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The 11th International Annual Advisory Forum on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe successfully concluded

Chania, Greece

After 3 days of speeches, round tables and b2b discussions, the 11th International Annual Advisory Forum on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe held in Chania, 5-7 October 2022 was concluded with great success. The idea of ​​hosting the Forum in Chania was of the founder and president of the Historic Cafés Route, Mr. Vasilis Stathakis, who was also one of the co-organizers.

On the occasion of the 11th Advisory Forum, the Cultural Routes Program celebrated its 35th anniversary this year, while celebrating a Europe rich in history, heritage, dialogue, and values ​​that promotes cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and sustainable tourism.

The Forum was the largest in the history of the institution, which was held under the auspice of HE the President of the Hellenic Republic, Ms. Katerina Sakellaropoulou. It was attended by 430 delegates from more than 50 countries, 5 ministers, 6 Secretary Generals, the Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Ms. Dora Bakoyannis and the President of the Greek National Tourism Organization (EOT), Ms. Angela Gerekou.

Namely, the Minister of Culture and Sports of Greece, Ms. Lina Mendoni, the Minister of Tourism of Greece Mr. Vassilis Kikilias with a video greeting, the Minister of Tourism of Lebanon Mr. Walid Nassar, the Minister of Culture of North Macedonia Ms. Bisera Kostadinovska-Stojchevska and the Deputy Minister of Culture of Albania Ms. Meri Kumbe participated.

Namely the Secretary Generals: Ms. Olympia Anastasopoulou, Secretary General for Tourism Policy and Development of the Greek Ministry of Tourism, Mr. George Didaskalou, Secretary General of Culture of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, Dr. Eleni Doundoulaki, Secretary General of Contemporary Culture of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, Dimitris Fragkakis, Secretary General of the Greek National Tourism Organization, Ambassador Lazar Comanescu, Secretary General of BSEC (Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization) and the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe Bjørn Berge.

During the Forum, the 3 new certified Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, namely “European Fairy Tale Route”, “Historical Cafés Route” and “Women Writers Route” were awarded with their certificates.

During the certification of the “Historic Cafés Route”, the President of HCR, Mr. Vasilis Stathakis, thanked all national and local bodies that helped during the effort, stressing that “the certification of the Route by the Council of Europe is the most valid evidence of excellency for the Cultural Routes (….) Cultural Routes are a landmark of cultural, economic, sustainable development and contribute to the tourism promotion of cities and countries. They are the future of tourism. Thus, the Ministries of Culture and Tourism, as well as the National Tourism Organizations, should support even more dynamically the efforts to create Cultural Routes, in order to emerge in the practice of cultural entrepreneurship following the example of France, which has fully embraced Cultural Routes. And it is not the only country that has done so. In my experience, Cultural Routes need financial support at every level. I know that the journey is difficult, but I know that if the institutions of each country decide on it, it will be successful.”

It is worth noting that Mr. Stathakis, in addition to his speech during the certification of the “Historic Cafés Route”, gave an opening welcome speech, while he also participated at the Press Conference held on Wednesday, October 5, 2022.

During the Forum, the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe welcomed Lebanon, Albania and North Macedonia as new countries members.

The Forum officially started on October 5, with a glamorous opening ceremony at the MINOA hotel and concluded with a closing ceremony at the Mikis Theodorakis Theater at the Venetian harbor of Chania following a concert by Stefanos Korkolis and Sofia Manousakis. Throughout the Forum, “Mikis Theodorakis” hosted an exhibition on the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, which was curated by the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports.

The Forum was organized by the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe and the European Institute of Cultural Routes, in collaboration with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Hellenic Ministry of Tourism, the Hellenic National Tourism Organization, the Region of Crete, the Municipality of Chania, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Chania, and the Cultural Route “Historic Café s Route”.

At this year’s Forum, the importance of promoting of Europe’s common cultural heritage, while strengthening sustainable local development, was highlighted.

During the first day of the Forum, at the high -level dialogue by the theme “Safeguarding European values, heritage and dialogue in an age of uncertainties” the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe Bjørn Berge, the Minister of Culture and Sports of Greece Lina Mendoni, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Dora Bakoyannis and the Chair of the Statutory  Committee EPA on Cultural Routes, Ambassador Patrick Engelberg were participating.

During the three days of the Forum, three main general topics were discussed, which related to:

  • Promotion of European Values ​​and Intercultural Dialogue.
  • Heritage protection in times of crisis.
  • Promotion of creative industries, cultural tourism, innovative technologies for sustainable communities.

At the Forum, the initiatives and challenges of the Cultural Routes were discussed, experiences were exchanged, the progress of the Routes was reviewed, professional practices were analyzed, new initiatives were launched, and partnerships were developed across Europe and beyond.

The Forum was attended by representatives of the 48 certified Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, as well as representatives of ministries, international organizations, academics, tourism professionals and owners of Historic Cafes from Greece and abroad.

Next year, the 12th International Annual Advisory Forum of the Council of Europe, will be held in the city of Lodz, Poland.

Main photo: The Opening Ceremony featured a special video message from Mr. Oleksandr Tkachenko, Minister of Culture of Ukraine.

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