When human rights meet cultural relations and foreign policy

Damien Helly for More Europe

Date of publication: 
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

 
Thoughts on the More Europe debate which took place in Berlin on May 2nd, 2012, under the title More Europe! For a new cultural dimension in Europe’s external relations.

Do Europeans still believe in human rights, and should their common European foreign policy be based more clearly on human rights principles? Europeans are supposed to share the same values, to agree on actions aiming at improving peoples’ lives in the world, while conducting dialogue with other cultures. When the European Union (EU) manages to support the due process of law, justice and to conduct political dialogue, “in the end it is about culture, because it is the European spirit at its best”, states Pierre VIMONT.

However, with the on-going crisis, while “foreign policy is about trying to project the European model, its values, its principles, to the outside world”, the European model “is suffering and is not as fascinating as it was two or three years ago.” Europeans claim their role of exemplary human rights champions but some, like the Austrian writer Robert MENASSE, question their ability to live up to it. The More Europe Berlin debate opened a space where human rights meet cultural relations and foreign policy, where public diplomacy, cultural relations, and cultural diplomacy interact.