Wien, 14. December 2009 Press release

Spindelegger: „Dialogue between cultures is an important instrument for strengthening regional cooperation in South Eastern Europe“

First Alliance of Civilization’s South Eastern European Regional Conference in Sarajevo

Vienna, 14 December 2009 - „For the states of South Eastern Europe, the path to the European Union leads through a consistent reform policy. The reunification of Europe, however, can only succeed if the states of the region are also undertaking efforts toward active neighbourly relations. Therefore, cross-border dialogue and regional cooperation are indispensable requirements for a peaceful, stable region with a sustainable developpment. Austria will continue to undertake everything in its power to support its friends on the Western Balkans in these efforts. We can contribute our historic experience, and we are trustful and appreciated partners in the region“, said Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger on the occasion of the first South Eastern Europe Regional Conference of the UN Alliance of Civilizations. The UN Alliance of Civilizations commits itself to a worldwide dialogue between cultures and religions. The conference in Sarajevo will bring together representatives from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Hungary, as well as from Austria, Spain, and Turkey.

The „Regional Strategy for Intercultural Dialogue and Cooperation in South Eastern Europe" and the "Sarajevo Declaration" adopted at the conference create the basis for strengthened cooperation in the areas of youth, education, and media. Together with its partner states, Austria intends to promote youth in particular: "Young people in the region need concrete economic and social perspectives. To achieve this, it is necessary to integrate cultural diversity in the education system and to increase the active participation of young people in politics and society", said the Foreign Minister, adding that "We therefore need a regional symposium on this topic to increase the possibilities of a dialogue and the effective participation of young people in the region and to develop a cross-border exchange of experiences.“ The symposium is to be organized by Austria together with its partners in the region in Sarajevo in autumn 2010. For this reason, Austria also supports the various initiatives by regional and international organizations in the intercultural dialogue, such as the Regional Cooperation Council, the OSCE, or the Council of Europe.

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