Ministry of Culture organised in 2012 (jointly with civil society organization) the Forum of Intercultural Cities.
3.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends
One of the top priorities of state policy is to promote the integration of the Ukraine in a European and global cultural context, to promote a positive image of Ukraine, and to collaborate with international organisations. Such priorities were defined, particularly, in the draft Concept of the State targeted programme for innovative development of Ukrainian culture to 2017 (see also chapter 1) and the Law of Ukraine on Culture (Chapter 1. Basic Provisions, Article 3: "to promote Ukrainian national culture in all its diversity abroad and the global cultural achievements in Ukraine"; (Chapter 3, International Cultural Relations, Article 32) "The State shall provide international cultural exchange and collaboration between culture institutions, creative workers, Ukrainian cultural workers and their partners" (see also chapter 2.3).
Different instruments are used to reach this aim: participation in and organisation of international festivals, exhibitions, seminars, artistic tours, days and years of culture, etc. Examples of this type of activity are: the International Festival ART KYIV contemporary, International Festival of Medieval Culture Lutsk Castle's Sword, International Theatre Festival Melpomene of Tauria, International Film Festival Molodist, Days of Culture French Spring in Ukraine, Multicultural Festival Halychyna, Gogol-Fest, etc.
There are also numerous common projects and cultural co-operation between independent and public organisations in Ukraine and European countries – from research and policy-making projects, like Intercultural Cities, European Bus, Intercultural Caravan, Creative Cities, Ukrainian Cultural Network (http://www.ukrkult.net), to artistic or exchange projects. Though such an active shift to culture driven projects is mostly related to aspirations and efforts of independent institutions and local powers in Ukraine, there are some essential changes in public policy as well: the Ministry of Culture organised in 2012 (jointly with civil society organisations) the Forum of Intercultural Cities (see also chapter 3.3) and organised the international conference "Culture of Development – power and civil society: competition or partnership" in March 2013. At the same time, the official external relations continue traditionally basing cultural diplomacy in events like days / weeks of culture, festivals or government supported tours of selected groups.
In recent years, Ukraine has signed 3 bilateral agreements (interstate, intergovernmental and interministerial). The active collaboration is developed now with 58 countries. In 2011-2012, the following international bilateral agreements were signed: between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Government of the Emirates, France, Georgia, and Slovakia. Agreements on cultural collaboration were approved between the Ukrainian Government in 2012 and the Republic of Iraq and San-Marino.
The Ministry of Culture takes part in approximately 30 bilateral intergovernmental committees. The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Ukraine and the EU entered into force on 1 March 1998. Today, Ukraine sees its main task as consolidation of European values and standards in political, economic and social spheres, including culture and heritage. Ukraine is a unique state outside of the EU, which celebrates regularly the Day of Europe. In 2012, Ukrainian cities and their associations – Association of Cities of Ukraine and Ukrainian Platform of Intercultural Cities – took part in two other European cultural initiatives: European Local Democracy Week (ELDW) and European Day of Languages. Within the Platform of Intercultural Cities, the ELDW activities were organised in such cities as Melitopol, Pryluky and Vinnytsia; the European Day of Languages was celebrated by the opening in the city of Lutsk (member of the Ukrainian Platform of Intercultural Cities) the International Forum of Poets and Translators (Magnum Ducatus Poesis) organised jointly with the Lithuanian Writers' Association.
A special training course concerning the implementation of the White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue "Living Together as Equals in Dignity" was organised by the Development Centre "Democracy through Culture" with the support of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine and the Council of Europe. The training course ran from March - November 2012 and consisted of three workshops dedicated to the following topics: Democratic citizenship and participation; Role of culture and education in learning intercultural competences; Spaces for intercultural dialogue. Participants involved in the training course were cultural managers and operators, representatives of public and non-governmental cultural organisations, local media, universities as well as international experts on intercultural dialogue and democratic governance. Ukrainian participants passing the training course received special certificates signed by the representatives of the Council of Europe, Ministry of Culture of Ukraine and the Development Centre "Democracy through Culture".
On 20 January 2010, the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine ratified the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions after wide public discussion and public approval (see also chapter 3.4.3). In 2013, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine jointly with the EU Programme "Eastern Partnership" will carry out special conferences and seminars dedicated to implementation of Convention provisions for cultural practice in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.
At the same time, it is necessary to indicate some negative trends developing recently in terms of European cultural integration related to the political processes in Ukraine. According to most European and international experts, it is possible to speak now about the difficult situation of democracy and human rights in Ukraine. It hampers negotiations with the EU on further collaboration, on the one hand, and impacts on the general situation in Ukraine marked by a high corruption rate, distrust and political tension. The result of the last parliament elections in Ukraine (October, 2012) were revealing in terms of demonstrating splits both in politics and in world-view in Ukraine: after 21 years of independence the communist party received the largest support in the last years (almost 15%) which is explained by general frustration with the existing policy and confidence in the past. At the same time, it would be incorrect to establish links between such political split and historical and / or geographical division of Ukraine (East-West): for example, the Literature Group STAN, in Luhansk (Eastern Ukraine), organises in March, 2013, at the monument to Fighters of Revolution, a festive performance "There is no Stalin to you!" dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the "tyrant's death". The action will continue the open-ended campaign of "STAN against Stalin" started in 2011.