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Creativity and freedom of expression are vital elements in keeping hope alive and providing an opportunity – especially for the young – to express themselves and to have a positive image of their culture. The EU has been supporting for some years the cultural and artistic sector in Palestine. Through partnerships with cultural organizations, the EU contribute to promote various fields of culture giving access to culture and art to a widespread audience in the urban, rural, and isolated areas as well as in refugee camps.
"Arts and culture are a force for unity and self-expression and can help to build modern, pluralist, democratic societies. This year's cultural projects include a fusion of theatre, music, dance, circus and heritage. They aim to bring Palestinians together to celebrate their traditions and identity in the streets as well as in concert halls," said Deputy Head of Delegation Tomas Niklasson. ''The EU is one of the main supporters of the cultural sector in Palestine. We recognize the importance of cultural projects as a way to capture the spirit and rich traditions of Palestine. By promoting Palestinian culture we are also working towards the wider goal of supporting the development of a future Palestinian state as part of the two-state solution,'' he added.
During the ceremony, Mr. Khaled Alayyan the Executive Director of First Ramallah Group talked on behalf of the cultural organizations. In his speech he said that "Culture contributes to activating dialogue, promoting shared human values and building bridges across continents through knowledge, cooperation and the exchange of expertise. It unites communities through enhancing tolerance, acceptance and mutual respect. Europe and Palestine share a sea of common values".
The EU continues its support to the Palestinian cultural sector and therefore has just launched a new call for proposals open to Palestinian cultural organisations in order to support joint Euro-Palestinian cultural events all around the country.
Culture in EU external relations is one of the three pillars of the European Agenda for Culture (2007). Developing a strategic approach in this field has been a priority of the Council's Work Plans for Culture since 2011. A 'Strategy for international cultural relations' has been presented by the European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in 2016 aiming at encouraging cultural cooperation between the EU and its partner countries and promoting a global order based on peace, the rule of law, freedom of expression, mutual understanding and respect for fundamental values.
In Palestine, the EU has been supporting for some years the cultural and artistic sector. It has been one of the key supporters of the cultural sector in Palestine over the five years with an estimated contribution of more than €2,500,000.
The four EU-funded cultural projects launched were awarded following the call for proposals launched in 2016 'Support to cultural activities' aiming at supporting intercultural exchanges and raising awareness on Palestinian culture, in addition to increasing Palestinian public awareness of EU core values through support to cultural activities in Palestine. With a total EU support of more than €500 000 for 2017, the projects will carry out a wide range of cultural activities including theatre, music, dance, circus, and heritage. Throughout the coming two years, they will be implemented all over the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, building capacities of young artists and their cultural organizations and targeting diverse Palestinian audience.