Ministerial conference: Defining the way ahead for European cultural policy - Wroclaw, Poland, 9-10 December 2004 

Wroclaw Conference: information for the media

The Convention
The European Cultural Convention was opened for signature in Paris on 19 December 1954, and entered into force on 5 May 1955.

In the hope that greater unity would be achieved through better mutual understanding among Europeans, the initial aims of the Convention were to:

1. encourage Europeans to safeguard their own cultural heritage (including their language, history and civilisation) and to recognise it as being part of a wider “European” heritage;
2. promote the mobility of people and cultural objects, in order to boost the understanding of other countries’ culture and heritage;
3. encourage a wide range of cultural co-operation across the continent.

Over the years three other main objectives emerged, which are to:

1. create the conditions for full participation in democratic life;
2. introduce a European dimension to standards, policy and practice;
3. encourage respect for cultural diversity while developing shared values.

There are currently 48 signatories to the Convention (all 46 Council of Europe member states, plus Belarus and the Holy See – i.e. every state in Europe).

The 50th anniversary
Celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Convention will start in December 2004 and continue until mid-2005.

The main events will be:

1. a ministerial conference to launch the celebrations in Wroclaw, Poland;
2. a high-level gathering of intellectuals in Strasbourg;
3. a major closing event in Portugal.

There will also be a number of national events taking place within the countries covered by the Convention.

The Wroclaw Conference
A major conference to launch the anniversary celebrations will take place at the Ossolineum National Institute in Wroclaw, Poland, on 9 and 10 December 2004.

The conference will bring together ministers of culture, education, youth and sport from the 48 signatory countries, as well as representatives of Council of Europe observer states, other international organisations and institutions, and NGOs.

The conference will be the first major event of the Polish Chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, the highlight of which will be the Summit of Heads of State and Government on 16 and 17 May 2005.

Opening session
Will include speeches from:

- Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe;
- Waldemar Dabrowski, Polish Minister for Culture;
- Miroslaw Sawicki, Polish Minister for Education, Youth and Sport.

First plenary session: Achievements of the European Cultural Convention
To be introduced and summarised by Professor José Vidal-Beneyto (Spain).

Second plenary session: New challenges for cultural co-operation in Europe
To be summarised by Professor Kazimierz Krzysztofek (Poland).

Third plenary session: The future role of cultural co-operation in greater Europe
Will include a general discussion involving personalities in the fields of education, culture, heritage, youth and sport.

Closing session
Maria Joao Bustorff, Portuguese Minister of Culture, will present a draft Wroclaw Declaration for adoption by those present.

There will also be a presentation from Baroness Hooper (UK), on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

The Wroclaw Declaration
The main output of the conference will be a “Wroclaw Declaration”, which will summarise the main achievements of the Convention so far and set out the key challenges for the future, including:

- deepening the sense of “European identity” to prevent the emergence of new divisions in a larger Europe;
- encouraging cultural diversity, civil society and citizenship;
- promoting intercultural and inter-religious dialogue as a way of preventing conflicts, aiding reconciliation and ensuring social cohesion.

The Declaration will subsequently propose the main lines of action for the Council of Europe in this field for the coming years.

Side events
Will include:

- an art exhibition of scientific works of Leonardo da Vinci;
- a presentation of the “Cultural Routes” of the Council of Europe, followed by an award ceremony;
- an exhibition of posters of the Council of Europe art exhibitions and exhibitions in major museums in Europe over the last 50 years;
- a concert at Wroclaw University.

Media arrangements
The conference will be fully open to the press: a media accreditation form is available via the website of the Polish Ministry of Culture, www.mk.gov.pl

Computer and telephone facilities will be provided for journalists, and interpretation will be available in six different languages – English, French, Russian, German, Italian and Polish.

A press conference is scheduled to take place at 10 am on Thursday 9 December, involving all three of the opening speakers at the conference.

Further media briefings may also be arranged during the conference, depending on the interest shown.

Finally, it will be possible to arrange interviews with participants either before or during the conference, using the contact details given below.

Further information
More information on the Cultural Convention and the Wroclaw conference is available on the Council of Europe’s website at www.coe.int/culture50 and www.coe.int/culturalconvention

This information is also available in French at www.coe.int/culture50/fr and www.coe.int/culturalconvention/fr

Further details can also be found in Polish, English and French on the website of the Polish Ministry of Culture, www.mk.gov.pl

For any further information, please contact:

Council of Europe
Andrew Cutting, press officer
Tel: +33 3 90 21 50 27
Mob: +33 6 86 32 10 24
E-mail andrew.cutting@coe.int

Ministry of Culture of Poland
Press Office
Tel: +48 22 421 01 08 / 421 05 55
Fax: +48 22 826 91 48
E-mail: rzecznik@mk.gov.pl