The Cultural Diplomacy Platform’s Team Leader Ms. Sana Ouchtati and two independent experts, Ms. Ouafa Belgacem and Dr. Damien Helly, were in Tunis from 19 to 23 February 2018, to meet representatives of the EU Delegation to Tunisia, the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Social Affairs/Office for Tunisians Abroad. EU-Tunisia: a strong strategic partnership and a growing interest for culture In the framework of the EU-Tunisia strategic partnership, culture plays an important role and cultural cooperation has been reinforced over the last few years. Indeed, Tunisia is now a member of Creative Europe, becoming the first Arab country to ever be associated with this programme. For this occasion, European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics and Tunisian External Affairs Minister M. Jhinaoui have both reiterated the importance of culture in the ever-closer relations between Tunisia and the EU, as well as a valuable instrument of development and economic growth. Towards a Tunisian Cultural Diplomacy? Tunisia possesses a rich cultural heritage as well as key actors in the cultural sector. Many actors actively participate in the Tunisian cultural effort and work towards the promotion of Tunisian culture abroad, such as the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, the Tunisian socio-cultural centres “Dar Ettounsi”, actors from civil society, private companies, artists and international partners working in the cultural sector. Therefore, Tunisian authorities are keen to develop their own national strategy for cultural diplomacy and they have turned to the Cultural Diplomacy Platform to exchange knowledge and experience in the field of international cultural relations.
Ouafa Belgacem is the Founder of Culture Funding Watch. She is an expert in cultural projects fundraising and project management and a researcher interested in topics related with arts and culture funding and cultural policies in the Arab Region. She has work experience in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Prior to founding Culture Funding Watch she worked with Oxfam GB as Programme Funding Coordinator in Myanmar and as Regional Programme Funding Coordinator for West Africa. Previously she worked with SNV in Laos as Senior Business Development Advisor and as Assistant to the Head of Finance and Contract Section for the European Commission Delegation in Cairo. Ouafa was also assigned as head of fundraising unit within the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt. Ouafa is one of the six international experts to assist in the evaluation of proposals submitted for funding to the UNESCO’s International Fund For Cultural Diversity.
Damien Helly is an independent expert specialised in international cultural relations, cultural innovation and strategic advice. He was Head of cultural skills EU for the British Council and Team Leader-Project Director for two multi-year EU-funded projects namely European Creative Hubs Network and Live Skills. Damien has 20 years of experience in management, innovation, policy influence and research international and European affairs (ECDPM, EUISS, Crisis Group, Saferworld). He was one of the four independent experts of the EU Preparatory action on culture in external relations. He is also visiting professor at the International RElations and Diplomacy Departments of the College of Europe in Bruges where he teaches a Master level course on Culture, States and societies: national factors in EU external action. He holds a PhD in political science from the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris and has published extensively on the EU’s external action and international cultural relations.
Picture of the discussion at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tunis, 22 February 2018.