Culture essential for the EU
The European conference entitled 'Cultural Diplomacy: Fostering International Cultural Dialogue, Diversity and Sustainability' was held in Malta yesterday as part of its Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers. The conference, opened officially by Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici, aimed at strengthening the relationship between countries in the areas of culture and heritage.
The conference addressed various culture-related topics high on the Maltese Presidency agenda, such as issues of cultural diplomacy and the preservation of cultural heritage. The Maltese Presidency has chosen culture as a central theme of its agenda, assuming the role of an honest broker between the EU members.
Minister Bonnici stated that today’s world is facing new challenges such as fake news, radicalisation, illegal migration and cyber threats, which are abusing cultural diversity by creating divisions among peoples. He also highlighted Malta’s belief that different cultures are fundamental bridges that can bring people together in new ways by strengthening relationships through understanding. 'Culture and cultural activity are essential to our union,' said Minister Bonnici.
Minister Bonnici remarked that culture and cultural cooperation cannot be considered in isolation from all other activities of our societies, because they are intrinsically intertwined. Cultural cooperation should be treated in a holistic manner and should be based on three main points: as a tool for diplomacy, as a means of sustainability of social and economic development, and for cooperation on cultural heritage.
He continued that culture should be seen as an element that intertwines with other sectors such as tourism, education, research, creative industries and new technology, adding that through culture we strive to leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
Moreover, while the cultural sphere creates jobs in its own right, the rehabilitation and the promotion of cultural heritage attract tourists, thus boosting the economy and creating employment. The Minister urged the audience to engage in a debate on the strategic approach to international cultural relations in order to help creative industries to continue expanding, thus creating growth and jobs.