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Foundation for ACP-EEC cultural cooperation General Assembly meets

The plenary session of the General Assembly of the Foundation for ACP-EEC Cultural Cooperation was held in Brussels on I February 1993 under the chairmanship of Mr Giovanni Bersani, President of the Governing Board of the Foundation and Honorary President of the Joint Assembly.

Among participants were Mrs Aissata Kane, a former Mauritian Minister, Mrs Maria Luisa Cassanmagnago Cerreti and Dr Erskine Simmons, Co-Presidents of the ACP-EEC Joint Assembly, Mr Henri Saby, chairman of the Committee on Development and Cooperation of the European Parliament, Dr Edwin Carrington, Secretary-General of CARICOM, and Mr Francis K. Muthaura. the Ambassador of Kenya to Brussels. There were diplomats, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, educational psychologists, lawyers, distinguished university teachers, as well as representatives from the Commission of the European Communities. The press was also in attendance.

The relevance of the cultural issue to the development process and in the struggle against racism and xenophobia was strongly emphasised by various speakers who recalled the role played by Ambassador Chasle in securing recognition of the cultural dimension in the LomII and LomV Conventions.

These members emphasised the Foundation's daring objectives, which were sometimes perceived as subversive. Widening the range of partners, they say, is absolutely essential, so as to give more weight to the Foundation in the balance of power and reduce its financial dependence.

One of the anthropologists attending the meeting expressed the view that the Foundation should remain open to cultural nuances and cultural blending and that multidisciplinary research should be undertaken between the various continents without having to go through the West.

Addressing the Assembly, the Secretary-General of the Foundation, Ambassador Chasle, stressed the European Parliament's role in and contribution to the recognition of the significance of culture and its role in development cooperation, and he paid tribute to Angolo Narducci who, through his report to the Parliament, contributed to making his colleagues realise the relevance of cultural dialogue.

The Secretary-General added that if this recognition was now an acquis, the visions of culture and of cooperation were still radically different and that the conflict between these perceptions had led to certain tribulations and unsuccessful attempts to destabilise the Foundation which unfortunately impeded its progress and action. He indicated that, beyond the recognition of cultural pluralism, it would be proper to promote the concept of culture as a capacity for reflection, analysis and upliftment, aimed at responding to current exigencies.

The Secretary-General also observed that Euro-ACP intercultural dialogue would contribue to the reconstitution of the vital fabric of European culture and to revitalising its profound and genuine values, which were essential for the construction of Europe.

The General Assembly was pleased to hear that Mr Manuel Marin, Vice-President of the Commission, had informed the Secretary-General that the various evaluations conducted on the Foundation were on the whole positive and that, following procedures now under way, the Protocol Agreement between the Commission of the European Communities and the Foundation provided for under Annex XXII to the LomV Convention would be signed in the weeks to come- giving a clear signal of the Commission's determination to support the Foundation. The Assembly General moved that a letter of thanks and appreciation be sent to Commissioner Marin.