Tuesday, 18 May 2021
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Cultural Diplomacy

Greece attaches special importance to cultural diplomacy as a means of pursuing foreign policy and reaching out to the world.  Greek culture is universal, a connective web towards the search for common origins and historical ties between countries. Bilateral educational and cultural programmes are very important tools. Separate individual agreements and programmes are often developed between institutions (eg museums).

Apart from the bilateral level, Greece attaches special importance to the mechanisms of multilateral diplomacy:

In the framework of UNESCO:

The protection, promotion and utilization of cultural heritage, tangible and intangible, is an objective priority of cultural diplomacy. Greece is leading the campaign against illegal trafficking of cultural goods and in favor of the return of illegally exported cultural items to their countries of origin, as well as their protection in cases of armed conflict. Greece was a member of the executive board of UNESCO for the period 2015-2019.

Particular importance is attached to the following UNESCO bodies:

The UNESCO Intergovernmental Commission for the "Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or their Return in the Event of Illegal Acquisition" (ICPRCP): One of the main items on the Commission's agenda is the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the United Kingdom  debated since 1984, when the then Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri submitted the Greek request. Despite the negative reactions of Britain, Greece has not stopped claiming the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles. It should be noted that Greece has been elected (November 2019) to the ICPRCP for the period 2019-2023

b)The Auxiliary Intergovernmental Committee for the Prevention  & Obstruction of Illegal Import/ Export and Ownership Transfer of Cultural Property of 1970. Greece participates in the Auxiliary Intergovernmental Committee Committee, which is an implementing body of the 1970 Convention. It should be noted that Greece held the presidency of the Committee from 2015 to 2017.

c) The Intergovernmental Commission which is an instrument of the 2nd Protocol (1999) to the Hague Convention (1954) for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Greece actively participates in the above Committee and held its presidency from 2014 to 2016. In December 2019, Greece was re-elected as a member of the Intergovernmental Commission for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in case of armed conflict  for the period 2019-2023, a fact which reflects the special significance Greece attaches in the  protection of  cultural heritage.

United Nations:

With the initiative of Greece, the UN General Assembly adopts, every three  years, a resolution on combating the smuggling  and recovery of illegally exported cultural goods to their countries of origin, condemning the destruction of world cultural monuments in areas of armed conflict, but also occupied territories, as well as the illicit trafficking of cultural property by armed terrorist groups.

Greece’s world heritage is also highlighted, through historical international events, such as the Olympic Games and the Marathon Race, or international institutions,  such as the Greek-initiated "European Capital of Culture".

Educational diplomacy is an essential part of Greece’s Public Diplomacy. It is implemented through transnational educational activities, collaboration of public organizations with civil services, participation of Greece in European and international educational forums. The ultimate goal is the development of intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding between nations. In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, a strategy is being developed regarding the teaching of the Greek language and culture in schools and universities abroad, with the aim of creating a link between culture, education and the economy.