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Events in 2005
Participating countries
Conference"Intercultural Dialogue: The Way Ahead"
28-29 October 2005
Programme (pdf)
  "European Culture: Identity and Diversity" Colloquy report
  Open Platform of Cooperation (pdf)
  Memorandum of co-operation with the Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures

Coordinated programme of activities between the Council of Europe and the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO)

  Faro Declaration (pdf)
  Framework Convention (pdf)
  Explanatory report (pdf)
  Wroclaw Procedings (pdf)
  Picture Gallery of Faro Conference
Colloquy on "European Culture: Identity and Diversity"
8-9 September 2005
Speakers and their contribution
List of participants
  Summary (pdf)
Opening Conference
9-10 December 2004
Awards Ceremony for Five Cultural Routes
The new dimensions of Europe
50 years of the European Cultural Convention (pdf)
Text of the Convention - Chart of signatures et ratifications
40 years of cultural co-operation 1954-1994 by  Etienne GROSJEAN
To order
On-line version

Colloquy on: “European Culture: Identity and Diversity”
Strasbourg, France
8-9 September 2005

Fabienne KELLER
Mayor of Strasbourg

Mr Secretary General,
Ladies and gentlemen representing the Parliamentary Assembly,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am very happy and very honoured to be participating today in the opening of the colloquy celebrating the 50th anniversary of the European Cultural Convention and to be hosting your proceedings in the auditorium of the Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

I should like to bid a special welcome to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis, who is doing us the honour chairing this opening session, the representative of the French Minister for Culture, Benoît Paumier, and my fellow senator, Jacques Legendre, Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly.

Even if we are not on the Council’s own premises today, this is not, strictly speaking, an “extra mural” event, because everyone knows that the Council of Europe is at home everywhere in Strasbourg, a fortiori where culture is concerned. History has taught our city and our region as a whole that culture has a dual nature: it can be a great revealer, bringing to light conflicts and tensions, differences and oppositions. It can also – sometimes at the same time – be one of the most fantastic means of initiating dialogue, learning again how to live together and transcending frontiers, those which have divided European states over the centuries, but also chronological frontiers, those which separate us from past generations.

As we are in Strasbourg, a city where Europe and culture are indissolubly linked, the figure of Goethe inevitably springs to mind. It was the cathedral that inspired this great author to write his first book, entitled On German Architecture, where he argued principally that “the only culture is national culture”.

But years later, Goethe drastically changed his stance (as he tells us in Conversations with Eckermann). He had just finished reading a novel written in China in the 13th century. For Goethe this was a revelation, a true intellectual revolution: if he, an 18th century German author, had been moved to tears by a book written thousands of kilometres away five centuries before, then art and culture indeed have only one homeland: the mind. The universal mind, that which consistently transcends the frontiers of the world and the frontiers of time, and makes us feel, whoever we are, wherever we are, that we are part of the same humanity.

The change in Goethe, one of the most outstanding European intellects, bears witness to this: the fundamental issue in culture is the relationship between identity and diversity, between the particular and the universal, between what sociologists such as Dominique Schnapper place in the “ethnic” and “civic” categories, in short between what differentiates us and what brings us together.

I feel there is a kind of tightrope between identity and equality. A tightrope on which we must move forward to build cultural and educational policies: if we lean too far on the “identity” side, we run the risk of turning diversity into division and, in the long run, making society nothing more than a conglomeration of closed-in communities.

If we lean too far on the “equality side”, there is a great risk of depriving individuals of their ability to develop multiple affiliations, thus leaving them disembodied and uprooted.

There is indeed a balance to be found. A fragile balance between cultural diversity and the aspiration to that equality demanded by our democratic societies.

Is Europe, or rather the idea of Europe embodied by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, not precisely that balance we have all been seeking for over half a century?

In one of those magnificent shortcuts of which only he has the secret, Umberto Eco, the author of The Name of the Rose, writes that “the language of Europe is translation”. I do not think there could be a finer image of what our continent is: linguistically, it is exceptionally diverse, but there is the resolve to adopt a common language through such instruments as the European Cultural Convention.

Mr Secretary General,
Ladies and gentlemen,

The French politician and man of letters Edouard Herriot, who was mayor of Lyon and a member of the Académie Française, is customarily credited with the somewhat trivial observation that “culture is what is left over when you have forgotten everything else” …

Will it one day be forgotten (may that day never come and remain in the realm of the incongruous) what all the European institutions have given Europeans for over 50 years: peace, democracy, human rights, geopolitical stability … Even if all that were forgotten, what we would still have left, more than anything else, is culture, the idea that every human being is called upon to forge his or her own destiny.

Mr Secretary General,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I should like to thank you for having held this meeting here in Strasbourg and for having chosen to come to our city in order to join together in reflecting upon European culture, in other words the destiny of Europe.

I hope that your work will be a major contribution to the advancement of the European Cultural Convention, and I wish you every success.