Press Breakfast “International cultural and educational work is not an accessory”

Klaus-Dieter Lehmann and Johannes Ebert answer questions from the press
Klaus-Dieter Lehmann and Johannes Ebert answer questions from the press | Photo: Viktoria Tomaschko

At a press conference in Berlin, the Goethe-Institut presented the focuses of its work for the upcoming years. The spotlight will be on international networking of feminist positions and German-French cooperation.

At a press conference in Berlin, Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, president of the Goethe-Institut, spoke about the framework conditions for foreign cultural and educational policy. “Our common interest for Germany in the world must be an interest in an open, free society,” he said. “We must represent it offensively. The Goethe-Institut represents this stance, and we would like to see political support and the necessary resources for our abilities.” Johannes Ebert, secretary-general of the Goethe-Institut, explained, “At the moment, it’s about the big questions – the future of a peaceful and just Europe, the crisis of liberal values ​​and increasing attacks on democracy. International cultural and educational work is not an accessory, but a central factor in a society that relies on the exchange of knowledge. In times of increasing political, economic and cultural demarcations, the aim is to give renewed life force to the European ideal of international understanding. In order to set the course for the future, we need stronger support from policy-makers in 2018 and 2019.” 

Johannes Ebert and Klaus-Dieter Lehmann at the Press Breakfast Johannes Ebert and Klaus-Dieter Lehmann at the Press Breakfast | Photo: Viktoria Tomaschko

The importance of equal rights

In the coming years, the Goethe-Institut will focus on feminist discourses and artistic positions as well as on programmes that empower women, in particular their access to education and key positions in society. Klaus-Dieter Lehmann said, “The Goethe-Institut has been purposefully promoting the empowerment of women through cultural and educational programmes for many years. We do so at several levels: through an artistic and intellectual debate, through the targeted promotion and networking of established female artists, and through educational programmes for girls and young women.” Lehmann then emphasised, “Often it goes unmentioned in the German public that there are also activists, academics and artists dealing with gender issues in countries like Egypt, Tunisia or Lebanon. The Tashweesh project tackles the controversial debate on tradition, Islam and feminism at an intellectual and artistic level. But it is also about increasing the presence of women and their views of the world in cultural industries that remain male-dominated, and thus expanding society’s understanding of the importance of equal rights.”

A foundation of the European Union

Secretary-general Johannes Ebert reported that the Goethe-Institut is currently in talks with the Federal Foreign Office, the French Foreign Ministry and the Institut français aimed at expanding Franco-German cooperation. “We envision three possible approaches for this: the intensification of joint programmes, joint accommodations and the establishment of new Franco-German institutes. Even if Franco-German cooperation can no longer be seen outside the pan-European context today, it is and remains a foundation of the European Union.”