Friends of Europe policy journal releases Europa Nostra’s article “Invest in culture against rising walls in the EU’s neighbourhood”

In an article published on 1 December 2021 in the online policy journal of the renowned think tank Friends of Europe, Europa Nostra calls for investment in culture against rising walls in the EU’s neighbourhood. The article, co-written by Europa Nostra’s Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović and Europa Nostra Serbia’s Secretary General Vesna Marjanović, is part of the Balkans Journey series of the Friends of Europe online policy journal, which seeks to circumvent stagnant debates on enlargement in order to focus on moving the region forward in practical terms through political imagination and forward-looking solutions.

In the article “Invest in culture against rising walls in the EU’s neighbourhood”, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović and Vesna Marjanović recall the many cultural bonds shared by the EU and the Western Balkans – from histories, heritage and languages to literature, folklore and myths, and call on the EU to intensify projects in support of these shared heritage and cultural values. “This could lead to a re-unification of cultures and memories, in addition to the integration of our markets, and be submitted as ‘conditio sine qua non’ of the Western Balkans’ future membership to the EU,” reads the article.

The article applauds the recent launch of the Western Balkans Agenda on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport at the EU-Western Balkans Summit held in Brdo pri Kranju, Slovenia, last October as a timely and most welcomed step. “However, we need to make sure that citizens and communities are indeed enjoying the benefits of these initiatives,” wrote Europa Nostra’s Secretary General and Europa Nostra Serbia’s Secretary General, who urge the EU to give higher priority to culture within its Western Balkans Agenda.

Throughout the article, the authors outline the vital role of culture in encouraging creative responses to political, social and environmental challenges as well as a key resource for intellectual renewal and human capital in the region. Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović and Vesna Marjanović also call to extend the ideas and principles of the European Green Deal and the New European Bauhaus beyond the present borders of the EU by providing support for innovative, sustainable and inclusive urban policies and national and local levels through investment in the protection of heritage.

The enemies of Europe may be loud, but regardless of the many barriers that we are facing now, we need to reinvent ourselves and make sure that we do not succumb to fear, estrangement and lack of solidarity. The Europeans of the Western Balkans are still dedicated to European values, with the ideals of democracy, human rights and the rule of law at their core. They are the real partners of the European Union,” they conclude.

On 7 december 2021, Europa Nostra’s Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović will contribute to the Balkans Summit “Shifting the narrative – a revitalised approach to the Western Balkans” organised online by Friends of Europe.

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