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Monday, 15 August 2011 15:55

Culture is an important component of foreign relations

By Maria Tokmasheva

GrogoryIvlievMOSCOW, August 15, 2011 (Russkiy Mir) - A new fundamental law on culture that would regulate state policy in this area was recently discussed in parliamentary hearings.  Cultural development plays an important role in the foreign relations of the state, helping form the image of the country abroad. We spoke with Grogory Ivliev, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Culture, about foreign policy in the cultural sphere, its aims and objectives.


The place and authority of the Russian state in the world is determined not only by its political position and economic resources but also by the great culture of the country, its spiritual, intellectual and innovative potential.


Thus cultural cooperation with other countries should be considered alongside political and economic relations as an important component of Russia’s foreign policy. Culture plays a special role in realizing Russia’s foreign political strategy, which is aimed at strengthening the country’s international position and securing external conditions for the development of the state and its citizens.


Interview Excerpts


(Q)Are there legislative norms written into foreign policy with regards to culture?

(A) According to the foreign policy concept of the Russian Federation, confirmed in 2008, the task facing our country is, above all else, the protection of the interests of Russian citizens and compatriots living abroad. The multimillion Russian diaspora – Russkiy Mir – is also seen by the state as a partner that projects the achievements and wealth of the Russian language and culture.


The concept emphasizes that Russia is actively seeking to facilitate the development of cooperation among CIS states in humanities with the aim of preserving and expanding our common cultural and civilizational heritage. Particular attention is given to supporting compatriots throughout the CIS, finding common ground for protecting their educational, language, social, labor, humanitarian and other rights.


The humanitarian, civilizational and cultural emphasis of the concept is clear. And thus, in order to develop its positive impulse, a systemic approach is needed for external cultural policy not only for the short term but also mid-term and, I would emphasize, for the long-term strategic perspective. We need an external cultural policy concept, and this is currently being developed.


Strengthening the cultural influence of Russia in the world is a top priority for the further evolution of a modern, multi-polar world order. Supported by its rich cultural traditions that have spanned many centuries now and the contemporary development of its cultural environment, Russia must have a cultural influence that has a positive effect on international dialog. And cultural diplomacy is an important component – the advancement of Russia’s interests on the international stage through cultural society.


(Q) What specific examples can you name that support the realization of this foreign cultural policy?

(A) I think that right now international cooperation in culture is quite evident. Events related to the Year of Russia in France and France in Russia are actively being organized. Recently many cities throughout Russia have been hosting cultural days of various countries – Algeria, China, Korea, India and many others.


The cultural influence of Russia is strengthening thank to similar activities – days and weeks of Russian culture and the cultures of various regions of the country regularly take place abroad. There is ongoing work for promoting Russian musical, theatrical and decorative arts as well as publication, film, art and photography festivals, etc. These areas of international cultural cooperation are very important and are deserving of complete support and intensification.


(Q) Many specialists are concerned by the fact that although Russia signed the European Convention for the Protection of Archeological Heritage in 1992, the document has yet to be ratified. Why is this?

(A) The European Convention for the Protection of Archeological Heritage introduces a common definition of elements of archeological heritage, a methodology for their identification and measures for their preservation, collection and distribution of information, prevention of trafficking archeological items, as well as technical and academic cooperation.


Archeological artifacts are a source of information on the history of mankind as well as a source of the collective European memory and instruments for historical and scientific research. Considering the enormous number of archeological monuments on the territory of the Russian Federation, we believe that Russia should fully participate in this convention. Right now the issue being reviewed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (END)


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