It is a great opportunity to hold an international conference ‘Cultural heritage and the EU2020 strategy – towards an integrated approach’, co-funded by the Culture Programme of the European Union, in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. I am thankfull to all the representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, governmental institutions and civil organisations, scientists, and academics. I have no doubt, that competence and professionalism of the conference members will help to achieve the best possible results towards an integrated approach in the field of protection of cultural heritage.

This conference is a continuation of many regional, national and international iniciatives, revealing the versatility and the importance of cultural heritage to the society. Enormous impact to this process has been made by The European Heritage Heads Forum in 2006, the conference in Bruges under the Belgian Presidency in 2010, Forums of Baltic Sea regions cultural heritage and other iniciatives.

I am confident, that after such an outstanding prelude to the integration of cultural heritage to other sectors of public policy, it is time to take specific actions. Wide scope discussions about the place of cultural heritage in EU policies are to take place in the conference. Only by including cultural heritage to the political agenda of European Union we will be able to avail its full potencial in a way useful not only to the heritage itself, but also to other fields of policies. During three thematic workshops mainly focusing on the fields of agriculture, cohesion policy and environment there will be possibilities to evaluate the benefits of integration to these sectors. The conference will end with a final declaration and specific recommendations on how to put the mainstreaming principle into practice.

I hope that discussions and debates of this conference will be continued by other presidencies of the Council of the EU. I am sure that contibution of this conference will lead to smart decisions that will preserve cultural heritage and enrich our thinking about cultural heritage in Europe that cherish the diversity of nations.

Diana Varnaitė

Director of Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture