Ulrich Bunjes, Council of Europe

Ulrich Bunjes, Council of Europe

The council of Europe is an international association consisting of 47
national members hence being larger than the EC. We view cultural diversity in a
wider sense, intercultural diversity due to the redrafting of national
frontiers, creating national minorities. The migration has increased,
accelerated by split ups like the ones of the former Soviet / Yugoslavia and
with the effect of the globalization adding layers to this concept.

2005 we put intercultural dialogue at the top of our agenda, the UN followed
suit and now the EC in 2008. It is not a European question it’s a world wide. If
the theme is so complex with so many discussing it we felt we needed a common
frame of reference and therefore decided to publish a white paper which will be
done by the Council in December 2007. The paper will summarize the collected
experience, where we’ve been consulting stakeholders of all 47 nations,
religious, media etc – the issue is a burning issue.

The main ideas being published in the paper are:

  1. Common values – core values uniting Europe
    (in a legal form, human
    rights, law, democracy etc.)
  2. Dialogue but not between Islam and the West – it’s wider. We put the
    emphasis on minorities and majorities for coexisting within Europe but also with
    the neighbouring regions outside Europe. A dialogue on a local level.
  3. Religion, the Council has hardly ever expressed itself on religious matters,
    here we acknowledge that religion place a role, we see a certain danger limiting
    cultural aspect to religious matters where it is easy to fall into the trap not
    recognising inner pluralism.
  4. Assimilation, how does it fit into classical portfolio of assimilation, of
    those who don’t share the predominant culture? Addressing the question of
    cultivation or multiculturalism – to be able to live together with our different

We would appreciate to continue this discussion with the ECP.

Question from the audience;
· Who do the Council
dialogue with in the world of the arts?

The council is an instrument for agreeing on European standards, it
is not a transnational union, it has a parliamentary structure. The government
has to get advice from many stakeholders, also in the fields of artistic
policymakers. In this aspect we are in touch with many cultural actors for the
development of cultural policies.

· You’ve started defining non negation able laws as a springboard
towards a dialogue on local, national and international level. Is it possible to
see these levels in the same light, to combine, in order to find

We will come closer to harmonious views on each level but more
instruments in the protection of European minority matters. In the wake of
September 11 we observe that nations fall back in old traps from the progress
done during last 50 years. The system of human rights goes beyond national
levels. Progress is even more difficult with our neighbouring regions to Europe.
A little progress is being made but slowly.

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