The Ministry of Culture provides for the implementation of cultural policy in the area of international cooperation in international organisations, multilateral groupings and bilateral communication. The activity of the ministry in international relations is governed by law (Act 575/2001 on the Organisation of the Government of the Slovak Republic and the Organisation of the Central State Administration of the Slovak Republic), the government manifesto and the objectives of the foreign policy of the Slovak Republic and also bilateral and multilateral agreements and undertakings of the Slovak Republic.
In relation to cultural foreign policy, the government manifesto emphasises mainly the further deepening of the European integration process and the consolidation of the EU in order to strengthen a democratic, secure, economically dynamic and prosperous, socially stable and responsible, educated and cultured Europe. It also emphasises relations with neighbouring countries with a view to the development of wide-ranging cooperation in the political, economic and cultural fields. The government’s aim is to develop regional cooperation, especially with the Visegrad group, with an emphasis on regional projects in the area of infrastructure, energy, the environment and culture. One of the priorities of Slovakia’s foreign policy to is to support Slovaks in other countries and create conditions for the support of Slovak communities in order to preserve the linguistic, cultural and religious identity of Slovaks living abroad.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinates the implementation of the foreign policy of the Slovak Republic and activities arising from Slovakia’s membership of international organisations, provides for certain forms of international cultural contacts, in particular with foreign Slovaks (through the Culture and Slovak Expatriates Department, which is part of the Directorate General for External Communications of the MFA) and directly manages the activities of the Slovak Institutes. The Ministry of Culture directs the methodological aspects of the cultural activities of the Slovak Institutes. The Slovak Institutes are established as cultural-information institutions and their main task is to represent Slovakia abroad. Their mission is to raise awareness of culture and the arts, education, science, tourism and the economy including the presentation of Slovak towns, villages and regions, businesses and Slovak products. The Slovak Institutes are part of Slovakia’s missions abroad. Slovak institutes operate in eight countries: the Czech Republic (Prague), France (Paris), Hungary (Budapest), Germany (Berlin), Poland (Warsaw), Austria (Vienna), the Russian Federation (Moscow), and Italy (Rome).
The following foreign institutions operate in the Slovak Republic for the purposes of international cultural cooperation and the representation of their country in Slovakia:
- British Council;
- Bulgarian Cultural and Information Centre;
- Cultural Institute of Hungary;
- Czech Centre;
- Goethe Institut;
- Institut Français; and
- J.W. Fulbright Commission.
In the area of multilateral cultural cooperation, the international cooperation of the Slovak Republic is oriented mainly towards active participation in the bodies and programmes of the Council of Europe, activities with the Central European Initiative and activities and projects within the Visegrad group (see chapter 1.4.2).
The main priorities of bilateral cultural contacts are:
- the preparation of international contractual documents at intergovernmental and inter-ministerial level – cultural agreements as a basic instrument of cultural cooperation;
- the development, implementation and preparation of new projects, under contractual documents with the most important states in the area of bilateral cooperation through inter-governmental commissions and mixed commissions of specialists;
- continuous improvement in activities of state-managed cultural institutions and support for cultural exchanges in all areas of culture;
- cooperation with neighbouring states, EU states and the most important states in the G7; and
- presentation of Slovak culture through representatives sent to international festivals, symposia and congresses.
The Slovak Republic has established the following intergovernmental commissions for bilateral international cooperation, whose areas of activity include culture:
- the Intergovernmental Commission of the Slovak Republic and the Hungarian Republic for Questions of Culture and the Press (the organiser for the Slovak Republic is the Ministry of Culture);
- the Intergovernmental Commission for Economic-Commercial, Scientific-Technical and Cultural Cooperation between the Slovak Republic and the Russian Federation (the organisers for the Slovak Republic are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Economy);
- the Intergovernmental Slovak-Ukrainian Commission for Questions of National Minorities and Educational, Cultural and Scientific Contacts (the organiser for the Slovak Republic is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs);
- the Slovak-Bavarian Intergovernmental Commission (the organiser for the Slovak Republic is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs); and
- the Slovak-Polish Intergovernmental Commission for Cross-border Cooperation – working group on culture, education and exchange visits of young people (the organiser for the Slovak Republic is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
The commissions were established on the basis of intergovernmental agreements as bodies to provide coordination and advice in the implementation of the agreements in the designated areas. The Ministry of Culture is represented in all the above commissions.
In 2007, Slovakia had 37 active bilateral international treaties on cultural cooperation concluded at an intergovernmental level, 4 international agreements concluded at ministerial level, 21 protocols and programmes on bilateral cultural cooperation and one special agreement (between the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic on the joint ownership, management and use of an exhibition pavilion in Venice). These agreements and protocols define cooperation in a number of areas of culture, audiovisual media, education, science and research.
The Ministry of Culture funds cultural activities abroad and supports the international presentation of Slovak culture from its budget. This includes the special grant programme Pro Slovakia, intended to support the export of Slovak culture and to present Slovak cultural activity abroad.
The structure of this grant programme in 2007 is as follows:
- presentation of art and culture abroad;
- mobility of artists and cultural workers; and
- support for successful international cooperation projects.
In 2007, the Ministry budgeted SKK 20 million (around euro 584 795; the average SKK / euro exchange rate in 2007=34.2) to support cultural activities abroad and SKK 20.7 million (around euro 605 263) for the grant programme Pro Slovakia. The Ministry thus allocated specific funding for the support of international cooperation projects amounting to nearly euro 1.2 million. These funds are intended to support specific activities and international cultural cooperation projects carried out by cultural organisations under state or public administration or organisations in the non-profit or private sector. The stated amount does not include funding for administration work related to international cooperation (ministerial staff), fees for Slovakia’s membership of EU programmes or the direct costs of international cultural diplomacy at the ministerial level.