KAUNAS – The 20th session of the European Cultural Parliament (ECP) is getting underway in Lithuania's second-biggest city of Kaunas on Friday, highlighting the importance of culture in crises such as war, pandemics and economic hardship.
"This year, there will be a certain focus on consequences of the war for universities and others in the cultural field," ECP Secretary General Karl-Erik Norrman told a news conference on Friday.
Norrman said that as a Swede he cares deeply about the region and was pleased with the opportunity to visit Kaunas, the 2022 European Capital of Culture.
Ukrainian photographer Oleksandr Zakletskyi, a member of the ECP, ran an art gallery and was a cultural manager before the war. The photographer is now contributing to the defense of his country and photographing the reality of war.
"Not only Ukraine is under attack but the culture of Ukraine is on the peak of this attack. Russians are trying to delete, first of all, Ukrainian identity. And identity is culture," he said.
The man, who lives in Kharkiv, said that cultural sites are being destroyed, and theatres and other buildings are being bombed in Russian attacks.
He noted that artists can no longer make a living from their work.
The ECP is a non-governmental organization that brings together artists, philosophers and other cultural personalities from all over Europe.
It currently has 160 members from 43 European countries.
This year, eight new members have joined the organization, four of whom are Lithuanian and two are Ukrainian.
"The (20th) session, which is open to all cultural operators and everyone from the city and Lithuania, will discuss a wide range of topical issues related to Europe and its culture, including but not limited to, the role of universities in the European Capitals of Culture and European culture in general, as well as the currently highly relevant issues of cultural diplomacy and the role of culture at the times of war," Vytautas Magnus University, which is hosting the event, has said in a press release.