Newsletter 9/2011 - In focus

COMMON APPROACH TO CULTURAL HERITAGE IN SOUTH EAST EUROPE, by Mladen Dragasevic, Head of Building Human Capital Unit, Regional Cooperation Council Secretariat

South East Europe has a rich and diverse cultural heritage which often crosses existing borders. Strengthening regional cooperation in the area of culture is essential not only for protection of cultural heritage, but also as an important political and social dimension which contributes to mutual openness, shared values and reconciliation. Development of relevant projects and promotion of intercultural dialogue will add to respect for and promotion of cultural diversity and good neighbourly relations. It will allow the region to make an authentic impact in a broader European context in this domain.

Following the established regional priorities and the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Strategy and Work Programme 2011-2013, the RCC has taken up the role of coordinator in the new phase of Ljubljana Process as of this year (Ljubljana Process II). In April 2010, in Cetinje, Montenegro, the Council of Ministers of Culture of South East Europe adopted a Ministerial Statement on implementation of Ljubljana Process II: Rehabilitating our Common Heritage. The statement confirmed a Ministerial Declaration of November 2009, adopted in Ljubljana, and set ground for continuation of the rehabilitation of cultural heritage after 2010, under the auspices of the RCC.

The RCC Board, at its meeting of 16 September 2010, made a decision on the establishment of the RCC Task Force on Culture and Society, adopting its terms of reference and selecting Cetinje as the seat of the Task Force. A protocol between the Government of Montenegro and the RCC Secretariat on the Host Country Arrangements for the Secretariat of the Task Force was signed on 28 January 2011. The host country will provide for the premises, communications and logistics assistance to the Secretariat. The Secretariat shall have legal capacity necessary for the exercise of its functions.

The aim of the Task Force on Culture and Society is to promote regional cooperation in the sphere of culture by creating a platform for dialogue of relevant stakeholders. The subsequent goal is to maximize the benefits of investment in culture through its contribution to sustainable economic and social development by ensuring the coherency with other actions promoted at regional and national level. The Task Force will be responsible for ensuring political support for the realisation of specific development projects, which includes their promotion, strengthening of cooperation between the beneficiaries, and development of partnerships, for securing the funding and the sustainability of the projects.

Members of the Task Force are high-level officials from the respective governmental institutions of the RCC members from South East Europe, together with representatives of the RCC Secretariat, the Council of Europe and the European Commission. The Secretariat of the Task Force will have the responsibility for technical management of the Task Force’s activities and projects. It will undertake work to achieve objectives of the projects and to foster successful transfer of the Ljubljana Process to regional ownership.

The opening of the Task Force Secretariat and the inaugural meeting in Cetinje in spring 2011 will set the basis for a new mechanism of joint exploration and promotion of cultural richness in out part of Europe.

Mladen Dragasevic is Head of the Building Human Capital and Cross-Cutting Issues Unit of the Regional Cooperation Council Secretariat. Before joining the RCC, among other positions, he worked at the office of the Montenegrin Prime Minister as foreign policy advisor, as Senior Councillor in the Multilateral Department/EU and Council of Europe Sector, and as Director of the Directorate for Regional Organisations and Initiative at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Dragasevic holds Masters Degree in European Studies from the University of Bonn in 2006.


Mladen Dragasevic, Head of Building Human Capital Unit, Regional Cooperation Council Secretariat (Photo: RCC/ Dinka Živalj)

Mladen Dragasevic, Head of Building Human Capital Unit, Regional Cooperation Council Secretariat (Photo: RCC/ Dinka Živalj)