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Opatija Declaration – Learning about Intercultural Dialogue

DGIV/CULT/PREV (2005) 1 E/F, Directorate General IV: Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport; Directorate of Culture and Cultural and Natural Heritage; Department of Culture and Cultural Heritage, Council of Europe, 2005, 60 pp.

The Council of Europe has published the Opatija Declaration on Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict-prevention adopted at the Conference of the European Ministers of Culture, held in Opatija, Croatia, on 20-22 October 2003.

The Opatija Declaration details the Ministers' intentions and indicates ways of realising them. Among other things, it proposes the holding of annual 'intercultural forums' to assess 'good practices' in intercultural co-operation and to develop new initiatives in that area. The Conference also decided that cities and towns involved in intercultural cooperation should be brought together within a 'European network of divided towns'.

In addition to its preventive function in areas of tension, the Ministers pointed out that intercultural dialogue helps to encourage understanding and 'discovery of the Other' – learning diversity opens people’s eyes to the world outside, and implies new ways of seeing. Acquiring a 'culture of culture' also helps European countries to affirm their own rich and multi-faceted identities in the world at large.

Apart from its content, the Declaration, unanimously adopted at the end of the Opatija Conference, reflects the determination of all the Culture Ministers to discharge their new responsibilities in this area fully. Governments everywhere must become aware of the important part which cultural policy can play in preventing conflicts. This was the point made by the Ministers, who see the Council of Europe as the ideal forum for that purpose, emphasizing that the Council is the only international structure with the capacity to coordinate these efforts today, and hoping that it will develop its partnership with all those active in culture even further.

The document is available online at http://www.coe.int/T/E/Cultural_Co-operation/Culture/Action/

For further information, please see http://www.coe.int/T/E/Com/Files/Ministerial-Conferences/2003-Culture/.