More languages, more culture, more Europe

5.30pm – meeting
Gorizia media library

Being a European Capital of Culture is an opportunity to enjoy great international visibility, but it is also a way to revitalise local cultural life and to encourage investments on local economy.
For communities where more than one language is spoken, this can also be a chance to showcase their linguistic and cultural plurality, but above all, to boost or promote those languages that are subjected to a minoritized status.

In Gorizia and the surrounding area, Italian, Slovenian and Friulian are spoken, but they also enjoyed an influential presence of the German language and Jewish culture throughout history. This linguistic and cultural pluralism paid a very high cost during the past century, crushed under the weight of totalitarianism and nationalism.

The appointment of 2025 European Capital of Culture to the cities of Nova Gorica and Gorizia becomes therefore an extraordinary opportunity to highlight this linguistic and cultural pluralism, giving value especially to those languages that have long been minoritized. An important model may come from other European Capitals of Culture that were able to enhance and promote their linguistic pluralism. This is the case of two leading examples: the city of Donostia – San Sebastián (Basque Autonomous Community, Spanish State) in 2016, and Leeuwarden – Ljouwert (Friesland, Netherlands) in 2018.

The Basque city has linked its name to a protocol on language rights that was drawn up thanks to the work of a network of collaborations from different European minoritised communities, within the framework of the actions that accompanied the year in which Donostia – San Sebastián was Capital of Culture.

Cultural production in Frisian, on the other hand, was one of the protagonists of the programme implemented by the city of Leeuwarden – Ljouwert in 2018, which led to choosing the city as UNESCO capital of literature in 2019. In order to present these “good practices” and in the hope that these testimonies may lend a hand in enhancing the linguistic and cultural plurality of our territory during Go2025, Suns Europe decided to bring to Gorizia two of the main figures of Donostia – San Sebastián and Leeuwarden – Ljouwert.

Paul Bilbao Sarria is the secretary general of the NGO ‘Kontseilua’, the Council of Social Organisations Committed to the Basque Language, and is the coordinator of the process that resulted in the Donostia Protocol (a protocol for the protection of language rights) in 2016. Ernst Bruinsma is director of the Leeuwarden City of Literature project, which has made the city an international benchmark for literature, including in minority languages.

In Gorizia, Bilbao and Bruinsma will present these two experiences, bringing insights both for the Go2025 programme and for activities in our region aimed at enhancing the role of minority languages.

After the institutional greetings, Davyth Hicks (Cornish) – secretary general of ELEN (European Language Equality Network) and expert on language rights and the promotion of minority languages – will open the event with a focus on the valorisation of minority languages at a continental level. Marco Stolfo, lecturer in Contemporary History and Mass Communications in the Public Relations degree course at the Gorizia campus of the University of Udine, moderates the event.

Free entry.