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Opening statement at the meeting of the PACE Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media

Rome, Monday, 9 May 2022

  • It is a real pleasure for me - and I am sure for all of us - to be here in Rome, at the Italian Chamber of Deputies, for a meeting of our Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media.
  • Just one week ago, in the framework of the Italian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, we had the great honour of receiving in Strasbourg the President of the Italian Republic, Mr Sergio Mattarella, and the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Luigi di Maio. Today, we are equally privileged to be able to welcome Mr Dario Franceschini, the Italian Minister of Culture and I wish to use this occasion to thank the Italian authorities for truly remarkable and close co-operation during their unexpectedly challenging but historic Presidency in the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
  • This is the first physical meeting of the Committee on Culture since more than 2 years. I believe we could not be in a better place, in a better time for such a meeting as culture has been a clear, central priority of the Italian Presidency of the Council of Europe (unfortunately overshadowed by the Russian aggression against Ukraine).
  • In a few minutes, the Italian Minister of Culture, Mr Dario Franceschini, will share with us his views about the importance of culture and the need for strong cultural policies. Here, I would like to pay tribute to the passionate work of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, which has never stopped recalling to all of us the fundamental role of culture in upholding sincere adherence to our common values and therefore in consolidating the foundations of sustainable democracy.
  • We need to secure the right for everyone to have access to culture. This is a pre-condition for ensuring democratic citizenship and citizen participation in community life and policy making. This is also a pre-condition for everyone to develop as a "person" and freely develop his or her cultural identity.
  • In its Resolution 2382 (2021) on "Media Freedom, public trust and the people's right to know" based on a report prepared by Mr Roberto Rampi and adopted by this committee, our Assembly clearly stated that the real possibility to make conscious choices is also dependent on the possibility for everyone to acquire the necessary competences and culture to critically analyse information and the various points of view.1 Indeed there cannot be informed participation and decision making without freedom of information - and this is another key policy area on which this committee is working on - but this is not sufficient: there cannot be critical thinking without education and without culture.

My warmest thanks to the Italian Delegation, and in particular its Chairperson Marta Grande, for having invited us to meet here in Rome and to the staff of the Italian Parliament for the excellent organisation of the meeting.

1 Paragraph 2 of the resolution states: "There is no democracy without the real possibility to make conscious choices. This can only be ensured if the public is duly informed and can freely inform itself; if a real debate of ideas on a wide range of issues can take place on the basis of an exact and complete knowledge of factual elements; and if everyone has the necessary competences and culture to critically analyse the various points of view and can express themselves without fear. Furthermore, these conditions are essential if representatives elected by the people are to exercise their mandate effectively and responsibly."