The European film festival on intercultural dialogue by huangyuerongp4


									Official Opening of European Film Festival on Intercultural Dialogue by the President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering Espace Yehudi Menuhin, European Parliament, Brussels Wednesday 13 February 2008

Ambassadors Colleagues Ladies and Gentlemen: It gives me great pleasure to officially open, in the European Parliament, the "European Film Festival on Intercultural Dialogue".

This festival was first conceived by the network known as EUNIC: European Union National Institutes for Culture. When I received the proposal last year through the Goethe Institut to organise such a festival within Parliament during 2008, I was immediately convinced of the value of the initiative.

As you are all aware, this year, 2008, has been designated European Year of Inter-Cultural Dialogue. It is a subject very dear to my own heart; and one which I made a priority of my mandate following my election as President in January 2007.

On 8 January this year, I had the honour - together with the President in Office of the Council, Slovenian Prime Minister Jansa, the State President of Slovenia, Mr Türk, and Vice President Wallström of the Commission - to inaugurate the European Year at a grand opening ceremony in Ljubljana which featured a range of cultural expression: From poetry to dance, from music to film. It is a special pleasure, therefore, to launch our Film Festival

with a Slovenian Film "Express, Express" and many thanks to the Slovenian Embassy to Belgium for arranging this.

I am delighted that the European Parliament will be playing such a leading role in promoting all aspects of intercultural dialogue during 2008. This European Year is the visible expression of our ever stronger political commitment to incorporating intercultural issues into European Union policies.

This Film Festival will be a key element in a range of activities which the European Parliament will host during the coming year, including speakers from different cultural and religious traditions to address Plenary or Committees, thematic seminars, exhibitions, and weeks of Arab and African culture. In addition, our Information Offices in the Member States will organise various activities right across the Union.

We attach great significance to the Year of Intercultural Dialogue and believe that the theme must be mainstreamed and continue beyond 2008. Peaceful coexistence between cultures and religions, both within the European Union and with our partners on the other side of the Mediterranean, in the Middle East, is possible and of the utmost importance.

Although inter-cultural dialogue embraces all cultures, it is Western-Islamic relations which are perhaps the most pressing and concerning. The implications of mutual misunderstanding are both domestic and international. If we can find a way to appreciate and respect each other better, and live and work together, this can contribute gradually to helping resolve some of our most difficult international political problems - whether Israel-Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, or the threat of terrorism at home and abroad.

At the same time, there is a lively and growing debate in our own continent about European values - and how we ensure that our values and those of other cultures can interact as constructively and positively as possible. The issue is how we engage in an active dialogue of cultures.

Film is a wonderful medium by which we can get to know and understand other cultures. This festival includes films from across the EU which deal with subjects such as cultural and individual identity, integration, immigration and living together.

I hope that the screening of the films will help us to get to know each other better, to improve our mutual understanding, to respect each other's diversity, and to work together in partnership.

In conclusion, I would like to pay tribute to the staff of Parliament's Directorate General for Communication, together with EUNIC, for assuring the huge coordination & organisation needed to put together this festival for your enjoyment and, hopefully, learning experience.

In addition to the Cultural Institutes, I would like to thank the other project partners:  The Embassies of Slovenia, Poland, Sweden and Slovakia.  Le Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel de la Communauté française de Belgique.

I would also like to thank my colleagues, the Members of Parliament, for their commitment and for giving their patronage to the screenings of films from their home countries.

So it only remains for me to wish you a very enjoyable evening watching tonight's Slovenian film and to invite you to make the most of this excellent festival and come back to see the great variety of films which are a tribute to an outstanding European film industry; and which demonstrate our European Union motto: "Unity in diversity". ENDS


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