New cultural agreements signed with Slovenia, Czech Republic, France, Iran, Turkmenistan, India and Italy.
3.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy
The Ministry of Culture is the main actor in international cultural cooperation, ensuring the participation of Armenia in different international cultural programmes. This cooperation is executed by the Ministry's Staff Directorate on Foreign Relations and Cooperation with the Diaspora. It is the Ministry of Culture that develops and carries out the state cultural policy in Armenia. The international cultural policy is a part of the country's foreign policy. In this area, cooperation is executed according to procedures that are coordinated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In Armenia, culture and education are important and efficient instruments that broaden interstate relations. Cultural centres of various countries operate in Armenia, including the British Council (established in 2001) and the Cultural Centre of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Goethe Institute functioning in the region. These centres, besides presenting their national culture in Armenia, promote also Armenian culture in their countries. They also provide educational and technical assistance, carry out joint programmes, seminars, and cooperate with other international organisations. The British Council's initiatives are aimed to bring to Armenia innovative art works through festivals, performances and exhibitions, in addition to a range of projects, programmes, workshops and seminars. Yearly festivals of British films, many exhibitions and other events have been held in Armenia so far. The British Council collaborates with local partners, both institutional and public. A series of seminars, entitled Dialogues of Cultures, Literary Bridges, and Dialogues of Civilisations, took place in Yerevan on the initiative of the IRI Culture House.
At present, the Treaty between the Republic of Armenia and the Kingdom of Spain on the Establishment of Cultural Centres and Implementation of Activities is under consideration, which envisages the opening of a Cervantes Institute in Yerevan.
The issues of joint film production with different countries and international structures are in the negotiation process.
The conditions for organising exhibitions are included in the documents that are being signed in the specially designed interstate agreements.
The Ministry of Culture attaches importance to education issues in the sphere of culture that are reflected in the Ministry's strategic instruments. On the basis of instruments signed in this sector, specialists and students of different fields in the cultural sector are training in Italy, France, Great Britain, the Russian Federation, and Egypt.
During recent years, foreign students from Syria, Iran, and China are training in cultural establishments of higher education in Armenia (especially in the Yerevan State Institute of Theatre and the Cinema and Yerevan State Conservatorium).
In 2006, international cultural cooperation received a budget of 33 884 200 AMD (nearly 72 000 EUR), in 2007 - 78 000 000 AMD (nearly 168 000 EUR), in 2009 -194 793 000 AMD (395 921 EUR) and 2010 - 146 000 000 AMD (304 167 EUR). The budget planned for 2011 is approximately 153 000 000 AMD (318 750 EUR).
The financing of international cooperation in the cultural area is carried out via programmes. The principle of co-financing is also implemented, involving SNPO's (state non-profit organisations), and sponsorship is also encouraged.
In recent years, the diplomatic missions of different countries in Armenia have activated their cultural cooperation with local organisations and institutions. Thus, through partial financial support of the Chinese embassy in Armenia and cooperation with local public organisations and institutions, two student competitions on Chinese culture and history were held. The Chinese embassy also supported the organisation of an exhibition of traditional costumes of ethnic minorities of China in the State Gallery. The Embassy of France has been very active in promoting European and, in particular, French cultural values through francophone initiatives in Armenia such as the organisation of Francophonie Days in Armenia, poetry, prose and photo competitions, music festivals, etc. The embassies of Germany, France, Italy, and Poland have actively cooperated with local organisations in the frameworks of the international film festival "Golden Apricot".
In 2009 and 2010, Armenia signed four interdepartmental agreements with ministries of culture of other countries on initiation of collaborative projects. A number of such projects have been implemented in 2009 (events representing Armenian culture abroad like days of Armenian culture in other countries (Russian Federation, Slovakia, France, USA), or events representing other ethnic and national cultures in Armenia, like days of German, Georgian, Bulgarian culture, performances of Korean, Indian, Argentinean folk and dance bands. In 2010, different levels of agreements on cultural cooperation were signed with Slovenia, Czech Republic, France, Iran, Turkmenistan, India and Italy.
Intercultural cooperation is also made possible through structures founded or headed by Armenians, such as Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Portugal), which has signed an agreement on collaboration in the sphere of culture with the Ministry of Culture of RA in 2010.