The European Union organises a conference on culture in Tunis under the Patronage of Johannes Hahn
November 14, 2018
From 16 to 18 November, the Conference “Rethinking the Euro-Mediterranean cultural partnership” will take place in Tunis at La Cité de la Culture. The event is organised by the European Union under the Patronage of Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations. The Conference will be held in four languages: Arabic, English, French and German.
I warmly welcome you in Tunis to rethink the Euro-Mediterranean cultural partnership. The Mediterranean region is not only a vibrant and colourful region it is also subject to constant evolution and change. Being part of the Arabic peninsula and the African continent also makes it a region of geostrategic interest facing multiple challenges. For example, by 2050 one in four people on earth will be African. This is why the president of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker stated in his latest state of the Union speech that “we need to invest more in our relationship with the nations of this great and noble continent.” The relationship with our Southern Mediterranean neighbours can only be sustainable if we see eye to eye with each other. Therefore, the investment in this relationship starts first and foremost with the mutual understanding of our cultures and traditions in order to be able to define common challenges and goals.
This is precisely why I am convinced that it is so important to interweave culture and world politics. In other words: Politics needs more culture and culture needs more politics. It is not a coincidence that 2018 is the European year of cultural heritage. By focussing on culture, we want to fully benefit from its capacity to build bridges, alleviate tensions and foster dialogue. This has always been the idea behind the Michael Fischer “Rethinking Europe” Symposiaseriesthat started in 2012.
The 2018 edition expands this concept to the Southern Mediterranean rim, bringing together distinguished guests from academia, politics, media, think tanks, art, business and youth. The conference aims to mobilise cultural representatives from the region and the European Union to embark on closer cooperation to our mutual benefit. It offers a platform to exchange views, to discuss ideas and to get new inspiration.
The Cité de la Culture in Tunis, with its multiple theatres and venues for different arts, offers in this regard the perfect inspiring surrounding. At the same time, the EU is hosting a media conference and a youth flagship event. The media conference, “1ères Assises Internationales du Journalisme de Tunis” wishes to strengthen a network of journalists from both sides of the Mediterranean and discuss crucial issues related to freedom of expression and ethics. The “EU4Youth” event brings together up to 800 students and will allow them to become familiar with the engagement of the European Union in Tunisia and the region through a fair of EU-funded projects and cultural performances which you will be able to attend as well.
As you can see in the programme, Day 1 will take stock of the changes in the region in the last decade and the current challenges. Day 2 will focus on culture as a vector to drive growth, societal change and politics. On Day 3 we will concentrate on the future of cultural cooperation including its importance as a means for political communication (i.e. new communication technology and social media etc.).
Tunisia, which is the setting for our conference, is also harnessing its role as a hub for the whole region. The European Union is there, not only to support, but also to reflect and to learn from inspiring practices in its Neighbourhood. We expect that this conference and its focus on culture will allow for increased networking between our partners, strengthen the relations with our partner countries and bring tangible benefits to citizens on both sides of the Mediterranean. The many projects to be showcased at the conference and the rich and diverse group of interlocutors that will participate are, each and all, drivers for a promising future for the Euro-Mediterranean partnership.
I am looking forward to fruitful and inspiring discussions!
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
The Mediterranean in the 21st century
12.00 – 13.30: Light lunch
13.30 – 13.35: Welcome by Patrice Bergamini, Ambassador of the European Union to Tunisia
13.35 – 13.40: Introduction by Ilse Fischer, Kulturdesign and Unternehmenskultur, Salzburg
13.40 – 14.00: Opening by EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn and Mohamed Zinelabidine, Minister of Cultural Affairs of Tunisia
14.00 – 15.30: Opening to the wider world
Moderator: Patrice Bergamini, Ambassador of the European Union to Tunisia
Jürgen Elvert, Jean Monnet Professor for European History, Cologne
Élisabeth Guigou, President of the Anna Lindh Foundation, Alexandria