Impact of European Union's Cultural Activities on Establishing a European Identity
The conference entitled The Impact of European Union's Cultural Activities on Establishing a European Identity was held in Samsun, Turkey, on 12-13 July 2010. The event was initiated by the European Economic and Social Studies Association (AESDER) from Samsun and co-organized by the Culturelink Network. Besides the mentioned co-organizers, members of the following local civil society organizations and local administration have also participated in the conference: Council of Samsun, Samsun's Women Entrepreneurship and Culture Association, Samsun University (Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences), Samsun Directorate of Tourism and Culture, and Samsun Directorate of National Education. The Culturelink Network team was represented by Professor Vjeran Katunaric and Jeronim Dorotic.
Due to the fact that by creating current EU polices in the field of culture European policy-makers have already acknowledged the importance culture has for the overall European integration process, the specific goal of the conference was to offer further insights into the aims and objectives of the European (EU) cultural activities and their subsequent role in the European identity building process. Moreover, the general aim of the conference was also to encourage co-operation between European cultural and civil society organizations, to deepen intercultural dialogue among all participants, as well as to set a platform for future multicultural projects at the European level. Given that both Turkey and Croatia are currently EU candidate countries, this conference offered a unique opportunity for participants from both countries to exchange personal experiences and ideas about the EU and its cultural initiatives.
Culturelink Network member Jeronim Dorotic presented the topic Application of the EU Programmes in the Field of Culture: A Step Forward in Carving the European Identity? The aim of Dorotic's presentation was to define the EU cultural programmes as tools for implementation and achievement of European cultural policy goals, and to analyze their "integrative and identity-building features". In this context, broad definitions of "European identity" were discussed, and followed by the presentation of experiences of the participants in European cultural programmes. Finally, by applying the conceptual lenses of Europeanization and Social Constructivism Dorotic offered final insights into the potential impact of the EU cultural initiatives on subjective changes (i.e. identity). In the paper entitled Weak Identity of the EU: Towards the Network State or a New Yugoslavia? Professor Vjeran Katunaric provides interesting insights into the European identity concept by claiming that "actual weakness of the European identity" could be interpreted as "both an asset and a liability". Therefore, Katunaric in general argues that the "EU can be seen as a project of an open society able to integrate societies in the neighborhood", but at the same time "the weak identity of the EU might be taken as a warning signal of disintegration of the Union" as it was the case with former Yugoslavia.
The event was moderated by Ozgur Karademir, President of the AESDER, who opened the conference and delivered a speech about the The Cultural Aspects of the EU. Moreover, the Vice President of the AESDER, Cemalettin Komurcu, presented useful information about the EU's Funding Opportunities 2010 in the field of culture, whereas Prof. Osman Kose from Samsun University talked about the European identity concept in the Turkish context. Among other local participants, it is important to mention Ms. Fisun Yalcin from the Women Entrepreneurship and Culture Association and Omer Idris, editor of the local Yolcu Magazine.