The Conscience of Europe

2013-2015

From tolerance to real egalitarianism

Under the direction of its chairman, author and Cultural Counsellor Veijo Baltzar, the Drom Association for Creative Arts and Culture produced The Conscience of Europe project 2013-2015, an international series of events dedicated to reforms in European policies of multiculturalism. The project had received funding from the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union

The Conscience of Europe project consisted of three parts: an international minister-level conference of the same name held 18-19 March 2014, the Finnish tour of the exhibition Miranda - The Roma Holocaust and the cabaret With the Seven String Guitar. The project was a continuation of the Drom association's successful The Forgotten Genocide project of 2010, which took up the issue of the silenced Roma genocide for the first time in Finland. The need for broader discussion on multicultural Europe was already present at the time. Veijo Baltzar wanted to continue the discussion and decided to arrange an event in which influential European decision-makers would engage in common discussion and analysis-making of the future direction of multicultural Europe.

The Conscience of Europe conference

18-19 March 2014, Finnish Parliamentary Annex

The main event of the project was the international minister-level Conscience of Europe conference held at the Finnish Parliamentary Annex, Helsinki, on 18–19 March 2014.
At the conference, Cultural Counsellor Veijo Baltzar presented his proposal for reforming the European Union’s policies of multiculturalism. The proposal consisted of a total of 24 specific proposed measures as a basis for legislative work at the level of the EU and its member states. The proposals call for building multicultural Europe on an egalitarian basis, in which everyone would have the right to cultural identity and self-worth.
The patron of the conference was former Finnish President Tarja Halonen, who also opened the proceedings. The speakers were Cultural Counsellor Veijo Baltzar, Minister of Education Jaak Aaviksoo (Estonia), former Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, Ministers Krista Kiuru, Pekka Haavisto and Päivi Räsänen, Minister of State for Social Inclusion Zoltán Kovács (Hungary), Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Petr Drulák (Czech Republic), State Secretary of the Slovakian Ministry of Education Stefan Chudoba, Professor Catherine Wihtol de Wenden (France), Professor Paul Cliteur (Netherlands), Professor and literary critic Lilian Munk Rösing (Denmark), members of the Finnish Parliament Ilkka Kanerva, Kimmo Tiilikainen, Christina Gestrin, Antti Kaikkonen, Annika Lapintie, Juho Eerola and Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, vice-chairman of Social Democratic party Eero Vainio, Director of Cultural Affairs of the City of Helsinki Stuba Nikula, Professor Laura Kolbe, Professor emeritus Eero Pantzar and chairman of the Finnish Section of Amnesty International Frank Johansson.

Project’s complementary events

The artistic contributions, the exhibition and the play included in the project were meant to present the themes of the conference to the public with the means of culture and the arts. Produced by the Drom association in 2011, the exhibition Miranda – the Roma Holocaust has toured various venues in Finland since 2012. The exhibition was officially opened by Mr Paavo Arhinmäki, Minister of Culture and Sport on 12 September 2013 at the National Museum of Finland, where it was on display until the end of March 2014.
The Miranda exhibition depicts the horrors of the Second World War through the lenses of literature, poetry and the visual arts. It presents an authentic survival story of the fate of the Roma people, and follows the growth of its main character Miranda from a girl to a woman in the shadow of the war. Instead of gloating on brutality and the sufferings of victims, the exhibition focuses on official measures of the war years, the decisions of the so-called educated classes, laws and administrative orders. The purpose of the exhibition is to tell audiences and young people in particular of the events of Holocaust so that history may never repeat itself again. The Roma were subjected to systematic destruction by the Nazis. It is estimated that a quarter, or as many as half, of the Roma of Europe were killed. The Roma Holocaust was kept silent, and it is still an unknown fact to the majority population. The Roma survived, but including them as a nation among other nations requires measures.
The Gypsy cabaret With the Seven String Guitar is a narcissistic parody set in the bowling alley of life. It was premiered at the Alexander Theatre in Helsinki in March 2014 on the closing night of the Conscience of Europe conference. It is modern-day depictive episode of multiculturalism in which the characters engage in a dialogue in a Europe of citizens speaking on behalf of beauty in opposition to ugliness. The cabaret broke down the boundaries of cultures and challenged audiences to consider their attitudes to art, man and the present way of life. It was also an indication of the power of a multicultural group to create something new, beautiful and significant. The participants were mostly young students in creative fields. The play was scripted and directed by Veijo Baltzar.

Financial support and the associates
of the project

The Conscience of Europe project was managed and produced by the Drom association. The association’s strategic steering committee also participated in the planning and realization of the project. The associates of the project participated in realizing the various events in accordance with separate agreements

Embassy of the Czech Republic

Embassy of Hungary

Institut français de Finlande

The Embassy of Estonia

The Embassy of Slovakia

World Assembly of Youth (WAY)

Museum of Roma Culture, Brno, Czech Republic

The Faculty of Social Sciences of the Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

Finnish Section of Amnesty International

The National Museum of Finland

The Alexander Theatre

The Cultural Affairs Department of the City of Iisalmi

The Cultural Affairs Department of the City of Vantaa

The project received financial support from the Europe for Citizens programme of the European
Union. In Finland, support was provided by the Ministry of Education and Culture, Swedish
Cultural Foundation in Finland, Finnish Literature Exchange (FILI) and Ministry for Foreign
Affairs in Finland.