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Germany

Goethe Institute Pleads for Budget Flexibility

Germany’s Goethe Institut, responsible for promoting the spread of the German language and culture overseas, has demanded greater financial autonomy in the face of dwindling funds in Germany’s cultural affairs budget. Goethe Institut’s General Secretary Horst Harnischfeger told the press in Berlin on Wednesay that most of the earmarked public funds were "squandered" when it came to promoting German culture abroad and argued that his organization needed its own budget, which it could administer at its discretion. The Goethe Institut, which is financed by the German Federal Foreign Ministry, received about €170 million last year for its work managing 126 language institutes in 77 countries. This year the institute faces a cut of up to 2.5 percent. Harnischfeger also confirmed that the Goethe Insitut is shifting its focus to eastern Europe and will be scaling back its personnel and finances in western Europe over the next six years. At the same time, the institute is making its presence felt in crisis regions, with the resumption of an institute in Kabul and the opening of a library in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang next year.