Cultural Diplomacy in COVID Environment

(Union University Belgrade; October 29th, 2021)

It is commonplace to say that COVID 19 has created a new reality worldwide. Health security has become a priority in all countries and new measures have been introduced by the governments of nation states and international bodies in order to prevent spreading of the virus to avoid its disastrous medical consequences. Such measures inevitably affect the everyday life of the people on our global planet, threatening to last more than envisaged at first moment and continue their impact on all sorts of human activities - business, work, education, trade, sports, and leisure. We must admit however the fact that we are living in the crisis, which altered not only our private lives but also the whole human environment and framework of international relations.

The time is therefore ripe to raise the question, how should we respond to the global challenges provoked by COVID 19 in the field of international relations. Will budgetary cuts affect the cultural diplomatic action, so as to favour expenditures on medical measures? Or could perhaps global health issues serve as a good pretext and indeed as a new basis for cooperation on the global level?  Should national governments and international bodies increase now their efforts aimed at softhening tensions between states and improving cooperation?

Under the assumption that “cooperation and diplomacy are the cheapest and fastest solutions to every global challenge”, national governments should cooperate in pursuing policies having common goals aimed at raising security and prosperity in all parts of the world.

Within the framework of diplomatic activity, cultural diplomacy seems to be of particular interest. On the one hand it is fairly appropriate to develop understanding and friendship among nations, while on the other it needs specific efforts and channels in order to be carried out.

The issues just mentioned and many more similar to them attract our attention and deserve reflection. In order to provide a forum that endeavours to approach possible solutions to problems and thoroughly consider the circumstances in which cultural diplomacy can fulfil its task in the COVID 19 environment, the Union University in Belgrade and the Academy for Cultural Diplomacy have decided to convene a conference which will provide opportunities for discussion on all these issues and aspects.