European Tolerance Talks 2015
1. The foundation

In autumn 2014 individuals from business, politics and culture founded Denk.Raum.Fresach – with the aim of creating a forum for dialogue on tolerance and integration in Europe in the Carinthian mountain village Fresach. The successful Carinthian State Exhibition 2011 “Remain credible – 500 Years of Protestant adventure” on the same subject with over 70,000 visitors was already a first step in this direction. 

Specifically, the idea was filled with content by a concept of the creative lab Gruber|Nageler|Seywald that met spontaneous consent in the country. The idea to organize European tolerance talks in Fresach received very positive feedback in the Evangelical superintendency Villach and from many other organizations, especially the mayor of the city of Villach, the Board of Infineon, the Rectorate of the University of Klagenfurt and the Austrian PEN-Club.

As a result, the initiators Gruber|Nageler|Seywald together with Sauer|Schaumberger| Seyfried as representatives of the Evangelical Church of Carinthia and Eastern Tyrol and the Evang. Diocesan Museum GmbH in Fresach laid the foundation for the Association of Tolerance and Integration in Europe (Denk.Raum.Fresach). Within this process both parties agreed to install an accompanying board of trustees constituted from public figures.

The Board of Trustees (Kuratorium) held its first meeting on November 6th, 2014 in Villach. It has the task of developing the content and the program to address recognized personalities and attract them, think along and help. When searching for a leader with charisma, the initiators were quickly successful. The former deputy to the European Parliament, Hannes Swoboda, was ready to take over the function of the presidency and to act as ambassador of tolerance to the public. In addition, the city of Villach with Mayor Helmut Manzenreiter soon predicted a financial contribution for three years.

The association Denk.Raum.Fresach and the “European Tolerance Talks 2015” will be pre-sented to the public on 22nd January for the first time. Speakers at the Alpe-Adria-University Klagenfurt are Reinhard Rohr, president of the federal state council of Carinthia, Hannes Swoboda, president of the Board of Trustees, and other representatives from economy, politics and culture in Carinthia (religious communities, TV, PEN Club Au-stria, Club Carinthia and others.)

2. Why Fresach?

The Carinthian mountain village of Fresach is an ideal spot for the European dia-logue on tolerance, inclusion and human rights. Provision and background simply was the centuries’ long struggle of the local people for religious freedom and self-determination and the goal to develop a dialogue-oriented approach to overcome conflicts.

Fresach as the intersection of intellectual, sectarian and political currents provides the ground for a series of events on a European level and so can become a hub for ideas and dealing with the unknown. The keywords are migration, xenophobia and civil society.

Fresach can point to a good tradition: From 1972 to 1993 until the fall of the Iron Curtain, a small community of international writers here met to discuss ways out of the East-West conflict. Denk.Raum.Fresach is going to continue this tradition and links the again urgent and necessary East-West dialogue (Russia and China) with the urgent becoming North-South dialogue (Africa, Islam).

Fresach stands for dialogue, a new beginning. Fresach represents the future of Europe as a continent of understanding between cultures, languages and ethnicities. Nothing and no one can doubt that prosperity and wealth come solely from cooperation and togetherness, and not of delimitation and distance.

The term tolerance has already a positive connotation in Fresach. By inviting recognized international speakers (writers, philosophers, scientists, politicians and economists) Fresach will position itself as a European forum for dialogue and tolerance anchored thus sustained on the European cultural and knowledge map. The results of the dialogue are scientifically prepared and published.

The European Tolerance Talks are part of a focus week before Pentecost (embedded in the Carinthian Spring) which will be organized every year, in 2015 for the first time from 21 to 23 May. The event is open to the public and also accompanied by a reflecting exhibition on the theme. In addition, ongoing individual and thematically relevant events throughout the year will take place, whose content and formats are yet to be determined.

3. Fixed commitments in 2015

Politics (politicians)
Dr. Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament (keynote speaker)
Hannes Swoboda, president of the Denk.Raum.Fresach
Peter Kaiser, head of government of Carinthia
Representatives of state and federal politics

Literature (authors)
Alois Brandstetter, Fabjan Hafner, Philo Ikonya, Právu Mazumdar, Sami Maani etc.

Arts (musicians, painters)
Elisabeth & Ingomar Mattitsch (Alpine horn), Singkreis Fresach, Brothers Wladigeroff, Mosa Sisic, Mirjana Anastasijevic, Melissa Coleman, S. Ammo, D. Zdrahal, N. Hasib.

4. Preliminary program 2015

May 21, 2015: 7 p.m. reception in Villach with EP-president Martin Schulz and Carinthian governor Peter Kaiser.

May 22, 2015: 9.30 a.m. Opening speech by Martin Schulz at the Tolerance Center (Evangelical Cultural Center Fresach), then panel discussion with two authors and two other personalities, moderated by ORF.

2 p.m. Two panels moderated by journalists, each with two writers and representatives from business and politics.
8 p.m. Wellknown author reading in the House of Prayers, tolerance music performance and get-together at the Tolerance Center Fresach.

May 23, 2015: 9 a.m. Tolerance breakfast in the village inn (including young authors to meet and discuss). At noon excursion and lunch overlooking the Alps.

5. Thread 2015

“How far does tolerance go? – The Duties of State, Economy and Society ” is the general theme, authors and speakers are invited to deliver creative contributions. All writings and speeches collected before and after are adopted and published in a book together.

6. Setting

The European Tolerance Talks will be held in a small frame, with 100 – 200 participants. Personal contact should be in the foreground (no flashy occasion), involvement of community and local culture, resident associations, international guests from all over Europe. Media impact and coverage of the event to the outside counts.

Opening, panels and discussions will be held in the Tolerance Center (new building), ideally with TV broadcasting on screens in the church and outdoors. The performance and reading in the evening will take place in the Protestant house of prayers, the tolerance breakfast in the village inn.

7. Partners

PEN-Club Austria, Carinthia Club, city of Villach, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Evangelical Church, State of Carinthia, ORF Studio, Europe Klagenfurt, Infineon.

8. Financing

The European Tolerance Talks 2015 are carried out with the help of public funds and cor-porate partnerships. Entry and participation in the discussions are possible with a ordinary membership in the association Denk.Raum.Fresach. Admission tickets cost 50 euros, for local residents and students 25 euros.

The European Tolerance talks will be continued in 2016 and 2017 with other priority issues in order to establish a permanent international forum for dialogue on politics, economics and culture.

Press contact: Dr. Wilfried Seywald,
Tel. 0699-18114006

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