The initiative “A Soul for Europe” mobilises citizens and democratic institutions across Europe, fostering a sense of responsibility for the future of Europe and democracy through culture. It connects communities in order to build a common European public space and a culture of proactive citizenship.

The European Academy of Yuste Foundation has participated in the Berlin Conference  with the title “Europe. Its Values, its Citizens” organized by the initiative ‘A Soul for Europe’ together with Allianz Kulturstiftung Kulturstiftung under the patronage of the European Parliament, and the partnership of several organizations from different EU countries, including the European Academy of Yuste Foundation. The Conference has connected cultural activists, intellectuals and politicians in order to highlight the importance of culture for a democratic and participatory Europe.

The Foundation was rerepresented by Miguel Ángel Martín Ramos, Head of European Affairs and Brussels Delegation of the European Academy of Yuste Foundation, and Member of the Strategy Group of A Soul for Europe. Martín Ramos participated in the session “The city as Spot of Innovation, Inclusion and of new Models for Citizens’ Involvement” and highlighted “the Role of European Cultural Routes, and the project of the European Routes of Emperor Charles V certified by the Council of Europe, as examples to promote active EU Citizenship through Culture from the bottom-up”,  “the need to foster multilevel cooperation among institutions at local, regional, national and EU level”, and proposed to develop initiatives “to fill the gap between participatory democracy and representative democracy”.

“The time has come to fight for the basic European values solidarity, respect, and tolerance”, Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, stressed with respect to the current refugee crisis. “It’s time to fight against those who are in favour of renationalisation and desolidarisation,” Schulz said in his welcoming address.

The Berlin Conference 2015 of A Soul for Europe was followed by with The State of Europe Speech, where the President of the Council of the EU, Donald Tusk, highlighted that “The fall of the Berlin Wall reminds us of three great challenges facing Europe: the West’s liberal democracy is questioned & undermined. Our common task is to rebuild transatlantic trust & cooperation; to protect  the area of European freedom, external borders are necessary. No external borders means no Europe without internal borders; and the Refugee Crisis breeds fears. Biggest opportunity for radical populists since 1945. Our greatest task is to protect liberal democracy”.

Representing A Soul for Europe at the State of Europe Speech was Pilar Velasco Acedo who underlined that  “European citizenship alongside refugees initiatives have built a huge social network and Institutions should use this power as a lever of change”. She also said that “Integration is about sharing, empathy, about getting to know the others stories, and we need to talk not only about our “problems” but also about our values. Because when you are aware on your own values and principles there´s less reason to be afraid”. She mentioned that “it is important to find models that can help us, as a society, to translate European challenges into workable models. And find inspiring thought on how to spark curiosity among people, how to share stories, how to facilitate cultural initiatives and inspiring stories that, in all their diversity, can create a new common narrative for Europe”. Finally she added that “to protect the newcomers from racism, extreme populism, exclusion and the swing of national policies we need a European vision. A vision that not only deals with the legal and political framework, but also with the cultural and ethical”.

Among the participants of the conference were writer and curator Thierry Fabre, the historian and publicist Karl Schlögel, the longterm members of the European Parliament Doris Pack and Hannes Swoboda, the Minister of Culture of Albania Mirela Kumbaro Furxhi, the Bosnian writer and activist Alan Kristić as well as Paul Spies, future director of the Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin.

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• For further information please contact “A Soul for Europe”,
Ruth Steinhof, ph.: +49 30 2639 229 41,