Several cooperation projects have been initiated in the last decade within the INTERREG funding programme, involving local authorities, festivals or organisations and addressing issues of intercultural cooperation.
Greece participates in the UN World Tourism Organisation’s Silk Road project, a collaborative initiative between 25 states aiming at highlighting the importance of tourism routes development, in facilitating connectivity and collaboration between the mosaic of destinations that make up the Silk Road. Greece also participates in the Silk Road Project initiated by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism which is still in its initiating phase, with a first working group meeting planned in 2012 with the participation of representatives from all participating countries (Albania, Armenia, Georgia, Greece, Moldavia and Turkey).
The Olive Tree Routes (an initiative of the Cultural Foundation of Messini Chamber) has been recognised since 2006 as one of the most important itineraries of culture and dialogue conveying a message of communication, cooperation and peaceful coexistence among the participant countries (Egypt, Albania, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, Italy, Spain, Jordan, Croatia, Cyprus, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Portugal. Serbia, Slovenia, Syria, Turkey, Tunis).
Other Council of Europe’s cultural routes in which Greece participates are:
- European Itinerary of Jewish Heritage
- European Cemeteries Route
- Phoenix Route
- Iter Vitis
The city of Patras was one of the associated cities of the Intercultural cities: governance and policies for diverse communities’ project, a joint action of the Council of Europe and the European Commission aiming at building a common intercultural city strategy across Europe.
Furthermore, several Greek music companies with a “neo-traditional” character (in particular, En Hordais, Liravlos, Kelsos etc) are often invited to perform abroad, especially in the Mediterranean, serving thus as vehicles for intercultural dialogue. On the other hand, the Thessaloniki Film Festival organises the Crossroads co-production Forum giving the opportunity to Mediterranean, Balkan and Central European producers with a feature film script to meet industry professionals for possible co-productions that contain a link with the above mentioned regions.
Finally, intercultural dialogue is one of the criteria taken into account under the call for funding in the framework of the Register of Cultural Organisations established in 2010 by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
There are several cultural NGO initiatives that focus on regional intercultural cooperation, such as the Balkans Beyond Border short films festival which works towards creating mutual understanding in the region through film.
Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes
Greece subscribes to international initiatives on intercultural dialogue of UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the European Union. It also supports actively the Euro-Mediterranean intercultural dialogue process, in which it is represented by the Hellenic Cultural Foundation, through a grant of 100 000 EUR to the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures. The need to strengthen dialogue between cultures, and religious denominations, is often evoked in public political enunciations in relevant public fora such as conferences and meetings. A wide-ranging programme of activities, including a major international conference organised by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, took place in the context of the celebration of 2008 – European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.
Local government is active in establishing low-level international links, and thus promoting grassroots intercultural dialogue, through town twinning of more than 400 Greek municipalities with foreign counterparts. Also, the Orthodox Church of Greece has been active in a process of inter-church dialogue, mainly with Islam and in inter-faith dialogue with other Christian denominations. On the other hand, while Greece remains involved in relevant global fora, there is notable absence of concrete intercultural dialogue action at the national level. Practical action, for instance involving subaltern cultures and ethnic traditions, has been low key and not consolidated in a clear and visible force.
Establishing a Directorate of Popular Culture and Intercultural Affairs under the General Directorate of Contemporary Culture of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, as proposed in the 2012 cultural policy White Paper, is expected to have a positive effect in establishing cohesive and focussed policies of intercultural dialogue. The White Paper suggests, also, a stronger role of the European Cultural Centre of Delphi as a focus of intercultural dialogue actions.
Government’s overall approach to intercultural dialogue