President of the European Committee of the Regions Markku Markkula addresses Congress’ participants in Turku
“Citizens have much more power in their hands than they are aware of” concludes the Turku Manifesto: Participation Counts for Heritage. The Turku Manifesto was presented in the historic capital of Finland on 14 May 2017, during the European Heritage Congress, with the contribution of Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR).
Based on discussions at the Forum ‘Sharing heritage: citizens’ participation in decision making related to heritage’ that was held on the previous day, the Manifesto was jointly presented by Anna-Maija Halme from Europa Nostra Finland and Astrid Weij, Europa Nostra’s Board member, before the afternoon session of the Excellence Fair at the Sigyn Hall.
The CoR President commented on the Manifesto immediately after its presentation. In his keynote address, President Markkula stressed the need to showcase achievements in heritage restoration much more, adding that “spending in the field of culture is not a luxury but an influential investment in human capital”. For this, he acknowledged that it would be necessary to change the mindsets of decision-makers both at European and at regional level.
With particular reference to the Turku Manifesto, Markku Markkula highlighted that it “encourages the role of citizens to be more involved in the decision-making process”, explaining that this is “what our councillors, mayors and CoR members are calling for”. Having been able to witness presentations of the winners of the 2017 EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, the President of the EU’s assembly of regional and local representatives positively commented on the fact that the Manifesto encouraged citizens to participate and concluded that “engagement comes from awareness”.
Europa Nostra’s Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović thanked President Markkula for addressing the participants of the European Heritage Congress 2017 and presented him with the report “Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe” and the newly launched Finnish edition of the Executive Summary of the Report.
Shortly after his keynote speech at the European Heritage Congress, President Markkula stressed the links with Europa Nostra and shared the good practices with CoR members on the occasion of a seminar, organised by the Committee’s commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture on 19 May 2017 in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The European Committee of the Regions is the EU’s assembly of regional and local representatives, composed of 350 members from the 28 EU countries who are regional presidents, mayors or elected representatives of regions and cities. In 2015, Europa Nostra organised a networking event around its photo exhibition on the European Heritage Awards, in cooperation with the CoR. In view of the Committee’s involvement in the European Year of Cultural Heritage and the proposed EU strategy for international cultural relations, Europa Nostra will continue to further develop its good cooperation with the CoR.