Kulttuurien välinen dialogi hälventää pelkoja

Heidi Hautalan puhe Pohjoismaisen ministerineuvotoston järjestämässä Intercultural dialogue and the role of culture in sustainable development -seminaarissa Hanasaaressa 7.11.2011.

Kära vänner från när och fjärran,

Det är en stor glädje för mig som ny minister för internationell utveckling att se så många som vill delta i detta seminarium. Ni skall vara medvetna om att ni är en viktig del i det arbete och diskussion som just nu pågår i Finland för att rita en ny, mera detaljerad karta för vårt internationalla samarbete som bedrivs av den nya regeringen med biståndspengar. Samtidigt skall ni även diskutera nordiskt samarbete för att främja interkulturell dialog, möten mellan kulturer. Dessa två perspektiv skall stöda varandra på olika sätt. Målsättningen är gemensam – hållbar framtid för alla sju miljarder människor på jorden, kvinnor och män, flickor och pojkar. Uppgiften är inte enkel. Medvetenheten om globala utvecklingens ohållbarhet ökar. Det är viktigt att vi samlas i nordiska rum för att diskutera mångfald som rikedom, inte hot.

Unfortunately, political fanaticism disguised in the veil of religious extremism is a globally growing threat. In Pakistan politicians in favour of pluralism are murdered. However, freedom of speech and freedom religion are threaten not only in far-off countries but also in Europe. Recently, the headquarters of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo were bomb attacked after it put an image of the Prophet Mohammad on its cover. I can’t overemphasise that freedom of expression and belief are inalienable values of democracy and any incursion against these freedoms must be condemned with the utmost force. No cause justifies violent action. The main representative body of Muslims in France, the French Muslim Council (CFCM), denounced the attack as well as several other mainstream Muslim leaders.

We have to respect and understand other cultures but for example denial of rights of women in the name of cultural values cannot be accepted. This kind of denial of rights does not genuinely represent cultural values.

The UN Alliance of Civilizations has over the past few years brought into the forefront the need to bridge the divides between cultures and religions by focusing on youth, media, education and migration. One crucial objective is to strengthen the dialogue between the Islamic and the Western worlds which I see as a very important goal.

The High Representative Jorge Sampaio, the former president of Portugal, has emphasized the need to nationally and regionally outline plans through which the objectives can be achieved locally and regionally. Therefore it is important to jointly look into the possible Nordic or some kind of sub-regional approaches and the contribution of the Nordic or Northern European countries in the fulfilment of the objectives. I believe that the other workshop of this seminar is expected to give some ideas for further work in this field.

In the recent years many intergovernmental organisations, such as Council of Europe, the European Commission and UNESCO have included culture and development into their agenda. There is an obvious need to draw more attention to this field in our deliberations and actions nationally, regionally and internationally.

The point of departure for a culturally sustainable development policy must be based on the vitality of the cultures of the partner countries. The responsibility and ownership belongs to the partner countries in the development of their societies and cultures.

Culture-related development policy measures can be built on the available knowledge regarding the country-specific situation in cultural industries and based on existing needs and circumstances of the individual (developing) countries. Further action is required in developing the knowledge base itself.

The role of the culture in our own development cooperation in Finland has been discussed from time to time. The attention towards cultural cooperation has varied over time. Culture-related development actions undertaken so far have been mostly in the form of individual projects. It has not been easy to assess their ultimate developmental impact or their contribution to achieve the overall development policy aims.

Finland’s particular strengths in the field of culture and development have been the promotion of literacy in the native language and of the information society development. Finland has been internationally recognised as a forerunner in the library and in information services. Similarly, copyright matters and the associated economic foundation of cultural industries are our assets. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Culture have been working in close cooperation in many areas including the promotion of literacy.

I would also like to mention kielipesä or språkbo or language nest programmes that are an immersion-based approach that have successfully been used to revitalise languages in Lapland, North Russia and Estonia. In a language nest, children of small language groups learn together with older speakers of the language and revitalise together the language. There is potential for language nests in our development policy.

The various instruments of the development cooperation can be used by the different agencies, institutes and other operators working in the cultural field – whether bilaterally, multilaterally or through NGOs and the EU. Multilateral and bilateral cooperation can and should be mutually complementary.

Other Nordic countries have allocated significant inputs to culture and development. We are pleased to recognise many representatives from neighbouring countries here today. We are eager to listen to you and learn from your experiences. I hope that this seminar can contribute to deeper cooperation and coordination and perhaps joint efforts in the fields of intercultural dialogue and culture and development. Perhaps the deliberations today could further strengthen the jointly agreed involvement in the globalization process which is an important agenda item in the work of the Nordic Council of Ministers.