The European Union organises a conference on culture in Tunis under the Patronage of Johannes Hahn

November 14, 2018
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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.



Dear participants,


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” Symposia series that 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




Day 1


16 November

The Mediterranean in the 21st century

12.00: Arrival


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

Gitte Zschoch, EUNIC Global director, Brussels


15.30 – 15.45: Coffee break


15.45 – 17.15: Geography and its cultural impact


Moderator: Hedwig Kainberger, Journalist, Salzburg

Senen Florensa, President of the Executive Committee of the IEMed, Barcelona

Gabi Kratochwil, Founder and Managing Director of “Cross Cultures Network”, Frechen/ Cologne

Lynn Tehini, Advisor at the Lebanese Ministry of Culture, Lebanon


20.00: Networking dinner at the Restaurant DAR EL-JELD





17 November

Culture as a driver for change, economic growth and prosperity

9.00 – 9.15: Impulse Statements


Francis Ghilès, Senior Research Fellow, CIDOB, Barcelona

Marwa Helmy, British Council, Team Leader/ Key expert in the “Towards a Framework for the creative Economy” project, Egypt


9.15 – 11.00: Discussion on the role of art and artists in the Mediterranean society


Moderator: Hedwig Kainberger, Journalist, Salzburg

Songül Öden, Actress in Turkish soap operas, Istanbul

Mohamed Ben Slama, Musician, artist, entrepreneur, Tunisia

Abdelaziz Belkhodja, Author of “La femme en noir”, Tunisia

Youssouf Amine Elalamy, Author, Morocco

Sarah Belkhamsa, Researcher at Institute ACTE (UMR 8218) and University Paris Pantheon Sorbonne, leader of two programs funded by the project Tfanen, Paris

Brahim El Mazned, Artistic Director of several festivals including Visa for Music, Morocco

Leila Ben-Gacem, Socio-Cultural Opportunities designer, Founder of Blue Fish, Tunisia


11.15 – 12.00: Coffee Break – performance #EU4Youth “Operetta Al-Alia”, by 7th Dimension Association at the Central Reception Hall


12.00 – 13.30: Discussion on the cultural heritage in the Mediterranean area


Moderator: Silvio Gonzato, Director for Inter-institutional relations, policy coordination and public diplomacy, European External Action Service

Raya Ben Guiza Verniers, PhD in Archeology and History of arts, Master Assistant at Institut of Fine Arts of Nabeul, co founder and owner of Agence Hapax, communication and strategies agency in Tunis

Mourad Mathari, Leader of “Scoop Organisation”, Tunisia

Houssem Aoudi, Founder of COGITE, Tunisia


13.30 – 14.30: Lunch break – #EU4Youth visit of the exhibition of EU-funded projects at the Central Reception Hall


14.30 – 16.00: Discussion on the role of women as the driver for change


Moderator: Colin Scicluna, Director and Deputy Managing Director of Middle East and North Africa, European External Action Service

Samira Hadjdjilani, President of the Network of Media Professionals (TV and cinema), Vice-President of the Leading Women Network of the Maghreb, Algeria

Shahrazad Magrabi, President of Libyan Women Forum, Libya

Yomna El Sharidy, President of Business Women of Egypt21, Egypt

Leila Belkhiria Jaber, President of “Chambre Nationale Des Femmes Chefs D’entreprises”, Tunisia


16.00 – 16.15: Coffee break


16.15 – 17.30: Discussion on youth mobility as key for intercultural understanding and cultural entrepreneurship


Moderator: Michael Köhler, Director for Neighbourhood South, European Commission

Maguéye Kassé, Professor at the University Cheikh Anta Diop “Intercultural communication in the globalization process, Africa and Europe”, Dakar

Younes Boumehdi, Director of Hit Radio, Morocco

Gino Raidy, EU partner on events and campaigns, Lebanon

Krizia Nardini, Researcher in Gender Studies, Barcelona

Asiem El Difraoui, Senior Fellow, Institut für Medien- und Kommunikationspolitik, Chefredakateur Zenit, Cologne


17.45 – 19.30: Cocktail dinner at the Cité de la Culture


20:00 – 21:20: Concert at the Cité de la Culture “24 parfums”




18 November

The future of the Euro-Mediterranean cultural partnership

9.30 – 11.00: Discussion on Digital4Culture in the Mediterranean


Moderator: Colin Scicluna, Director and Deputy Managing Director of Middle East and North Africa, European External Action Service

Laila Hazaineh, Social media Arab feminist, Jordan

Soukeina Bouraoui, Director of Center of Arab Women for Training and Research (CAWTAR), Tunisia

Mohamed Laamiri, Cultural Research studies, Morocco

Lina Ben Mhenni, Journalist, Tunisia


11.00 – 11.15: Coffee break


11.15 – 13.15: EU-Mediterranean cultural cooperation in action


Moderator: Michael Köhler, Director for Neighbourhood South, European Commission

Matteo Malvani, Head of the project “Tfanen-Tunisie Creative”, Tunisia

Christiane Dabdoub Nasser, Cultural Heritage professional and Team Leader of Med-Culture Programme, Brussels

Ahmed Zaouche, Regional coordinator of NET-MED Youth at UNESCO, Paris

Anis Boufrikha, Anna Lindh Foudation Tunisia / CEO 2521 project /Head of “We love Sousse”, Tunisia

Anna Lucia Pinto, Project Coordinator, Interarts, Barcelona

Valerio Caruso, Director of, Brussels

Giulio Vinaccia, Art Director of Creative Mediterranean project, Vienna


13.15 – 13.30: Closing remarks by EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn


13.30 – 14.30: Closing lunch