Comment by the Information and Press Department on the new concept for the Netherlands’ international cultural policy
On May 23, the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands presented a new concept for the international cultural policy for 2017-2020.
Under this document, the achievements of Dutch culture will be used for political purposes, as an instrument for spreading European standards and values to other countries and for interference in their internal affairs. The Netherlands plans to use culture, along with political, military and humanitarian methods, “as a way to tackle the arc of instability around Europe.” We have noticed that Russia is considered in this new concept as a country “in Europe’s neighbouring region” and the above mentioned “arc of instability”.
We are perplexed that the respected Dutch ministries’ concept sees Russia, which is an inalienable part of Europe, as one of the “countries in Europe’s neighbouring region”. In keeping with the political situation that has been created by the West, the Netherlands has taken a step to abandon a very large and productive part of bilateral relations where joint cultural, research, educational, artistic, urban development and design projects have always played a major role.
We regret that the Hague authorities have attempted to politicise centuries-old cultural relations. We believe that cultural cooperation should not disunite nations but instead bring them together. It is in this spirit that the cross-years of Russia and the Netherlands have been held. Cultural cooperation was a vital element of that project.
We must not allow culture to be turned from an effective means of international interaction and mutual enrichment into a hostage of political games.