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

(To be checked against delivered speech)

Antun Vujic, Minister of Culture of Croatia

Two conferences of the ministers of culture, one having taken place and the other taking place in the Republic of Croatia, had been planned for a long time and we believe that it is the right time for the INCP (International Network on Cultural Policies) ministers of culture and the CoE (Council of Europe) ministers responsible for culture to gather.

International Network on Cultural Policies has 59 member states, that look for the solution for preservation of cultural diversity in the context of unifying globalization processes. Related to that is the effort to find the instruments for protection and preservation of cultural diversity, initiatives in the UNESCO and within national legislations, especially as regards cultuiral industries, media and all those fields in which globalization processes sometimes stimulate cultural identitiy of the small countries in particular.

At the meetings of the ministers of culture who were at the Conference that ended yesterday there were 22 ministers and 35 delegations from all the continents, as well as the delegations from the Council of Europe, UNESCO and le Francofonie. We discussed the new issues related to cultural policy. Convention on Cultural Diversity outlines and warns about those problems. The Conference of the International Network on Cultural Diversity (INCD), which is the network of NGOs, preceded our Conference and cooperation of aritsts and ministers, of civil society and politics is of utmost importance, and let us not forget – NGOs were those that initiated the work on a document on cultural diversity.

Draft Convention on Cultural Diversity goes along these lines. It has just been discussed and got the green light at UNESCO Conference in Paris, so it is expected to be adopted in 2005. It is a result of a long work at the International instrument for cultural diversity.

Small cultures of today, small not according to their achievements, but according to the number of those who contribute to that culture, are jeopardized to become extinct by the appearance of large cultures. Their preservation is one of preoccupations of the INCP members, members of network that was established out of that worry, and network whose members are those who implement cultural policies. Preservation of cultural diversity depends on numerous non-cultural factors, primarily on those related to trade and international trade, but also political relations. This instrument deals, among other things, with these relations.

In the discussions of the past three days we tackled numerous topics related to cultural diversity, financing of culture, interculturalism and media.

Research that was prepared by Croatia as a basis for discussion on financing culture showed that there is a need to develop different models which will enable autonomous development of culture as a specific field of public activity, which is still in major part financed by public means. The discussions that followed, stressed the need for development of a unique access to cultural statistics and creation of parallel legal documents in order to base our decisions on the experience of all of us.

In the part that dealt with cultural diversity, we referred to excellent work of the Working Group for Cultural Diversity which prepared Convention of Cultural Diversity, as well as a series of other documents which explain our position in this very sensitive field. Cultural diverstiy is an imperative today, it is a norm which becomes an element of every culture because it enables life in the globally connected world, and it is this very norm that has been jeopardized by reducing culture to goods. This Convention tries to define the way that will position culture in relation to the other elements of globalizing world so as to ensure a balanced development of trade and culture.

Following this discussion, we touched upon the issue of media whose pluralism and independence was put under a question mark. It was clear that numerous countries develop mechanisms which will enable diversity of accesses to media. This issue will also in future be the topic of our discussions.

Report on interculturalism and cultural observatories, prepared by the Liasion Bureau proved to be useful bases for our discussions and they will continue with their work.

In the two and a half days that are to follow, we have to work on draft Declaration on Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict Prevention in order to define cooperation framework and create better “conditions for the promotion and construction of a society based on intercultural dialogue and respect of cultural diverstiy, and on the other, contributiong to the creation of conditions favouring the prevention of violent conflicts, the management and control of conflicts and post-conflict reconiciliation.”

I truly believe that our joint contemplation will harmonize our positions so that the Declaration on Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict Prevention can be adopted in Opatija.