In his capacity as German OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Foreign Minister Steinmeier called for greater cultural exchange as an element of security and stability in the OSCE area.
At an event in the Weltsaal at the Federal Foreign Office, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on Tuesday (12 January) for a more intense “dialogue of culture”. In his speech to several hundred guests, he emphasised how important understanding and cultural exchange were as elements of security and stability in the OSCE area.
In the presence of Gernot Erler, the Special Representative of the Federal Government for the OSCE Chairmanship, Steinmeier also called for the spirit of Helsinki to be re-injected in these tempestuous times into cultural and person-to-person encounters in the OSCE area. He continued:
The ability of literature and music to build confidence and bring people together and the social power of culture as a whole may not have been completely clear to some of the government representatives when they signed the Final Act.
Steinmeier also warned that today the freedom of the media, art and culture were once again threatened in many places.
Steinmeier: reviving the spirit of Helsinki
Afterwards, Foreign Minister Steinmeier discussed the fundamental foreign policy challenges in the OSCE area with the authors Nino Haratischwili, Katja Petrowskaja and Andrei Pleșu. The focus was on the importance of culture for building bridges and understanding between societies. The German Foreign Minister stated that Pleșu “stands like almost no other for Europe’s process of growing together politically and culturally since 1989” and the vision of “unity in diversity”.
In their books, Katja Petrowskaja and Nino Haratischwili “represent a different dimension of this shared history and the shared histories of our continent”: they showed, Steinmeier said, just how closely weaved memories were between Tbilisi and Lviv, between St Petersburg and Berlin and how carefully we needed to handle these connecting lines.
German OSCE Chairmanship also focusing on the cultural dimension
The Asasello Quartet, which comprises young musicians from different countries, performed in the course of the evening. Steinmeier said that this showed that what is true of Europe is also true of Germany: “different backgrounds breed a brighter shared future!”.
The German Chairmanship is thus also focusing on the cultural dimension of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). In the Charter of Paris for a new Europe of 1990 the then CSCE states recognised the important contribution of shared European culture and shared values towards overcoming the division of the continent and underlined their attachment to “creative freedom and to the protection and promotion of our cultural and spiritual heritage”.