Visit to Marseille and meeting with French President François Hollande
On Saturday 12 January the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso attended the inauguration of Marseille-Provence as the European Capital of Culture 2013. In the evening, he met with President Hollande in Paris.
At the beginning of his speech at the opening ceremony in Marseille President Barroso addressed France's intervention in Mali: "we support you in these difficult times and we support the courageous actions of the French troops," he said.
Later in the evening he reiterated his message to French President François Hollande when they met at the Élysée Palace in Paris. The leaders then discussed various topics including the ways Europe can accelerate its support for areas in humanitarian emergency and the agenda of the upcoming European Council.
The launch of Marseille-Provence 2013 took place during the whole weekend 12-13 January and offered – apart from other events – four festive highlights: a public opening ceremony, the opening of a contemporary art exhibition in Aix-en-Provence, a treasure hunt in Marseille-Provence and a fireworks display in Arles.
The following weekend (19-20 January), the other European Capital of Culture 2013 – Košice (Slovakia) will open its festivities profiling the city as the crossing of old routes between East and West. Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth will represent the European Commission there.
The European Capital of Culture is one of the most high-profile cultural events in Europe. The Capitals are selected on the basis of a cultural programme that must have a European dimension, involve the public, be attractive at the European level and fit into the long-term development of the city. It is an excellent opportunity for the cities to change their image, attract tourism and rethink their own development through culture.