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17 May 2005
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(To be checked against delivered speech)

Address by Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Opening of the art exhibition “European blue – young generation”

Warsaw, 14 May 2005

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the midst of a Warsaw busily preparing to receive the Heads of State and Government of the 46 Council of Europe member states, this exhibition provides a refuge, an opportunity to delve into the many facets of European art, an invitation to discover and enjoy the Europe of culture. Exhibitions like this enable us to see and understand the cultural dimension of European unity which itself provides a solid foundation for political unity and a vehicle for dialogue and understanding between peoples.

Faithful to its mandate as the pan-European organisation for cultural co-operation, the Council of Europe has been working for 50 years with the most prestigious museums of Europe, helping them to organise 28 major art exhibitions. Attaching a colourful, tangible image to Europe’s common cultural roots, these art exhibitions have become a tradition, even an institution. Today, strong with the diversity of its 46 member states, conscious of the challenges of our century, the Council of Europe is on the lookout for new concepts which can provide the raison d’être for European art exhibitions oriented towards the future.

Our future exhibitions will engage more intensively the new generation of European artists. They will be open to all our member states including all those countries which have joined the Council of Europe during the last 15 years, and they will reveal artistic expressions which create bridges between Europe and the rest of the world. “European blue – young generation” corresponds remarkably to this new concept of art exhibitions which we are seeking to develop.

International art exhibitions are a powerful tool of cultural diplomacy. They invite people to contemplate the soul of other cultures, to recognise the Others as fellow humans and Europeans, to overcome prejudice and to create trust between peoples - one of the basic conditions for lasting togetherness.

I thank warmly the colleagues of the Council of Europe’s Information Office in Warsaw, as well as their partners, the Offices in Moldova, Romania and Ukraine, and the Warsaw Fine Arts Academy for being the forerunners of a new generation of art exhibitions which illustrate the critical edge, the vitality and the creativity of Europe’s young artists.