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Culturelink Joint Publications Series

publication: contents - preface - conclusions  /  conference: announcement - report

The Mediterranean: Cultural Identity and Intercultural Dialogue

Preface

The international conference on "The Mediterranean: Cultural Identity and Prospects for Intercultural Dialogue" was held in Dubrovnik, 5-7 December 1997, organized by Europe House Zagreb and Culturelink/IMO. The conference brought together some sixty participants from Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, France, Germany, Holy See, Hungary, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, the United States, FR Yugoslavia, UNESCO, the Council of Europe, the European Commission, and the European Cultural Foundation.

The conference met in six sessions and displayed a wealth of ideas and approaches to problems of cultural identity and intercultural dialogue in the Mediterranean.

"The Mediterranean cultural identity" is understood primarily as an awareness of diversity and a search for intercultural dialogue. The key words to designate such identity are "heritage" and "mediation". A better prospect perhaps would be the creation of a living civilization rather than the constant invocation of heritage.

"The Mediterranean culture(s) in the crossfire of political realism, geopolitics and globalisation" pointed towards a new understanding of interdependence in the Mediterranean. A reinterpretation of the Mediterranean as a region is an absolute necessity, as is also a diversification at a different level than at present.

"Interethnic and interreligious dialogue in the Mediterranean" is needed to alleviate the conflicts between particularism opposed to openness, communication and cooperation. The states have the key role in combating nationalism and religious hatred ("religious nationalism") and in stimulating democracy and civil society.

"The Euro-Mediterranean cultural programmes: Which policy for cooperation and dialogue?" presented a number of specialized programmes of cooperation in fields such as theatre, education and others, and pointed out the difficulties of finding the resources for the realization of such programmes.

"Intercultural relations and prospects for peace in South-Eastern Europe" was a session done mostly by the participants from the former Yugoslavia, who stressed the lack of democracy and tolerance in this part of the world.

"The prospects for Mediterranean intercultural dialogue" lies in the openness of communication channels in all spheres, in the intercultural and transcultural nature of the Mediterranean. Networks can have an important role in these processes of exchange of cultural values and strengthening of cultural communication.

The proceedings comprise some thirty papers and discussions, a testimony of the abundance of ideas and thoughts about the Mediterranean as an open cultural and development project, as well as a strong support to the ideas of Mediterraneanism. Some participants proposed the adoption of the "Dubrovnik Declaration", but we hope that - more than yet another declaration - the conference itself and its results will contribute to a redefinition of the Mediterranean and its progress today and in the future.

The reproductions in the proceedings with Dubrovnik motifs are the work of the academic painter Pero Luksa. We are grateful to him for giving us his permission to reproduce these works here.

Our special thanks go to the European Cultural Foundation, which made possible the publication of the proceedings.

The Editor