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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-06-13

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Athens Summit on water routes

  • [01] Athens Summit on water routes

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias officially opened the 6th Regional Summit Forum of Heads of State of South Eastern Europe, or "Athens Summit: Intercultural encounters on maritime, river and lake routes of South East Europe" on Friday. The culture ministry-organized summit, aimed at strengthening cooperation, communication, mutual understanding and dialogue while focusing on the role of the water element in forming and spreading culture in the region, is held under the auspices of UNESCO and the Council of Europe chaired by President Karolos Papoulias. The forum is held in continuation of the meetings held in Ohrid (2003), Tirana (2004), Varna (2005), Opatija (2006) and Bucharest-Sibiu (2007). All were aimed at boosting regional cooperation on cultural level, while protecting regional cultural heritageand projecting it as a decisive factor in the dynamic development of SE Europe. Opening the conference proceedings, Papoulias referred to the peoples' aspirations concerning development, stability, peace, progress and prosperity, pointing out that Greece's initiative adopted in the meeting in Varna aims at highlighting the perpetual intercultural communication achieved via maritime, river and lake routes. Papoulias encouraged participants to a fruitful cooperation through the systematic mapping of historical water routes that will allow the surfacing of a heritage that concerns the people's daily lives and is not limited strictly to cultural and historic monuments. Addressing the meeting, Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis, the coordinator of the forum proceedings, stressed that water routes allow for communication, exchange of goods and ideas, greater knowledge, friendship ties and reconciliation. Croatian President Stjepan Mesic underlined that sustainable development that respects the environment is necessary, stressing that the region has become the target of greedy profiteers. President of Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov pointed out that the region's peoples will have to realize that they have a lot in common and announced that Bulgarian ambassador to Paris Irina Bokova will be backed by his country for the UNESCO Director-General position. Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic stressed that cultural wealth is the creative work of past generations that needs to be protected, adding that his country has ratified the European treaty for the protection of cultural heritage. Serbia supports all efforts aimed at greater cooperation and understanding among peoples, stressed Serb President Boris Tadic and, referring to the damage caused to religious monuments in his country, stated that roughly 150 churches and monasteries have been damaged during the past nine years while many monuments are still in danger. He expressed optimism that a compromise will be reached in Kosovo, stressing that a historical agreement, a solution with democratic means ratified by the UN, is possible. He also underlined that the future lies with the EU and regional cooperation is helpful toward this direction. Albanian President Bamir Topi underlined that his country has enacted legislation aimed at protecting cultural heritage, adding that its goal is good neighbourly relations and EU membership. Bosnia-Herzegovina Tripartite Presidency Chairman Haris Silajdzic stressed that the multicultural character of societies should be protected and accession into NATO and the EU is helpful. UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura stated that water routes need protection underlining that cooperation is necessary toward this direction. Turkey's Minister of State Mehmet Aydin suggested the creation of a website with virtual cultural routes in SE Europe and Romania's deputy culture and religious affairs minister referred to the need for the protection of the Danube River and its estuary. Council of Europe coordinator for intercultural dialogue Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni stressed that the forum helps establish mutual understanding among peoples and added that the participating heads of state are determined to support cultural heritage and multiculturalism. The forum proceedings will be completed later in the afternoon with the signing of the Declaration of Athens and statements made by participating heads of state and delegations.

    Caption: President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias (R) receives Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov on the steps of Zappeion Hall, shortly before the start of the Athens Summit: Intercultural encounters on maritime, river and lake routes of South East Europe", on Friday, June 13, 2008. ANA-MPA / SIMELA PANTZARTZI.

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