TOP SECURITY greeted delegates from 47 countries who attended an Algarve summit designed to reinforce cultural co-operation between Portugal and its neighbours.
Around 200 participants attended the two-day conference that took place at the Ria Park Garden and Quinta do Lago hotels, entitled “Intercultural dialogue – the road to the future”. A conspicuous police presence – of around 500 officers – guarded the event that, according to one source, was pegged at number four on a security scale of between one and five.Snipers were reportedly stationed in a building across from Vale do Garrão’s Ria Park Garden Hotel, and airport style scanning equipment was installed at the entrance to the Quinta do Lago Hotel.
Delegates included culture ministers and representatives from organisations such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Anna Lindh European Union Foundation, (named after the murdered Swedish Foreign Minister) that aims to bring Europe and the Arab world together.
Various agreements were signed during the conference, namely the “Faro Declaration”, for which the objective is to enhance Euro-Mediterranean co-operation in education, culture, heritage and communications. Another agreement was signed between the Council of Europe and the Anna Lindh foundation and Alecso (the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation), an inter-Arab organisation founded in 1970 that aims to advance co-operation in media, sport and culture.
Hélder Martins, the president of the Algarve Tourist Board, said that the choice of the Algarve for the conference “placed it right at the heart of Europe’s cultural heritage”.
Culture Minister Isabel Pires de Lima attended the summit and took the opportunity to clarify that Faro’s status as a national culture capital would end on December 3 and would not be extended into next year.