While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Serbia is responsible for international issues, the Ministry of Culture is placed in a collaborative position when it comes to artistic and cultural issues in international co-operation and integration initiatives. The National UNESCO Committee is also situated within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has links with the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education.
Inter-ministerial co-operation on the level of the Serbian government has not been institutionalised. However, for specific questions and problems or projects, links have been established sporadically. On many occasions, the necessity to create inter-ministerial working groups (even inter-ministerial funds) has been underlined, especially regarding links between culture, education and science. Furthermore, common ties between tourism and culture, also between the cultural industries and the economic sector, have not yet been sufficiently recognised and publicly debated.
However, there is successful inter-ministerial co-operation in the frame of the National Body in charge of the EUSDR – EU Strategy for the Danube Region, which was adopted in June 2011. There are 11 priority areas (PA), involving active representatives of different ministries. The role of PA 3 is “To promote culture and tourism, people to people contacts”, involving the cooperation of the Ministry of Culture, Media and Information Society, the Ministry of Economic Development, together with the Tourist Organisation of Serbia and the MFA of the Republic of Serbia.
Another good example of inter-ministerial co-operation is the Joint Commission of the Republic of Serbia and German region Baden-Wuertemberg. The constitutive session was held in Belgrade on 2009, and the second one in October 2011, in Stuttgart, saw the signing of the 2nd Protocol of Cooperation. The members of the Commission are the representatives of all government ministries. The Ministry of Culture, Media and Information Society is represented in the 4th group together with the Ministry of Education, Science and Research. Thus, besides bilateral cultural exchange, the Protocol has also encompassed cooperation in the field of higher education in the field of Arts and Culture.
A similar Joint Commission exists also with the German region of Bavaria and is composed of the representatives of different ministries that are working together on specific issues.
On the other side, an example of the lack of inter-ministerial co-operation is seen when the Serbian Ministry of Science and Technological Development in 2009 drafted a National Strategy for the Development of Science without consulting the Ministry of Culture in relation to Arts and Humanities, etc. The existent inter-ministerial committee is the “Committee for the Support of the Tradition of National Liberating Wars”, which actively protects and restores the military graveyards outside of the borders of Serbia. However, three ministers (for culture, science and education) gathered together to sign an agreement regarding the creation of the Centre for Language protection and research in 2009.
There are no inter-ministerial committees or inter-governmental networks responsible for promoting intercultural dialogue. Good practice in this area can be found on the Provincial level. For several years now, Provincial Secretariats for Culture, for Minorities and for Education are running a policy-wide programme to promote Vojvodina multiculturalism through programmes in schools, media and public spaces. However, in 2018 two governmental committees directly under the Prime Minister’s office had been created: the Council for Creative Industries and the Council for Philanthropy, both aiming to support arts and culture.
According to the Prime Minister, creative industries are the fastest growing economy branch and they encompass music, film, photography, radio, television, design, marketing, digitalisation, IT software, gaming, old crafts and architecture, publishing, books, newspapers, magazines, video game publishing, museum and galleries, visual and performing arts. Besides professionals, the Council included leading organisations from the field, such as EXIT Foundation, Nova Iskra, StartIT, Serbian Film Association and Mokrin House (oasis for digital nomads). The task of this Council is to identify key financial and legal obstacles for the development of this sector and the creation of policy recommendations for public policies in this domain.
The Council for Philanthropy has been created on 24th August 2018, led by the Chief of the Cabinet of the Prime Minister and engaging as members eight Ministers (finance, labour, public health, culture, education, state governance and local self-governance, youth, sport, demography and population policy), the Mayor of Belgrade and several representatives of philanthropic organisations (Foundation Ana & Vlade Divac, Hemofarm, Trag, Katalist Foundation, SMART collective, and Forum for Responsible Business). The general aim of this Council is the development of public policies and legal framework for stimulating investments in public (common) good. The idea was based on a research realised in 2016 (Trag and Katalist Foundations) showing that, although tax law suggest the possibility for detaxation if a corporation is investing in public good, there are no more precise legal instruments for the implementation of the paragraph 15 of this law. There are no detaxation possibilities for private persons and donations are submitted to VAT. The framework for volunteering is not favourable and there are no statistics about giving for the common, public good. All of that motivated the Prime Minister to accept the proposal of the Coalition for the development of philanthropy to create such a Council. It is too early to assess the possible contribution of these two Councils, but the fact that eight Ministries are involved is a good sign for the development of intersectoral (inter-ministerial) collaboration.