UCLG-MEWA Culture Working Group held its second meeting in Gaziantep on 14th of March, 2014, hosted by Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality, with the participation of its members. This meeting was held under the theme of “Culture for Peace, Peace for Culture”. The management structure of UCLG-MEWA Culture Working Group was established and it was observed that the effectiveness of the group increased, with the participation of new members. Tehran Municipality was elected as the co-president of the working group, and it was decided that the next meeting will be held in Tehran, Iran.
The member local authorities made presentations on their various practices in art and culture, and shared their information and experience, reciprocally. Cultural assets that face extinction fall into the scope of responsibility of UCLG-MEWA Culture Working Group.
The UCLG-MEWA region, covering the Middle East and West Asia, is a painful geography of the world. It was expressed that there is not enough tolerance among the authorities, problems are encountered in terms of understanding each other and that peoples and authorities in the region prioritize use of violence and force in solving the problems, without sufficiently utilizing the diplomatic channels. However, the peoples of the region share a common culture for thousands of years. Local authorities may overcome the problems that the central authorities have difficulty to deal with, by means of using culture-art and tourism as a vehicle, and through city diplomacy. UCLG-MEWA Culture Working Group is a party to the establishment of peace. It has been decided to create a map of culture in this field, and to identify the common culture. Members of the UCLG-MEWA Culture Working Group invite the central governments to be sensitive in terms of preventing conflicts and ending assimilation practices in the countries that they represent.
For the aforementioned reasons, UCLG-MEWA Culture Working Group members agreed on organizing cultural activities such as festivals, exhibitions, competitions in the cities which they represent, and on including the stakeholders of the working group, by means of inviting artists from the other member cities. It is envisioned that cohesion is ensured among the peoples that the member local authorities represent. Such cohesion will result in establishment of peace among the peoples, in the long term. Furthermore, workshops will be held in the next meetings in which the project proposals will be discussed.
UCLG-MEWA Culture Working Group is a regional institution. It requires that culture is promoted as the fourth pillar of sustainable development, along with economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sensitivity, advocates the freedom and autonomy of art, and recognizes acknowledges that culture is a connecting element among peoples. Thus, it believes that the cooperation and solidarity of the public institutions and non-government organizations in culture-art events in the region will increase participation.
UCLG-MEWA Culture Working Group will gather every six months, regularly, and will be hosted by one of the member cities. In such meetings, the steps taken in terms of the advocacy of the acknowledged values and implementation of the decisions taken will be reviewed and new projects and cooperation initiatives in culture-art field will be discussed.