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Issue № 65. December 2017

Reconceptualising Culture in Times of Trouble: EU-Russia Cultural Cooperation and Dialogue beyond the Ukraine Crisis

Erik Vlaeminck

Doctoral student, University of Edinburgh, UK.
E-mail: s1577995@sms.ed.ac.uk

Since the outbreak of the Ukrainian Crisis, Russian-EU military, strategic and diplomatic relations have been deteriorating, recently reaching a previously unseen low point. Besides the well-known political and economic consequences, this has also implications on a cultural level. Although officially assigned a secondary role in EU-Russian relations, culture plays a vital and often pernicious role in both actors’ foreign policy. Under the umbrella of cultural diplomacy, one-way transfer of “cultural values” is prioritised over genuine cultural dialogue, leaving open enormous potential for growth and intercultural collaboration. Yet, the current crisis offers opportunities. By reconsidering the role of culture in the unique relationship between the EU and Russia, and by critically examining both actors’ current cultural strategies, alternative cultural paths are explored. A revalorisation of the concept of cultural relations appears to be a viable means to revitalise EU-Russia relations and sustain cultural dialogue.

Keywords

Cultural relations, cultural diplomacy, soft power, Ukraine crisis, EU-Russia relations, public diplomacy.

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