A Presidential Decree of 2012 aims to widen Russia’s cultural presence abroad, including its language and network of cultural centres.
3.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends
A breakthrough in international cultural co-operation in the 1990 has resulted from opening the borders of Russia for travel and exchange and from intensifying cultural links at all the governmental levels. In 1996, the National Report on Cultural Policies in the Russian Federation celebrated the Russian Federation's membership of the Council of Europe. It also marked a period of commitment to international agreements and conventions in the cultural field that reinforced development of the legal background for cultural affairs. In 2001, the Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA) adopted the first MFA concept for promotion of cultural links abroad, which conceptualised international cultural co-operation as an instrument for advancing foreign policy.
In 2008, the Russian President announced the new national Concept of Foreign Policy. It prioritised support for the Russian language and promoting cultures of Russia's peoples, which contributed to the cultural and civilisational diversity of the world. Development of bilateral and multilateral cultural co-operation within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was stated as the first priority. The new foreign policy Concept also named the European Union as one of Russia's main partners and establishing a common European space for education, science and culture as the main concern. In 2010, the Russian President adopted the Principle Directions of the Russian Federation Policy in the Field of International Cultural and Humanitarian Co-Operation supplementary to the foreign policy Concept. The document states the importance of cultural diplomacy and Russian cultural influence abroad. The Presidential Decree of May 2012 put forward a task "to widen Russia’s cultural presence abroad, reinforce the position of the Russian language in the world, and develop a network of Russian Centres of Science and Culture."
Since 2004, emphasis has been placed on introducing the cultural component in international relations. The culture component is included in Russian co-operation within the regional organisations, namely the Council of Europe, the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, and in the treaties on international co-operation in the Baltic, Black Sea and Caspian regions.
Cultural co-operation is generally based on bilateral and multilateral agreements while larger scale activities are primarily held as traditional and symmetric Years of Culture, both in Russia and related European or Asian countries. In 2013, the Year of Russian Culture will be held inGreece. The mass media addressing foreign audiences are charged with transmitting a "positive image" of Russia and presenting Russian culture and arts as well as cultural and artistic events that accompany important diplomatic and international actions.
In 1999, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus signed the treaty on establishment of the Union State. The cultural development and provisions for equality in preserving and promoting ethnic, cultural, and language identity were placed within the joint responsibility of the Union State and its members. The Declaration on the 10th anniversary of the Union State (2009) includes provisions for development of a joint humane space.