Europa Nostra supports the creation of a History teaching Observatory for Peace in Europe

Ahead of the meeting of Education Ministers of the State Parties to the European Cultural Convention organised in Paris on 26 November in the frame of the French Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Europa Nostra expressed its full support for the creation of a History teaching Observatory for Peace in Europe (HOPE). This support was expressed in a letter addressed to the French Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer and the French Secretary of State in charge of European Affairs Amélie de Montchalin. During the meeting, 23 countries have confirmed their support to this initiative, whose objective is to stimulate debate and sharing of best practices in teaching our common history and heritage. It ultimately aims at promoting peace, European values, mutual respect and at fostering a sense of belonging to Europe.

An Observatory on History Teaching for peace and reconciliation in Europe

European history is part of our shared heritage: it should unite rather than divide. Discussing the past and exchanging points of view are powerful tools for peace and bringing people together. The Observatory project is launched on the basis of the report prepared by Alain Lamassoure, former French Minister and MEP, following an evaluation mission entrusted to him by the French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe. The Observatory will take the legal form of an Enlarged Partial Agreement of the Council of Europe, a type of specific cooperation within the organisation enabling all States which so wish, and all relevant international organisations, to join this initiative.

The Observatory does not seek to impose a single vision of history but rather to give a neutral, objective appraisal of history teaching in schools throughout Europe and enable dialogue between specialists and curriculum managers on the issue. The Observatory’s work will aim to encourage debate and to share and disseminate best practice for history teaching. This initiative will help form a collective European consciousness.

In their support letter, the Executive President of Europa Nostra Hermann Parzinger and Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, congratulated the French Presidency for seizing the occasion of the Council of Europe’s 70th anniversary to launch this initiative: “The evocative name proposed – HOPE (History teaching Observatory for Peace in Europe) – rightly underlines that the purpose of this initiative is to contribute to the strengthening of peace in Greater Europe and to reconciliation and mutual respect between different countries and communities in Europe,” they wrote.

They also referred to the text of the Paris ManifestoRelançons l’Europe par la culture et le patrimoine culturel !” released by Europa Nostra following the European Cultural Heritage Summit in Paris (27-30 October 2019),which specifically mentions the need to give a greater place in the school curriculum to the teaching of the history of European culture and awareness. They also strongly recommended to involve in this initiative the existing European networks that have already been working on this matter (such as EUROCLIO and My House of European History) and to engage civil society partners in the project’s implementation. Finally, they stressed the role of our shared culture and cultural heritage as positive and cohesive tools for history teaching in Europe.

The Observatory project was presented to the public during the “Teaching History, Teaching Peace: Confronting and Reconciling Memories in Europe” event, organised on 12 November as part of the Paris Peace Forum, with the participation of the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Minister for National Education and Youth and the Minister of State for European Affairs.

23 countries have shown their support for this project at the Education Ministers’ Meeting which France held in Paris on 26 November. France has pledged a special contribution of €200,000 to the budget of the European Council in order to finance the project’s launch phase.

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