In July, the Ukrainian Institute with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine held a series of discussions on what cultural diplomacy is, why Ukraine needs it, and what challenges the Ukrainian Institute faces. Read about what was discussed in a short summary.
On the tasks of cultural diplomacy and the role of the Ukrainian Institute
«The dynamics of processes and situation in the world — political, economic, social — are changing so fast that we need modern creative tools. And the Ukrainian Institute is a wonderful tool that implements these tasks with elements of culture and soft power», said Emine Dzheppar, First Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine.
«Cultural diplomacy as a phenomenon has existed for centuries, there are many approaches. We have to decide which of the models we want to apply to the activities of the Ukrainian Institute, which will be more effective and suitable to the Ukrainian situation. Cultural diplomacy is one of the tools of public diplomacy. Undoubtedly, it influences the formation of the country’s image and brand», noted Tetyana Filevska, Creative Director of the Ukrainian Institute.
Experts often ask: what is more important, culture or diplomacy? Volodymyr Sheiko, the Director General of the Ukrainian Institute, defined culture as content and diplomacy as form: «We do not put something above each other. Of course, we work to achieve foreign policy interests, and we do it through the cultural content that Ukraine produces, and through the meanings that appear in the Ukrainian cultural field. This is a complex puzzle that should be formed in the activities of the Ukrainian Institute and other players in the field of cultural diplomacy. Our activities must systematize and direct these efforts.»
«We need to work hard and systematically in this direction to show that Ukraine is really integrated into the world cultural landscape», said Sergiy Korsunsky, Director of the Gennady Udovenko Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Japan.
Writer and journalist Andriy Kurkov explained how culture works in practice: «Ukrainian culture forms, basically, the image of Ukraine. At first, most often, there is a political interest to the country, and it entails cultural interest. Because politics cannot explain a country, people, traditions, etc. When something in the world happens, for instance, in Albania, someone goes to almost every bookstore and asks, “Do you have anything to read about Albania?” This is how Ismail Kadare explained Albania to the whole world.»
On the role of strategy
The programme activities of the Institute in 2020 have already been based upon the strategy. The strategy is a living document, which is formed both by the daily practice of the Institute’s team, and feedback from the professional environment, which helps to adjust our activities for the future.
«It is very important that the document, in addition to the vision, mission and goals, sets out what the Institute is and what it is not. It clearly sets out the mechanisms by which the Institute works with various stakeholders – with public and cultural figures and society in general. The roadmap is wide but very clear», said Lilia Mlynarych, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Ukrainian Institute, President of the Jazz Koktebel Festival.
«The Ukrainian Institute shows an example with an open discussion of the strategy. I hope that this example will serve as a model for other institutions that are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and are involved in public diplomacy. If all organizations elaborating these strategies will work together and coordinate their efforts, they will be systematic and effective», said Kateryna Smagliy, Head of the International Cooperation and Communications Department of the Hennadiy Udovenko Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fellow of the Next Generation Leaders Program of the McCain Institute.
On the synergy of different actors in the field of cultural diplomacy
Volodymyr Sheiko added that, in addition to the Ukrainian Institute, there is a vast majority of people and institutions working both in Ukraine and abroad — in the public and public sectors. «Therefore, we involved a large number of these actors in the work on the strategy, held strategic sessions with them, public and internal consultations, and study tours. This allowed us to gather feedback and make the document comprehensive and informative.»
«Ukraine’s image consists not only of culture but of a wider range of factors. And the greatest effect we can achieve by working in synergy. In addition to cultural diplomacy, we must also use economic, tourist and other tools», said Tetyana Filevska.
On the regional priorities and opening of the Ukrainian Institute’s chapter abroad
«The geography of our activities must meet the priorities of the Foreign Ministry. It should also take into account those countries in which the most important cultural and educational institutions of international cooperation are concentrated. It should start where the solid ground for cooperation already exists and where the active Ukrainian community is.
Of course, our activity involves a step-by-step expansion. We have divided the countries by the ones of high priority, in which a larger volume of work will be carried out, and important ones, in which this volume may be smaller, but it is still important for us to carry out activity there. The presence or absence of branches does not prevent us from working abroad, but in one form or another, they are necessary in order to make our work abroad truly systematic and influential. We are currently trying to understand where the field of opportunity is, which the Ukrainian Institute can join and which it can use for its advantage,» — emphasized Volodymyr Sheiko, General Director of the Ukrainian Institute.
Thanks for participating in the discussion:
Emine Dzheppar, First Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine
Volodymyr Sheiko, General Director of the Ukrainian Institute
Tetyana Filevska, Creative Director of the Ukrainian Institute
Lilia Mlynarych, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Ukrainian Institute, President of the Jazz Koktebel Festival
Emine Dzhaparova, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
Sergiy Korsunsky, Director of the Gennady Udovenko Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Japan
Gennady Maksak, Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism”, Chairman of the Public Council at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
Kateryna Smagliy, Head of the International Cooperation and Communications Department of the Hennadiy Udovenko Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fellow of the Next Generation Leaders Program of the McCain Institute
Andriy Kurkov, Ukrainian writer, journalist, screenwriter. President of the Ukrainian PEN. Member of the Union of Cinematographers of Ukraine and the National Union of Writers, member of the European Film Academy
Marta Farion, Member of the Board of Directors of Western NIS Enterprise Fund, Head of the Kyiv-Mohyla Foundation in America
Hanna Hopko, Chairwoman of Zero Corruption Conference; ex-MP/Head of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (2014-2019)
The series of discussions was supported by the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Vasyl Myroshnychenko, partner of CFC Big Ideas
Volodymyr Yermolenko, Director of European projects at the Internews Ukraine NGO, journalist, philosopher, writer, member of the Supervisory Board of the Ukrainian Institute
Yevhen Hlibovytsky, founder of the pro.mova company; member of the Nestor Group; member of Suspilne’s supervisory board.