The application of Marseilles for the title of European Capital of Culture is in line with a future perspective that extends well beyond 2013. The application has been conceived and designed on a scale that is appropriate to a rapidly expanding regional and port city (Marseilles currently totals 800,000 inhabitants) within a metropolitan area that counts more than 2 million people.
This area, located at the crossroads of the Latin arc and the Rhone Valley, represents a strategic crossing point with both the other Mediterranean shore and with the northern countries of Western Europe.
It is also being identified increasingly often as a platform for international exchange and research. In the same vein, the different public, regional, departmental, inter-communal and municipal authorities in the area continue to strengthen their policies of Euro-Mediterranean co-operation.
Despite all of this, the metropolitan area of Marseilles is still in development and securing its future is essential for us all: the heart of the south of France is also at the heart of southern Europe. The European continent needs this anchorage to the South. A substantial proportion of Europe's future will be played out in the Mediterranean.
The city of Marseilles is cosmopolitan and socially very diverse, a mirror image of the challenges that face our globalised society: are we to recede into confrontation between specific cultures, or open ourselves up to the multiplicity of thought? The choice can only be a collective one and can only be applied on the scale of a coherent urban area.
This is why our bid has been led jointly by the largest possible number of public and private figures and by leading authorities in culture, urban planning, business, education and community life. An overarching mobilisation strategy has been developed so that as many people as possible can share and participate in the day-to-day work, constantly renewed, of building fraternity and peace.