbourhood policy efficiency, experts say

18 October 2013, Last updated at, 10:52 EEST
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author: MFA

At an informal meeting of senior officials of Ministries of Culture and senior officials responsible for culture in Ministries of Foreign Affairs on 17 October in Vilnius, Lithuanian and foreign academics and public opinion makers together with officials from EU Member States and  representatives of EU institutions sought ways to coordinate activities in the cultural field at EU level in order to strengthen mutual trust and intercultural dialogue in neighbouring countries as well as in strategic partners of the EU.

Participants of the event discussed how to increase the role of culture in promoting political reforms, democratisation and dialogue between civil society in the EU’s neighbouring countries and policy makers. Special emphasis was given to culture’s transformative role, civil society and engagement of the third sector, international dialogue space, and the importance of reciprocal long-term action instead of single actions. The participants underlined the need to ensure respect for fundamental human rights and core European values, avoiding direct regulation.

At the meeting, intermediate results of the European Commission’s Preparatory Action “Culture in the EU External Relations” covering 54 states were presented. In the context of relations with strategic EU partners and neighbouring countries, the participants gave emphasis to issues related to visas, equal partnership, and trust in the governments’ projects. The participants of the meeting highlighted the importance of direct cooperation between culture experts, development cooperation programmes as well as cultural autonomy. Representatives of the EU Member States stressed the importance of bottom-up initiatives, the need to crystalize the strategy at EU level, leaving the initiative of actions in the field of culture to the competence of Member States. Final results of the European Commission’s Preparatory Action will be presented in April 2014 in Brussels.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the European Commission, the General Secretariat of the Council, and the European External Action Service.

The next informal meeting of senior officials of Ministries of Culture and senior officials responsible for culture in Ministries of Foreign Affairs is to be held in March 2014 in Athens.

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