Brussels, 23 June 2008
On 24 June 2008 Ján Figel', European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth will take part in a press conference to launch a special Thalys high speed train decorated with the logo of European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008 (EYID). Thalys trains link the capitals and cities of four EU member states and carry thousands of passengers of various nationalities every day, and are a good symbol of intercultural exchange in Europe. The decorated train will run from 24 June until the end of the year. The press conference will take place in Brussels South Station (Salons Royaux) at 11am.
The European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Ján Figel' explained the significance of the Thalys event: "Intercultural dialogue is a fact of our daily lives in Europe, as was confirmed by a Europe-wide public opinion survey we carried out in December last year. The same survey revealed that over half of these encounters take place in a public space. The Thalys trains are a very good example of a public space where intercultural interaction can happen, so I very much welcome Thalys as a partner for the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. Adorning this Thalys train with the EYID logo will give greater visibility to the European Year."
“We are very proud of the enriching partnerships we have developed during the last years with the cultural players along our network. That we have been chosen to display the flag of the EYID on our trains increases even more our enthusiasm,” confirms Jean-Michel Dancoisne, CEO of Thalys.
The EYID has in six months mobilised attention in all EU member states and occasionally beyond the EU. Most activities are held on local or national level, as the concept is based on decentralised events. Media and sponsor partnerships are being developed to ensure wide cooperation, strong visibility and dissemination of information during and after the Year. The aim of the EYID is to show that Europe’s great cultural diversity represents a unique advantage and to encourage all those living in Europe to explore and appreciate each other's cultural heritage, roots and traditions.
Since its European launch conference in Ljubljana in January, the Year is well underway and has succeeded in catching the attention of both the European media and the public. Almost 5,000 clippings from across the EU have so far been reported and the official website www.dialogue2008.eu has received nearly 400,000 visitors who have seen more than 2,5 million pages. The website is the main tool of the information campaign and static pages have been translated in the 23 EU official languages.
Thalys trains have carried over 65 million passengers between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne since its launch in 1996. Linked to other high speed trains in Europe it is part of the answer the EU is giving to climate change and energy efficiency.
For more information about Thalys and the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008:
 See IP/07/1846