QUANG NINH — Nearly 90 delegates from 20 countries have recently gathered in the northern province of Quang Ninh for an ASEM workshop on enhancing Asia-Europe cultural ties.
The meeting was organised by the Vietnamese Government and the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), with support from Italy and Hungary.
Given the richness, diversity and long cultural history of the foundation's members, cultural co-operation will enhance the image of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) – a co-operation forum for Asian and European countries to strengthen dialogue and interaction between the two regions.
Participants included senior government officials, experts from relevant agencies and NGOs from ASEM members, representatives from ASEF, UNESCO and cultural foundations from Viet Nam and abroad. Leaders and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and officials from Quang Ninh Province were also present.
The experts exchanged ideas on how to foster co-operation through cultural activities, which could act as a platform for enhancing ASEM's profile.
Topics discussed included cultural diplomacy, the role of NGOs in cultural dialogue and cultural co-operation. Delegates also heard that ASEF had a role to play in enhancing ASEM's profile.
"In order to improve the Asian-European cultural relationship, introducing the original authentic values of the culture of the oriental nations is necessary and urgent, especially in the fields of literature and arts," said To Ngoc Thanh, president of the Viet Nam Folk Arts and Literature Association.
Ugo Bacchella, president of the Italian Fondazione Fitzcarraldo, suggested that ASEM pay more attention to promoting the arts.
"It might be useful to help artists, musicians, directors and actors live and work abroad, under ASEM's patronage," he said.
"Culture is our history, our present and the gift we leave to future generations, our inexhaustible wealth," he said.
Recommendations from the workshop will be submitted to the 4th ASEM Culture Ministers' Meeting in Poland in September and also the 8th ASEM Summit of Heads of State and Government in Belgium in October.
The inaugural ASEM Summit was held in Bangkok in 1996. It has since been held every two years alternately in Asia and Europe. — VNS