Culture ministers snub Sarajevo

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The Independent Online
CULTURE ministers of the new European Union passed up an opportunity to make a gesture of support for Sarajevo yesterday.

As one of the first formal decisions of the EU, the ministers turned down a request to help Sarajevo promote itself as European Winter City of Culture. By turning their backs on the city, the ministers will help keep the public's gaze away from the Bosnian capital.

Antwerp is the European City of Culture until the end of December, and the hope was that Sarajevo could host a special winter programme of cultural and artistic events.

The European Year of Culture runs from March to December. Prominent arts organisations have been promoting the idea that the EU should this year create a winter event to run until Lisbon takes over from Antwerp.

At a meeting yesterday, Britain, Germany, Greece and Denmark warned the others of the danger of raising false expectations. A communique afterwards said that 'certain member states have pledged' to help the festival that is going ahead, with or without full EU endorsement.

A British spokesman explained: 'We have just always been a bit wary of doing something at the stroke of a pen that we cannot deliver. What matters in Sarajevo is action not proclamations. The formula of the communique gives everybody the flexibility to do what they deem appropriate. . .'