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Benita Ferrero-Waldner

Regional intercultural dialogue is one of the most innovative aspects of the partnership initiated by the Barcelona Process.

In addition to peace and stability and the creation of an area of shared prosperity through an economic and financial partnership and the gradual establishment of a free-trade area, the Process has a third objective: rapprochement between peoples through a social, cultural and human partnership aimed at encouraging understanding between cultures and exchanges between civil societies. Launched in 1998, the Euromed Heritage Programme was the first programme of the Euro Mediterranean Partnership’s social, cultural and human component. The Mediterranean is the cradle of many civilisations and its cultural heritage is part of our common heritage: we are all responsible for its conservation and development.

The extent of the cultural diversity reflected by the Heritage Programme permits the Programme to reach target groups as diverse as music lovers, marine archaeologists and embroiderers. It gives everyone an opportunity to reappropriate certain areas of their own heritage.

Beyond the cultural projects and those who implement and promote them, the programme also serves to mainstream the cultural dimension in our relations with our partners and to pursue dialogue, a source of peace that lies at the heart of the Barcelona Process and runs like a leitmotif through our Mediterranean regional programmes. The fault lines that run through all societies are a daily reminder of the overriding need for intercultural dialogue and exchanges at every level. The need for such exchanges, for such dialogue is greater than ever.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner
EU Commisioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy