|A Word of Welcome|
AN AMBITION FOR EUROPA NOSTRA
I am very proud to be the new President of Europa Nostra whose mission is so essential for Europe today. Throughout my life, I was given the chance to perform in incredibly beautiful, even wondrous, historic places around the globe. Recently, I had the privilege to be one of the main protagonists of the live broadcast of “Rigoletto” from Mantova. It demonstrated, again and again, the extent to which Europe contributed - through its breath-taking wealth of art, music, architecture, paintings - to the achievements of humankind. As Europeans, we have to be proud of that legacy. And we have to take full responsibility for transmitting this heritage in good shape to future generations.
In accepting this Presidency, I trust that we will work tirelessly to safeguard Europe’s cultural heritage whenever it is threatened by natural calamities, by human beings or by neglect or even ignorance. In doing so, we shall be the Voice of all those citizens and communities who are connected today to this heritage. Let us never forget: our mission is not only about stones; it is also and mostly about people!
For this reason we felt it to be a moral duty to raise our voice urging for the ancient city of L’Aquila to be duly restored after the devastating 2009 earthquake. What is happening - still today - in L’Aquila is extremely sad. People have not only lost their houses, they run the risk of also losing the memory and the roots which are connected to this historic city. We therefore must continue calling for L’Aquila and its surroundings to be saved without further delay. This wonderful expression of the beauty and the soul of Italy and Europe must not be lost.
For the same reason, Europa Nostra tried to save the unique Roman site of Allianoi. Alas, we did not manage to stop the flooding caused by an irrigation dam. But we know that this campaign will have a far-reaching impact on our attempts to save future cases of endangered heritage in Turkey and elsewhere in Europe.
Under my Presidency, I wish to encourage Europa Nostra to promote actively access to heritage and art for the new generations of Europeans. How to inspire and encourage young Europeans, often with a very mixed ethnic and cultural background, to take an interest in culture and cultural heritage? First and foremost, by investing in education. Culture, art, heritage need to be made available and accessible to Europeans from their early childhood. They should become aware and proud of their heritage while at the same time learning to respect and enjoy the culture and heritage of others.
Sadly, in some parts of Europe, cultural heritage continues to be victim of confrontations, religious, ethnic or political. Europa Nostra must therefore actively promote, at all levels, dialogue and mutual understanding through the respect of our shared heritage and history. We must spread this message of peace which is so important for the future of Europe and for the future of our cultural heritage. This part of our mission is particularly close to my heart!
As a Spaniard and a European, I am delighted to work for Europa Nostra with such an extraordinary and enthusiastic team. I personally wish to thank all our members and volunteers, and also all our donors and sponsors. Without your dedication and support, Europa Nostra cannot fulfil its ambitious goal: to be the Voice of Europe’s growing citizens’ movement for cultural and natural heritage. I wish to encourage many new members and supporters to join our movement.
President of Europa Nostra