In the age of globalization, growing interdependence and confluence of cultures, the Hellenic Institute of Cultural Diplomacy wishes to play an important role in the spiritual and cultural life of the country and to contribute to a major extent to the strengthening of the international profile of the country, focusing on the highest value of Culture. It was founded on 25 March 2017, in Athens and consists of a group of scientists from a variety of fields, who share a common vision and have the aid and support of figures of recognized prestige from the field of Arts and Literature, Science, Diplomacy and Defense. It is the first and only institution of Cultural Diplomacy in Greece with its branches and premises in the country and abroad to expand rapidly, having as their primary concern to redefine and reinstate Greece in the international arena of interaction of cultures.
In Greece, where multi-level and above all cultural, moral and value crisis operates in a bulldozer approach across the spectrum of cultural and social life, the Hellenic Institute of Cultural Diplomacy has given priority to the vast “dowry” and “heavy industry”- the Culture. The aim is for Culture to operate as a policy tool and as a means of targeted management of cultural policy aimed at maximizing the extroversion of Greece and the projection of its attractive image abroad. The latter, will highlight the distinct cultural characteristics and particular and personal creations of Greece, and at the same time will contribute to the improvement of the official bilateral, regional and multilateral diplomatic contacts of our country. This will happen through the universal goods, the strong achievements and deeper meanings and symbols that only the Culture and the cultural expressions of a nation’s broader life may provide.
The Institute’s action is being developed in cooperation with private and public government bodies, academic institutions, scientific institutes and operators in the cultural sector in Greece and abroad. By ensuring the ideal condition for the synergy of public and private actions, the infrastructure and the conditions may be founded on the identification or at least the convergence of objectives and strategy, so as for modern Greece to respond to the demand for an innovative cultural imprint. An imprint that does not only stir up the cultural products of the past, but creates and produces perspectives of Culture for the present and for the future by asking key questions of “who we are” and “where we want to go” by attempting a dynamic projection of the future.
From this point of view, it is evident that there is a need to get away from “progonoplexia” and also, a need for an existential and cultural redefinition in order to open the discussion on new terms, for a more coherent proposition of Greek culture inside the country and thus, abroad. Greek education, cultural production and intellectual and artistic creation are the means of exercising diplomacy of mild power through the projection of the Greek culture stock in all its manifestations with timeless and above all modern terms so that this stock will not be reproduced eternally and thoughtlessly, but to be reborn from its ashes as another Phoenix. Therefore, the Hellenic Institute of Cultural Diplomacy aims to project the national cultural heritage in the most appropriate way, but at the same time to constantly cultivate the fertile ground for the projection of modern creation, and not of reproduction, at present time.
Regarding the context and the strategic plan of actions of the Institute’s Branch in Thessaloniki, the cultural agenda, which has been implemented for 2018, concerns a variety of cultural activities that promote innovative forms of cultural diplomacy to export cultural recreation by envisioning the future. Through study, analysis, dissemination and projection of all aspects of cultural diplomacy and through the development of activities related to the creation and propagation of culture in Thessaloniki, the public awareness of the powerful role of culture in the city is strengthened. In particular, the events that are going to take place are the following:
Day Conference on Ecclesiastical Diplomacy with the purpose of promoting the idea of religious coexistence in Europe, paying special attention to interreligious and thus intercultural dialogue, which contributes positively to the acceptance, understanding, mutual respect and interaction amongst religions that occupy a prominent place in the grid of bilateral and international relations.
Day Conference dedicated to Johann Sebastian Bach for the 333rd anniversary of the birth of the leading composer that will be a special tribute to the creations of one of the most prominent figures in musical history, to the inspiration and his influence in the field of music as a “poet of sounds”.
Week of Museum Diplomacy, where City Museums will be the identity makers, the guardians of our cultural heritage, the ambassadors of our culture abroad and so, the Diplomats that act as an additional tool in the exercise of cultural diplomacy both within the country and in its international relations.
Day Conference on Sports / Olympics Diplomacy, highlighting the field of Sports and the Olympic Idea as integral parts of culture aiming at seeking and attaining the healthy spirit of Sports and the fair competition and using sports as a powerful means of exercising cultural diplomacy.
Two-day Conference on Gastronomy Diplomacy projecting gastronomy as a cultural identity former and as a foreign policy body coming into effect, highlighting the culture of tastes both of Greek and international gastronomy and hosting top communities of taste.
In a nutshell, the Hellenic Institute of Cultural Diplomacy analyzes, in a scientific and rational way, all the sufficient and necessary conditions for the exercise of Cultural Diplomacy by the current Greek affairs, affirming all over the world the country’s need to become an active participant in global cultural affairs. An urgent need and vision of the Institute is the harmonious combination of ancient and modern Greek civilization and on this basis the country will address a timeless and universal proposal of a cosmopolitan world-wide culture.
* Mrs. Gouderi is the Director of Hellenic Institute Of Cultural Diplomacy branch of Northern Greece and Thessaloniki