Vienna, 9 September 2010 Press release

Spindelegger: “Culture makes an essential contribution to the process of European unification”

The Danube Region as a common cultural landscape

Vienna, 9 September 2010 – “In the 21st century the Danube Region is increasingly developing and emerging as Europe’s core region. We have decided to play a role in the enlarged Europe, solely through our sympathy for the Central and Eastern European member states. For this very reason, Austria wants stronger commitment in the Danube region, and culture has to play a key role in this respect,” stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger at this year’s international cultural policy meeting held at Vienna’s Leopold Museum under the motto The Danube Region as a Common Cultural Landscape.

The EU Strategy for the Danube Region, which, among others, was also initiated by Austria, reflects the importance of this region for Europe: “We want to bring this strategy to life and implement practical projects, such as conservation of the sensitive ecological system of the Danube, its development as a waterway, as well as the closer interconnection of regions located along the Danube. Encompassing some 260 million people, the Danube Region should become a common space of knowledge, innovation and co-operation,” continued Spindelegger.

Austria’s international cultural policy also has to play a role in this context: “International cultural policy is, and shall remain, an indispensable cornerstone and pillar of Austria’s foreign policy. Culture enables us to approach each other at a much deeper level, and thus it cannot be left out of the process of European integration. It increases mutual understanding and a European feeling of togetherness. Cultural exchange creates closeness and familiarity in our relations,” affirmed the Foreign Minister.

“The cultural, political, economic and interpersonal relations that have developed in the Danube Region over centuries of good neighbourliness also form the foundation for common future developments: neighbourhood is a geographic fact, and good neighbourliness requires commitment. Art contributes to a better mutual understanding, and I would like to provide new stimuli to these relations through a foreign policy focus on the Danube Region and the Black Sea. Using the resources of foreign policy and, in particular, cultural policy, we want to leave traces, and we want to achieve all of this at a holistic level,” concluded the Foreign Minister.

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