The purpose of the international working conference was to bring together, for the first time, two large pan-European non-governmental organisations dealing with the legacy of 20th century totalitarian rule – one focusing on historical research, commemoration and education, the other dealing with nature protection and development of soft tourism. The interests of both networks – the Platform of European Memory and Conscience and the European Green Belt Initiative – merge along the former Iron Curtain, the deadly barrier which divided Europe in the 20th century. The conference discussed future cooperation among the two organisations in preserving the warning lesson of the violent division of the continent. The goal is to plan the construction of a string of decentralised memorials to the thousands of civilian refugees who found their death while trying to escape from oppression and totalitarianism to freedom and democracy. These memorials, sites of European conscience, would become an integral part of the soft tourism concepts aimed at promoting the preservation of the unique natural ecosystems and habitats along the former East-West divide in Europe.
The conference will be followed by a workshop planned for 11 July 2016 in Mikulov, Czech Republic.
The Platform of European Memory and Conscience
The Platform of European Memory and Conscience is a non-profit international non-governmental organisation – an interest association of legal persons established according to the Civil Code of the Czech Republic. Founded on 14 October 2011 in Prague by 20 founding Members from 12 EU Member States, the Platform currently brings together 51 public and private institutions and organisations from 18 countries – 13 EU Member States (Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria), Ukraine, Moldova, Iceland, Canada and the United States of America, active in research, documentation, awareness raising and education about the totalitarian regimes which befell Europe in the 20th century.
The European Green Belt Initiative
An extraordinary ecological network and living memorial landscape has been developed along the former Iron Curtain, which divided the continent into East and West for nearly 40 years. Despite its brutal inhumanity, the Iron Curtain granted nature a pause to catch its breath along more than 12,500 kilometres. The European Green Belt Initiative is a multi-stakeholder initiative that works with many governmental and non-governmental organisations in all the countries involved. The Green Belt consists of members from all over Europe engaged in working along the former border between East and West. As governance for the initiative the European Green Belt Association e.V. was established in Slavonice, Czech Republic in September 2014 by 23 organisations, GO and NGO, from 14 countries. The mission of the European Green Belt Association e.V. is to ensure that the European Green Belt is efficiently protected and that its sustainable development is promoted by facilitating an on-going, co-ordinated transboundary co-operation at all levels and across all sectors of society.
Press release: Platform of European Memory and Conscience starts cooperation with European Green Belt Initiative (25 May 2016)