Speech at CULTURAL DIPLOMACY IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Bucharest, May 6th, 2016
CULTURAL DIPLOMACY: PEACE AND PROGRESS
THROUGH UNDERSTANDING THE OTHER
Why do we need cultural diplomacy, this new concept, which the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin, University of Bucharest and, recently, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration tries to promote with so much passion and engagement? My answer is: because the world is changing. And if the world is changing, politics, in its higher meaning of serving the community interests, must change too. The famous German strategist Clausewitz considered that war is a continuation of politics with other means. I believe that peace can also be a result of politics, obtained through other means. One of these means is cultural diplomacy – which without intending to replace the traditional diplomacy of dialogue between parties having different interests, supported through different types of pressure and force threats – can complement it with a new element: dialogue based on understanding the other part and, in a wider meaning, a better understanding of the world we live in.
Not understanding „the other’s” motivation led, during history, to many wrong decisions in foreign policy, triggering conflicts or wars. This is why the ”common values” objective seems to me so important today within the new structure of foreign relations.
Preventing conflicts or managing post-conflict situations requires a comprehensive balanced vision, which takes into consideration the interests of various ethnic and religious communities, the rights and obligations of independent states’ citizens, the conjectural and the long-term interests of the regional actors. This vision cannot be developed without the involvement of representatives able to understand and express the plurality of voices, questions and desires of millions of people. This is why political structures should be supplemented by civil society structures dedicated to world security issues. Only such a process of consolidated respect for human being, democracy and common security may reach the depth which only peoples’ true will can guarantee.
The preventive vocation will be the keystone of diplomacy in the future. This involves a raising complexity of the analyses and action ways. The repetitive crisis have shown that, unfortunately, punctual preventive interventions are not enough and should be inserted in a complex of long term actions which need to take into account the overall aspects of some regions and the overall aspects of the problems that might destabilize them, from economic difficulties to the stereotypes anchored in divergent mentalities, from poor communication channels to unconventional risks for security.
Cultural diplomacy could function as a laboratory where the political culture of global security through mutual trust, negotiation and cooperation is created. It can identify major risks, could elaborate and implement programs of cooperation, both inside countries with high conflict risk as well as in areas with conflict potential.
In my opinion, the first step of the cultural diplomacy should take would be to make conceptual map of the international political universe. On it we could draw the different worlds populating our planet, the post-modern, the modern and the pre-modern ones. Only on such a foundation we can build politics and security strategies proper for a fast changing and contradictory world.
Diplomacy in its traditional sense, as well as cultural diplomacy, no longer exclusively represents an instrument for forwarding foreign policy interests, but is used as platform for promoting international cooperation and partnerships among diverse independent international non-governmental actors. Cultural Diplomacy, therefore, implies a twofold action, intended not only to create a cultural presence, but also to create a framework for the other person or nation to recognize this presence, to achieve an understanding that transcends stereotypes. A ‘great conversation of mankind’ should now be encouraged, where wider groups of people will engage in the process of the freer flow of ideas and knowledge throughout the world. Cultural agencies such as British Council, Goethe Institute or Romanian Cultural Institute would not only promote the language and cultural heritage of the country they represent, but also seek to become a kind of dialogue-facilitator, a vehicle of communication for values and traditions between national communities, which in turn will stimulate true mutual understanding and development.
The greatest contribution of the cultural diplomacy at the world’s architecture of security will be the prevention of wars, which will not happen anymore, mainly as a result of the creation of democratic mechanisms based on dialogue and collaboration with the civil society.
International politics, as well as classic diplomacy, were built on power and force relations and will continue to be so a long time from now on. The concept of "soft power" is far from being functional. Cultural diplomacy is still in its infant stage. I want to be well understood, I do not plead for replacing classic diplomacy with the cultural one. It would mean for me to encourage a dangerous utopia. I plead though for a combination of them. From my experience gained as a scientist, as a man of culture and as a statesman, I can say that cultural diplomacy is in the same relation with classic diplomacy as is the non-Euclidean geometry with the Euclidean geometry, the relativistic physics with the Newtonian physics, the principle of included third party with the principle of excluded third party of the Aristotelian logic, the modernism with the post-modernism, the classicism with the neoclassicism in literature, music, art, and so on.
Cultural diplomacy is aiming at targets further than settling open conflicts or management of frozen conflicts. It aims to create a culture of peace which can ensure a sustainable global security. To achieve this goal we need a complex system of higher education in the field of cultural diplomacy. Academy for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin in collaboration with the University of Bucharest, Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, University of Siena in Italy, and the University Furtwangen in Germany have succeeded, for the first time, to build an integrated system of higher education with degrees of master and PhD in cultural diplomacy. Within this framework we are creating not only skills, but also new consciousness and attitudes that arise from the direct relationship between young people who are preparing to face the challenges of the future.
The difficult process of forming a new culture of peace can not be limited, only to higher education, it must start with family education, elementary school and high-school. The Culture of Peace does not only need “martyrs of peace”, such as Gandhi, that was assassinated because of his tolerant policy, but “heroes of peace” as well. Unfortunately, for more than 5,000 years each generation has had as models the “heroes of war”. The Nobel Peace Prizes laureates, Mandela and Mother Teresa remain isolated cases in the “Hall of fame”, occupied by the “lords of warriors”. Since early childhood and until old age, literature, art, theater, film and, more recently, television and the internet spread in overwhelming proportions violence, glorify physical force, give mass-market appeal to killing tools and techniques. The conference in which we participate today aims not only to publicize our achievements in higher education for cultural diplomacy, but also to propose public authorities and civil society a joint construction.
I would like to express my gratitude to senior representatives of government and academic institutions that have responded positively to our invitation and I am confident that the discussions that will follow will strengthen this cooperation.
Dear fellow participants,
If we desire a world of peace, we should build it, fight for it and we should not be overwhelmed by the fear of some evil considered inevitable. If globalization cannot be avoided, then it should be molded. We shall survive in this still divided world not through what we possess, but through who we are.