11/01/15

Minister Humphreys issues joint statement with European Culture Ministers in response to French atrocities

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, is today (Sunday) issuing a joint statement with EU Culture Ministers to draw attention to the violation of artistic freedom which was evidenced in the French atrocities, including at Charlie Hebdo, and to reaffirm the importance of the EU.

The statement, which was initiated by the Lativan Presidency, the Minister of Culture of Latvia, Ms Dace Melbarde, and the Minister of Culture and Communication of the Republic of France, Ms Fleur Pellerin, has been signed by all 28 Ministers for Culture across the EU.  It is being issued to coincide with today’s solidarity march in Paris, which is being attended by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD.

Speaking today, Minister Humphreys said:

“We must defend the right to artistic freedom and freedom of expression. The EU was founded on the principles of freedom, security and justice, combined with the respect for cultural diversity within the Union. The atrocities of recent days in Paris make it clear that we must strive more than ever to uphold these ideals.

“I am joining with Culture Ministers across the EU to emphasise the importance of artistic freedom. Without it, we would live in a deeply constrained society. Freedom of expression is something to be celebrated, to be safeguarded and to be embraced as a basic tenet of an open and democratic society.

“I would like to extend my sincere sympathies to the people of Paris, who have endured a terrifying ordeal in recent days. The French killings were a fundamental attack on freedom. Today, we stand side by side with the French people and our European neighbours in a collective declaration of freedom and unity.”

ENDS
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Note to Editors:

Please see below full text of the EU Culture Ministers statement.

JOINT STATEMENT OF THE MINISTERS OF CULTURE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

On Wednesday 7 January 2015, a terrorist attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris killed 12 people, most of them journalists and artists working for the magazine.

Despite regular death threats, they had vowed to continue expressing their freedom to think and to create with humour and talent. They were murdered because they drew and published cartoons.

This unspeakable act was intended to silence them forever, to terminate the publication of the magazine and more broadly, to restrict the freedom to think, to speak and to create. These freedoms are core values of European democracy. They are universal democratic values.

In this time of profound sadness and grief, we, the ministers of culture of the European Union, condemn this senseless barbarity, which undermines our essential values in the most violent way.

We unanimously express our belief that artistic freedom and freedom of expression stand firm and unflinching at the heart of our common European values. France and her allies in the EU safeguard these values and promote them in the world.  We affirm our determination to continue to do so in the future.

We, the ministers of culture of the European Union, do not accept terrorists’ attempts to impose their own standards. Since time immemorial, the arts have been an inspiration for reflection giving rise to new ideas and fighting against intolerance and ignorance. It is the freedom of expression in a culturally diverse environment that brings these ideas into meaningful dialogue.

We, the ministers of culture of the European Union, stand in solidarity to defend the freedom of expression and vow to protect the rights of artists to create freely.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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