Presidents of France, Romania and Portugal sent personal messages to European Cultural Heritage Summit
One of the highlights of the European Cultural Heritage Summit – the concluding session of the European Policy Debate “Cultural Heritage for the Future of Europe” – commenced with a surprise announcement for the audience: French President Emmanuel Macron, the Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis and the Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa had each sent personal messages to the European Policy Debate. It was the honour of the co-chairs of this session – Uwe Koch, Head of Office of the German Cultural Heritage Committee (DNK), and Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra – to read out these personal messages at the beginning of the concluding session, held on 22 June in Berlin.
In his message, French President Emmanuel Macron emphasised how cultural heritage connects the past and future in Europe, thus constituting a cohesive and binding force for the European project: “Although we are so diverse, we are a community thanks to this very special link with our history, with artistic creation, with the beauty that surrounds us, and with our territories.” (courtesy translation from French) President Macron also mentioned the French contribution to a future European strategy for cultural heritage by highlighting the important mission of Stéphane Bern – who was one of the panel speakers at the concluding session – and by announcing the “Assises du patrimoine”, or “heritage assemblies” which will take place in the autumn of 2018 in France.
Likewise, the President of Romania, Klaus Werner Iohannis acknowledged in his message that Europe’s shared heritage is a valuable resource and reaffirmed Romania’s commitment to “consolidating the European project”, also with regard to his country’s upcoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2019.
The President of the Portuguese Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, also made a forceful statement in his message on the European Year at a time when Europe faces fundamental challenges: “What is at stake here is a free and responsible citizenship and a union of free and sovereign states. A culture of peace can only last if it is based on care and awareness, on knowledge and understanding, on creativity and the ability to innovate.”
These messages of commitment from political leaders illustrate that cultural heritage is indeed at the top of the European agenda and their words demonstrate their conviction in the cohesive and integrative power of cultural heritage.
The speakers and panellists of the session that followed contributed further to the message laid out by these written statements with their own contributions to the concluding session of the European Policy Debate.