Berlin Conference 2006

The second Berlin Conference – “A Soul for Europe” was held in the Dresdner Bank building, next to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on 17 to 19 November 2006.
It brought together about 500 participants; members and officials of the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and several national parliaments, together with representatives of civil, business and artistic society, including a wide range of young participants from countries that are not yet members of the European Union. The EU Ministers for Culture were represented by Minister Isabel Pires de Lima (Portugal) and State Minister Bernd Neumann (Germany).


The 2006 Berlin Conference recognised the potential of culture as an indispensable force in the process of European integration. It gave added impetus to the purpose of reshaping Europe in a way that engages not only the political and economic but also the creative aspirations of its citizens.


Who is dreaming the European Dream?, asked the German film-maker Wim Wenders in a passionate speech. “These young people now suffering from a ‘European withdrawal’ will one day turn against European policy-makers with the harsh and bitter reproach: Why did you allow a whole generation to get bored of Europe?!”


Towards a common foreign policy: George Soros, chairman of the Open Society Institute suggested that the European Union should set an example for the world in international cooperation both within its own borders and beyond. He also proposed the launch of the Open Society Initiative for Europe aiming to mobilize the civil society behind the idea of Europe as a model for a global open society.


Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU Commissioner for External Relations examined the cultural dimension of the EU´s foreign policy. Cultural issues in general and intercultural dialogue in particular are becoming core issues of foreign affairs. “Europe’s soft power is based on the global gravitational pull of our guiding values. The question of Europe’s image in the world is more relevant now than ever before”, she said.


Turkey is facing the difficulties of being both a Muslim and a European country. Turkey is a tormented soul between these two different cultural senses of belonging, said Nilüfer Göle, Professor of Sociology at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris.


The Europeanization of Islam or the Islamization of Europe? The Islam must become more European if Muslims want to live here for the long term as a valued part of pluralistic societies, believes Wolfgang Schäuble, Federal Minister of the Interior of Germany.