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

(To be checked against delivered speech)

Timofii Kokhan, Deputy Minister of Culture and Arts of Ukraine

Your Excellency Mr. Chairman,
Your Excellency the Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Culture is dialogical by its very nature. It requires the ability to recognize and respect Otherness, to value differences and originality. It tends to consolidate societies by drawing together all ethnic, social, religious groups into permanent dialogue, hereby encouraging tolerance.

Nowadays, a modern national culture (like that of Ukraine, for instance) consists not only of the mainstream culture of ethnic Ukrainians; it also includes the rich and diverse heritage of all ethnic groups and cultural communities which live in the country; it includes intensive cultural contacts with the world as well. Ukrainian national culture understood in this way should become a key factor in shaping Ukraine’s European image as well as in shaping European reality within Ukraine itself.

We regard Ukrainian participation in this Ministerial Colloquy as a part of this broader process. The draft Declaration on Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict Prevention proposed at the previous colloquy in Strasbourg has been a subject of vivid discussion in Ukraine, - in particular, at the Round table conference on Problems of Intercultural and Inter-confessional Dialogue as a Means of Conflict Prevention co-organized by the Ministry of Culture and Arts of Ukraine and the Council for National Security and Defense of Ukraine in Kyiv in May 2003.

Among the participants in the Round table conference, there were Mr. Yevhen Marchuk, the Secretary of the Council for National Security and Defense, members of Ukrainian Parliament Ivan Kuras and Hennadiy Udovenko, senior officials from Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for Education and Science, the State Committee for Religious Affairs, several prominent scholars and intellectuals.

Virtually all of them agreed that the draft Declaration proposes a set of basic principles for our governments and societies to follow in their approach to social conflict prevention and conflict resolution. This means that, once Ukraine has been heading toward European integration, its society and its government have to adopt these principles, learn to live with them and regard them as their own principles.

The draft Declaration also describes a number of fields for co-ordinated work: cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue; good governance in cultural policy and intersectoral co-operation in conflict prevention. It is worth mentioning, that the Ministry of Culture and Arts of Ukraine already works in these fields using the above-mentioned principles. For instance, our Department for ethnic cultures and for Ukrainian diaspora culture has been working successfully for quite a while. And the draft Law of Ukraine on Culture prepared by our Ministry and proposed for the Government’s consideration recently, provides the creation of the Council of All-Ukrainian (nation-scale) cultural and artistic associations which will serve as a representative body to promote and defend the interests and needs of artistic community, cultural minorities and culture-related NGOs in their dialogue with State bodies.

Let me summarize: we approve of the draft Declaration which became more clear and concise in its revised form; we also propose that, in the Introduction, two more international conventions be added to the existing list: the Convention for the Protection of Architectural Heritage (Granada, 1985), and the European Convention for the Protection of Archeological Heritage (London, 1969, revised in La Valetta, 1992). This amendment looks reasonable, since «protection of tangible and intangible heritage» is mentioned among the set of the principles and shared values proposed in the Declaration.

We approve of the proposed Recommendations as well. We also believe that, considering this year’s 150th anniversary of the Eastern (Crimean) War of 1853-55, one of the cities of our multicultural and multiethnic Crimea - be it Sebastopol, Simferopol or Yalta, - can candidate as a hosting city for the European Intercultural Forum.

Thank you for your kind attention.