First Standing Committee at the 116th IPU Assembly
Statement by Monika Griefahn in Bali
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Ladies and gentlemen,
I myself am sometimes surprised to see how strongly the globalization process, in its many diverse facets, is influencing our daily lives. In so many areas of our lives, the relations between the world's different cultures play a direct role.
In the German Parliament as well, there is rarely an item of draft legislation or an initiative which is not discussed in terms of the peaceful co-existence between cultures and religions.
But it is not only the major topics such as military operations or economic or development policy issues where it is especially important to reflect on intercultural dialogue. We must broaden our horizons on the minor issues too.
Let me give you an example:
Last Monday, it was UNESCO's World Book and Copyright Day. This day not only shows us how important literature and books are for our own culture. It also makes it clear that for children and young people in particular, but also for adults, books translated from other languages and from other countries offer one of the most important opportunities to learn about different cultures, countries and lifestyles. For me as a parliamentarian, the lesson I learn from this is that we must not only encourage parents to give their children more books and also to read these books to them; we must also do more for the translators.
The translators who work alongside the authors are quickly forgotten, even though they too make a valuable cultural, indeed intercultural contribution.
I think this example clearly shows the many different issues which we must consider in our parliamentary work as well if we want to achieve peaceful co-existence in the world. The fact is that the official political level only reaches into civil society to a certain extent. Instead, it is cultural and educational exchange which plays an especially important role by appealing to and motivating people in many different countries in their daily lives. There is still a great deal of scope for us here.
In the German Bundestag, we are currently in the process of boosting the financial resources available to the intermediary organizations for our foreign cultural and education policy so that organizations such as the Goethe Institute can step up their work worldwide. Achieving this was by no means an easy task, especially as the impact of this work is far more subtle and therefore more difficult to quantify than the construction of a well or a highway.
Here, it is not a matter of preaching our own culture in a one-sided way; it is a matter of facilitating exchange on the basis of equality - an exchange which is extremely fruitful for both sides and builds peace. I believe that we are pursuing the right approach here, and I hope that even more countries will intensify their engagement in foreign cultural and education policy in future.