Why the Congress?
It took many years for Europeans to understand that establishing the continental federation can not only be based on „coal and steel community”. We wouldn’t face such a deep crisis of multicultural society, such helplessness against wars in the former Yugoslavia, such problems with the idea of identity and community shared by successors of the French Revolution and two decades of totalitarianism, if The European Union was also perceived as a cultural project from the beginning.
Treating culture as a nation-state domain and its neglect through the exclusion in the European dimension, originated from the fear and weakness caused by the civilization collapse after the two World Wars and nationalism throughout the old continent, preventing the establishment of future strategy, which would go beyond the community of economic and political issues.
Is emerging Eastern Partnership, a new branch of European Neighbourhood Policy, able to protect itself against mistakes made by the European Union?
Maybe, it would be more appropriate to pose the same question in a different way: Are we, the citizens of nations which were liberated from constraints of “socialist camp of friendship”, able to overcome historical sentiments and weaknesses, resulting from “the staying behind complex” and short tradition of self-determination, and to establish Eastern Partnership as a common cultural project?
This question should refer to citizens of countries from the western boarder of Schengen zone. Is Europe able to run a neighbourhood partnership project which does not neglect culture, making a nation state domain out of it and which finds a place for it in a long-term strategy of neighbourhood partnership establishment?
I want to point out that the idea of “cultural product” does not call into question the importance of national culture and state responsibility for it. However, it questions such approach to culture and deprivation of its possibility to realize itself in a supranational dimension, especially in European dimension. It is beyond any doubts that Eastern Partnership countries are a part of European culture, both in historical perspective and in present ambitions of civilizations.