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Brussels, 10 May 2012

Vassiliou congratulates Donostia-San Sebastian and Wrocław on official designation as European Capitals of Culture for 2016

Comments by Androulla Vassiliou at Council of Culture Ministers

Before this Council proceeds to the official designation of Donostia-San Sebastian and Wrocław as European Capitals of Culture for 2016, I would like to say a few words on this flagship cultural initiative.

The European Capitals of Culture are a unique opportunity to reap enormous cultural, social and economic benefits, as well as to raise the international visibility and profile of the cities and of the Member States themselves. An opportunity that comes about only every 14 years – so it is crucial to seize it when it arises and make the very most of the event.

The formal designation is not in itself a guarantee of success. It is in fact the beginning of a long and challenging but eventually very rewarding process.

One of the keys to success which I cannot stress enough is to make the event a part of a longer term strategy for the culture-led development of the city. Another important element is the unwavering commitment of the public authorities during the preparatory phase.

The scale of the event – lasting an entire year – is very challenging and it is only natural that many European Capitals of Culture face difficulties in particular at the beginning. This is why there is now an advisory and monitoring process to support and help the cities during the preparatory phase.

Finally, I would like to congratulate Donostia-San Sebastian and Wrocław for winning the competition in their respective countries and I wish the cities and their authorities well for the exciting journey that lies ahead.

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