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Ministers of Culture of the Visegrad Group countries (7 February 2003)


Communiqué


from the 9th meeting of the Ministers of Culture from Visegrad Four countries
 
On 6 and 7 February 2003, the 9th meeting of the Ministers of Culture from Visegrad Four (V4) countries was held in Levoča, which was preceded by a meeting of experts. The key theme for discussions was the future and opportunities for further cultural co-operation between V4 countries after their accession to the EU.
 
The experts from V4 countries met in three working groups: one evaluated tasks arising from the previous meeting of the Ministers of Culture and discussed other general areas and themes of common interest, while two others were specially-oriented working groups consisting of representatives from national Cultural Contact Points for the CULTURE 2000 programme of the EU and representatives of national MEDIA Desks for the MEDIA Plus programme of the EU.
 
The Ministers are convinced that co-operation between V4 countries in the cultural field will not lose its prominent role, even after the accession of V4 countries to the EU. They express their readiness to promote and implement joint projects, initiatives and meetings. In this context they therefore welcome the initiative by ambassadors from V4 countries in Brussels to arrange a joint cultural presentation by V4 countries in Brussels on 28 and 29 September 2003 and the project for a joint cultural presentation in European Cites of Culture in 2003 to 2005. They express their readiness to promote and implement these joint projects.
 
The Ministers of Culture express their full readiness to promote by all means at their disposal, the accession of their countries to the EU and to this effect they will act before and during media campaigns prior to national referendums on the accession of their countries to the EU. Further, in accordance with the Prime Ministers of V4 countries they find it necessary to adopt a new Visegrad declaration. This new declaration should reflect new conditions and updated co-operation targets between V4 countries during both the pre-accession period as well as after the accession to the EU.
 
With regard to the fact that many specific activities in a variety of cultural fields were presented at the meeting, the Ministers agree to support the initiative by the Slovak Republic to arrange specialised meetings at the expert level in the field of the arts and cultural heritage in the Slovak Republic during the first half of 2003. They envisage that this meeting will develop specific joint projects.
 
The Ministers further express their strong belief that discussions and evaluation of the proposals for the establishment of the Visegrad Prize submitted by individual countries will be further discussed in order to be able to take a final decision on this issue at the meeting to be held in autumn in the Czech Republic.
 
The Ministers highly appreciate the quality and high standard of the submitted proposals for the Visegrad Four Cultural Co-operation Logo. They declare the winning proposal as Maciej Buszewicz proposal from Poland. At the same time they delegate Hungarian partners to complete the rules for its using according to discussion.
 
The Ministers of Culture consider the existence of the European CULTURE 2000 programme intended for supporting culture of great importance and evaluate its orientation positively. The implementation of international cultural projects creates new dimensions for co-operation, exchange of experience and mobility. However, with regard to the complicated nature of the programme, primarily concerning issues of partnerships, co-financing and application forms, the Ministers of Culture have come to agreement that a joint strategy by V4 countries is useful. They concluded that a joint solution to certain issues would provide for better implementation of this programme in V4 countries.
 
For this purpose, the Ministers have agreed on the following issues:
  1. They will support the establishment in the presiding V4 country of a regular contact forum for cultural operators from V4 countries, which will be accompanied by training and the presentation of successful programme projects.
  2. With regard to the high financial contribution required from co-organisers of projects under the CULTURE 2000 programme, they will support co-financing from their home sources.
  3. In cases where V 4 countries are participating in projects under the CULTURE 2000 programme, they will make every effort to encourage the use of co-financing from the International Visegrad Fund. The Minister of Culture of the presiding country will send a letter to the International Visegrad Fund before the final date for the receipt of projects with a request to provide funds for such projects.
  4. They will inform Commissioner for Education and Culture of the European Commission, of their joint strategy and comments on the programme (Enclosure 1).
  5. In connection with the implementation of Structural Funds, they will support mutual exchange of information and experiences in this field. At the same time they will support arrangements and actively participate in a conference of the Ministers of Culture from V4 countries and the EU on Structural Funds, to be held in Bratislava in the second half of 2003, to create an effective model for financing culture in V4 countries from Structural Funds from 2006.
  6. The Ministers will support a training programme for the V4 countries on Structural Funds.

The Ministers of Culture recommend opening expert discussions on opportunities for co-operation in the field of cinematography and audio-visual, in order to analyse the legal and financial possibilities of film co-production and their support from national and international sources in accordance with their national legislation.
 
The Ministers will use all relevant international forums to present results achieved under cultural co-operation between V4 countries in order to increase awareness of the Visegrad Four Group and achieve better visibility.
 
The Ministers will:
  • before and after accession to the European Union, promote jointly the maintenance of cultural identity and cultural traditions of each V4 country as means of protection against the commercialisation and globalisation of culture,
  • ensure preservation and enhancement of the national cultural heritage of V4 countries, including protecting the mother tongue as a phenomenon, in the European spirit of cultural diversity,
  • jointly initiate a gradual reduction in the VAT rate for books and book culture in individual V4 countries in accordance with applicable EU legislation.

Done and signed at Levoča on 7 February 2003

Rudolf Chmel, Minister of Culture of the Slovak Republic
Pavel Dostál, Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic
Waldemar Dąbrowski, Minister of Culture of Poland
László Kocsi, State Secretary, Ministry of Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Hungary


Ms. Viviane Reding
Commissioner for Education and Culture
European Commission
Brussels
Levoča, 7 February 2003

Madame,
The Ministers of Culture from the Visegrad Group met in Levoca, Slovak Republic, on 7 February 2003 on 9th regular meeting of V4 countries. The theme of the meeting was further co-operation among the V4 countries in the field of culture, prior and after their accession to the European Union.
 
The Ministers of Culture noted with satisfaction that the number of successful applications from their countries to the programme CULTURE 2000 is growing.
 
They all agreed that the CULTURE 2000 programme is of great importance within the context of European cultural development and positively assessed its orientation. At the same time they highly appreciated the fact that the implementation of international cultural projects under this programme creates new opportunities for co-operation, exchange of experience and mobility.
 
Further, the Ministers of Culture discussed their cooperation in the field of audiovisual activities, with a special regard to the possibilities available under the Media Plus Programme.
 
The Ministers expressed their joint opinion that their cooperation could be deepened, and to this end, they gave way to their hope that the Media Plus Programme can be opened for all members of the V4 Group.
 
The Ministers of Culture highly appreciated the opportunity the EU provides to the countries on the way to accession that they participate in the Community programmes and European projects. At the same time, they are convinced that the EU enlargement process will be successful, and the V4 countries will contribute to the EU efforts to preserve cultural diversity in Europe.

Yours faithfully,
Rudolf Chmel, Minister of Culture of the Slovak Republic
Pavel Dostál, Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic
Waldemar Dąbrowski, Minister of Culture of Poland
László Kocsi, State Secretary, Ministry of Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Hungary

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