Intercultural mediation and mediation in contemporary societies were the main themes of the International Congress “Europe as a space for intercultural dialogue and mediation” held at University of Minho between 26 and 27 April, a joint organization of CECS, CreE.A project, the High Commission for Migration, Braga Municipal Council and the Higher Education Network of Intercultural Mediation (RESMI).
With the participation of more than 150 people from various fields of knowledge, the conference addressed issues such as European policies, migration, refugee crisis, professional mediation practices, multicultural education, cultural studies and social challenges present.
Present at the opening session, which highlighted the relevance of intercultural dialogue and mediation in contemporary societies, were: Manuela Martins (vice-rector for Culture and Society of UMinho), Pedro Calado (High Commissioner for Migration), Birgit Van Hout (representative in Europe of the High Commission for Human Rights), Ricardo Rio (Mayor of Braga), André Moisan (Coordinator of CreE.A) and Ana Maria Silva (Coordinator of the Organizing Committee).
André Moisan presented the project CreE.A, noting that its ambition is to create an European space for collective learning, mediation practices for social inclusion. For Birgit Van Hout, intercultural dialogue and mediation are crucial elements for establishing a vision of unity and diversity in Europe.
The High Commissioner for Migration, Pedro Calado, reinforced the current theme of the congress, stressing that we are currently challenging the main foundations of the European Union. However, he believes that the European Union, with all its weaknesses and difficulties, has been one of the greatest instruments for building mediation and intercultural dialogue.
Social mediation is thus, in the words of Manuela Martins, an indispensable instrument for the construction of more welcoming, inclusive and peaceful societies.
Considering this congress an opportunity to share good practices, Ricardo Rio highlighted the presentation of projects that make communities more cohesive, fair and more solidary. For the mayor, Braga is an intercultural city, where “minorities have been a priority.”
As coordinator of the Organizing Committee, Ana Maria Silva highlighted the presence of guests from many different backgrounds, representing countries from Europe and other continents, including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Belarus, Angola, Senegal and others. This diversity enriched the event, which was a “space for intercultural dialogue and sharing of experiences that do not let us stay in the past nor in the present, but fundamentally project us into the future.”
The conference of Moisés de Lemos Martins, CECS’ director, about “The refugee crisis in Europe. Between the totality and the infinite” served as a motto for the closing of the congress, which was also attended by Laura Magalhães (member of the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Science), Hibat Habib (President of CreE.A), Firmino Marques (deputy of Braga) and Ana Maria Silva (coordinator of the Organizing Committee).