Memo September 2001

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A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of The Budapest Observatory (BO) in September 2001

It is an aching fact that this world is not the same as it was before 11 September.

Perceptions of the European Union
You find a report on a survey conducted by the Governance Task Force of the EU with three more partners, which gained surprisingly little attention. It offers much more than the usual flat polls on "what do you expect from the enlargement".

The findings are presented in an outspoken style and often contradict widespread beliefs. They claim the existence of a dividing line running between a very big south and a very small north, from the point of view of perceptions of being European. This north-south divide has even deepened in the past 15 years.

"South" includes most countries of Europe, members and candidates, whose citizens are strongly aware of the existence of cultural ties, see in Europe first and foremost a historical land of culture of diverse peoples with common roots. The countries in this first group used to  belong to empires in which they mixed with others. They are setting Europe in opposition to America, on the foundations of cultural and humanistic values. There is a more or less spontaneous empathy for other Europeans. The force of cultural ties is felt with particular intensity in the Latin countries, Belgium and Luxembourg, and in most Central European countries.

Conversely, people in a few northern countries have only weak empathy with other Europeans.

In the candidate countries, attitudes towards the EU appear to be the most open in Slovenia (where people already feel close to it), Romania (where accession is seen by everyone as a historical necessity, an opportunity and a pressing obligation), more than in Cyprus, Hungary and the Slovak Republic. The Czechs are not against it, but they have a more pragmatic approach, as do the Estonians.

Culture 2000
Note that the deadline is approaching. As for the 1st round, it was confirmed by EC information line (+3222966599) that the board has already concluded selection and contracts are sent to winners currently. Then comes a long-long period of administrative steps and maybe late October will see results published on europa website. The numbers of successful applications from east-central Europe are Bulgaria (2), the Czech Republic (2), Hungary (1), Latvia (1), Lithuania (1), Poland (4) and Slovenia (1).

Intense analysis of the differences between the 1st and this 2nd round show that

  • the call for 2002 focuses on three themes of which at least one has to be addressed by each project: 1) addressing the citizen 2) new technology/media addressing creativity 3) tradition and innovation; linking past and future. Applicants must specify which of the three above issues they tackle principally.
  • As for evaluation criteria, the factors European added value and quality will be rewarded most. Consult the documents for definitions.
  • Priority will be given to those who promise to involve the largest number of partners from different countries and those ensuring dissemination of their activities through new ways of communication.

Routes of Faith
This Unesco project, which aims to enhance inter-religious and intercultural understanding within Jerusalem the Holy City, held a gathering entitled First Meeting of the Unesco Chairs of Inter-religious and Intercultural Dialogue in Bucharest (3-4 September). Delegates examined ways of exploring common lines of research and teaching, encourage mobility between students and researchers and intended to give greater visibility to the academic work undertaken by the Chairs. The ten such Chairs focus on religious studies and their specific cultural background have been created since 1999 in Russia, Romania, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan etc.

Conference in Rotterdam
The organisational pattern of the meeting on arts education was astonishingly similar to how we are planning our February conference: just compare the structures of the programme. I hope for similar atmosphere in Budapest.

In addition, the web site of the event is logical, simple, no extravaganza (except for the title), with the impromptu proceeding reports appearing on-line in a few hours. Good.

The conference was a truly European gathering, rallying many participants from our region: I even believe Slavs outnumbered Latins. 

Forum of European Cultural Networks
Entitled "Culture and Globalisation", the forum takes place in Brussels from October 4 to 6, at the Ministry of Culture of the French Community of Belgium (near the Ribaucourt metro station).

Bursary for young PhD holders
Applications in any of the social sciences, humanities or law, provided the research topic focuses on Central and/or Eastern European societies, will be considered for bursaries at Glasgow University. As usual, the deadline is near.