The Ministry of Culture (in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) is the main body responsible for international, bilateral and multilateral cultural co-operation, which is realised through international conventions, other international agreements, bilateral agreements and programmes for co-operation. Bilateral cultural co-operation agreements include educational and scientific programmes as part of framework agreements that are signed for 1-3 years. Therefore, these agreements are the major instrument in international cooperation. Other instruments such as cooperation treaties, co-production agreements or state guarantees are also in use. So far, the Ministry of Culture has signed bilateral agreements for cultural cooperation with over 50 countries.
On the other hand, local authorities are also independent in planning and effectuating international cultural cooperation. At the same time, a significant part of international cultural co-operation is realised through direct co-operation between institutions and individuals and is frequently endorsed and financed by the Ministry of Culture.
The financial support for international cultural co-operation varies each year, depending on the annual budget of the Ministry of Culture and the programmed activities. However, the usual estimation is 2-3% of the annual budget of the Ministry for the programmes and activities in the field of international cultural co-operation.
In 2006 the government announced the idea of appointing recognised artists, writers, and musicians etc., as cultural ambassadors abroad. Following this Decision, 10 cultural ambassadors were appointed during the previous government. They did not have full diplomatic status. However, due to lack of actual results and verified benefits, the Ministry of Culture cancelled this practice in 2017.
North Macedonia has been a member of UNESCO since 28 June 1993. It ratified various conventions including the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2007) and the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2006). Between 2016 and 2017, UNESCO’s Participation Programme approved 5 projects that MK participated in, including 1 regional project. Lake Ohrid region is a World Heritage Site since 1979. Bitola became a UNESCO Creative City of Film in 2015 (part of UNESCO Creative Cities Network). The country is included in the UNESCO/EU action to Fight Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property.