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The Greek-Scandinavian cooperation through the cultural institutes

Adamantios Korais equated the word “culture” with the superior products of a community’s way of life, i.e. with everything related to art, philosophy, but also the sciences. Today, when we hear the word culture we certainly subconsciously think of the above, yet we tend to think of culture as the distinctive features of a nation, often disregarding time-based examples of culture such as art or history.

In the Nordic countries, Greece is understood as more than just a sunny and warm country for summer holidays. For the Scandinavian countries, Greece is the cradle of culture and the birthplace of democracy, ancient Greece is extremely charming for the Scandinavians, something that is easily perceived by the institutes that exist in Athens. The three Nordic countries, Norway, Denmark and Sweden have their counterparts: Norwegian Institute in Athens, Danish Institute in Athens and Swedish Institute in Athens.

The purpose of these Institutes is twofold, they are both Research Institutes and Cultural Institutes. That is, they aim to promote research, education and culture of ancient Greece, history, language, literature, arts, architecture, but also cultural traditions to Scandinavian students, researchers and citizens in general, also aim in the simultaneous promotion of the culture of each Nordic country in Greece through cultural events and conferences.

For example, now in November there will be an exhibition (named Soufli Metaxi) with works by students from both Greece and Sweden who participated in 2019 and 2022 in a student exchange program entitled “A common thread. Artistic exchange Sweden-Greece”. In the past there have been films directed for example by Swedish directors with mentions in Greece and vice versa. Almost every month there is either in Greece or in one of these countries that concerns the culture, i.e. the arts, history, music of the other country.

From all the above we can understand that through these Institutes the Scandinavian citizens have the opportunity to get to know a completely different culture from ours, but we also both the common features shared by these three countries as well as the individual elements of its culture of each country. It is important to emphasize the support for exchange programs provided by these Institutes, as young people can experience and learn the culture and are not participating in such a program solely for their entertainment.

At the same time, these Institutes function as soft power exercisers of their country. That is, they create ties between Greece and their country based on culture through the various cultural events mentioned above. This is important to emphasize as these countries have managed through soft power to be considered among the “strongest” allies. It is a fact that something like this has been achieved due to the promotion of culture through means such as the creation of Institutes, the emphasis on exchange programs for students and researchers.

Finally, we understand the value these countries give to Greek culture and its heritage, as they are countries where democracy is particularly important and this is easily perceived by the cultural events, which aim to promote culture, but through freedom of expression.

Almpani Foteini

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