Popularization of Ukraine is one of the main tasks today

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Popularization of Ukraine is one of the main tasks today that our “Fashion of Diplomacy” magazine puts forward. In each issue, we disclose and show how the authorities, various structures, public figures and patrons work on this issue.

Today, we are talking to Taras Demkura, Ph.D. in Economics, Vice-President for Regional Development of the International Chamber of Commerce ICC Ukraine, a collector, a well-known entrepreneur and patron of the state.

What definition of “cultural diplomacy” would you suggest?

Cultural diplomacy is a form of “soft power” that should become an important component of international relations instruments. The Ukrainian society has already formed a request for a policy of cultural diplomacy, that has been recognized as an effective tool for building a positive image of the country in the world, which puts the respective tasks not only to the state, but also to international public associations and to every citizen of Ukraine.

As we all can see, political diplomacy does not always manage to react in time and adequately to the challenges of the modern epoch. The actual world is too difficult for political diplomats only. At the same time, Ukraine has enormous cultural potential — unfortunately, it is not yet fully discovered and appreciated.

Six years ago, the destiny brought me to the famous art historians, now, I regret to say, deceased Borys Voznytsky, the director of the Lviv Art Gallery, the academician of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts, the Hero of Ukraine, and to the Ternopil art historian, and journalist, Vira Stetsko, who discovered the works of Johann-Georg Pinzel as the Ukrainian creator of the Baroque epoch for me. In 2012, when the artist’s work was presented in Paris at the Louvre, we issued the album “The Secret of Pinzel” and released a movie “The Secret of Pinzel — from “Buchach to the Louvre”.

It was a triumphant ascent of the Ukrainian Baroque sculpture to the artistic Olympus and the prominent discovery of artistic Ukraine itself by the European community. Exhibition attracted hundreds of thousands of grateful visitors, dozens of reviews in the press and television coverage! These were the first steps of Ukrainian cultural diplomacy; and the exhibition in Paris had been a tremendous contribution to the popularization of our cultural and historical heritage.

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Popularization of Ukraine is one of the main tasks today

As far as we know, after the Louvre, you continued to work on promotion of the works of “Ukrainian Michelangelo” Johann-Georg Pinzel

After the exhibition, we organized its closure at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Paris, where the Commissioner of the exhibition Guillaume Sherf and famous art historians were invited. The Louvre took 100 albums for its bookshops, libraries and archives. Then, together with the author of the album, Vira Stetsko, we conducted over 60 presentations of the creative work of the artist both in Ukraine and abroad, and more than 700 albums were distributed to libraries, museums, schools and universities.

And already in 2017, continuing the work we started, within the framework of the 24th Forum of Publishers in Lviv, we organized a cultural and art project “Under the Star of Pinzel”, where the second edition of the album was presented. The Minister of Culture of Ukraine, Yevhen Nyshchuk, opened the holiday. Subsequently, a series of presentations of the cultural and art project “Under the Star of Pinzel” was organized in the cities of Buchach, Hodovytsi, Chernivtsi, and other regional centres of Ukraine. This is the true cultural diplomacy in our understanding…

Why are you engaged in cultural diplomacy and what inspires you?

My wife and me, we feel our personal responsibility for what we will leave for the future generations. There is no more responsible task than to be involved in the revival of the cultural heritage of the land where you were born and where you reside. And, first of all, in the revival of the historical memory of our people.

The artists, famous cultural figures, geniuses of the spirit leave for history, but they leave behind themselves not only wise words, but also good deeds for the good of people, for the glory of Ukraine.

Popularization of Ukraine is one of the main tasks today

As a Vice-President of the International Chamber of Commerce, do you successfully implement both cultural and economic projects?

Membership in the International Chamber of Commerce ICC Ukraine is a unique opportunity for me to promote and realize the economic, social, cultural and historical potential of Ukraine in the world. This is daily public and representative activity in these vectors. We are really holding exhibitions and presentations of our heritage within the framework of economic forums, which has a very positive effect on the image of our country. We organized and conducted thematic events on popularization of cultural heritage in France, Argentina, Germany and the Czech Republic. A lot of eff orts were directed towards the organization of trans-border cooperation of Ternopil region within the framework of the project “TRANSIMPERIA”. This project was presented at the 10th International Economic Forum “Europe-Ukraine”, which was held in the city of Rzeszów (the Republic of Poland).

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Now we are witnessing a positive dynamics in establishing of cooperation with international organizations that represent the Ukrainians around the world. What can cultural diplomacy do at these “fronts”?

It must be taken into account that the dynamics of the changes of the modern world prompts us to establish close contacts with the activists of a new wave of volunteer support for contemporary events in Ukraine. We have established good relations with people from Ukraine that live in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Spain, France and other countries in Europe and America.

On May 5–10, 2016, during the celebration of the 120th anniversary of the emigration of the Ukrainians in Argentina, the negotiations were held with the Head of the Prosvita cultural association in Argentina, Yurii Danylyshyn, and the Head of the Ukrainian community of Brazil, Vitorio Syrotiuk, as well as with the representatives of the Ukrainian communities in Australia and Spain.

On July 9–10, 2017, we organized a program of the visit of the Ambassador of Ukraine to Argentina, Yurii Diudin, in Ternopil region. Meetings with the leaders of the city and region were held to intensify cooperation with the Misiones Province and the city of Apostoles of the same Province in Argentina. The Memorandum on the further cooperation was signed, the opportunity to promote the tourism potential of Ternopil abroad was discussed. In August, Ternopil hosted an Argentinean delegation of 120 people with a concert program.

It is known that you and your wife Iryna have been collecting authentic applicative Ukrainian things for many years. What did the opening of the “Heritage” Ethno-gallery from your private collection in Ternopil mean for you?

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All activities of the ethno-gallery “HERITAGE” are primarily aimed at preserving the historical heritage. But at the same time, it is a powerful tool for the development of cultural diplomacy of Ukraine. Since the opening of the ethnogallery, exhibits of authentic styles and applicative things of the Ukrainians of the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries have been numerously represented at international all-Ukrainian exhibitions, festivals and presentations abroad.

The highest popularity among all-Ukrainian mass media and Internet publications has been received by the following projects: the presentation of the ethno-gallery in France and Argentina; the exhibition “Blessed Ternopil Land”; the Day of Vyshyvanka (embroidered shirt) in Prague; International Tourist Exhibition UITT-2017, Kyiv; ethno-demonstrations in Chernivtsi, Kyiv and Lviv (in honour of the 50th anniversary of the UWC); Ornamental DNA project (held in Ankara, Turkey in October 2017).

During the incomplete year of existence of the gallery space with excursion tours, the ethno-gallery “HERITAGE” was attended by 18 foreign delegations. Sponsorship of all the development and promotion directions of the theme of preservation of the historical and cultural heritage of the Ukrainians encourages the continuation of activities and causes a true interest, proposals for cooperation from international organizations.

Popularization of Ukraine is one of the main tasks today

This year we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Ukrainian diplomacy. What would you like to wish the Ukrainian diplomats?

As for me, celebrating the centenary of Ukrainian diplomacy goes beyond the bounds of the profession and applies to the entire state — to our society; in particular, each of us is the envoy of national diplomacy, the bearer of national values in the world. I am convinced that this event will be a good opportunity to understand that by respecting ourselves we will help the world respect us.

I highly appreciate the skillful and professional work of Ukrainian diplomats as a significant contribution to strengthening the position of Ukraine — an authoritative member of the world community. The activity of Ukrainian diplomacy in the international arena is a worthy example of defending, assertion and advancing the interests of the Ukrainian state. I wish to everybody the inspiration, creative forces, vigor of spirit, health and all sorts of good things on this way.