The events of the 11 September have underlined the necessity,
recognised by the Heads of State and Government during
their meeting in Gent, to reinforce intercultural dialogue.
To a large degree this is a task for the authorities of
the member states, as much as with regards to their bilateral
relations with developing countries as with all that concerns
the intercultural national fabric. Nonetheless, Europe
should also be contributing, for example in the context
of the ‘Barcelona’ process which aims towards bringing
the European Union, the Mediterranean countries and the
Middle East closer together.
In order to further the possibilities for following up
this dialogue at European level, the Direction general
for Education and Culture and in particular the Jean Monnet
Project is organising on the 20-21 March, a conference
in Brussels on intercultural dialogue.
The aim of this conference is to encourage tolerance,
better knowledge and mutual understanding, notably with
reference to the European Union’s relations with the Mediterranean
countries and those of the Middle East (the external dimension
of the initiative), as well as within the European Union
and its member states (the internal dimension of the initiative).
In addition, this conference aims to provide an important
contribution from the Jean Monnet professors and will
enhance scientific co-operation in this domain. It can
also serve as being the first stage towards setting up
a continuous and fruitful dialogue between those renowned
in the fields of politics, academia and culture.
Also, from an academic point of view, the symposium will
try to provoke a relevant analysis of the numerous aspects
of intercultural relations as well as conclusions and
recommendations of a political nature. These conclusions
will be conveyed to Mr. Prodi and to Mrs. Reding in the
first instance and then to the political decision-makers,
the institutions and to the Ministers when they meet in
Valencia in April.
In order to ensure the scientific quality of the operation,
the Jean Monnet Project has set up a scientific committee,
composed of several professors, Jean Monnet Chair-holders
and specialists in relevant fields, which has the role
of steering the academic aspects of the conference.
With this overall perspective the scientific committee
has confirmed the feasibility of such an academic operation
and has drawn up a programme and framework notes for each
session of the conference.
The final version of the conference programme reveals
to what extent the highest political bodies have committed
themselves to this initiative side by side with speakers
of a very high standard. The inevitable political visibility
of this event will arouse a great deal of media interest.
The symposium will be attended by 400 participants in
total including university professors, MEP’s, members
of the permanent representations, civil servants from
the European institutions, members of civil society as
well as religious representatives.