Arts Cabinet was very pleased and honoured to be invited by Prof. Doutora Ana Paula Laborinho, President of the Instituto Camões, to present its work on 7 January in Lisbon at the annual conference of ambassadors and heads of service involved in international development and cultural relations.
The theme was international cooperation and the challenges Portugal faces in its international relations, development and cultural diplomacy at a time of fiscal restraint with much smaller budgets to support activity. The main speakers were Augusto Santos Silva, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who stressed the importance of the Portuguese language as the key element in Portugal’s international public diplomacy, particularly in relation to the Lusophone countries, and Teresa Ribeiro, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, who spoke of the importance to Portugal of international development, and cooperation with the EU.
In the context of the discussion about Portugal’s cultural diplomacy policy, which aims to promotes the Portuguese language as a global language, Portugal also presented the country’s ambitions for its language to become a strategic tool of the EU’s external relations, using its linguistic and cultural proximity to the Lusophone countries as a distinctive contribution to the EU’s strategy for external relations. The conference also recognised that Portugal’s contemporary cultural achievements in eg architecture, visual art and design were also effective ways to achieve international recognition.
The MENA::Norden project, being a catalyst for cultural cooperation between EU cultural institutions and its Southern neighbouring countries, was very well received and expressions of interest have been presented namely through Portuguese cultural representations in the MENA region to facilitate engagement and cooperation with between local arts and culture practionners and EU partners.
Follow up meetings are taking place in January in Lisbon and we hope that Portuguese Institutions of art, higher education and culture, can formally join the MENA::Norden partnership, which would enable the project to expand across Southern Europe and thus enriching the scope of the exchange.