Last August 29, while visiting Helsinki, the French Minister of Culture and Communication, Mr. Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, deemed "urgent" the ratification by the Member States of the European Union (EU) of the Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions. To do so, he indicated that he would propose to Finland which, like France, has completed its internal ratification process, to officially adhere to the Convention without waiting for the other EU Member States to have completed their ratification process. He also stated that Spain, Luxembourg, Italy, Austria, Malta and Sweden are the EU countries closest to ratification.
The Minister de Vabres notably recalled that this Convention has as its "main objective to free the different "cultural expressions" from the rules governing international trade, thus making culture an exception that could be subsidized by States". To that effect, evoking the obstacles that might explain the slowness of the ratification process in certain countries, the Minister recalled some countries which "are manoeuvring to stop" the ratification of the Convention. It is notably recalled that "the United States, which had admitted their deception following the devastating vote at UNESCO in favour of the text, had announced that they would try to act upon countries that had signed it in order to obstruct its ratification and, failing that, its abusive utilization".
It is worth also noting that the President of the French Republic Jacques Chirac determinedly committed himself to a vast mobilization in order to accelerate the number of ratifications of the UNESCO Convention by adressing on July 12 a series of letters concerning the ratification of this Convention to the President of the European Council, to the President of the European Commission, to the Director General of the UNESCO, to the Secretary General of the United Nations (UNO), and to the Secretary General of the International Organization of la Francophonie (IOF). (See the August 14th issue of our Bulletin).