“Culture’s role as a tool of soft power and economic development” was the main topic at the Ancient Civilizations Forum, held in Athens (April 23-24, 2017).
The multiple ways in which countries can cooperate in promoting cultural heritage and intercultural dialogue were the main topics discussed by the Foreign Ministers of Greece, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Peru, Bolivia and representatives from India, Italy, and Mexico at the “Ancient Civilizations” conference held in Athens on April 23-24, 2017.
The two-day event - an initiative of Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, who organized it along with his Chinese counterpart, Mr. Wang Yi – brought together at Zappeion Mansion ministers and academics from 10 countries with great cultural history. Well-known Greek and foreign archaeologists, professors and museum directors from these countries participated in the two conferences entitled “Culture – a smart tool of soft diplomatic power” and “Culture, a factor of economic development”. They discussed the proposed actions and successful examples of culture management, as well as the creation of an unofficial academic network where academics, researchers and specialists will be able to acquaint themselves better with each other’s civilizations.
According to the Athens Declaration issued at the end of the Forum, the participants agreed to:
- establish the Ancient Civilizations Forum (ACForum) with the participation of the following countries: Bolivia, China, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Italy, and Peru, as a platform for dialogue and cultural cooperation among the participating States. The Forum shall be open to future enlargement on a consensual basis.
- encourage communication among participating States regarding cultural exchanges and cooperation in all related fields.
- conduct dialogue and consultations with a view to reaching coordinated positions where appropriate, on issues of major importance relating to the protection of cultural heritage, within the relevant international organizations, such as UNESCO.
- examine the most appropriate ways to enhance the ACForum’s efforts to optimize the use of culture as an effective tool for contemporary diplomacy.
- work together, as appropriate, and in coordination with UNESCO, in order to safeguard the historical and cultural heritage of the ACF members,
The participating States agreed that a Ministerial Meeting of the ACForum will be organized on an annual basis. The Chairmanship of the annual Ministerial Meeting will rotate among participating States. The next Ministerial Meeting will be held in Bolivia in 2018.