Cultural relations and education policy provides the cultural foundation for stable international relations. This important role is reflected in the Federal Foreign Office's cultural budget for 2009, which has been increased by a further 10.3 per cent and now stands at 726 million euro.
In addition to taking forward our "Schools: Partners for the Future" initiative and our regional "Aktion Afrika" programme, the main focus of our cultural relations and education work in 2009 will be our new research and academic relations initiative. Its aim is to sustainably enhance Germany's standing in the global academic and research community as well as its ability to attract the best brains. We are spending an additional 43 million euro on developing existing and creating new policy instruments in this field.
It is planned, for example,
• to pilot "German science fora" in selected locations, create new centres of excellence at universities abroad and establish a dense network of research and higher education officers at German missions and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) offices abroad
• to enhance the quality and attractiveness of German universities by intensifying international networking
• to develop the Kazakh-German University in the context of the Central Asia water initiative into an institution specializing in business management and technological disciplines with a special emphasis on water management.
Another important cultural relations and education priority is to expand the Goethe-Institut network around the world. New branches are due to open in Africa as well as in the Russian city of Novosibirsk.
The planned German academy in Tarabya, Istanbul is also to be established under Goethe-Institut auspices. The new academy is to be a forum for exchanges between German and Turkish artists and culture professionals.