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Speech by SHA at MOU signing ceremony


Following is a speech by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Ho, at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cultural Co-operation between Hong Kong and Croatia today (October 18) (English only):

Dobar dan! (Good afternoon) Minister Biskupic, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you here, Minister Biskupic. This is a memorable day for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Republic of Croatia as we are about to open a new chapter of cultural relationship by signing the Memorandum of Understanding on Cultural Cooperation.

Some people in Hong Kong may know little about Croatia. But friendship and culture know no boundaries. The signing of Air Services Agreement between Hong Kong and Croatia just two years ago and the stunning speed of globalisation taking place over the world have brought us closer together. Today we are here to make a promise for more exchange and cooperation in future between the world city in Asia at the doorway to Mainland China and the European country which controls most land routes from West Europe to Aegean Sea and Turkish Straits. Our difference and distinctiveness in background and culture only means that we will have a lot more to exchange and share in future and, as a result, the synergy we release will be greater.

I am much delighted at the progress and achievements of Croatia in recent years. Croatia emerged into the new millennium from a decade in which it experienced a bitter war and several years of domestic difficulties. Now, Croatia has become an official candidate for the European Union membership. The Croatian Government is determined to walk in the sun-lit path of democracy, the rule of law and free market economy, which we are familiar with in Hong Kong. In fact, our success relies on these core values. And I firmly believe that these elements are conducive to the robust development of culture and the arts as well. Certainly, it will only be possible for the artists to pursue their aesthetic visions in a free, pluralistic and open-minded society. And cultural exchanges will only exist if people can appreciate the beauty of other cultures.

Next month at the poster exhibition "Visual Dynamic - Hong Kong International Poster Triennial 2004", we can see some of the designs created by a Croatian designer at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. I am sure that with the signing of the memorandum, we will lay down a solid platform for further exchange and open up new opportunities for co-operation of this form and others in visual arts, music, dance, drama, film art, etc. As a start, we may exchange information on cultural scenes of Hong Kong and Croatia, exhibition catalogues on contemporary art between major museums of both sides, and discuss music exchange programmes for visiting youth music groups from Croatia. The seed we sow today is tiny, but the tree it grows into will not stop to impress us, and the fruit it bears will certainly enrich our cultures and friendship. It therefore deserves the dedicated efforts of both the Hong Kong and Croatian governments to explore new opportunities of cooperation.

Hvala. (Thank you)

Ends/Monday, October 18, 2004


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