Council of Europe Encourages Cooperation in Caucuses

STRASBOURG–The Culture Ministers of Armenia–Azerbaijan and Georgia are to meet each other for the first time at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg–on December 13-14–to draw up new culture policies to foster stability in this multiethnic part of Europe.

The aim of the Council of Europe’s proposed program for a Caucasian culture policy is–during an initial three-year phase–to modernize relations between the authorities–the arts world and society at large. The plan is to find new funding methods and to back up the decentralization and privatization processes–while also helping to create a status for artists and encouraging discussions about ways of developing regional and international cooperation with neighbors.

The reshaping of culture policy will be possible thanks to the "STAGE" project–involving help with legislative reform and technical assistance in the form of pilot projects–workshops and training courses for officials in the various arts sectors. Additional help will be given through the publication of various materials–such as training manuals and legal registers.

Throughout the reform process–the three Caucasian countries will benefit from the experience of observer states (Russia–Turkey and Ukraine) and from financial assistance from Switzerland and Greece. An annual meeting will be held to assess the progress made by the three countries–and the results will be conveyed to the Committee of Ministers. An estimated budget of 640,000 Euros–based largely on member states’ voluntary contributions–will be used for these activities from 2001 to 2003.

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