The German Bundestag wants to do more to support cultural relations and education policy in the future.
How can cultural relations policy be further strengthened? And how can it be adapted to the challenges of our age? The German Bundestag is debating these issues today, as well as the future objectives and priorities of our cultural relations.
Priorities: Africa, strategic communication, crisis prevention
The Bundestag called upon the Federal Government to set new priorities. Cultural cooperation with African countries should, for example, be enhanced, and strategic communication expanded. The contribution that cultural relations and education policy can make to crisis prevention and stabilisation should likewise be given more attention, given that culture can create bridges between societies and strengthen societies from within.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also stressed this in today’s debate:
Fostering understanding and tolerance and fighting racism and antisemitism – that is the central mission of our cultural relations and education policy.
Space for art and science
Stepping up where democracy and freedom of the press, freedom of art and freedom of science are under threat remains a key issue for cultural relations. “Access to culture and education is the best remedy,” Maas said. Cultural relations creates and protects spaces in which art, science and the press can survive, for example through initiatives to support scientists and artists who are in danger. A new programme is designed to give human rights defenders the chance to study for a while in Germany.
Access to information also plays a key role, according to Heiko Maas:
In this age of bot armies and disinformation campaigns, we have taken a conscious decision to focus on education and information as part of our cultural relations and education policy. We have increased our strategic communication, for example on the topic of refugees and migration. And we are being more active in promoting our values and the international order that is so important for our country in particular.
Strengthening Europe’s cultural values
Cultural policy is also a key element of our cooperation at European level. “Nowadays, strengthening Europe therefore above all means strengthening Europe’s cultural values. We therefore now consider access to culture and education as a joint European task – one which will also be important during Germany’s EU Council Presidency,” as Maas said.