Summits of Heads of State in South-East Europe
Since 2002, UNESCO has cooperated closely with the leaders of South-East European countries in the organization of annual summits on topics of strategic importance to the region and cooperation among the countries in the region, especially in the field of culture.
These activities were launched by the High-Level Conference on Strengthening Cooperation in South-East Europe (UNESCO Headquarters, 5 April 2002). The Ohrid Regional Forum on Dialogue among Civilizations (2003) was the first summit event at which the leaders of the region expressed their desire to move beyond intolerance, misunderstanding and conflict towards a brighter, more prosperous and peaceful future. The Ohrid Forum and all other subsequent Summit Forums ended with the adoption of a Declaration on a specific theme.
Subsequent annual summits focused on:
- Inter-regional and inter-ethnic dialogue (Tirana, 2004);
- Cultural corridors of South East Europe: common past and shared heritage a key to future partnerships (Varna, 2005);
- Communication of heritage: a new vision of South-East Europe (Opatija, 2006);
- Cultural diversity: a bridge between cultural heritage and the culture of the future (Bucharest and Sibiu, 2007);
- Intercultural encounters on maritime, river and lake routes of South East Europe (Athens, 2008);
- Management of heritage diversity and its promotion for tourism (Cetinje, 2009);
- Music as a metaphor for cultural dialogue (Istanbul, 2010); and
- Contemporary art and reconciliation in South-East Europe (Viminacium/Belgrade, 2011).
The 2011 summit also welcomed several outstanding artists – sculptors, painters, writers - from the countries of the region. The artists engaged directly with the participating political leaders in dynamic and creative dialogues, which also found their way into the final “Viminacium Declaration”.
The agreements reflected in the various summit declarations and related action plans have progressively strengthened the bonds between the countries of the region and helped forge a framework for peaceful cooperation and coexistence.
The 2012 summit will be held on 2 and 3 June in Mostar on the theme “Religious, Cultural and Historical Heritage as a Foundation for more Intensive Cooperation amongst States”. Mostar is a most appropriate choice as venue of the summit, as the city has become a quintessential symbol of successful dialogue, reconciliation and the genuine restoration of everyday peace.