Today: September 15, 2008

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Main | Archive | Issue 7/2008

Euroculture in Russia
Column: Diplomacy And Culture

Marc Franco, head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Russia, told Diplomat about the role culture plays in EU-Russia relations.

- Your Excellency, what place do cultural issues occupy in the multilateral interaction of the European Union and Russia?
- A fast growing place! In 2003 in St. Petersburg, it was decided to expand the cooperation between Russia and the EU with a view to creating a common space of research, education, and culture. In 2005, at the EU-Russia summit, priorities were determined for the cultural dialog that both partners are conducting. Some of these priorities are the creativity and mobility of artists, public access to culture, an inter-cultural dialog, strengthening our common values like our belief in freedom of expression, and the promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity.
A working group on culture is meeting on a regular basis to discuss policy and regulatory aspects such as the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity and the Convention on Transfrontier Television, as well as the development of instruments that will give more possibilities for cultural operators to work together, that will encourage new creations and will also increase the economic impact. In autumn 2009, a large conference will be organized in Russia for European and Russian cultural actors in order to better determine the needs and challenges of cultural cooperation. It includes for example the question of the mobility of artists (visa facilitation).

Therefore, since 2005, we have been developing cultural cooperation with Russia and have spent about 6 million euros funding different projects. We are currently in the process of selecting about 10 new projects for 2009 as part of the IBPP program for nongovernmental institutions of the EU and Russia to work together in the field of culture.

We are also in the process of organizing, together with the cultural centers of the member states, a festival of contemporary dance productions between Russian and European choreographers and dancers. It is scheduled for autumn 2009.
Although culture has so far been the prerogative of each member state in its bilateral relations with Russia, common projects highlight some of our basic ideas, values and principles and that the European Union is more than a collection of countries.

-Ambassador Franco, your Residence has become one of the centers of cultural life in Moscow. Is that so because of instructions from Brussels, or is it just a manifestation of the love of art of yourself and Ms. Janssen?
- It must of course be placed in the wider context of the growing cultural cooperation and political dialog we are conducting with Russia. But the fact that we have managed to be involved in most major cultural international events like the Biennale of Contemporary Art, the Golden Mask Festival, the Biennale of Photography, the new Festival Territorya and soon the 1st Biennale of Young Artists, is a result of wills and possibilities coinciding. Our love of art, as you say, made us want to participate more actively in the intense Russian cultural life, and I found the right person to do this. So I must say that our cultural counselor Eric Schlosser, together with the partners of those events, has done a terrific job, and I'm glad that the Residence has become one of the centers of cultural life in Moscow. I would say a common cultural center, where people can simply enjoy an exhibit and have a conversation, a drink and a bite. Decide to work together, and sometimes even dance together! What more do you need!

Фотографии к статье:

Копирайт-блок, 2006