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San Marino/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.7 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes

Intercultural dialogue is a recurrent theme in several fields. At a political level, promoting intercultural and interreligious dialogue was among the priorities of the San Marino Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe during the semester November 2006-May 2007. In particular, as stated by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs in his speech on the occasion of the transfer of Chairmanship ceremony, "The Republic of San Marino intends to support the Council of Europe's aim to establish peace based on justice and international co-operation, which are vital to the survival of human society and a civilisation devoted to the moral and spiritual values behind the European ideals of individual freedom, political freedom and respect for democracy. Promoting intercultural and inter-religious dialogue is the most tangible means of furthering the task of upholding these values". In particular, the San Marino Chairmanship intended to "encourage the transmission of the idea of peace conquered by Europe over sixty years ago, to promote peaceful coexistence and, based on San Marino's tradition of hospitality – best illustrated when it welcomed 100 000 refugees to its small land in World War II – make an important contribution to a peaceful and prosperous future". In view of the evident connection between migration patterns and plural societies, the San Marino Chairmanship also endeavoured to support initiatives and activities aimed at analysing the theme of intercultural dialogue and proposing appropriate solutions. In this regard, San Marino organised, in October 2006, an international Conference on the relationship between emigration and development, with the participation of the Council of Europe Secretariat.

In line with its international mission of promoting intercultural and interreligious dialogue and after its Presidency of the Council of Europe, San Marino organised in 2014 the exhibition "Abraham's children: Jewish, Christian and Islamic contemporary sacred art". Six artists were invited to expose their works representing the spiritual inspiration of their arts and the desire of their religions to coexist peacefully. The works were exhibited in San Marino and in Assisi (Italy), showing the values and intentions shared by these two places. The event had two main goals, a cultural and a political one: increasing the inter-regional dialogue in order to achieve a better balance.

Following the path traced by the Warsaw Summit, which acknowledged the great importance of intercultural dialogue in the broad sense of the term, in 2006 San Marino signed the Faro Convention on the value of cultural heritage for society. More specifically, the Republic supports the affirmation of "plural European citizenship", in close liaison with the conservation and enhancement of Europe's cultural heritage, based on intercultural and inter-religious dialogue. Indeed, the emergence of "plural European citizenship" can contribute to mutual knowledge and understanding among different cultures, both inside Europe and in its relations with extra-European realities. The Republic of San Marino, with its history of freedom, self-government and democracy, is particularly sensitive to this issue. Education in "plural European citizenship" must therefore turn differences to account as instruments of positive and peaceful human development, as opposed to prejudice and intolerance, barring the way to sterile sameness and the ironing out of differences. In pursuit of these aims, the San Marino Chairmanship organised in Strasbourg, in March 2007, a study conference on the cultural and identity-related aspects of the Italian language in the small States and small territorial entities.

At a political level, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs underlined in his speech that the role of education is essential in instilling the values of tolerance, human rights and respect for others into the hearts and minds of Europe's youth, in the knowledge that only mutual recognition, respect and understanding, transcending all "differences", can lastingly guarantee justice and peace. In this spirit, San Marino is aware that it is necessary to educate the young not to be indifferent towards differences and, for this reason, ad hoc youth policies have been recently added to the government attributions.

Domestically, with regard to schools, the plan for the XXVII legislature - proposed again in the government programme of the present legislature - underlines that social and economic development, as well as intercultural dialogue and globalisation, require a continuum of training, research and cultural promotion activities in order to guarantee qualitative knowledge and skills. Therefore, the State is committed to continue ensuring that the primary aim of training should be the acquisition of common knowledge and skills, while guaranteeing equal education opportunities for all. Moreover, an ad hoc paragraph refers to the connection between schools and the labour and business world. In this regard, the main objective of the government is to promote and facilitate the exchange of students and teachers at a European level, in order to increase cultural, job and guidance opportunities. With regard to intercultural issues, in 2009 a group of San Marino citizens submitted a popular petition (Istanza d'Arengo) concerning the Republic's participation in the training programmes of Intercultura, an Italian non-profit public benefit organisation among the major organisations dealing with international exchange programmes for students, teachers, parents and citizens in general. The objective of the petitioners was to favour meetings and dialogue among people of different cultural traditions, with a view to helping them to understand each other and collaborate in a constructive way. Following the approval of the Istanza d'Arengo by the Great and General Council (Parliament), the competent Government Representative adopted, within six months of said approval, the consequent measures and reported back to the Permanent Parliamentary Commission (see chapter 3.2) on the willingness of the Ministry and of the San Marino school system to start and support a process of integration of the various intercultural groups, that is to say the promotion and recognition of study experiences made by High School students abroad and the inclusion of foreign students into higher classes. This has laid the foundations for an increasing openness of San Marino schools to the outside world.

For more information on minorities living in San Marino and their integration in the Republic's social and cultural context, see chapter 4.2.4.

San Marino attaches considerable importance to the promotion of dialogue among cultures and religions, as a fundamental instrument to build peace. In April 2008, a Council of Europe meeting on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue was held in Strasbourg. The initiative implemented the provisions of the final declaration of the European Conference on the Religious Dimension of Intercultural Dialogue, which took place in San Marino in April 2007. The meeting was attended by representatives of Christian, Jewish, Muslim religious communities, representatives of European and international NGOs, European mass media and experts, as well as representatives of the European Commission, the OSCE and of the Alliance of Civilisations. On the same occasion, a special stamp was presented by the Republic of San Marino to celebrate the year 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. A commemorative coin was also minted and put into circulation.

The government of the XXVI legislature also proposed San Marino as an international place for dialogue and relations among peoples and cultures.

The support by the former government and the institutions of the positive actions of cultural diversity is clearly expressed in the actions carried out, as well as in the declarations. It is in this spirit that the Minister of Education invited teachers and operators of San Marino schools to pay particular attention to the education to human rights in the school programmes. The present Minister of Education and Culture is moving in the same direction.

The debate on peaceful coexistence and diversity of ethnic groups and religions also involved schools. Based on the example of English Summer School, in 2014 San Marino High School organised an extra-curricular workshop on peace education that dealt with geopolitical, historical, social, political and economic themes. In a climate of cooperation and socialization, teachers and students talked about international conflicts and non-violent solutions from the macro-social point of view, testing solutions also applicable to the micro-social context.

The support offered by the government to public initiatives of single groups or associations, aimed at presenting aspects (related to culture, art and food) of the different cultural expressions, has now become part of the ordinary social and cultural activity of the country and it concretely shows how the Authorities acknowledge the positive actions of cultural diversity.

In February 2007, the San Marino government adopted the "Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life". The text contains different parts directly referring to "cultural diversity" and "intercultural dialogue", which deserve maximum attention and respect.

In July 2007, the Framework Law for the Implementation of Youth Policies met the need to plan suitable initiatives aimed at favouring the full and free development of the personality of young people at cultural, social and economic level, by recognising the different forms of expression and stressing the importance of associations and non-profit organisations. The Law provides for the creation of opportunities for younger generations in different contexts: in civil society, by promoting active citizenship, respect for diversity, intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, etc.; in the fields of education and training; in terms of access to the labour market, and; in the field of international mobility.

Moreover, there are many fields in which the different Ministries, together with the Foundations of Banking Institutions, commit to supporting cultural diversity, also with extremely visible actions. In this regard, some recent initiatives can be recalled, such as the promotion of a public competition for San Marino artists or for artists residing on the territory to create a sculpture dedicated to the value of dialogue among different cultures and peoples, as a sine qua non condition to build peace. The sculpture has been located in the centre of the roundabout of Borgo Maggiore, a town at the foot of Mount Titano. It will assume a very strong symbolical and ideal meaning, since it will be placed in a strategic transit point for anyone going to the city centre of San Marino (every year, about three million tourists visit the Republic). For further information on the competition and the sculpture, see chapter 7.3 and chapter 8.1.3.

Another initiative, promoted by the preceding Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the participation of other Ministries and public sectors, has been the creation, in the city centre of San Marino, of a place that can freely be used by visitors and citizens for meditation and prayer. This place has no religious symbols and is open to any person, regardless of his / her faith.

The opportunity to join specific international campaigns, like the one entitled "All Different - All Equal" promoted by the Council of Europe in 2006, has enabled the government authorities to coordinate their efforts and contribution in the adoption of specific decisions and programmes. 

In San Marino there are no specific institutions responsible for developing programmes to promote intercultural and inter-religious dialogue. The most involved institutions are, de facto, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, of Culture and Education and of Tourism, which however have to collaborate with each other and adopt common decisions in the Congress of State, to which they regularly submit proposals and initiatives to be approved, for the necessary collaborations at an institutional level, for the authorisation of costs etc…

The Youth Forum was established in February 2008 following implementation of the Framework Law of July 2007. The Forum is a government-controlled body involving young people having different views and belonging to any movement or group, which aims at improving and developing conditions for San Marino young people by protecting their rights and defending the common interest in public policies. The Forum intends to favour education for active citizenship and promote public spirit and participation in social life.

With regard to art, San Marino is a founding member of the Biennale of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean (see chapter 8.1.1). Starting from 1992, numerous San Marino young artists have had important opportunities in terms of exchange of views and growth thanks to the Biennale, which focuses on the development of peaceful relations among different cultural groups and promotes intercultural dialogue through art.  

Intercultural dialogue was also the focus of an arts exhibition with two significant functions: to investigate art making in San Marino and to connect with international artistic circuits. In 2010, thanks to the exhibition "Guest", international artists could indeed display their works alongside San Marino artists. "Guest" has inaugurated a new way of establishing a dialogue between local artistic excellence and external professionals by offering them an opportunity in terms of exchange of views, growth and enrichment.

In 2015 San Marino participated in the 56th edition of the Venice Biennale with the "San Marino-China Friendship Project", a sort of artistic-cultural twinning between one of the smallest and one of the biggest republics in the world, highlighting the need for dialogue between peoples through art. Eleven San Marino and Chinese artists shared their personal considerations on modern conflicts, mostly related to religious and political-economic issues (see also chapter 8.1.1).

Additional Resources:

Database of Good Practice on Intercultural Dialogue

Key Resources

Chapter published: 07-10-2015

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