Since 2000, responsibility for foreign cultural relations has been transferred from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ministry of Culture. This concerns all major issues in bilateral cultural relations, such as the campaign for the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles.
Nevertheless, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Ministry of Education, Life Long Learning and Religious Affairs, are involved together with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in running the large number of bilateral cultural agreements and programmes, providing a framework for some actions in international cultural relations (mainly scholarships and exchange of cultural professionals). Recently, however, there have been several developments limiting the effectiveness of such agreements that have led to the emergence of new forms of cultural co-operation such as the gradual dis-investiture from culture and the arts in many countries, and, in the absence of local state funding, the emergence of diverse co-operation and funding opportunities, notably from the European Union.
In the framework of the Ministry of Culture’s efforts to enhance intercultural cooperation, the project “Crossroads of Culture” was put in place in 2010, aiming at developing a series of activities in Thessaloniki together with the city’s cultural organisations in order to raise the city’s cultural profile and openness to different cultures. A country or region is celebrated every year, namely: 2011: Middle East, 2012: South-east Europe, 2013: China, 2014: Russia (Greece- Russia Year), 2015: United States of America
The Hellenic Foundation for Culture, working through a network of branches in Alexandria, Odessa and Berlin, offices in London and Washington DC, and smaller offices in Belgrade, Bucharest, Sofia, Trieste, Melbourne and Tirana, operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. It is active in organising events aimed at promoting Greek language, literature, art and culture abroad; in producing publications that serve this same goal; and, increasingly, in monitoring, evaluating and coordinating the teaching of Modern Greek abroad.
The National Book Centre of Greece, a private non-profit legal entity established in 1995 and reporting to the Ministry of Culture, implements the national policy to promote books and reading, takes numerous initiatives and actions and runs special programmes to bolster the book sector overall and all key players in the chain leading to the creation of books (authors, translators, illustrators, editors, publishers, typographers, booksellers, librarians, literary agents, critics and of course readers). A Books Observatory has been established to record developments in the sector and through various programmes supports the promotion and marketing of Greek books abroad (for example through the Frasis project, a translation funding programme).
The Greek Film Centre supports the participation of Greek movies at film festivals abroad and organises foreign film festivals in Greece based on bilateral agreements or proposals from different embassies. A number of international film co-productions have been initiated, aided by the relevant provisions of privileged status by Law 3004/1976. Greek film co-productions are supported by the Eurimages Council of Europe programme, and by the MEDIA programme of the European Commission.
The European Cultural Centre of Delphi, a “corporate body under private law” under the supervision of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and the auspices of the Council of Europe, serves international cultural interests and develops common cultural principles that unite the peoples of Europe through the publication of studies on European culture, the organisation of cultural assemblies and other artistic activities.
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