"The Olive Tree Routes" were formally awarded the title of "Major European Cultural Route" during a ceremony at the European Cultural Centre in Delphi on the weekend. These routes share the olive tree as common element of culture and dialogue among people in the Euro-Mediterranean area. The title of "Major European Cultural Route" was presented by Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Council of Europe Director of Education, Culture and Heritage, in the presence of culture minister George Voulgarakis.
The ceremony was held in the framework of a Forum on the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe as geopolitical instruments for international dialogue, sustainable development, cultural tourism and European integration.
Culture ministry secretary general Christos Zachopoulos highlighted the importance of this distinction, particularly given that 2006 has been declared the "Year of Olive Oil" by the Greek government, while development ministry secretary general Manousos Voloudakis noted the importance and uniqueness of the olive tree, the economic aspect of its products, and their significance in nature and throughout Greece's centuries-old civilization and culture.
The Council of Europe's relevant committee recently awarded the title of "Major Cultural Route of the Council of Europe" to The Routes of the Olive Tree, organized by the homonymous Cultural Foundation (www.olivetreeroute.gr) and the Messinia Chamber of Commerce. This honorary distinction was awarded following nomination by the Greek culture ministry's Directorate of International Relations and Organizations, and constitutes a further step in the international recognition of the route, which was elected the "2nd World Cultural Itinerary" by UNESCO in 2003.
The Routes of the Olive Tree are itineraries of sustainable development and intercultural dialogue, realized around a common theme. They consist in the rediscovery and recognition of this diverse natural heritage, linked to the technical, economic, social and cultural development of the civilizations inhabiting the Mediterranean basin since ancient times up until today. The initiative rests on the importance of the presence of the Olive Tree in the Mediterranean as an element, which unifies the people who live in its environment. These itineraries work towards a common valorizing of the history of this tree, for the benefit of oil-producing regions, and towards expanding the universal symbol of prosperity, spirituality, and peace that it represents.
These itineraries wish to create "interactive synergies" between conservation, tourism and development by: These itineraries wish to create "interactive synergies" between conservation, tourism and development by: • favoring dialogue between the regions concerned, between developed areas and those in difficulty, between urban and rural spaces • encouraging thematic tourism and sustainable development through setting up exemplary initiatives in oil-producing regions • carrying out an inventory of the material and immaterial heritage of the olive tree, and increasing its value • contributing to public awareness and educating young people • leading specialized, multidisciplinary research on the widened theme of the olive tree.
The Routes of the Olive Tree are part of a common initiative by the Cultural Foundation The Routes of the Olive Tree and the Chamber of Commerce in Messinia, with the cooperation of an important network of international organizations: Greek and Mediterranean Chambers of Industry and Commerce, European universities and research centers, Olive Tree Museums and Non-Governmental Organizations from olive-growing countries. It has been placed under the aegis of the International Oil-producing Council, of Hellenic Ministries of Culture, Development, Tourism and Foreign Affairs, of the Peloponnesian Region, of the Athens Town Council, of the International Federation of Motorcycling, etc.
Source: Athens News Agency