26 May, 2003
Culture ministers from 25 European Union member-states and acceding-states gathered in Thessaloniki over the weekend for an informal summit meeting here, only weeks before the EU summit takes place in a Thessaloniki-area resort.
Expectedly, the issue of Europe’s unified policies vis-a-vis the United States’ prolific and lucrative audio-visual production dominated the session.
In a press conference after the informal summit’s conclusion, EU Commissioner Viviane Reding stressed to reporters that “we do not want to become the United States of Europe ... we will retain our cultural diversity, we do not want to become a melting pot, our roots are our advantage.”
Asked about Greece’s standing request for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens from the British Museum, Reding, the EU Commissioner responsible for education and culture, said: “This is a bilateral issue.”
However, she also referred to the EU’s position over the close relationship and cooperation between museums of the 25 European countries.
On his part, Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who hosted the event held under the Greek EU presidency’s auspices, reiterated that the EU supports UNESCO’s initiatives, while also recognizes the international agency’s role on the international stage. Among others, he cited the need for a multilateral agreement for the protection and promotion of the world’s cultural diversity.
In fact, Reding and Venizelos are due to meet with UNESCO UNESCO Director-General Koοchiro Matsuura in a few days to discuss the issue. Various cultural events coincided with the informal culture ministers’ summit, including a performance of an ancient comedy, performances by various dance and music troupes as well as tours of Byzantine-era cathedrals were on the agenda.
Source: Athens News Agency