A good example of this is the war in Ukraine, where European institutions are already working in cooperation with other local and global institutions on how to protect the rich Ukrainian culture.
These are the conclusions of the IRMO Brief for May. Incidentally, the Institute for Development and International Relations is celebrating 60 years of its work this year, and the focus of research is placed on Europe, European integrations, and Croatian participation in European policies, says Krševan Antun Dujmović, Senior Associate of the Institute. Today, IRMO is present in Croatian society as a public scientific institute through numerous theoretical and applied research, and is involved in a large number of European and international projects.
- The May 2023 IRMO Brief, of which you are one of the authors, deals with the cultural policies of the European Union. In order to shape cultural policies as means of its soft power and strengthen its global influence, the EU cooperates with organizations such as UNESCO, the OECD and the Council of Europe. What does this cooperation look like and how to achieve the set goals?
IRMO Brief is the Institute’s publication that has been processing topics of global importance every month for eight years. We published issues dealing with topics such as climate change, the green transition and the war in Ukraine, but also topics such as the presidential elections in Chile last year, and the geopolitical position of Australia in the Western Pacific region. We wanted to use the edition from May this year to point out the importance of cultural policies of the European Union, the power of European culture and the general soft power of the EU, which is huge and often unnecessarily neglected. Through cooperation with institutions such as UNESCO, the EU has truly profiled itself as a protector of cultural heritage in Europe and the world, and is a global leader in this. A good example is the war in Ukraine, where European institutions are already working in cooperation with other local and global institutions on how to protect the rich Ukrainian culture. One of the main targets of the brutal Russian aggression are precisely the cultural and religious buildings of the Ukrainians, in Russia’s attempt to erase their culture and national identity in this way. Generous material and professional aid from the EU already in the midst of the war helps Ukrainians to accurately register all the destruction, and on the wave of great reconstruction of Ukraine which is expected after the war, and which will make Ukraine the largest construction site in the world, Ukrainian culture will also receive special attention and support from Europe.
2. What areas and segments of society’s development does the Institute support, and what would you single out?
IRMO is a public scientific and research institution that is multidisciplinary in nature, which is its great advantage for which it is recognized both in Croatia and on the international academic scene. The institute has four departments, so in addition to the departments for international economic and political relations and European integration, there are also departments for resource economy, environmental protection and regional development, and the department for culture and communications. The very names of these departments show how diverse the Institute is, rich in terms of profiles of its scientists and professional associates, and how relevant it is to Croatian society in terms of the areas it covers. Thus, employees employed in the Department for European integration were, for example, involved in the negotiation process before Croatia’s entry into the EU, and today they closely cooperate with colleagues who deal with regional development. Regional development and membership in the EU are the foundation of today’s development of Croatia. In addition, experts in environmental protection and climate change, which are key topics at the global and European Union level, have made their mark on numerous projects and through scientific and professional works.
3. What are the estimates and analyses of experts, which direction is the development of international relations taking and is the image of the world as we know it changing?
Image of the world is changing drastically, let’s just take a look at the last three years, since March 2020. and the declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic, the introduction of a strict lockdown, to the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine that began in February of last year and has continued unabated for almost a year and a half. Who could have guessed back in 2019 that a virus would appear that would take millions of lives, and how much effort would be needed by the health systems of the entire world to contain it, and that state institutions, schools, private companies, hospitals, museums and sports halls around the world would be closed? As a result of the pandemic, the unthinkable happened – a general invasion by a nuclear power on a neighboring sovereign, independent member of the UN of about 45 million inhabitants, which already took hundreds of thousands of lives, of both soldiers and civilians, in the middle of Europe. After these dramatic events that changed history, further development of international relations will be conducted. As a result of the pandemic, the EU realized its vulnerabilities, and decided to strengthen its production capacities, its health systems and
reduce dependence on foreign supply routes, invest in the European economy, among other things, through instruments such as the NextGenerationEU aid package. Russian aggression against Ukraine has also dramatically changed international relations. The EU has almost completely gotten rid of its dependence on Russian gas and oil, and after this war, Russia, which is slowly but surely losing the war, will cease to represent a serious global power, and internal disintegration is also possible, which has almost happened on several occasions in modern Russian history. The centers of world power will be the USA, the EU and East Asia. We are expecting a cut in East Asia and the Western Pacific, and we are already seeing the formation of an alliance led by the USA, joined by Japan, India, the Philippines and others, in order to suppress Chinese power. If China remains isolated, and its initiatives – like the Belt and Road Initiative, falter, it is possible that in the long-term India will become the leading economy in Asia. Predictions by some about the US as a declining power have proven to be completely wrong, as demonstrated by American aid to Ukraine and the USA’s ability to form military, political and economic alliances from Europe to the Pacific.
4. In international relations, a small country like Croatia took its place higher on the ladder. When it comes to this, where and how do you see Croatia in the next 5, 10 years?
Croatia has achieved significant success in international relations, and this should be openly said and proudly emphasized. After the nineties, a decade in which the country struggled for bare survival in the Homeland War, and several years of international isolation after the war, Croatia rapidly advanced towards Euro-Atlantic integration. It opened negotiations for EU membership with Turkey in the fall of 2005, and while today
Turkey is very far from membership, these days Croatia is celebrating its 10th year in the Union, and next spring it will celebrate its 15th year of membership in NATO, an alliance that is the foundation of Croatia’s security. As a member of NATO, Croatia has profiled itself, among other things, in numerous missions outside the borders of the Republic of Croatia, as the most important regional partner of the US, the world’s leading political, economic and military power. Membership in the EU has brought Croatia numerous benefits – suffice it to say that EU funds, along with tourism, are the drivers of the Croatian economy at the moment. Tourism itself, which accounts for about 20% of Croatian GDP, is closely related to membership in the Union – for example, this year’s entry into Schengen and the Eurozone additionally profile Croatia as an attractive and safe destination, which directly contributes to the growth of the number of tourists compared to previous years. 5.The Institute for Development and International Relations is marking 60 years of work this year. How will you celebrate this major jubilee?
The Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO) has undergone a very long and interesting development since the distant 1963 and its beginnings under the name of the Institute for the Study of Africa, and in the seventies and eighties it bore the name of the Institute for Developing Countries. On the eve of the dissolution of the former state and the establishment of independent Croatia, the institute got its current name, and the research focus shifted to Europe, European integration, and Croatian participation in European policies. Today, as a public scientific institute, IRMO is present in Croatian society through numerous theoretical and applied research, and is involved in a large number of European and international projects. In addition, the Institute is recognized as a credible partner for institutions of public authorities, the academic community, the private sector and civil society organizations, and numerous related institutions and scientific research institutes in the world, mostly in Europe, turn to the Institute as a partner organization when applying for European and international projects, and the preparation of scientific and professional papers, analyzes and studies. The 60th anniversary of IRMO’s existence was marked with numerous events – conferences, workshops and round tables.