On 27-28 June 2014 the ministers of culture of South-East European countries will meet in Ohrid (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), in the presence of the UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova, as part of the “Council of Ministers of Culture of South-East Europe – Enhancing Culture for Sustainable Development” initiative.
The meeting, organised with the support of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy), will assume a special significance for several reasons.
First of all, it will be the first meeting of the new, unified platform for ministerial cooperation in the region. In 2013, the Ministers of Culture of the SEE countries decided to merge two previous cooperation platforms that had operated side by side for almost a decade. In Ohrid, Ministers and Heads of Delegation in attendance will approve the statute of the new, unified initiative under the heading “Council of Ministers of Culture of South-East Europe – Enhancing Culture for Sustainable Development”. It will represent the leading initiative for cultural cooperation in SEE, with the specific objective of defining coordinated regional policies and corresponding priority action to deal with current and future challenges.
Secondly, the meeting marks the 10th anniversary of the regional cooperation process that began in Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in 2004, on the occasion of the opening of the reconstructed Old Bridge, when the governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Italy jointly convened the first Ministerial Conference on Cultural Heritage in South-East Europe, which then developed into a yearly meeting supported by UNESCO.
Last but not least, the Ministers and Heads of delegations of participating countries are set to approve a new “Regional Strategy for Cultural Cooperation in South East Europe”, which will outline priority areas for future cooperation to enhance culture as a driver for sustainable development, as well as relevant action strategies and monitoring mechanisms.
The event will consist of two sessions – a preparatory meeting of officials (27 June) followed by the meeting of the Ministers and Heads of Delegations (28 June).
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The event is organized within the overall framework of UNESCO’s global initiative “Culture: A Bridge to Development”, which aims to develop innovative solutions for the safeguarding of culture in all its forms, as a tool for sustainable social, economic and human development.