President of Ukraine

The First Lady took part in the opening of the Ukrainian Institute in Paris

10 November 2023 - 11:07

The First Lady took part in the opening of the Ukrainian Institute in Paris

During her visit to France, First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska took part in the opening of the Ukrainian Institute's representative office in Paris.

In March 2022, at the initiative of representative of the Ukrainian Institute in France Olha Sahaidak, a group of volunteers launched the cultural project Printemps Ukrainien (Ukrainian Spring), which aimed to introduce Ukrainian culture to the French audience in response to the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The result was 96 cultural events that brought together more than 40 thousand visitors. In 2023, the project was transformed into a permanent institution - the Ukrainian Institute's representative office in France, which opened on November 9. This is the second permanent mission of the Ukrainian Institute in the EU after the one in Berlin (Germany).

The team of the Ukrainian Institute will work at La Gaîté Lyrique (a cultural venue in Paris) with the support of the Open Society Foundation, the French Ministry of Culture, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the French Institute, the City Hall of Paris, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the Embassy of Ukraine in France.

The opening ceremony was also attended by the Minister of Culture of France Rima Malak, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Emine Dzhaparova, Director General of the Ukrainian Institute Volodymyr Sheiko, Secretary of State for European Affairs of France Laurence Boone, Deputy Mayor of Paris for Culture Carine Rolland, and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations Alexander Soros.

Olena Zelenska noted the opening of the representative office and the importance of the Ukrainian Institute's mission during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She noted that Russia is destroying Ukrainian culture today, but has been appropriating it for centuries.

"If you ask many Europeans now what they know about Ukraine not from the news, but from the cultural sphere, from books, from our classic artists and writers, it will probably be a difficult question. It's a shame that the world is starting to learn more about Ukrainian culture and our contribution to the world culture only because of the Russian attack. But it is good that it is learning. Because our culture proves that we exist, always existed, and will always exist. No matter how much the empire wants to re-appropriate us," the First Lady said.

She called on Europeans to learn about the true Ukrainian contribution to the world culture and to get rid of the imperial "optics."

"The time of empires is over. The world's unprecedented attention to Ukraine opens up new opportunities for cultural diplomacy between Ukraine and France, and returns Ukrainian culture as a significant and integral part of European culture. It is for this that Ukraine and our entire culture are now being defended. And we are grateful to everyone who understands and supports us," the President's wife emphasized.

The Ukrainian Institute will become a bridge for dialogue between Ukrainian and French cultures, artists, scholars, and people who care, a platform for presenting Ukraine through concerts of contemporary and classical music, cinema, and literature, a platform for discussions and debates – anything that can finally tell the truth about us.

"To provide more opportunities for Ukrainian and foreign cultural figures, we are opening representative offices of the Ukrainian Institute in key partner countries in close cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and embassies of Ukraine," said Volodymyr Sheiko, Director General of the Ukrainian Institute.

The first step in the new partnership was the signing of a memorandum between the Ukrainian Institute and the Sorbonne University, which will pave the way for Ukrainian lectures and Ukrainian studies at this legendary institution.

Background. The Ukrainian Institute is a state institution that represents Ukrainian culture in the world and shapes the positive image of our country abroad. The Institute was founded by the Cabinet of Ministers in 2017 and is managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It became fully operational in the summer of 2018. The mission of the Ukrainian Institute is to enhance Ukraine's international and domestic agency through cultural diplomacy.