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Creative Forum Ljubljana – day 2: Hosting the high-level political forum

Ljubljana, 12 April 2018 – During the second and final day of the international conference Creative Forum Ljubljana, the City Museum of Ljubljana today hosted a high-level political forum titled Creativity as a Tool for Regional Cooperation. The discussion was aimed at reviewing possibilities and fostering cooperation in the Western Balkans and southern Mediterranean, establishing links between the two regions, and exchanging views and best practices on creativity and the creative industries. The participants at the high-level forum were Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor Crnadak, the Secretary General ad interim of the Union for the Mediterranean, Jorge Borrego, the EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, the Deputy Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Albania, Etjen Xhafaj, and other eminent guests. After the high-level forum, the conference continued at the Museum of Architecture and Design in Fužine Castle.

 

In his address, Minister Karl Erjavec underlined the importance of youth. Even in the political context, young people and guaranteeing their positive prospects, employment and social opportunities, are essential to the stability and prosperity of any region. Youth empowerment is one of Slovenia's priorities, which Slovenia is also actively pursuing in the Western Balkans and the Mediterranean. The Union for the Mediterranean has incorporated the Slovenian initiative Positive Agenda for Youth in the Mediterranean in its plan of activities; the Agenda was developed by Slovenia in the Western Balkans and became one of the main pillars of the Union for the Mediterranean, of which we are particularly proud. The Minister went on to mention the Euro-Mediterranean University – EMUNI as Slovenia's greatest contribution to the issues of youth in the region. Striving towards a stable, democratic and economically viable neighbourhood, Slovenia aims to transfer best practices and act as a binding element in the Western Balkans and southern Mediterranean. The creative industries sector has great potential for economic development and opportunities for youth.

 

The Secretary General ad interim of the Union for the Mediterranean, Jorge Borrego, began by commending Slovenia on its active engagement in the Union, enhancing the partnership between the northern and southern Mediterranean and promoting regional cooperation and dialogue. He went on to underline the importance of regional cooperation and integration for successfully addressing challenges facing the region in the areas of peace, security, stability and development. Regional challenges require regional solutions. As to human resources development, the Union for the Mediterranean is also focusing on youth, primarily with regard to education and unemployment. The culture and creative industries sector helps resolve social and economic difficulties in the region. Creativity, which also values the cultural heritage of the region, is becoming a new dimension of development of southern Mediterranean. Despite all this, creativity still remains underrated in the economic sphere. It should be appreciated and valued accordingly. Borrego also noted that creativity contributes to stability and peace, provided that citizens can be active and creative and that their work is appreciated.

 

According to the European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, the regions of the Western Balkans and southern Mediterranean are frequently referred to as unstable. Both regions still have considerable untapped potential, including in culture and creative industries. The creative sector improves social cohesion. Consequently, societies based merely on a competitive economy, without social cohesion, are not successful. When drafting the strategies of development for creative industries, the EU supports a bottom-up approach, i.e. an approach based on local communities. It is important that strategies envisage training in the three basic skills needed today in everyday life: entrepreneurship, social skills and digital skills. The EU therefore supports various initiatives aimed at developing these skills. Among EU programmes fostering creativity, education and mobility, Commissioner Navracsics underscored the Erasmus and Creative Europe programmes, which build the European identity. The Commissioner stressed that education and culture are vital to European integration.

 

The conference later continued at the Museum of Architecture and Design with the opening of a photography exhibition, ‘Fužine’, by the Lebanese photographer Krix Berberian, and with a panel on regional creative projects in the southern Mediterranean and the Western Balkans. Cases and practical experience relating to the activities of cultural institutions and implementation of creative projects in Lebanon, Algeria, Jordan, Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro were presented.

 

On the second day of the conference, Arteria, the newly established Slovenia-based creative network was presented; through creative activities, it is striving to offer people in the Western Balkans the opportunity to improve the quality of their lives and thereby stop emigration from these countries.

 

At the end of the conference, the Head of the Department for Public Diplomacy and International Cooperation in Culture at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Janja Klasinc, summarised the fact that creative industries have the potential to further develop the Western Balkans and the Mediterranean and, at the same time, they offer the opportunity for creative workers in various areas to build a web of cooperation and open the door to more successful and lucrative work. The discussions showed that creative industries are very successful. They are among the fastest-growing sectors in the global economy. One job in creative industries opens up 23 jobs in other fields. The conference also presented a number of positive instances of networking, from Creative Egypt or Creative Palestine to the Arteria Network. Therefore, creators expect more understanding of their work at all levels, from local and governmental levels to NGOs. In these efforts, the bottom-up approach needs to be adopted, as creators reject imposed models.