During thirty years of independence, Armenia has established cooperation with almost all important European, Eurasian and International players like EU, UNESCO, ICOM, WMF, BSI, INCP, CIS, etc., and accepted and ratified tens of international conventions in the sphere of culture. The international collaboration and cooperation has traditionally pursued the following goals: 1. Political and normative integration through legislative compliance with international norms and agreements in the sphere of culture; 2. Professional and institutional integration through different professional and institutional networks; 3. Keeping up with the international trends and processes through professional improvement, individual development projects, professional consulting, etc.; 4. Getting financial support from international grant making organizations and cultural grant programmes; 5. Marketing and promotion of Armenian culture and cultural tourism.
Currently, most of these objectives have not changed. It may be added that Armenia is currently seeking a serious improvement of the country’s image and international cooperation in the sphere of culture is seen as one of the possible tools. That’s why there is state support for different international cultural events, festivals, conferences, etc. However, there are some distinctions from the previous strategies. The post-war consequences made the government focus on targeted contacts and cooperation with UNESCO, WMF, BSI, European Association of Archeologists, ALIPH international alliance, etc. on the burning problem of rescuing and preservation of the Armenian cultural heritage on the territories under the Azerbaijani control. The Armenian side is seeking support, international awareness on the problem and, possibly, international pressure on Azerbaijan, which has already distorted or even completely destroyed a number of cultural and historical monuments.
Also, Armenia is deepening its international cultural and educational cooperation through the Armenian diaspora and the Diaspora organizations. The current programmes are aimed at creating pan-Armenian cultural, creative and educational networks and platforms, as well as providing better involvement in the Armenian development processes by some foreign educational and cultural institutions through Armenians working there. Regarding the policy of international cultural exchanges of the Republic of Armenia, its primary directions are defined by the interstate agreements of the Republic of Armenia and the state programmes of preservation, dissemination and development of culture. The Republic of Armenia (together with other states and the Diaspora) supports the activities of Armenian cultural centres and organizations in foreign countries and promotes the preservation, dissemination and development of national culture and art.
In recent years, the use of the bilateral format of international cooperation in foreign policy has been noticed. Since 2018, a number of agreements, memorandums and programmes have been signed for the purpose of cultural development and cultural loans. For example, in 2018-2021 some agreements of cooperation in the fields of education, culture, youth and science were signed between the government of the Republic of Armenia and the government of the Republic of Bulgaria, Korea, Swiss Humanitarian Foundation “KAZA, and The Russian Federation. A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of the Republic of Armenia and the British Council on cooperation within the framework of the “Creative Industry Policy Dialogue” programme in 2021. These and other programmes strengthen international cultural and educational ties of Armenia.
The main actor of RA’s cultural policy is the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. According to the RA Law “On Making Amendments and Additions to the Law “On the Structure and Activities of the Government” adopted on 08.05.2019, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Science merged and the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of RA was established. After the Velvet Revolution (2018), the formation of a new political elite significantly influenced the formation of new perceptions of culture and, as a result, influenced the formation of a new system of cultural policy and, therefore, cultural diplomacy. Thus, in March 2021, during the international conference devoted to cultural diplomacy, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia formulated a new concept of culture as soft power. Besides, the Ministry of ECS and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are other actors implementing cultural diplomacy for Armenia such as:
- Educational institutions such as Universities implementing cultural diplomacy through different educational programmes. Educational, scientific and cultural exchange through international programmes of Erasmus, FLEX (Future leaders exchange), IREX, Leaders’ school and other programmes
- Local governments implementing cultural diplomacy through different programmes of cultural exchange and tourism development programmes. One of the best examples of cultural diplomacy is the sister-cities relationship. Sister cities establish permanent friendly ties for mutual acquaintance of history and culture. Cooperation between the cities includes economic, political, scientific, cultural, health, tourism, urban management and other aspects. For instance, the political and economic contacts may be backed by the exchange of delegations, students, art and sports teams, the organization of exhibitions, book fairs, the demonstrations of films, etc. For example, Yerevan (the capital) has 24 sister cities and Gyumri (the second city) has 15 sister cities.
- Cultural NGOs implementing cultural diplomacy through participation in different international cultural programmes, and hosting and management of international cultural events.
Current cultural diplomacy may be characterized by the following strategies and approaches:
1. Cultural diplomacy as a soft power
More proactivity and state financial participation in the organization of international educational, scientific, sports and cultural programmes and activities. They may include international festivals, summits, scientific and sport competitions and other cultural events aiming at making Armenia a regional cultural centre. E.g. on September 6-11, 2021, “STARMUS FESTIVAL VI” was held for the first time in Armenia under the title “50 Years on Mars”, dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the first landing on Mars. The festival had a technological focus and combines science, education, art and technology.
2. Promotion of locally produced knowledge and creative initiatives and exporting ideas.
Armenia is currently actively promoting the establishment of one of its “visit cards” for the children’s centres of innovative technologies “TUMO” outside Armenia and have already helped to open such centres in Paris, Beirut, Moscow, Tirana, Lyon and Kiev. Another Armenian “savoir-faire” is the “Armath” network of engineering laboratories, the idea of which has already been “exported” to the region of Javakheti, Georgia.
 See: https://escs.am/am/news/4462
 See: / https://escs.am/am/news/10372
 See: https://escs.am/am/news/10469
 See: https://escs.am/am/news/12298
 See: https://escs.am/am/news/8058
 See: www.arlis.am/documentview.aspx?docid=130615
 See: https://www.1lurer.am/en/2021/03/24/Armenia-tends-to-make-culture-a-powerful-tool-in-diplomatic-arsenal-Minister-of-Foreign-Affairs/440845
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