Photo: Kiril Konstantinov (EU2018BG)
Ministers of Culture of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) partner countries met in Sofia on 1-2 March 2018 to discuss the role of culture in international relations. With the aim of improving cooperation in cultural issues, the ministers agreed to work towards:
- Strengthening cooperation between the cities in the cultural sphere;
- Supporting the international network of professionals in cultural policy, research and innovations, for the benefit of cultural heritage activities through multinational, interdisciplinary projects; and
- Enhancing cooperation with partner countries to combat trafficking in cultural assets.
Boil Banov, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria and chair of the forum, stated:
"We all know that the world is becoming more and more interconnected and interactive today, more and more people have easy and quick access to information. It is crucial for decision-makers to use the resources that each country holds - culture, by fostering cooperation, mutual respect, and better understanding between countries and societies of different history. This is a necessary precondition to ensure peaceful development and building a common basis for meeting global challenges."
Delegates united around the call to increase support for mobility schemes of artists and cultural professionals, especially within the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF). They also discussed the question of how ASEM partner countries could contribute to the international efforts headed by UNESCO to establish a rapid response mechanism to protect cultural heritage sites.
The guests were greeted by the chairman of the Committee on Culture and Media at the National Assembly, Vezhdi Rashidov. The ASEM CMM8 Asia-Europe Meeting of the Ministers of Culture had the motto "The role of culture in international relations: the road ahead". Ambassador Karsten Warnecke, Executive Director of ASEF, underlined that the foundation shows the best of the rich Bulgarian culture and art all over the world.
The work of the forum was divided into three panels:
- Supporting culture as a driver for sustainable social and economic development
- Promoting culture and intercultural dialogue for peaceful inter-community relations
- Enhancing cultural heritage cooperation, including the fight to prevent the illicit trafficking of cultural assets.