Conference of the European Ministers of Culture - 20 - 22 October 2003 - Opatija, Croatie 

(To be checked against delivered speech)

Address of Arta Dade, Minister of Culture of Albania

Opatija, 21 October 2003

Working session 2: Diversity and Dialogue
Intercultural/interreligious dialogue: examples of good practice

Honourable Mr. Chairman,
Honourable Ladies and Gentlemen,

Diversity is not an exclusive phenomenon of mankind. The world around us is totally built on the respect and harmonization of this principle which appears in numerous forms and shapes. In this social life, diversity has been and remains a necessity, a challenge and in the final end a value which the principle of internal equilibrium governing the human activity is based upon for centuries.

Actually it is worth discussing the cultural diversity, and this has many reasons which, in their entirety, are related to problems going beyond the simple frames of art and culture. The privileged position that culture and arts have in the complex process of human communication is now a common knowledge. In the present world, when this communication is more and more rapid and complex, the means at the disposal of the exchange of cultural values are also greater in number and more efficient.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Albania is working to consolidate the cultural dialogue and to preserve the cultural diversity in the country. A national debate has already started on the drafting of a long-term cultural policy, and this is an effort with many-faceted aspects aiming to bring our culture out of isolation and the local closed spirit, to make it more expressive and communicating in the humanist values it conveys, so that it fits naturally in all the context of the cultures of the Region and the Continent Albania belongs to.

Finding itself in a cross -road not only from the geographic point of view but also from the view of civilizations, regions and cultures, Albania absorbed with the passage of centuries what it could from this unique interconnection of values, which have influenced in the history, culture, civilization, and even in the Albanian existence in all its aspects.
Albania is one of the most ancient countries in the Balkans and such is also the culture this country cultivated in centuries. I Personally, strongly believe in the idea that our cultural heritage constitutes our basic identity document toward the road of European integration.

The protection and rehabilitation of the cultural heritage, tangible and intangible, remains a priority as part of our cultural identity, as well as an integral part of the European integrity. Decentralisation of culture is now yielding its fruits. The monuments of culture with national local values are being transformed into open centres of artistic education especially for the younger generations, into tourist attractions and important places for intellectual and spiritual recreation. Support for art and culture is an opportunity for a high prestige for the institutions and the people involved in such activities, and increases the value of the cultural productions.

This leads to the establishment of an artistic market (bookshops, art galleries, centres of conservations, etc) suitable for the economical level of the country, a greater respect for the intellectual rights, development of the system of the cultural education, and finally consolidation of the cultural identity profile of the country.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our Region, as one of the most important historical crossroads of the Continent, has for centuries preserved a cultural fund which peoples living in it deserve.

Albania aims to be one of the promoting countries in this new Balkan spirit. At present, our country is organising a considerable number of cultural activities, topical meetings in the field of arts, folklore, and literature. Additionally, the Albanian cultural institutions are considering the Regional dimensions of their activities as an integral part of the strategies concerning the exchange of cultural and artistic values across the Balkans.

Albania has traditionally aimed to create a normal climate for the national minorities, to express their ethnic linguistic and cultural identity through legislation and drafting the policies of integration. Considered as one of the few countries in the Continent which did not apply genocide against Jews over the last World War, Albania has cultivated the tolerance and understanding with the national minorities. The cultural heritage of these ethnic groups is part of our country’s heritage, and as such it is preserved and promoted along with our national heritage.

The inter-religious harmony among the three beliefs, Muslim, Orthodox and Catholics, has also been another factor which helped srengthen the spirit of tolerance towards national minorities. In this aspect, Albania is setting an example of successful diversity which has generated tolerance and cohabitation, in stead of clashes and crisis among the Albanians of different religious beliefs.

Likewise, Albania has considered itself naturally integrated into the multi ethnic and multi cultural mosaics of the Balkans, trying to make its positive contribution through its values and respect for the values of the others as values of integrated societies.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The winds of integration and powerful tendencies which are pushing the European countries today towards approchement and adaptability to a similar level of standards in many fields are a motive for more efforts towards preservation of the cultural identity of our societies. Albania is resolved to know and value this challenge of our common future.

I am sure that I share the same opinion with the audience when I voice the conviction that a world which is more integrated on the cultural plane, is not indispensably a more similar and uniformed world. Due to its specific nature, culture does not accept uniformity. The cultural values are a result of long human and social experiences and such they must be upheld and consolidated.

Thank for your attention.