Austria is involved in the strategy to develop the Danube region including culture and tourism.
3.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy
The Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs is in charge of 30 "Austrian Cultural Fora" (Kulturforen) of various sizes in 27 countries (Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States). These include also the cultural departments in Austrian embassies, which often consist only of a cultural attaché. In 2010 the BMeiA opened a new embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Most of the operative budget for international cultural policy is distributed to the cultural forums, which thereby have their own annual budget. The programme planning is agreed with the respective ambassador and the responsible department in the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs.
Cultural protocols or programmes, with a term of three or four years, regulate the main types of bilateral cultural cooperation, specify the framework conditions and also include agreements on the exchange of experts, cultural activities, groups of artists, ensembles and dance companies. The general and financial provisions are subject to the agreements and protocols negotiated.
Austria has signed agreements on cultural co-operation with a total of 25 states, including eight EU member states. In addition to these cultural agreements, further agreements on co-operation in the scientific and technical fields have been signed with 13 states. Informal co-operation in the fields of culture and science has developed with seven partner states without requiring any underlying written agreement.
The main tasks of international cultural policy are outlined in the Auslandskulturkonzept 2011 to 2014. In general, emphasis is placed on the importance of culture as Austria's most important image factor, with the following objectives:
One of Austria's key concerns is a more effective utilisation and a better protection of the Danube. Austria is situated in the centre of the catchment area of the Danube, which includes a region of approximately 800 000 km2, with 120 million inhabitants, extending over 14 states, eight of which are EU-member states. In 2002, Austria initiated the Danube-Cooperation-Process together with Romania and in 2009 the initiative for an EU-Strategy for the Danube Region was elaborated. In 2011 the strategy involving eight EU member states and six other European states intended to further develop the enormous economic potential of the Danube was started. The strategy includes an action plan with 11 areas, based on four pillars: 1. connecting the Danube area (i.e. promotion of culture and tourism), 2. environmental protection in the Danube area, 3. development of prosperity in the Danube area (i.e. development of research capacity, improvement of education, investment in people and their qualifications) and 4. the strengthening of the Danube area. Austria is coordinating three of 11 areas.