3.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends
The main developments in transnational cultural cooperation since 2002 have mainly been attached to programmes and initiatives of the European Union. A special EU Unit was set up by the Ministry of Education in 2002, to administer the Culture 2000, Youth and Life-Long learning programmes. In 2004, the Culture programme administered by the Cultural Contact Point and the Media programme administered by the Media Desk have formed part of the European Affairs and Policy Development Directorate within the Ministry for Tourism and Culture. The Directorate was also active in facilitating and activating bilateral cultural agreements with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for Education, Youth and Employment. Following a Cabinet reshuffle, the Media Desk, Culture Contact Point and EU culture related matters were formally organised through the establishment of the Culture and Audiovisual Unit. Malta has 36 bilateral cultural agreements, however only few are ratified or implemented due to financial limitations or lack of human resources.
In 2004, together with the other 34 Member States, Malta became a partner of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for Dialogue between Cultures. The Mediterranean Institute, within the University of Malta, acts as the Head of the Maltese National Network. To date, few Maltese organisations have managed to capitalise on cultural cooperation programmes offered by the Foundation.
On the 18 December 2006, Malta deposited its ratification instruments of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The Convention consecrates the role of culture as an actor in development (Article 13), mobilises civil society to achieve its goals (Article 11), and places international solidarity at the heart of its mechanism (Articles 12 to 19), by including the creation of an international fund for cultural diversity (Article 18). It also highlights "the importance of intellectual property rights in sustaining those involved in cultural creativity" and reaffirms that "freedom of thought, expression and information, as well as diversity of the media, enable cultural expressions to flourish within societies."
In 2007, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs announced Malta's intention to play a more active role in the relationship between the European Union and the Arab League.
The implementation and development of transnational cultural cooperation projects through government initiative is often delegated to its cultural agencies, Foundations, private organisations or NGOs. Foreign representations and cultural centres in Malta also make use of the services and expertise of these cultural organisations to establish international partnerships between Maltese cultural stakeholders and their partners in the respective countries.
One area of concern has been the large influx of irregular migrants from Africa to Malta, largely via Libya. The unprecedented traffic unfortunately gave rise to harsh, widespread sentiments of racism and xenophobia, which are openly expressed in the public domain and the media. Following pressure from the media and academics, the government amended the Criminal Code in 2006 to increase punishment for crimes against race and religion. These issues have been rigorously addressed during the 2007 European Year for Equal Opportunities and international collaboration to address these issues were also part of the National strategy for the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.
Relevant Key Actions from the National Cultural Policy