“Diversity in Europe: a Strength for the Future” – the title of the high level conference in Tirana on 9 November – summarises the concept that has guided Council of Europe activities since Albania took over the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers in May. The conference will focus on dialogue with Mediterranean neighbours and the promotion of intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding, through education to democratic citizenship values.
Context: The report on ‘Living Together: Combining diversity and freedom in 21st-century Europe’ (May 2011) stresses the importance of meeting the challenges arising from the co-existence of different cultural and religious groups in European societies and the need to prevent further manifestations of discrimination or extremism based on cultural or religious grounds. The document identifies the main actors able to bring about the necessary changes in public attitudes, contains 59 proposals for action in the form of strategic or operational recommendations and recognises the special contribution of the Council of Europe and other European and international organisations.
Objectives: The main issue raised from the discussion of the report has been how to move closer to a political and concerted European response to the challenges identified. A concrete impulse for action is needed, especially as regards issues of specific relevance for the democratic management of Europe’s increasingly diverse societies. This concerns in particular:
- Education and Youth: basic preconceptions about other groups and the way we assimilate or react to new information are influenced greatly by parents, mass media, and in particular through education. Thus there is a need to make specific efforts in the field of formal (primary and secondary higher), informal and life-long education.
- The promotion of intercultural dialogue greatly contributes to the construction of a European identity based on shared fundamental values, respect for common heritage and cultural diversity as well as respect for the equal dignity of every individual.
- Dialogue and neighbourhood: it is essential to foster dialogue and co-operation not only within European societies but also with Europe’s neighbouring regions from the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean with the aim to strengthen the intercultural dialogue and understanding, especially among the youth.
ECML participation: Waldemar Martyniuk, Executive Director of the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML), will in particular present the Centre’s work in the field of language education.
Council of Europe:
European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) of the Council of Europe:
The Committee of Ministers chairmanship will be transferred from Albania to Andorra from 10 November. The announced priorities of the Andorran six-month stint at the helm of the Council of Europe’s executive body (EFE, Andorra la Vella, El Periodic Andorra, El Confidencial, Diario Vasco) will be education about Council of Europe values – human rights, democracy and the rule of law. To this end, the chairmanship prepares numerous activities, including ministerial conferences and other events focusing on the promotion of the European Convention on Human Rights, the youth, and, in particular, the education for democratic citizenship and human rights.