Batumi Declaration of the European Cultural Parliament – 29 September- 2 October 2016
The European Cultural Parliament, ECP,
- Europe is going through a difficult period, shaped by economic crisis and unemployment in many countries, mistrust between the EU and Russia since the beginning of the Georgian and Ukrainian conflicts, different opinions regarding the handling of the refugee crisis and the British decision to leave the European Union,
- Notwithstanding the political and economic differences today there is a set of values which should be common for all 47 European countries, members or the Council of Europe. These values are based on the universal values of democracy, human rights, the rule of law and the rights of women. These values should be understood through a greater knowledge of history. The history teaching throughout Europe has been decreasing in dramatic proportions.
- The result of the British referendum on leaving the European Union was disappointing, not least for cultural cooperation. Although it is unclear when, how and even if the “Brexit” will be implemented, concern was expressed as to the consequences for future cultural cooperation and for Europe-oriented young people in the UK.
- The integration of immigrants and refugees is the new big challenge for European societies. Arts and Culture, not least the performing arts, are providing some of the possible platforms for successful integration and such initiatives should be promoted.
- Cultural projects within individual countries, e.g. in music, dance, visual arts or theatre, already offer important contributions to the integration of refugees and other new citizens. These activities should be intensified.
- Georgia, Ukraine and other countries with association agreements with the EU are trying to base their cultural identity on European values, including a strong role for civil society. The complicated relationship with the big neighbor Russia, including armed conflicts, complicates this process, although personal links and contacts still exist and should be developed.
- The freedom of expression in media and in arts is not negotiable. Provocation and caricature are self-evident parts of this freedom.
- Cultural exchange across the borders, in big or small projects, will contribute essentially to better understanding and will counter neo-nationalistic and anti-European tendencies.
- Cultural understanding is one of the prerequisites for conflict solving.
- Thus, the role of culture and cultural diplomacy is more important than ever in the present situation. Artists and other cultural personalities could make great contributions to bridging differences between the various regions of Europe. The ECP and the Caucasus Foundation intend to develop this idea further and create a Cultural Diplomacy Academy, involving other potential partners.
- Governments and other supporters of culture and arts should have in mind that culture is vital both in itself and as a guarantee for free and open societies and for democracy. Financial savings in culture is a dangerous road which should be avoided.
- The arts have always been leading in setting new trends. Artists are the facilitators of change. Society has a lot to learn from the creative processes of artists.
The ECP expressed concern about
- the status of these European values in today´s Turkey. Fortunately the coup d´Etat threatening democracy was thwarted; a successful coup in a European country would have been a great setback to European values. However, ECP has noted with great concern the repressive actions against thousands of journalists, teachers and other intellectuals undertaken in the aftermath of the coup attempt. The cultural community in Europe should show solidarity with their Turkish colleagues by keeping direct contact with them.
The ECP further
- honored its Members Paul Robertson, UK, and Leonidas Donskis, Lithuania, with a silent minute. The violinist Paul Robertson died in July 2016 and the philosopher Leonidas Donskis in September 2016. Both will be remembered as extremely creative members and as great Europeans.
- commemorated the 10th anniversary of the death of ECP member Anna Politkovskaya, Russia, who was murdered in Moscow on 7 October 2006
The ECP expressed
- gratitude to the Government of the Autonomous Republic Ajara of Georgia and its Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, and the Stichting Caucasus Foundation (SCF) for inviting ECP members and organizing the session.
The next ECP session
- will be held in Rotterdam, Netherlands on 11-13 May 2017. Furthermore there will be an ECP symposium within the framework of the project “Transatlantic Dialogue”, Luxemburg, 24-27 May 2017.