Today in Tallinn, Indrek Saar, the Estonian Minister of Culture, and Yevhen Nyshchuk, the Ukrainian Minister of Culture signed the Estonian-Ukrainian cultural cooperation programme for 2017-2021. Cultural cooperation with Ukraine, which has existed officially for more than two decades, has intensified in recent years.
Estonia and Ukraine signed a cultural, educational and scientific cooperation agreement in 1994, which later formed the basis for a cooperation agreement between the ministries of culture of the two countries. The first cultural cooperation programme was concluded in Kiev in 1997 and the current is the fifth in the series.
Minister of Culture Indrek Saar affirmed that cultural contacts between Estonia and Ukraine have intensified in recent years. At the Saaremaa Opera Days in 2014, the National Opera of Ukraine was the main guest. And as the result of a philanthropic project initiated by the Estonian National Opera, a concert piano was donated to the Slovyansk School of Fine Arts. Saar also confirmed that, at the meeting, thoughts on possible points of future cooperation will be shared with his Ukrainian colleagues.
As an example of excellent cooperation between the countries, the minister of culture mentioned an incident that took place last year, when a Viking-era sword, which had been smuggled out of Ukraine and confiscated at the European border, was returned to Ukraine by Estonia. “The illegal export and trading of valuable cultural objects is a serious global problem. In this case, the excellent cooperation between Estonia and Ukraine was exemplary,” Saar said.
Ukraine is a priority state for Estonia in developmental cooperation. Ukraine is also among the target states in the European Union’s Eastern Partnership programme, the cultural programme of which calls for increasing the capabilities and professionalism of the relevant countries, helping to carry out cultural policy reforms and promoting the exchange of information and experiences.
Estonia has a total of almost 50 cultural cooperation agreements and joint programmes with countries around the world. Cooperation agreements and programmes provide an opportunity to develop and support cooperation with foreign countries and their cultural institutions, as well as helping to introduce Estonian culture to a broader audience.
Deputy Head of the Foreign Relations Department, Ministry of Culture