October 18 in the frame of the Day of Spiritual Accord, at 14:00 (GMT + 6), Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) will host an International conference themed: "Strengthening interfaith and interethnic harmony as an answer to modern world challenges ".


Report Theodora Hiou- Maniatopoulou

Professor Theodora Hiou- Maniatopoulou, “Panteion” University of Political and Social Sciences. Athens, Greece Culture in a Globalizing World I feel both pleased and honoured to address the “World Forum of Spiritual Culture”. I would like to address my congratulations to the Organizers, the International Association “Peace for Culture” chaired by His Excellency Senator Mr. Tolegen Mukhamedzhanov and solidly supported by H.E. Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, for this excellent initiative and for the high level of organization. I would also like to express my sincere thanks for their warm hospitality and for the unique experience to visit Astana.

Astana Forum is to be praised for setting up as its main objective the noble task of searching and defining solutions to systemic crisis of modern civilization by realizing the priority of spirituality and culture, these outstanding human values which today’s world needs more than ever before.
1. Introduction
Culture lies at the heart of human development, spirituality and civilisation. Culture makes people hope and dream, by stimulating their senses and offering new ways of looking at reality. It brings people together, by stirring dialogue and arousing passions, in a way that unites rather than divides. Culture should be regarded as a set of distinctive spiritual and material traits that characterize a society and a social group; it embraces literature and arts, as well as ways of life, value systems, traditions and beliefs.
The originality and success of the European Union lies in its ability to respect Member – States’ varied history, languages and cultures, while forging common understanding and rules which have guaranteed peace, stability, prosperity and solidarity - and with them, a huge richness of cultural heritage and creativity, to which successive enlargements have added more and more. Through this unity in diversity, respect for cultural and linguistic diversity and promotion of a common cultural heritage, with spiritual connotations, lie at the very heart of the European policies. This is more than ever indispensable in a globalizing world.
In today's Europe, cultural exchanges are as lively and vibrant as ever. The freedom of movement provided for by the EC Treaty has greatly facilitated cultural exchanges and dialogue across borders. Cultural activities and the demand for cultural goods are spreading, with access thanks to new communication tools. At the same time, globalisation has increased the exposure to more diverse cultures from across the world. This has heightened our curiosity and capacity to have exchanges with and benefit from other cultures, thus contributing to the diversity of our societies.
World-wide, cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue have become major challenges for a global order based on peace, mutual understanding and respect for shared values. In this respect, the entry into force on 18 March 2007 of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions is to be seen as a fundamental step forward.
Europe’s cultural richness and diversity is closely linked to its role and influence in the world. The European Union is not just an economic process or a trading power, it is already perceived as a successful social and cultural project, which aspires to become an example of a "soft power" founded on norms and values, including spiritual, such as solidarity, tolerance, freedom of expression, respect for diversity and intercultural dialogue, values which, provided they are upheld and promoted, can be of inspiration for tomorrow’s world..
Europe's cultural richness based on its diversity is also, and increasingly so, an important asset in an immaterial, spiritual and knowledge-based world. The European cultural sector is already a very dynamic trigger of economic activities and jobs throughout the EU territory.
Cultural activities also help promoting an inclusive society and contribute to preventing and reducing poverty and social exclusion. As was recognised by the conclusions of the 2007 Spring European Council, creative entrepreneurs and a vibrant cultural industry are a unique source of innovation for the future. This potential must be recognised even more and fully tapped.
2. European Union and Culture
For the purpose of this presentation 'Culture' is generally recognised as complex to define. It can refer to the fine arts, including a variety of works of art, spiritual creation, cultural goods and services. 'Culture' also has an anthropological meaning. It is the basis for a symbolic world of meanings, beliefs, values, traditions which are expressed in language, art, religion and myths. As such, it plays a fundamental role in human development and in the complex fabric of the identities and habits of individuals and communities.
In the context of this paper, the main focus will be on the importance of the various facets of culture in developing strategies both within the EU and with third countries. The basis for the action of the EU in the field of culture lies in the EU Treaty.
Article 151 states that: “Culture is and will therefore primarily remain a responsibility of Member States; in some countries it is largely dealt with at the regional or even local level”.
Article 151 does not provide for harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States. Action at EU level is to be undertaken in full respect of the principle of subsidiarity, with the role of the EU being to support and complement, rather than to replace, the actions of the Member States, by respecting their diversity and stimulating exchanges, dialogue and mutual understanding.
3. EU's External Relations in the Domain of Culture
Culture is recognized as an important part of EU’s main cooperation programmes and instruments, and in the Union’s bilateral agreements with third countries. It is also a key element of the co-operation developed with the Council of Europe, which has allowed the joint implementation of the European Heritage Days, as well as some actions in the Western Balkans.
Intercultural dialogue as one of the main instruments of peace and conflict prevention is obviously among the basic objectives of such actions. Priority actions in that direction were launched under the impetus of the European Commission, which also led inter alia to the setting-up, in Alexandria, of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, and the creation of specific debate on culture (within the political dialogues with many third countries).
The European Commission has also recently begun to reinforce its public diplomacy, including cultural events, often involving cooperation with and among Member States’ cultural institutions to convey important messages in third countries about Europe, its identity and its experience of building bridges between different cultures.
The rapid entry into force of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions illustrates the new role of cultural diversity at international level: as parties, the European Union and its Member States have committed themselves to strengthen a new cultural pillar of global governance and sustainable development, notably through enhancing international cooperation.
4. Cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue
The flowering of the cultures of the Member States in respect of their national and regional diversity is an important EU objective assigned by the EC Treaty. In order to simultaneously bring our common heritage and principles to the fore and recognise the contribution of all cultures present in our societies, Cultural diversity needs to be nurtured in a context of openness and exchanges between different cultures.
It must be noted that intercultural dialogue constitutes a novelty within the frame of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and is considered to be an effective tool for the settlement of tensions and differences in the Mediterranean region. In today's world the intercultural dialogue has led to a mutual understanding of differences, due to the fact that it is established on the principle that all cultures are equal and that violence is not an acceptable instrument for the resolution of disputes.
The Barcelona Process framework lays emphasis on the rule of law and on inter-religious dialogue, as the combination of these instruments establishes an effective link between different cultures, which acknowledge the existence of absolute values such as peace, stability, as well as on mutual respect. Thus, no society can survive if it has not accepted common symbols, upon which its unity is bestowed.
In the case of Islam it must be noted that its political and religious traditions, as well as its persistence in the notion of genuine spirituality serve as vehicle for the promotion of the Islamic beliefs.
Accordingly, as we live in increasingly multicultural societies, we need to promote intercultural dialogue and intercultural competences by concrete actions, such as :
- Multicultural Education through exchanges of students and encouragement of dialogue among peoples and yang persons;
- Promotion of “open dialogue” among intellectuals, teachers, University Professors, etc.;
- Mobilization of public and private resources in favour of the mobility of artists and professionals in the cultural field and for the circulation of the works of art and of all other artistic expressions beyond national borders;
- Promotion and strengthening of intercultural competences and intercultural dialogue, in particular by developing 'cultural awareness and expression', 'social and civic competences' and 'communication in foreign languages', which are part of the key competence for the domain of culture.
Finally, improvement of coordination of Governments in order to take appropriate measures for all the above, with regard to enhancing, mobility, intercultural exchanges employability, adaptability and mobility of artists and workers in the cultural sector, as well as the mobility of works of art. Measures which are also essential in the context of a global economy, as citizens are among the main beneficiaries of developing cultural diversity and we need to facilitate their access to culture and cultural works.
5. Culture as a catalyst for creativity in the framework of the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs
Cultural industries and the creative sector are substantially contributing to European GDP, growth and employment. {As an illustration, a recent independent study carried out for the Commission estimated that more than 5 million people worked in 2004 for the cultural sector, equivalent to 3.1% of total employed population in EU-25. The cultural sector contributed around 2.6% to the EU GDP in 2003, with growth significantly higher than that of the economy in general between 1999 and 2003.} These industries and the creativity which they generate are an essential asset for Europe's economy and competitiveness in a context of globalisation.
The role of culture in supporting and fostering creativity and innovation must be explored and promoted. Creativity is the basis for social and technological innovation, and therefore an important driver of growth, competitiveness and jobs in the EU.
The following specific objectives should be addressed:
• Promote creativity in education by involving the cultural sector by supporting teachers’ training and learning partnerships, so students can develop cultural and confidence based skills through contacting the outside world; (EU Programme “Connect – Cultivate – and Culture”)
• Promote new methods to modernize education and training in order to meet tomorrow’s challenges through a process of change to thrive in the knowledge society : New school curricula, concrete input/tool for life-long learning and promoting culture and arts in informal and formal education, etc.
• Strengthen cultural activities with third countries, mobility of artists, exchange of experts, multilingualism (including language learning), mobility of young, protection of copyright and related rights, protection of cultural heritage, fight against illicit trafficking of cultural goods (Conclusions of the Council 2008/C 320/09)
• Support teacher’s training, support learning partnerships, so students can develop cultural and confidence skills through contact of the outside world.
• Promote capacity building in the cultural sector by supporting the training of the cultural sector in managerial competences, entrepreneurship, knowledge of the {European} dimension/market activities and developing innovative sources of funding, including sponsorship and improved access to them.
• Develop creative partnerships between the cultural sector and other sectors (ICTs, research, tourism, social partners, etc. to reinforce the social and economic impact of investments in culture and creativity, in particular with regard to the promotion of growth and jobs and the development and attractiveness of regions and cities.
6. Culture as a vital element in international relations
As parties to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the European Union and its Member States have reaffirmed their commitment to developing a new and more pro-active cultural role for Europe in the context of Europe's international relations and to strengthen the cultural dimension as a vital element of external relations and monitoring cooperation with third countries.
To achieve this integration it is crucial to develop active inter-cultural dialogue with all countries and all regions, taking advantage for example of Europe's language links with many countries. In this context, it is also important to promote the richness of cultural diversity of the EU partners, with emphasis in the spirituality of culture, to promote access to culture of local populations and develop an economic resource which can have a direct impact on socio-economic development.
Bearing that in mind, the EU will follow a 'twin-track' approach, consisting of:
• the systematic integration of the cultural dimension and different components of culture in all external and development policies, projects and programmes with all countries, particularly emerging economies in a spirit of cooperation.
• support for specific cultural actions and events – Culture is a resource in its own right, and access to culture should be considered as a priority in development policies.
The following specific objectives should be addressed:
• to promote market access, both to European and to other markets, for cultural goods and services from developing countries through targeted actions as well as through agreements that grant preferential treatment or trade-related assistance measures;
• to promote intercultural dialogue  and to use external and development policies to protect and promote cultural diversity through financial and technical support for, on the one hand, the preservation of and access to cultural heritage and, on the other, the active encouragement and promotion of cultural activities across the world;
• to ensure that all its cooperation programmes and projects take full account, in their design and their implementation, of local culture and contribute to increase people’s access to culture and to the means of cultural expression, including people-to-people contacts. Especially important is education, including the integration of culture in all its aspects, including spirituality in education curricula at all levels in developing countries;
• to promote the active involvement of the EU in the work of international organisations dealing with culture, and in the United Nations ‘Alliance of Civilisations’ process.
7. Setting up an open method of coordination
The new strategy of culture and all the measures concerned depend on closer cooperation between the M. - S. and the EU through the open method of coordination (OMC) mechanism. It is also important to develop a structured dialogue between M. – S.  
(See also Remark, below)
8. Mainstreaming culture in all relevant policies
With regard to the external dimension, particular attention is paid to multi- and intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, promoting understanding between the EU and international partners and reaching out to a broader audience in partner countries. In this context, education plays a significant role. The new Erasmus Mundus programme will contribute to this. The European Commission supports dialogue and culture-related activities in the framework of Euro – Med Cooperation and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP - the "Investing in People" programme), institutions such as the Anna Lindh Foundation in the Euro-Mediterranean region, as well as within the UN Alliance of Civilisations. With some partner countries in the ENP region, in Asia and elsewhere, specific cultural cooperation programmes are established (like the Culture Fund for India). These activities are of an interdependent nature.
In order to efficiently support cultural specific actions in ACP countries, the European Commission is proposing to create an EU-ACP Cultural Fund as a joint European contribution to supporting the distribution and in some cases the production of ACP cultural goods.
9. Conclusions
Let me conclude.
I think that it is extremely important to safeguard the spiritual dimension of culture by our societies. Our Governments must establish concrete and visible new policies for culture, for the respect of cultural identity, of traditions and beliefs in a globalizing world.
I strongly believe that this is the Culture is of fundamental importance for the future of our Societies. Through Culture we can create the “knowledge society” and build a sustainable future for all - because Culture is not a luxury, but a necessity for all civilized world.
With this remark I congratulate, once again, the Organizers of the Astana Forum for their initiative to convene this Conference about Spiritualism and Culture and thank them for inviting me to participate in it.
As mentioned earlier, the EU Member - States adopted a joint work plan in the Council of Ministers for 2005-2007. The work plan now needs to be renewed and the European Commission believes that the time is ripe for Member States to take their cooperation one step further, by using the open method of coordination (OMC) as a mechanism to do so, in a spirit of partnership.
The OMC offers an appropriate framework for cooperation in the field of culture between the Member States. It is a non-binding, intergovernmental framework for policy exchange and concerted action suitable for a field such as this, where competence remains very much at Member State level. It consists of agreeing common objectives, regularly following up progress towards them and exchanging best practice and relevant data in order to foster mutual learning.
The OMC exists in the fields of employment, social protection, education and youth. The OMC in these areas have helped to strengthen Member States' policy making, as regular participation in a European process raises the profile of these policies at the national level and creates an additional stimulus for them. It also enables Member States to learn from one another. And it allows the actors in these policy fields to have a voice at the European level which they would not otherwise have.
It is essential, however, for the special features of the cultural sector to be fully taken into account in the design of an OMC in this area. In a spirit of partnership with Member States, this implies adopting a flexible approach, entailing the setting of general objectives with a light regular reporting system.
The European Commission proposes that acting on the basis of this Communication, the Council of Ministers endorses the objectives suggested above, setting priorities and agreeing on a biennial follow-up exercise. As part of this exercise, the Commission would draft a joint report with high level representatives of Member States every two years summarising main issues and trends and discussing progress across Member States with regard to the common objectives.
Member States would be encouraged to fully associate local and regional authorities and national cultural stakeholders in the follow-up process and to describe in their national reports how they have been involved. At EU level, the Commission would involve stakeholders in the process through the Cultural Forum indicated above. In the year preceding the publication of the report, the Commission would organise a meeting in order to gather inputs from civil society.
The European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions should be involved in the process.
In pursuing the objectives of external relations, the relevant external EU framework, including the Foreign Affairs Ministers, would be involved as appropriate. The Commission would seek, together with the Member States, to increase EU-wide coordination of activities regarding cultural cooperation. This would include the identification and exchange of best practices. The preparation of Country Strategy Papers and Joint Assistance Strategies would continue to be a focus for enhanced coordination and harmonisation efforts.