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HCR Presentation at Luxembourg for the Certification Process

May 5th 2022
The Historic Cafes Route team attended the Annual Governing Board meeting of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes (EPA), on May 5, 2022 in order to present the Cultural Route ” Historic Cafés Route ” with the aim of obtaining certification from the Council of Europe. The meeting, held at the Neumünster Abbey in Luxembourg, was attended by representatives of the 35 Member States (Representatives of the EPA member States) and the EPA Governing Board. The 35 representatives evaluated the presentation of the Route, its course so far, as well as the future actions and initiatives being planned. According to regulations, the presentation of each Cultural Route for certification could be obtained exclusively in English or French. HCR founder and president Vassilis Stathakis, HCR Route Manager George Loverdos and HRC Communication Officer Maria Mystakidou were present in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The final presentation to support HCR’s candidacy for the certification, after a process that lasted more than nine months, was made by the Route Manager and the Communication Officer and was accompanied by slides and videos. In the videos, the candidacy was strongly supported by the President of HCR, representatives of HCR cafés, the ambassadors of HCR in Italy, Spain and Portugal and also by the President of the Hellenic National Tourism Organization (GNTO – EOT), Angela Gerekou. In the ten-minute presentation required by the regulations, the two HCR representatives referred to both the importance of Historic Cafés in the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Europe, and the vital role of Historic Cafes in protecting cultural heritage amidst the pressures of globalization and standardization. They also stressed the importance of Historic Cafes, which in contrast to places which simple offer food and drink for consumption, offer café-goers a profoundly historical, social and cultural experience. During the presentation, it was emphasized that the Historical Cafés have always been centers of cultural expression frequented by major societal personalities: artists, academics, politicians, actors and musicians. Here, through open dialogue, they have forged the face of European History, its everyday life and ultimately, European identity. The presenters went on to recreate the current Historic Cafés Route, which includes over 90 cafés in 15 countries, noted the importance of small and medium Cafés in the economy of each region and also their importance in regional industries and enabling local artisans to thrive. Part of the presentation was dedicated to the new website, all of which is in English, (with the possibility of adding the French language, and in future, others) and its practical support for diversity and multiculturalism. It was emphasized that the new site includes the “Opinions” section, which already hosts various expert perspectives, and it was announced that a “Forum” section will be added, with themed chat rooms in order to promote dialogue and suggestions amongst members. Emphasis was also placed on the profile of the Historic Cafés Route on social networks Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The future development of the rapidly growing Historic Cafés Route was also mentioned as, within a short period of time since the amendment of the statute, new associations and dozens of new members have joined. The two representatives of the Route referred to the next steps of the HCR to bring in members from Germany, Poland, Ireland, Great Britain as well as in Egypt, Ethiopia, the Middle East and Turkey. They also stressed the importance of the decision of the Greek Ministry of Culture to include the Historic Cafés in the list of Intangible Greek Cultural Heritage, something that has been done in Austria, with Italy soon to follow. They even added that these three countries, at the initiative of the HCR, will promote the International Recognition of Historic Cafés worldwide as intangible Cultural Heritage sites. Another important point that was mentioned is the diversification of the members of the Historic Cafés Route, which now in addition to Cafés can include, associations, local authorities, museums, universities, businesses in the tourism sector, individuals, etc. What became clear during the presentation was that the Historic Cafés are not monuments of the past; on the contrary they are modern and vital for the European life of today. After all, it is with this profile of today that the Historic Cafés Route concerns all the member states of the Council of Europe with the prospect of crossing all borders and spreading globally. Regarding the importance of the events during the presentation, it was emphasized that they are essential, that they should be a feature of HCR, and several events were described that will take place in the next three years. Immediately after the presentation, the representatives of the Member States spoke. Among the questions asked were those from Italy, Lebanon, Norway, Turkey and Ukraine and positive feedback on the presentation was received. The decision for the certification of the Historic Cafés Route is expected to be announced at the end of May or beginning of June by the official website of the Council of Europe.

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