MEETING OF THE MINISTERS OF CULTURE OF THE HELLENIC REPUBLIC, RUSSIAN FEDERATION, REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS, REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA AND UKRAINE.
Following the initiative of the International Secretariat of Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (I.A.O.) and the invitation by the Greek Minister of Culture, a meeting of Ministers of Culture of states, whose parliaments are members of the I.A.O: Georgios Voulgarakis (Hellenic Republic), Alexandr Sokolov (Russian Federation), Akis Cleanthous (Republic of Cyprus), Stefan Danailov (Republic of Bulgaria) and Valerii Tsyboukh, Ambassador of Ukraine, representative of the Minister of Culture of Ukraine, was held in Athens, 3 July 2007. The I.A.O Secretary General Mr. Stylianos-Angelos Papathemelis, MP, the I.A.O Alternate Secretary General Mr. Nikolaos Nikolopoulos, MP and the advisors to the I.A.O International Secretariat Dr. Kostas Mygdalis and Prof. Valery Alexeev participated in this meeting.
Aim of this meeting was to find ways of permanent co-operation for safeguarding the Orthodox culture, as well as, for elevating the elements of Orthodoxy which contribute and shape the cultural identity of the peoples in time.
According to the program, the Ministers of Culture had the opportunity to also meet with the President of the Hellenic Republic Mr. Karolos Papoulias.
Common belief of all was that the enhancement of the cultural elements of Orthodoxy will substantially contribute to the cultural awareness of all citizens, as well as to the smoothing out of cultural and religious juxtapositions, wherever these may occur.
During this meeting all participating Ministers of Culture expressed their respect on the activities undertaken by the Orthodox Church, as well as, their belief that it constitutes an unyielding factor for stability, peace and serenity in Europe and the world.
The I.A.O Secretary General Mr. Stylianos-Angelos Papathemelis proposed a close co-operation and the elaboration of a draft of initiatives and activities for immediate action; in this frame a meeting of all Ministers of Culture of the participating I.A.O parliaments-members has been scheduled for the following year alongside a conference, which will be co-organised with subject: “The spiritual – cultural dimension of Europe”.
In addition, it was agreed to realise a meeting of the advisors of all Ministers of Culture of the participating I.A.O parliaments-members in the autumn 2007 where the preparation of the aforementioned conference will be discussed.
The Greek Minister of Culture Mr Georgios Voulgarakis presented a Joint Statement which was approved by all participating Ministers of Culture:
JOINT STATEMENT OF THE MINISTERS OF CULTURE OF PARTICIPATING STATES IN THE INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT
OF THE INTERPARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY ON ORTHODOXY (I.A.O.)
We, the Ministers of Culture of participating states in the International Secretariat of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (I.A.O.); Hellenic Republic, Russian Federation, Republic of Cyprus, Republic of Bulgaria and the Ambassador of Ukraine, representative of the Minister of Culture of Ukraine, following an I.A.O initiative, accepting with gratitude the hospitality of the Greek Minister of Culture Mr. Georgios Voulgarakis, met today in Athens, in order to exchange opinions, and discuss issues on the contribution of the Orthodox Church and its values and principles which have shaped the cultural identity of our peoples in the European Culture.
- We wish to seek and discover forces to contribute to the European unification, guided by common moral values, based on respect for diversity, and democratic structures strengthening multiculturalism,
- Characteristic concepts of the European culture, such as tolerance and solidarity refer back to Christianity and constitute essential factors for the coexistence of the European peoples,
- The essence of the European values is determined by a cultural field, which is constantly enriched with common ideals, objectives and life attitudes, as well as multiform traditions, an open field free of borders, under an ongoing dynamic evolutionary process based on a continuous dialogue with the new and the different,
- Orthodoxy is acknowledged as an important factor for the modulation of the cultural identity of our peoples,
- Honouring the historical tradition and the modern activity of the Orthodox Church, we deem that it constitutes a factor for stability, peace and serenity in Europe and the world,
- Our vision for Europe is associated to our wish for a society without social biases and discriminations, with close neighbouring relations, caring and solid,
- We believe that the enhancement of the cultural elements of Orthodoxy will enrich the cultural awareness of all European citizens,
- We call upon the Orthodox Church to continue to value the human factor, as the foundation for peace, freedom, brotherhood, love and social justice,
- We call upon the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (I.A.O.) and particularly the I.A.O International Secretariat to keep up the significant work that has carried out.
Athens, 3 July 2007