Brussels hosted International Cultural Diplomacy Forum 2022 

On December 7, the Ukrainian Institute held the annual International Cultural Diplomacy Forum. The leading experts from Ukraine and other countries were brought together in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss challenges and future of international cultural diplomacy and cultural relations. Watch the full Livestream here. 

The International Cultural Diplomacy Forum opened with a speech by Olena Zelenska, the First Lady of Ukraine:

“We must protect the culture as well as our people. A powerful culture of resistance is being created in front of our eyes, the culture of a country fighting for freedom. Now culture is a frontline, it protects itself from destruction and protects us – from the loss of memory, values, ourselves”. 

The opening was continued by Emine Dzheppar, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. She stated that Russia is now trying to destroy the Ukrainian identity in the same way as when they tried to do it with the Crimean Tatars. Therefore, in her opinion, it is now critically important to protect her. 

At panel discussions cultural diplomacy practitioners, international journalists, scientists, and diplomats talked about cultural relations, the role and the future of European cultural relations. Experts debated about cases of misuse and instrumentalization of culture. They also discussed practical solutions on sustaining and rebuilding the country’s devastated cultural ecosystem.  

Among the speakers were heads of offices of European cultural institutions: Camilla Mordhorst, CEO, Danish Cultural Institute, Johannes Ebert, General Secretary and Chairman of the Goethe-Institut, Vivian S. Walker, Executive Director of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy at the Department of State, Matthieu Peyraud, Director for Culture and Soft Diplomacy, French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and others.  

Johannes Ebert, General Secretary and Chairman of the Goethe-Institut explained why it is crucial to support Ukrainian cultural sector now:

“After the war, society will have to rebuild, to form a new identity, to think how we live with neighbouring Russia. There I see a very big role for the cultural sector. We have to support the cultural sector now. So that it’s coming strong out of the war and can bring Ukraine to the future. But the challenging questions ahead. I think we need culture to answer them.” 

Volodymyr Sheiko, Director General of the Ukrainian Institute, said: 

“On February 24th millions of people across the world woke up to the existence of Ukraine. Our resilience and bravery. The EU and Ukraine will come closer to each other and do it every day. And culture is the best medium to develop such affinity and understanding. Cultural relations are successful only if it relies on strong, resilient institutions within Ukraine. Cultural diplomacy is a factor of Ukraine’s national security. Ukraine must have a distinct and competitive cultural identity for survival and prosperity”.

During the forum, a multimedia exhibition “Postcards from Ukraine” was held. It aimed to demonstrate the damage caused to the Ukrainian culture heritage by Russian troops. 

The International Cultural Diplomacy Forum 2022 was organised by the Ukrainian Institute in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and Jam Factory Art Center.

Photos — Anastasiia Veter