More than 100 European artists and cultural actors from 40 countries met in Pécs, Hungary, on 13-16 October. Upon the invitation of the City of Pécs the European Cultural Parliament, ECP, held its 10th Session at the new Kodaly Centre.
The Hungarian Minister of National Resources, Mr Miklós Réthelyi and the Mayor of Pécs, Dr Zsolt Páva, welcomed the participants on the 14th October. The conference contained several sessions of general debate, three workshops, a big commonly composed “European buffet”, a Schumann concert in the Kodaly concert hall by ECP members and visits to the Zsolnay Centre and the Cella Septichora.
The theme of the ECP Session was “The Relevance of Europe – European Culture, Politics and Economy in the Era of Global Competition”. Keynote speaker on the theme was the Hungarian film director and Oscar Prize winner István Szabó. Other guest speakers on the theme were Dr Kate Coyer, USA and Dr Rui Vieira Nery, Portugal.
In its “Pecs Declaration” (see annex) ECP members concluded that Culture should have a crucial role in strengthening the European project in these times of crisis in economy and governance. They also stressed the importance of artistic freedom and independence from political or economic pressure. The ECP sees itself as an advocate for European values like democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and tolerance. The cultural parliament is a lobby for European integration, for cultural cooperation between the EU and its neighboring countries and against nationalism and discrimination of minorities.
A workshop discussing the experiences of Pécs European Capital of Culture 2010 and similar projects advocated a stronger European emphasis on this fascinating institution, now 26 years old. The ECP will make proposals to the EU Commission for strengthening the European dimension of cultural capitals.
Another workshop discussed the development in the Balkans and Danube area and discussed the conditions for artists in this region. The new EU Danube strategy offers interesting perspectives for a more prominent role for culture in the region.
A third workshop debated European limits for tolerance. Both the issue “how can we tolerate intolerance”, the new Hungarian media law and issues related to minorities in central and eastern Europe were debated.
Recently a youth network of young artists and cultural experts between the ages of 20 and 35, based in Europe, has been founded. This ECP YN is an extended branch of the ECP and created within its framework. The founders and members of the network are united by a common interest in boosting the value of arts and culture and strengthening European cohesion.
The ECP YN met for the first time on October 12 and 13 in Pécs with sessions both at the House for arts and literature and at the Kodály Centre. Participants came from Germany, Poland, Greece, Estonia, Romania, Spain, Great Britain, Sweden and Hungary. This first session aimed to produce content to a recommendation for the new EU Cultural budget; 2014-2020. Several subjects were discussed, for example: « The importance of cultural arenas and meeting places for young people » and « Active citizenship through culture ».
All ECP members, including the youth network expressed enthusiasm over the efficient and friendly reception in the beautiful city of Pécs.