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A. CULTURAL DIPLOMACY
Greece attaches particular importance to cultural diplomacy as a means of exercising foreign policy that brings people together. The universality of Hellenism offers a connecting framework of common cultural roots and historical ties with other countries. Bilateral educational and cultural programs are the basic instruments of this policy. Various cultural events organized by the Greek Authorities abroad dynamically and actively promote the classical, modern, and contemporary Greek culture.
1. UNESCO: The UNESCO Conventions provide a framework for protecting and promoting cultural heritage, including intangible cultural heritage. Greece is a leader country in the campaign against illicit trafficking of cultural property, for the return of illegally exported cultural property to its countries of origin, and for the protection of cultural goods in the event of armed conflict. Greece is a member of the Executive Board of UNESCO for the period 2015-2019, which reflects the special interest of our country in playing a pivotal role in the global efforts to protect cultural heritage.
a. Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation (ICPRCP): One of the main issues on the agenda of the Committee is the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures (Greece - United Kingdom). Greece (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture) has been participating in the relevant negotiations since 1984, when the then Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri submitted the Greek request. Despite the negative reactions of the British side, Greece has not ceased advocating for the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures.
b. Subsidiary Committee on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property: Greece participates in the said Committee, which is the implementing organ of the 1970 Convention, and held the chairmanship from 2015 to 2017.
c. Intergovernmental Committee of the 2nd Protocol (1999) to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict: Greece actively participates in the Committee and has held the chairmanship from 2014 to 2016.
II. UN: Based on a Greek initiative, the UN General Assembly adopts, every three years, a Resolution against Illicit Trafficking and the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin and condemns the destruction of World Heritage Monuments in armed conflict areas and in territories under occupation, as well as the illicit trafficking of cultural property by armed terrorist groups.
III. Initiatives such as the European Capital of Culture and global scale sports events such as the Olympic Games and the Marathon bear testimony to the universality of the Hellenic heritage, which remains a constant source of inspiration.
IV. Civil Society, through local organizations, can significantly contribute to the promotion of Cultural Diplomacy.
Educational Diplomacy or Diplomacy of Education falls within the wider concept of Public Diplomacy. It is implemented through transnational educational activities, cooperation of public organizations with civil society, participation of Greece in European and international educational fora. The ultimate goal is fostering intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding among peoples.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Education the Ministry of Foreign Affairs develops the strategy regarding the teaching of Greek language and culture at schools and Higher Educational Institutes abroad.
In order to encourage synergies between culture, education, tourism, and development, the GRECT network was created, bringing together institutions that can provide facilities and propose educational/cultural programmes in sites of outstanding natural, historical, and cultural value. GRECT comprises, among others, the European Cultural Center of Delphi, the International Olympic Academy, the Athens School of Fine Arts, the Korgialenios-Anargyrios School. (More information may be found on: www.grect.com)