Cultural Institute of Brittany,
Ceremony in St. Quay Portrieux,
Saturday, 16 September, 2017
Honourable Mayor, Member of Parliament, Mr. President of the Cultural Institute of Brittany, Mme. Vice President of the Regional Council, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Friends,
It is a great honour to be with you today for the ceremony of presenting the “Collier de l’Hermine” and the Medal of the Cultural Institute of Brittany.
On behalf of the Institute of Breton and European Documentation ( IDBE ), allow me to thank the Cultural Institute of Brittany. its President, Patrick Malrieu, and its members, for having awarded us the Medal of the Institute, in recognition of the work accomplished by the IDBE, and in particular its digital bibliography.
Today’s ceremony marks another important year in the life of the Cultural Institute of Brittany. It is an occasion amongst many others to recall the enormous efforts and perseverance of so many personalities from all walks of life and from the four corners of Brittany for the preservation and promotion of the Breton culture and identity.
These efforts have been pursued throughout the last century, starting with the project for the creation of a National Institute of Brittany in 1911. It is for me a source of immense pride that its first president was my great uncle, Charles Le Goffic, who became member of the French Academy in 1931.
Today, at a time when the basic values of our society which lie at the heart of the European integration process are threatened, these efforts to preserve and promote the Breton culture and identity, as well as those of other nations without states in Europe, are more than ever necessary. As Mr. Malrieu himself recalled earlier today as well as at the ceremony awarding the Medal to the former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, one has only to observe the daily reality around us where “we are unable to obtain the simple application of European law and international conventions : the right to our administrative reunification, and the application of the European Charter for Minority Languages”.
This state of affairs reminds me of the question that I was often asked during my work as representative of the European Union in the Western Balkan countries, notably Slovenia before its EU membership in 2004, and more recently in Macedonia,a candidate country for EU accession : “ Mr. Ambassador, are you certain that in your own countries of the EU, respect for the rights of minorities, such as language rights, which is one of the conditions set by the EU for our accession, is guaranteed ?”
I must admit that it was difficult to find a diplomatic answer to this question without creating problems with the French Ambassador who was often in the audience…We must continue to hope that the French government will one day soon rectify this historic error and proceed to ratify the Charter.
It was in 1998 that my father Yann Fouéré, the “old Lion”, as he was called by his friends in the Breton movement EMSAV, established the IDBE. In 2018 therefore, we will celebrate our 20 years of existence.
The aim was and remains that of carefully preserving the many books, documents and archives relating to Brittany and to other national minorities in Europe as well as to the principles of European federalism. Country to the situation in Scotland and Wales, Brittany does not have a National Library. There are of course some public or private libraries, but they are scattered around without any particular order, often devoid of access for researchers or the general public,
The role of the digital bibliography of the IDBE is not to physically assemble everything in one place, but to create a system where all the documents and archives are listed, shared, and made available. In this way, our heritage is neither lost nor forgotten.
In this respect I would like to thank all those who have kindly made available many books, documents and archives which we have listed and which are now available on the site.
From the start of the work in 2015, we now have more than 4,000 documents placed on the site, with the oldest document dating back to 1624. Today, in our office situated in Rue de la Madeleine in Guingamp, we continue to gather together and preserve new documents. You are most welcome to visit and view this work which is carried out with much passion and love for the cause of Breton and European culture and identity.
This Medal is therefore an encouragement for us to continue and intensify our modest effort of national interest at the service of all Bretons and other national minorities in Europe. It is also a recognition of the vision of all who have fought and continue to fight for the preservation of our identity and for the priority role of regional communities in an integrated Europe, a Europe based on the human dimension.