Cultural relations and cultural diplomacy as a foreign policy tools
Hello! My name is Lucie Rehorikova. I am the Second Secretary of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Ukraine and the Head of the Czech Centre in Ukraine since November 2014. My 4-year mission in Ukraine is now prolonged for one more year. The motto of my cultural diplomacy is not to do anything that someone else can do.

We can observe very often that in cultural diplomacy either nothing is being done or everyone does the same thing. The main goal of the Czech Centre is to work hard, effectively and do what we consider the most important.

We will never have enough money or other support for satisfying all the requests we receive. This is just the reality.

Furthermore, cultural diplomacy is not about fulfilling the dreams of our workers. Our aim is to make the common dreams of both our countries come true.

For cultural diplomat to explain his/her mission it is necessary to remember the example of the basic school.

The metaphor may be neighboring gardens when one neighbor shares some seeds of interesting plant or tree for the neighboring flowerbed. Of course, this is not easy and requires a lot of confidence.

But if it succeeds, then both sides will have beautiful trees or flowers. Our goal is to water these plants, but their growing is a task for professional gardeners.

It is important for the Czech Сenter not to be too visible. Yes, they are the politicians who choose us and give us funding. But artists and art should always speak for us.

We receive various offers for interviews, promotional events, receptions, and so on, but all of these are only the instruments. We have to emphasize that even politicians choose us, but we are only assistants. And presenting ourselves everywhere is not our aim.

It is often difficult not to succumb to our own tastes, but it is important to always remember that we are not an agency of individual creative people. It is important to emphasize that our main owner is the public and not a Czech sculptor, artist or musician.

The most important for us is the public of the country where we work in. Сultural dialogue between the countries in which we work is incredibly important.

It's not about presenting a good name and reputation of our country in Ukraine.

It's about listening to the Ukrainian side, understanding its context and sharing with colleagues an interesting Czech experience, although not always positive.

The principle we have been sticking to during our 4-year of working here is to expand our activities beyond the capital, beyond the main city.

It is incredibly important to work with regions which are far from Europe.

This is also very important from the point of the conflict that takes place in the East of Ukraine.

Our artists or people of the cultural sphere visit regions which weren’t popular to visit earlier. So we work in 10 Ukrainian cities.

We began to promote the Czech language, which is a close to Ukraine. This provides a basis for dialogue between our countries.

When a person learns a language, we all know that he/she naturally begins to be interested in everything else about the country.

We invite Czech native speakers to Ukraine who teach the Czech language in 10 Ukrainians cities as I mentioned earlier.

These people are the prolonged hand of cultural diplomacy.

Besides teaching the language and presenting themselves as Europe and Czech cultural diplomacy representatives they also monitor and make a map of the cultural environment of a particular city.

We managed to bring here representatives of cinema industry, theater, journalists, professional philologist, professionals who, in addition to teaching the language, started active cooperation with local activists, the public, and local authorities in Ukrainian cities.

So we managed to establish good contacts in the ecology field, in the academic field, journalism, film and theater industry.

And we are very pleased of that.

We regularly organize events that attract the Ukrainian public.

For example, the Czech Thursday format in the framework of which we show Czech films or organize events for intercultural dialogue on the topics which the Europe, world, people are interested in or are concerned about and so on.

Сooperation should necessarily be bilateral.

If only one part gets benefits, then such a partnership is ineffective.

Presenting the Czech element in Ukraine does not mean organizing many new events.

It means participating in all existing formats: festivals, concerts, public events, academical events as we are convinced that building the institutions is one of the main elements of building democracy.

Besides that the next step should be combining Czech to Ukrainian for the dialogue which through our platform and with our support will give the start to cooperation. We will be very pleased of it.

In the end let me express the opinion about what can be a  goal of every cultural diplomat - the declining of cultural diplomacy.

If the connections between our countries are natural, lively and continuous dialogue works then cultural diplomats lose their importance and can dream together with their colleagues.

Thank you for attention!

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