Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Fourth Plenary Session: Political debate

Fourth Plenary Session: Conclusion -

Political Perspectives for European Integration in the Mediterreanan Regions, chaired by Makis Potamianos with following speakers:



  1. The Changing Perspectives of Development by Prof. L. Baeck, Leuven
  2. Impact of European Integration on the Regions within and outside of Europe: What new Co-ordinates are needed for Europe 2002 by Mr. David Sasson, Ambassador of Israel to Greece
  3. About Culture and European Integration by Alecos Alavanos, Athens, Member of the European Parliament


Good seminars never become what they are, namely excellent, if there is not some spice added to all the theoretical and organisational work. This is usually the moment when all the good intentions to make everyone happy either fails or becomes a success in a modest way by retaining a normal standard of discussion.

In that sense, everyone could identify with what Prof. Baeck said when he pointed out to be most relaxed and at home when on the Greek soil. His attribution to the Mediterreanan culture is more than just a hommage to man during that period; it is a subtle way of thinking about economic problems in historical terms, without thereby being necessarily a scientist who ascribes to the German historical school of thought. That has always been objected to by Prof. Paquet from Carleton and now at Ottawa University.

Poverty is not only a sign of people being without a job; there is equally the poverty of language and of vision. Supposingly that economics as a social science has to risk of being no longer value free, but an engaged art of 'philosophical-political" (see Sabine, History of Political Thought) thinking about 'economies', what the Fifth Seminar showed, is that this thinking has to be done within cultural spheres of possibilities. It opens up minds and lets discover new ways of addressing issues, all while not forgetting that the 'moral base' of any society must be kept intakt.

Here then becomes evident some practical wisdom. Just as much a political plenary in Athens, Greece cannot leave out external dimensions to Europe and which are nevertheless a part of the region, the internal matters with the aim to achieve social and economic cohesion goes beyond mere equality between the different regions in Europe. Already the Fourth Seminar Culture, Building Stone for Europe 1993 held in Brugge proved to be fruitful due to allowing for 'inner/outer', 'community/non-community' reflections to elongate and to deepen thoughts about 'cultural diversity'.

Originally this fourth plenary session was meant to include aside from the Ambassador from Israel, Mr. David Sasson, the Polish Ambassador Mr. R. Zoltaniecki, a poet and scholar interested in how challenges to moral authorities vary from country to country as one moves East. Also on the panel should have been the Minister President from the Government of the Flemish Community, Mr. van den Brande. Unfortunately both could not make it, even though, as stated in the First Plenary Session, the Flemish Minister President was prevented from coming precisely because he had to go to Warschau, Poland, in order to sign a first treaty regulating activities between Poland and Flanders. In other words, the political viewpoints expressed touched upon the necessity to extend thoughts in the direction of the Far East and to Eastern Europe, Greece being at a most sensitive spot, geo-politically speaking, given the vincinity of the Balkans, Turkey, the unsettled dispute with Iraq and the peace process in the making in the Middle East. Some are encouraging signs, others rather precarious options which few really know how to handle. Politics is not a waiting game, but there are also sometimes the wrong pressures at work. It all depends whether or not the 'voice of reason' is heard and the opportunities to listen in not taken for granted, but really appreciated.

In that sense, the Member of the European Parliament, Alecos Alavanos, was a most important bridge of understanding of both Europe and Greece. Being a member of the European Parliament, he reflects constantly the role of Greece within the European Union and vice versa what impact the European Union has upon Greece.

The Fifth Seminar took place because Greece had the presidency of the European Union; shortly after the Fifth Seminar had taken place, the EU held its main meeting on the island of Corfu. Definitely many difficulties exist when it comes to understand the future role of Greece within the European Union; certainly the technocratic vision which has ruled so far policy and decision making within the European Commission seems not to befavourable towards Greece, but the Presidency turned out to be a success. There are, after all, politicians of integrity involved in mediating between Greece and Europe. Alecos Alavanos is one of them.

Important to add is something about the chairperson Makis Potamianos. He made it quite clear from the beginning, that because this was a political plenary session, he did not want to speak as a representative of the European Commission, of the DG he works for; however, he is himself unique insofar as he is Greek, works in Brussels and has not only a wife who is Flemish, but he is one of the few who speaks Flemish as well. In that sense, he does sympathise with the efforts of the Flemish government to make its case be heard in Europe.

It is not possible to repeat all what was said during the discussion, but the main issue turned out to be how to transform military peace keeping missions abroad into 'cultural actions' which safeguard peace practically, by, for example, creating a European book of mythology as suggested by Eleni Peonides and which Prof. Baeck took up as a grandfather of many grandchildren eager to listen to stories about Europe.

The Changing Perspectives of Development - by Prof. L. Baeck

1. The Mainstream View in the Period 1945-1975

The term development came en vogue in the wake of the de-colonization process. Few events have had such a profound influence on our epoch as the de-colonization of Asia, of the Middle East and of Africa. Taken in the literal sense, de-velopment means "to be taken or coming out of the envelop". In the early post-war period, the historical traditions of the so-called 'backward' countries were perceived as the envelop (handicap) for the new nations on their road to progress. In some native languages of Africa, for example, the term development is an etymological equivalent of 'enlightenment'. As such the origin of the term development is associated with "a breaking with historical tradition". In the view of the two superpowers, development co-operation was an avowed effort to replicate in the one camp the modes of the west (westernization) and in the other camp it was enforced sovietization. 1

The social scientists of the West responded to the new situation with a scientific construct, namely development theory, which was expected to meet the challenge. The new nations, so it was thought, were spared the trouble to choose their own path of development, since the historical model already existed. The basic pattern for these latecomers in development was assumed to be the same as for the western forerunners. The mainstream economists, sociologists and political scientists epitomised this pattern in a set of central concepts: rapid industrialization in the economic field, secularisation of ideologies and religions, modernisation of the behaviour patterns, urbanisation and the adoption of cosmopolitan (this is western) attitudes to facilitate their integration into the world culture. Western sociology and economics, themselves children of the Enlightenment and of its rationalistic premises, held that modernisation in the form of industrialization, secularisation of values and growing urbanisation of life styles, would transform the traditional, cultural mosaic of the heterogeneous societies of the Third World, into integrated national communities. Development was seen to be a change agent of the traditional loyalties, values, ethnic and linguistic particularities, and other such "anachronistic" features of the historical latecomers. Modernisation would offer the ingredients necessary for the creation of a civil society. There was also recalcitrants who rejected this path of westernization, as a new guise of neo-colonialism. Indeed, the two big countries, namely China and India, a more nationalist and ideologically self-reliant line was followed.

The first generation of developers stated with the genuine idealism and the sanguine optimism of a new sect. They were utterly self-confident that the best strategy for the new nations was to steer away from their traditional mould. The quirks of history, however, had quite unexpected movements in store. In a considerable number of new countries, the breakdown of the populist approach resulted in the rise of regimes led and controlled by military juntas. Not all these breakdowns were the fault of the Third World countries themselves. A major difficulty was that the economies of the core countries of the western bloc (the United States, the European Community and Japan) started to spread their firms of industrial production and of services, as well as their financial markets, on a global scale. This process of globalization forced the developing countries to a permanent effort of adaptation, adjustment and integration in the circuit of the world markets. This integration resulted in an accelerated westernization of the urbanised elites, but it left out the traditional core and the marginalized poor. As time went on, the revolution of rising expectations was transformed into a process of rising alienation and frustration caused by the dismal effects of modernisation.

At the end of the 1970s the superpowers gradually lost their grip on events and in the deep layers of some

1. For a detailed discourse on this subject, seem my recent book, L. Baeck, Post-war Development Theories and Practice, Paris, published by UNESCO and ISSC.

Third World societies the traditional forces started to mobilise their moral base against modernisation. The cultural revolution in Iran signalled that in the Islamic lands new developments were in the offing. Iran had been a show-case of capitalist development and modernisation. Its sudden breakdown and replacement by an anti-western theocracy caused a shock wave. Also in other parts of the world, the dynamics of history produced an unexpected wave of cultural reassertion. In the second half of the 1980s it became clear that the Soviet Union's system of authoritarian socialism had exhausted its promise of welfare creation. Gorbachev's initiatives of perestroika and glasnost acted as catalysers. The efforts oriented towards a controlled reform of the system, produced a watershed. The ideological relaxation broke the dikes of bureaucratic containment and the command system lost control. In the wake of its sudden collapse, there followed an ethno-cultural eruption. In the Balkans, the ethno-cultural brawl got completely out of hand.

II. The Brave New World of Cultural Assertivity

Since the end of the 1980s, a great number of people sense that we live an epochal change. This is perceived to be a rupture of the collective experience in several parts of the world. The change is less manifest in the material sphere; it has more to do with a novel historical perspective and a new awareness. It is a result of a "new way of seeing" the world and of a new interpretation of social reality. A significant paradigm-shift in the ideological field in our time is the weakening of social solidarity links and the strengthening of the ethnocultural bonds.

Not only in the welfare states of the West but on the global scale of the world, the social correction of the inequalities resulting from economic development is in the retreat while the cultural resistance movement becomes more forceful. It is my thesis that cultures have, again, a substantial historical impact on the dynamics of development, on geopolitics and on the global spread of rationality (as defined by the West). Cultures move the drift of events today in an unforeseen way. Against the cosmopolitan claims of the superpowers in the post-war period (with impulses towards Americanisation and Sovietisation in the respective ideological orbits) and against the accelerating globalization of the economy since the 1980s, an intensive wave of cultural indignation, of ethnic assertiveness and of regionalism becomes manifest.

In the western orbit, the geopolitical ambition of the United States resulted in the cosmopolitan dream of the global village idea. The culture industry, the media, the management styles, the behavioural sciences and youth cultures in Western Europe, underwent a considerable degree of Americanisation.

In the economic sphere, the transnationalization of the production structures and of the financial markets acted as integrative impulses, operating on a global scale. From the point of view of multinational firms the world is conceived as one big market. The internationalisation of the economies spreads production structures and consumption patterns, that are in a growing degree and on the scale of the whole world, "standardised, homogenised and uniformed". According to the cosmopolitan dream, the cultural, ethnic and religious diversity of the world was considered to be a traditionalist handicap for big-scale thinking and acting. In the 1980s several events (the revival of fundamentalism in the lands of Islam, the implosion of the Soviet empire, the consciousness of "roots" and sub-national identity problems elsewhere) demonstrated that this post-war cosmopolitan wave had past its peak. Universalism receded while cultural subjectivity and ethno-regional particularism came to bloom.

A decade ago, the label of post-modernism emerged and was initially associated with developments in the arts. Gradually the term spread to other cultural spheres, with spin-offs in ideology, philosophy, economics and political science. Modernism had postulated that science and reason could solve all our problems. It suggested that reason, scientific knowledge and technology was able to bring harmony out of the multi-diversity of mankind. According to the modernity-paradigm, the social, political and economic spheres of life could almost completely be rationalised and managed. As a consequence our lives were being engineered, planned, steered and administered by "globalizing systems". Post-modernism is clearly a cultural rejection of this paradigm. Post-modernism conveys a deep aversion to any global project or cosmopolitan claim on the sole basis of technology, science and reason. It is a dissenting force and countervailing power against the radicalisation of the anti-traditionalist Enlightenment credo and its embodiment in the post-war period.

Cultural indigenization is an assertive marker in the contemporary trend towards post-modernist retraditionalization. Indigenization is a process by which elite groups of several ethno-cultural entities renounce post-war cosmopolitanism and strive at a revival of conceptual and existential references of the pre-Enlightenment past (religion in Islamic lands, cultural roots and regional assertivity elsewhere) reflecting their own world views for the future. In the view of these groups the cultural identity has a promising future. While the European Renaissance of the 14th and 15th century was a resourcement of a cultural tradition climbing upstream to Antiquity, the new humanism of today comes in the guise of a resurgence in cultural identity and subjectivity, concomitant with a revival in the moral base of development. Several peoples of the world are now more determined to live their historical subjectivity as it has grown and evolved in their own culture. As a consequence of this upstream renaissance to "the roots", most multi-cultural nation-states have problems of cohesion. Ethno-cultural awareness and regionalism are carrying the day.

In Western Europe several nation-states face the problem of ethno-cultural nationalism: Belgium (Flemish, Walloon), Spain (Catalunia, the Basks), Great Britain (Scottish nationalism), Italy (Lombardian irredentism), Austria (Tyrol). This may put a brake on the formation of a political superstructure for the European Union. And in the United States, the "melting pot" proves to be less effective than in the past. Not only the most recent immigrants from Latin-America in the USA, but also the Negro populations stress their cultural identity more than before. The new trend of "political correctness" is a visible illustration of this. In the lands of Islam the revival of historical tradition is manifest. In Russia and in the Ukraine, the slavophile movement is reborn again.

III. Conclusion

Our world is in a process of development towards post-modernism, characterised by a revival of ethno-cultural assertivity and a keen sense of ethical awareness. This will change the geopolitical set-up of the world. The different nations and peoples of the world are making more manifest their cultural identity and their socio-political aspirations for future development. As a consequence the new world order will be more pluralistic. The socio-economic fabric and business management will be more diversified. This trend will pose new challenges. In a world in which nations and peoples become increasingly independent, a higher degree of solidarity, respectful of the cultural differences, seems to be the surest way toward harmonious and peaceful development.

Impact of European Integration on the Regions within and outside of Europe: What new Co-ordinates are needed for Europe 2002 - by David Sasson, Ambassador of Israel

It seems as if the Persian Gulf War in 1991 can be considered as a turning point regarding the relations in the area as a whole.

I am sure you remember that hardly a few months before the Persian Gulf war burst out, the Soviet Union collapsed and the countries of Eastern Europe and Inner Asia, that were bound to this union, started gradually to get their freedom. The Berlin wall fell and Germany was united.

There is no doubt that the developments in Eastern Europe and Inner Asia supported and helped the changes that happened in the area during and after the Persian Gulf War. Former President Bush feeling the historic changes, described the new situation as the first step towards a world in a "new order", without explaining though, what he meant by the term "new order". Maybe the American President wanted indirectly to indicate the change from a world controlled by two Superpowers, that had divided the globe into two halves - one Superpower not touching the half of the other and having, within this half, peripheral countries which were considered of a direct strategic interest and non-peripheral countries (grey) of an indirect strategic interest, but still of an interest and under the influence of the Superpowers - to a globe to be controlled by one Superpower.

The world to be controlled by one Superpower, even if this power is as big, strong and rich as the United States, cannot be practically achieved. Quite very soon it was proved that such a target cannot be reached, even with the use of the Security Council or the United Nations forces - two organisations that by definition and structure are either slow motion reactors or do not share the same political interests, national or global, thus not looking into the problem with the same eyes. In this or the other way, the United Nations organ. (the U.N. Forces), has difficulties to take decisions and when it finally does, these decisions are bound to so many restrictions (deriving from the political interests of parties) that the United Nations are actually unable to act effectively.

Thus we are back to the old and familiar regional balance system - the political system which existed up to the Second World War - wherein the order in every region the globe consists of, is kept by a balance. The only difference from then to now is that the regions are keeping or must keep a closer interaction deriving from the geographic status and the fact that the world is becoming smaller.

Actually, the Persian Gulf war changed completely the geopolitical map of the area. If you want, those changes are the main and real forces that led towards the Madrid Conference during which, for the first time in history, Israel and the Arab countries dealt directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The new geopolitical map forced mainly the Arab leaders, to act in frame of the real-politik and thus recognising not only the existence of the State of Israel, not only their inability to defeat Israel, but also the fact that, in regional terms, Israel is an existing power.

By keeping this in mind, we can facilitate our understanding of the deeper, inescapable interaction imposed on the Persian Gulf area, the Middle East area, the Balkan and Europe. In today's terms, this interaction does not necessarily mean an interference in the inner affairs of each country, but it surely means support and assistance extended by the northern countries to the southern ones, in order to help keeping a certain social balance, which if it does not exist, it would surely press and effect the northern countries.

A following step to the above mentioned is education in its general terms and I will explain. Most of the countries in the Middle East are in a lower standard than the E.U. and other European countries. If we agree that Democracy is the only ruling system suitable to be adopted. If we agree that Democracy is not just a meaningless term and that it does not exist by itself. If we accept that democracy cannot be planted just like this - it can survive only among nations and civilisations that are educated above a certain level, knowing the advantages and disadvantages of the system and how to use it in a correct way to their benefit - we shall understand the real value and importance of education.

I do not believe I will discover anything new by telling you that most of the countries of the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Inner Asia and the Balkan are, at the least, not familiar with the real meaning and the basic philosophic idea of democracy. We can also say that in certain countries, keeping the population in this

status, is the main interest of the leaders and the main source of their ruling power.

Here, distinguished listeners, lies the importance and the need for a true and real co-operation. Having Europe preferring the interest of bettering the situation of the people living the area - as a whole - on their immediate economic and commercial interests, might help to create a wealthy and healthy Middle East, which will be able to cooperate with Europe for the benefit of both regions for a much better, much longer and lasting future.

Thank you.

About Culture and European Integration - by Alecos Alavanos, Member of the European Parliament


What is "culture"? Is it the "corner stone of Europe 2002" according to the title of this Conference, or a "commodity" in a unified market, but a commodity with specific characteristics? The question is not meant to be rhetorical. Our aim, the aim of politicians is, or at least should be that culture will become the building stone of a united Europe, that it should become the base for the creation of the new awareness of European citizenship.

The difference between the two approaches (to culture) is fundamental and, to my opinion, deeply political. However, it is not totally unbridgeable. Modern Europe seems to be moving from an initial customs and commercial union to an Economic Community and, today, to a single market and a political Union, which is constantly concerned about regional or other inequalities and particularities. It is also true, that in this process the question of culture can no longer be ignored according to many "warning" voices, but also by taking into consideration the post war developments experiences.

The politically unified Europe, despite the fact that it has its roots in the economic unification, moves more and more towards a kind of 'civilisation' of the technocracy, but also towards a 'technocratisation' of culture. This spirit is reflected in the Maastricht treaty.

However, the demand for conceiving culture as the building stone for the new European house remains still unanswered, and this delay may cost Europe very dearly. Culture in a 'post-national' Europe has to be recognised as the unifying tie which keeps citizens and societies together; it is the 'material' (element) which helps to push away various national and nationalistic fears, which anwers to racism, to re-nationalisation of mentalities and of policies, to the increasing phenomena of disintegration in Europe of today.

That is why culture has to be recognised as an equal partner to the economic and the social dimension of European integration.

The cultural landscape after Maastricht

After the Maastricht Treaty and the new guidelines about the Cultural Action of the Community on the base of the subsidiarity principle, "the Community contributes to the development of the cultures of the member states and respects their national and regional diversity, while at the same time promotes the common cultural heritage" (Art. 128, Paragraph 1).

Hence cultural questions are, according to the new Treaty, primarily a responsibility of the member states. Here, the European Union uses a very "picturesque" expression: the question of culture is a matter of the sovereign member states, while at the same time other questions are being daily scrutinized and specific Regulations issues (by the EU) as, for instance, about the proper size of the eggs or the proper shape of cucumbers. According to the Treaty, the form of a directive or regulation is not envisioned for cultural matters. It is only in the form of recommendations to member states, which is envisioned (in the Maastricht Treaty).

At the same time, it is deplorable the fact that the EU provides insufficient finances for culture - as it has been repeatedly denounced by the European parliament - showing in this way that it has not yet realised that culture should be the building stone for the formation of the common European image. The EU shows that it has not realised that the processes of European integration are not simply of economical nature, but that they have a deeply social character. Messages arriving from across Europe confirm the fact that the simple citizen would like to participate, but feel displaced by the actual workings of European integration as they are taking place.

As to the revision of the Treaty in 1996, or even earlier, I believe that the Treaty should upgrade the position of culture. Greece as well as other countries have a particular interest in this, so that they can take the necessary initiatives for the revision of the Maastricht Treaty about the common cultural policy of the EU. According to my opinion, the main points which this revision should include are:

Likewise, the possibility of the EU's intervention possibilities should be enlarged to include, apart from recommendations, the forms of directives or regulations.

A critique of current common cultural policies

No matter how important the institution of cultural capitals of Europe has been, it is only a drop in a bucket. It is also true that the EU has (in the context of cultural policy) focused more on the book, the audio-visual sector and architectural heritage, confirming the view that it tries more to use culture in a technocratic way than to acquire a coherent common cultural policy.

Sponsorship has taken on dangerous dimensions and there have to be introduced common European terms, so that it can support and not just guide or even "subordinate" the content of cultural activity.

It is also necessary that harmonised conditions prevail for the artists, which is not the case in contemporary Europe.

As far as the repatriation of cultural treasures which have been exported illegally, an important matter for countries like Greece, the EU's position can be seen as being merely of technocratic nature. My opinion is that an illegal export of cultural treasures cannot be legitimised even after 40 or 75 years. Allow me to refer at this point to two more items with regards to the existing common cultural policy which, to my opinion, characterise the lack of a substantial cultural interest on the part of the EU. The first point refers to the recognition of the right of a member state to be consulted about cultural treasures which have originated from it by the member state or 'host' which holds these treasures, as well as to the form these kind of consultations should take. It is obvious that a country which has created a cultural treasure has every right to care about the general condition and management of this heritage which is to be found in another member state of the EU. However, such a procedure does not exist at the level of the EU and it is not even included in its future plans.

The second point has to do with the regulation of inventory of cultural treasures after the enforcement of the single market in 1993.

Now, I am going to refer to some other cultural areas to which attention must be given and which are currently very much neglected ones. They are the following:

A few words about subsidiarity

Certainly the member states must show particular sensitivity to the question of culture and to the development of a coherent cultural policy, a policy for the conservation of national heritage. They also have to play a leading role in the development of a rich co-operation between member states and between regions.

Under the present circumstances, it is mainly national political will which is needed for the promotion of the causes of culture, a culture open to its European perspectives. The European Union has to complement these national policies, not only verbally but also in practice by providing the necessary funds.

Greece, but other member states as well, have particular reasons to be concerned about the area of culture.

Added to that, there is tourism and environmental protection which are two domains particularly relevant and "friendly" to the protection of cultural heritage and this has to be taken seriously into account.

Finally, the recent migratory movements have created new 'solid' communities in big cities (i.e. in Athens: Polish, Albanians, Kurds, etc.). More cities every day are added to the list of multi-cultural, multi-national cities which have become the centres of attraction of foreign immigrants. Very often, artists of high value are included amongst the immigrants. Athens exhibits this characteristic to a high degree. That is why I believe from Athens a multi-cultural policy could be started with the aim to bring together people of different cultures and to cultivate a spirit of friendship between them.

Instead of an epilogue

In the previous fourth seminar of Bruge (November 1993) the American writer Conlin Wagner underlined that a dark future is ahead of Europe, if the 'melting pot' cultural policy of the USA will be followed. I agree totally with him.

Cultural diversity cannot be 'discovered' by experts of culture, but by people aware of themselves and their identity and capable of transferring concepts created outside their own culture within their own context of culture and understanding.

The demand for cultural diversity might be connected with an approach to culture based upon cultural specificities of Regions, as does the EU. However, would it not be more fruitful and convincing, I wonder, to consider the individual differences as the base of cultural diversity, irrespective of where these individuals (i.e. in which region) live? Should not this be the spirit of unified Europe?

Conlin Wagner said:

"Yes, we are all on the same train and that train has scarred our earth with tracks that cut across tribal lands and migratory paths, dispersing tribes and eradicating species, uniting regions of great diversity. Now with NAFTA and the European Union borders are becoming less well defined, and virtually the only place left to settle in order to segregate ourselves from others, to prevent infection from others' ideas, is 'Up'."

We should not only care about European unification: we should also care how we get there, the form of transition.

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