Valletta hosts Europa Nostra meetings on 16-18 March
The Board of Europa Nostra, the leading heritage organisation in Europe, will meet on 16-18 March 2017 in Valletta, Malta, on the occasion of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union. It is the first time that Malta is holding the six-month rotating presidency. This is of particular significance as it precedes the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 which also coincides with Valletta being the European Capital of Culture in 2018 (together with Leeuwarden in The Netherlands). The meeting will provide a unique opportunity for Europa Nostra Board members to engage with representatives of the current EU Council Presidency and also with the representatives of the European Commission in Malta on important matters related to cultural heritage, including the value of heritage as a strategic resource for the future of Europe. Europa Nostra Board members will also have meetings with one of its longest standing member organisations Din I-Art Helwa, National Trust of Malta, whose kind support and cooperation were crucial in rendering this meeting possible.
Ahead of the Board meeting, on 9 March, Europa Nostra’s Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović will speak at the European Conference on “Cultural Diplomacy: Fostering International Cultural Dialogue, Diversity and Sustainability”, which is organised by the Maltese Presidency. The conference focusses on the proposed EU Strategy for international cultural relations which recognises as its third pillar the protection of cultural heritage.
On 16-18 March, the delegation from Europa Nostra will be made up of the 12 Board members led by Denis de Kergorlay, Executive President, plus Vice-Presidents Costa Carras (Greece) and Irina Subotic (Serbia) as well as the Chairpersons of the Juries of the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, namely Fani Mallouchou-Tufano (Greece), Işık Aydemir (Turkey), Álvaro Fernández-Villaverde y Silva (Spain) and Goranka Horjan (Croatia).
On 17 March, Ambassador Elena Grech, Head of the European Commission Representation in Malta, will welcome the delegation at Europe House in Valletta and open the afternoon session of the Board meeting which will focus on the upcoming European Year of Cultural Heritage. It is also thanks to the Maltese Presidency that the institutional negotiations on the legal framework for this Year have recently come to an agreement, especially as regards the funding for the Year at EU level. Europa Nostra is therefore particularly grateful that Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government, Owen Bonnici, who represented the Council in these negotiations, will receive the delegation on the same day at the Fortress of St. Angelo. This Fortress has recently been restored, also thanks to financial support from the European Regional Development Fund.
Din I-Art Helwa will host the meeting on the second day at their office in Valletta and present the most recent restoration projects in Malta. Din I-Art Helwa Council members and its Executive President, Maria Grazia Cassar, will join Europa Nostra Board members on this occasion.
This is Europa Nostra’s third visit to Malta and the organisation is particularly encouraged to see the many important restorations taking place in the World Heritage City of Valletta and its major fortifications that are unique to European heritage. Europa Nostra is however particularly concerned that the extraordinary universal value of Valletta and its World Heritage status as a fortified Baroque City are under severe threat from insensitive developments and in particular from skyscrapers planned too close to its walls. Europa Nostra plans to convey its concerns to the Maltese authorities during the forthcoming visit to Malta.
Besides the meetings, Board members will have the opportunity of visiting St. John’s Co-Cathedral on 18 March, whose foundation is also a member organisation of Europa Nostra, and some other heritage sites in Malta. The Europa Nostra delegation will also meet with other Maltese members and supporters of Europa Nostra (see full list).
The entire programme was kindly organised by Simone Mizzi, Board member of Europa Nostra and former Executive President of Din l-Art Helwa, and by Ambassador John Vassallo, a new member of the Europa Nostra Council, both being leading representatives of Europa Nostra in Malta.