Culture’s role as tool of soft power and economic development discussed at Ancient Civilizations Forum

Culture’s role as tool of soft power and economic development discussed at Ancient Civilizations Forum

The many ways in which countries can cooperate in promoting cultural heritage and intercultural dialog were the main topics discussed by the foreign ministers of Greece, Italy, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Peru, Bolivia and Mexico in the “Ancient Civilizations Forum”  conference held in Athens on Monday.

The two-day event, an initiative of Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias who organized it together with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, gathered in Zappeion Mansion ministers and academics from 10 countries with great cultural history.

The first conference on Monday was titled “Culture – a smart tool of soft diplomatic power” and was coordinated by Dr Platonas Mavromoustakos, Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Athens. The second was titled “Culture, a factor of economic development” and was coordinated by Dr Nikos Leandros, Professor of Economics, specializing in the Economics of Media, at Pantion University.

Well-known Greek and foreign archaeologists, professors and museum directors from these ten countries spoke about the proposed actions and successful examples of culture management. Dr Mavromoustakos spoke of the creation of an unofficial academic network as part of the forum, where academics, researchers and specialists will be able to acquaint themselves better with each other’s civilizations and their impact on contemporary times. He presented as example the European Network of Research and Documentation of Performances of Ancient Greek Drama, a circle of courses with the participation of 25 countries which links cooperation in research with the use of ancient theaters. He also mentioned the great potential offered by the Massive Open Online Courses (free online courses) both in highlighting cultural heritage and in extending university and other type of cooperation.

Pavlopoulos stresses need to stop those working for the dissolution of Europe

“We, the European people, are determined not to let those (the remains of Nazism) who work for the dissolution of Europe to succeed. This is the meaning of the result of the French elections. Civilisation contributes to this” Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos on Monday said in his address at the opening of the “Ancient Civilization Forum” held at the Zappeion Mansion.

“Every real civilization intention is to build communication bridges with the other real civilizations and not to raise walls of isolation,” Pavlopoulos stressed.

Referring to the historical link between the current global turmoil and its dangers and the course of other civilizations, the President pointed out that the global turmoil and its dangers have their roots not in the conflict of civilizations but because these civilizations are alarmingly degrading. And because of this degradation, they are not any more in the position to carry out their natural peace mission through the co-existence and collaboration at a global level.

Welcoming the opening of the “Ancient Civilization Forum”, Pavlopoulos also recalled the initiative taken in 2015 by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, who organised the International Conference on “Religious and Cultural Pluralism and Peaceful Coexistence in the Middle East.”

“Everybody understands that the resounding response of the coexistence and dialogue of the civilizations can turn into a powerful and effective antidote  against the scourges of war and terror barbarism that have been plaguing the Middle East for years. Within this framework, Athens hosts the “Forum of Ancient Civilizations”, considering that it fulfills a crucial mission that is directly linked with the emblematic past and Greece’s historical perspective,” Pavlopoulos added.

PM Tsipras: Cooperation of civilizations against darkness of utmost importance

The “Forum of Ancient Civilizations” is an important initiative which starts from Greece with the participation of civilizations that have left their mark in history, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday said at Zappeion Mansion.

“Our pride unites us as well as the responsibility of a great cultural heritage that does not exclusively belong to us any more but is the heritage of the whole mankind,” the prime minister said.

It is our responsibility to make use of our past for the benefit of the new generations, Tsipras noted and added: Due to its history, Greece is obliged to identify its presence with dialogue.

“It is of the utmost importance today that civilizations co-operate against the darkness of those who want to sink humanity into hatred,” the Prime Minister stressed.

Kotzias: We can and should continue spreading the peaceful values of culture

Culture is soft power and an economic factor, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said on Monday at the closing press conference of the “Ancient Civilizations Forum” held in Athens.

“Culture for us is soft power and an economic factor. It is what humanizes people and enables us to tell the untold in a way that dispels fears and insecurities […] we concluded that we can and must continue to work together to spread the peaceful values of culture and agreed in the next two months that there should be a number of plans and projects,” he said speaking at Zappeion.

“We prefer dialog to fanaticism, we prefer civilization to terrorist acts. We prefer to retrieve the wisdom of our peoples from the past and seal the future,” he added.

Following the end of the forum, the ten participating countries – Greece, Italy, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Peru, Bolivia and Mexico – renewed their meeting for 2018, agreeing to hold the second forum in Bolivia.

The aims of the forum are to open it to new members and observers, invite representatives from UNESCO, the UN and other international organizations depending on the subject, record speeches in a book and create a network of specialists.

The two-day event was an initiative of Kotzias who organized it together with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi./IBNA

Photos: IBNA/Spiros Sideris