0610 GMT July 05, 2022
Head of ECO Cultural Institute Sarvar Bakhti said that the role of cultural diplomacy in establishing ties between countries is more effective than other kinds of diplomacy.
Although ECO stands for Economic Cooperation Organization, which was initially established with the aim of promoting economic cooperation between members, it continued to emphasize the development of cooperation in all areas. In this regard, ECO Cultural Institute was established as a cultural institution of ECO in 1995 in Tehran, seeking to expand cooperation and cultural exchanges between ECO member states.
An Iran Daily reporter conducted an exclusive interview with Bakhti in his finals days as the ECI president about his efforts and the purposes of ECI.
IRAN DAILY: Please explain the outcome of the time you have been in charge of the institute?
It has been two and a half years that I have been responsible for the institute’s activities. We tried to follow the institute’s aim in creating affinity among member states. It is crystal clear that the coronavirus outbreak inflicted a lot of damages to all sections of society, the arts and culture section being no exception. The institute made efforts not to be overcome by the pandemic.
Despite several restrictions, the center held several online programs including commemoration ceremonies for cultural and scientific figures and arts exhibitions.
The institute’s publisher managed to publish 20 books on various arts and culture fields. There was also a magazine called ‘ECO Cultural Heritage’ which was periodically published.
Considering media and publication activities of ECI, how much do these activities help fulfill the institute’s purposes?
These activities help create better peace, friendship and stability in the region. For instance, one of the slogans of our magazines was ‘Do not be unaware of each other’. The center aims to publish the cultural and social news of all the 10 member states to know about their common cultural roots. Anyhow, getting to know each other is one of the ways of closeness and friendship.
What is your opinion about the role of cultural diplomacy in creating unity among countries?
I have always emphasized that cultural diplomacy plays a more important role than other fields in establishing closeness between countries as well as creating unity and an atmosphere of friendship, trust and reconciliation between them. We must use cultural tools in the region and the world more than before, because culture does not know religions and borders.
I do not mean to downgrade other kinds of diplomacy. I mean that culture is more influential in familiarizing nations than other political and economic strategies.
What are the plans of the institute for reaching its goals?
I believe that the ECO Cultural Institute should establish communication networks of cooperation and friendship between different cultural sectors, such as cinema, theater, and painting, of member states.
Creating these networks connects artists of 10 countries, to get to know each other better, and pave the ground for further cooperation which will be expanded even in the absence of the ECI.