Salon Europa-Forum Wachau - Invest in Identity, Culture and Future

Culture and identity as a European link in difficult times

LR Eichtinger: "United in diversity" - the significance of the EU's motto has not been as obvious for a long time as it is in light of current events on our continent


"Culture is part of what defines us as European citizens. Our common past and our common European cultural heritage unite us on this continent. We need this bond in times of crisis like these," explained Martin Eichtinger, State Councillor for Europe and President of Europa-Forum Wachau, at the EFW Salon entitled "Invest in Identity, Culture and Future" at Casino Baden. Among those who accepted Provincial Councillor Martin Eichtinger's invitation to take part in the discussion at the Salon were: Stefan Szirucsek, Mayor of the City of Baden, Christian Mandl, Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, Jan Souček, Česká televize, General Director of the Regional Studio Brno and Robert Ziegler, Regional Director of ORF Lower Austria.

The media also play an important role in the current times. "They play an important mediating role and will continue to do so," said Eichtinger. In the panel discussion, it was noted that Social media poses challenges to democratic coexistence because anyone and everyone can make their opinion known and everyone also has the opportunity to disseminate information. "Young people should learn an understanding of media at school, for example what a source is," the panellists agreed.


Pandemic has strengthened cooperation with neighbours - culture as a driving force

The pandemic in particular has brought Austria and the Czech Republic closer together. Music as an enormously important means of connecting people across borders was one of the focal points of the event. "The cradle of the European anthem itself lies in Baden. It has symbolised European unity for 50 years now and contributes enormously to the feeling of togetherness on our continent," said Eichtinger, who also referred in this context to the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO), which resides in Grafenegg during the summer months, thrills audiences with world-class concerts and is considered the most important cultural ambassador of the European Union.

Lower Austria is characterised by successful cross-border cultural projects, as shown by a recording of the project "The Bohemian Dream - International Brass Music Festival for Participation". "Cultural projects across national or state borders make the heartbeat of Europe palpable in the regions. This is precisely why Lower Austria and its partner regions are working hard to ensure that all EU funding for cross-border projects that bring people together and maximise added value for the population is used," said Eichtinger.

In the new 2021-2027 funding period for the INTERREG Austria-Czech Republic, Slovakia-Austria and Austria-Hungary cooperation programmes, Lower Austria alone has around EUR 32 million available from the European Regional Development Fund.