International cultural co-operation has been continuously listed among cultural and cultural development priorities. The Directorate for International Cultural Relations and European Affairs has two Sectors – the Sector for International Cultural Relations and European Affairs and the Sector for EU Programmes and Projects, which are composed of five Services – The Service for Preparation, Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation of EU Programmes and Projects, The Service for Development and Coordination of EU Programmes and Projects, The Service for Creative Europe, The Service for UNESCO, and The Service for Bilateral and Multilateral Cultural Cooperation.
The government established the Cultural Council for International Relations and European Integration following the provisions of the Law on Cultural Councils in 2004, while in 2013 this Council changed its name to the Council for International Cultural Cooperation. The aim of this Council is to better coordinate and plan international cultural cooperation activities. In addition to its consultative role in the distribution of grants, the Cultural Council for International Relations also has the task of suggesting improvements in the coordination of planning and participation in international exchanges. According to data by the Ministry of Culture, in 2019 the Ministry co-financed 820 programmes with a total of 10 679 856 HRK (1 423 980 EUR) for the support of different type of programmes in international cultural cooperation and exchange (from archives, interdisciplinary projects, performing arts, books, libraries, new media etc). This is the continuation of a trend in financing that has been evident in the last couple of years – e.g. in the planned budget for 2016, the allocation of the Ministry of Culture for international cultural cooperation was 10 652 222 HRK (approx. 1 420 296 EUR), while in 2015 it amounted to 11 188 000 HRK (approx.1 491 733 EUR).
The government continues signing bilateral agreements and programmes of cultural cooperation; up to autumn 2020, 51 bilateral agreements and 27 bilateral programmes had been signed. It is important to stress that the majority of projects financially supported by the Ministry of Culture and Media are not based on the traditional form of “government to government cooperation” but on direct contacts between artists and arts and cultural organisations.
In September 2013, the Croatian Parliament passed the new Law on the Establishment of the Hrvatskakuća Foundation (Croatia House) with the aim to create an institution working on the promotion of Croatian culture abroad. The Foundation was established in 2014, and it opened its first call for proposals in June 2014, which resulted in the first 24 projects being accepted for funding in 2014-2015, while for the period 2016-2017 the Foundation supported 22 projects. During 2016, the government opened up public discussion on the dissolution of the Foundation, but the status of the Foundation is still not clear.
The Ministry of Culture and Media (on the national level) and larger cities (on the local level) are major founders of international cultural cooperation projects and initiatives. The Ministry of Culture and Media cooperates with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs which is responsible for coordination of work of cultural attachés. Croatian embassies are still the focal points for the promotion of Croatian culture. The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs publishes a Public Call for projects of cultural promotion, public diplomacy and international recognition of the Republic of Croatia that are then executed jointly by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and diplomatic missions. In 2020 this call supported 93 programmes with a total amount of 3 766 000 HRK.
The Ministry of Culture and Media operates all major instruments used in international cultural relations including state guarantees, bilateral agreements and programmes, as well as sector-specific agreements such as co-production agreements. Other actions are also prepared such as in 2019 when the Croatian-Chinese year of Tourism and Culture was promoted as a joint project of international cooperation.
Cultural agencies and institutes (such as the Austrian Cultural Forum, British Council, French Cultural Centre, Goethe Institute, Cultural Centre of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Italian Institute for Culture, Aula Cervantes, Balassi Institute, Instituto Camoes, Romanian Cultural Institute and WBI) support cultural cooperation between respective countries and Croatia according to their mandate. EUNIC Cluster Croatia – a network of European cultural institutes operating in Croatia – was founded in 2007 and is a member of the European Union National Institutes for Culture-EUNIC.