AER Summer Academy 2014
Novi Sad, AP Vojvodina (RS), 22 August 2014
What a better place than the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina (RS) to hold the Assembly of European Regions’ Summer Academy 2014 under the topic ‘Multicultural, Multiethnic, Multilingual Regions – Regional Diversity for Economic Growth’? As a result of its rich history, Vojvodina today is made up of 26 ethnic groups living peacefully together and using 6 official languages, showing that diversity is a strength which needs to be used to its fullest potential.
“Vojvodina is more than just a symbol of coexistence: it is a historic icon of unity in the world – it’s a ‘small scale Europe’”, said Istvan Pasztor, President of the AP Vojvodina Assembly.
Whilst visiting the highly symbolic place of dialogue, namely the Chapel of Peace in Sremski Karlovci, where the concept of the “round table” was first used in international diplomacy, Summer Academy participants agreed that international actors of today need to learn from positive examples of the past. Embracing their differences, encouraging multiculturalism and tolerance is key to fostering social and territorial cohesion.
“Young people have a crucial role when it comes to designing politics for the future. One of today’s key priorities is to learn to live together peacefully, inspite of all political, religious, cultural and linguistic differences”, stated Bojan Pajtic, President of the AP Vojvodina Provincial Government.
During five days, AER gathered experts from the European Institutions, academia, the industrial sector and European regions. “We unanimously agreed that sustainable integration requires the active participation of all actors of different societies in the world”, stated AER President, Dr Hande Özsan Bozatli. “Moreover, going beyond these conclusions, we should not forget that multiculturality is also a factor of economic growth, with creativity fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Keeping in mind the ongoing and current conflicts happening in our close neighbourhood, participants thus gathered together to draft a common declaration with four key goals:
– To call upon the regional, local, national and European governments to acknowledge the above mentioned considerations and to take into account all citizens when designing their policies, programmes and legislation for the integration of minorities and for the creation of intercultural societies
– To encourage all educational and cultural institutions, actors and stakeholders to consider intercultural and multilingual questions as an integral part of their curricula and/or agenda
– To ask that European, national and/or regional funds be made available to design projects and help exchange experience on the successful initiatives
– To recommend that regions and their stakeholders make use of the available funding programmes to improve the situation of minorities in their respective regions
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