Czech city to join Mons as 2015 culture capital

Plze? and Ostrava were yesterday (9 December) selected as the Czech Republic's nominations for European Capital of Culture in 2015, with the final decision set to be taken next year.

The successful Czech candidate will share the 2015 title with the Belgian city of Mons. 

The three cities of Plze?, Ostrava and Hradec Králové applied for the Czech nomination after the government had invited interested parties to put their names forward in late 2008. 

A thirteen-strong international panel comprising six Czechs and seven representatives of the EU institutions yesterday eliminated the Bohemian city of Hradec Králové from the process, leaving Plze? – the fourth-largest city in the Czech Republic and famous the world over as the home of pilsner beer – and the Moravian-Silesian city Ostrava – the country's third-largest – competing for the title. 

"One Czech and one Belgian town will be appointed European Capital of Culture for 2015. The Belgian town has already been selected – it will be Mons," Culture Ministry press section head Viktorie Plivova told the ?TK agency. 

Meanwhile in September, Riga was selected as Latvia's nomination for EU culture capital in 2014 (EURACTIV 16/09/09). 

The Baltic city of just over 710,000 will share the 2014 title with Swedish city Umeå, which was nominated the week before (EURACTIV 11/09/09). 

Umeå and Riga must still be formally designated as Europe's 2014 cultural capitals by the EU's Council of Ministers. But the Council's endorsement, expected in May 2010, is considered a procedural formality. 

Congratulating Plze? and Ostrava on their nominations, EU Culture Commissioner Maroš Šef?ovi? said the European Capital of Culture accolade "provides an opportunity –which must be seized – for the long-term development of the cities concerned, not only in the cultural sphere, but also from the socio-economic and tourism points of view". 

"The key to being designated," Šef?ovi? stressed, "remains the event's European dimension and civic participation," he said, before urging the three cities in contention to "pursue their efforts in this direction". 

In May, EU culture ministers confirmed Košice (Slovakia) and Marseille (France) as European culture capitals for 2013 (EURACTIV 13/05/09). 

The decision on whether to nominate Plze? or Ostrava will be taken in nine months' time. 

The title of 'European Capital of Culture' was created by the EU in 1985. Capitals are chosen by an international panel of thirteen members, six of whom are appointed by the country concerned and seven by the EU institutions. While the final decision rests with the Council, their endorsement of the panel's decision is considered a formality. 

Candidates must fulfil three main criteria: integrating a true European dimension, reinforcing cooperation among EU countries with the support of the public and highlighting the role of the city in the formation and development of culture in Europe. 

Successful candidates must also devise a programme with a lasting impact that contributes to the long-term cultural, economic and social development of the city concerned. 

The upcoming capitals of culture are: 

  • 2010: Essen (Germany), Istanbul (Turkey) and Pécs (Hungary) 
  • 2011: Turku (Finland) and Tallinn (Estonia) 
  • 2012: Guimarães (Portugal) and Maribor (Slovenia) 
  • 2013 : Marseille (France) and Košice (Slovakia) 
  • 2014: Umeå (Sweden) and Riga (Latvia) 

For the years to follow, the countries have been finalised, but it has not yet been formally decided which cities will compete for the title: 

  • 2015: Belgium (Mons) and Czech Republic 
  • 2016: Spain and Poland 
  • 2017: Denmark and Cyprus 
  • 2018: Netherlands and Malta 
  • 2019: Italy and Bulgaria 
  • May 2010: Final confirmation of 2014 European cultural capitals by EU Council of Ministers. 
  • End summer/early autumn 2010: Final decision on Czech nomination for 2015. 

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