Cultural Diplomacy – a Chance for the Third Millennium Peace[*]
The theme of the conference organized by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin “Cultural Diplomacy in Europe” is generous and useful.
The moment seems to me also very well chosen. Only three days ago ended the first decade from the first century of the third millennium. If the last decade of the 20th century has radically changed the political and military world map through the fall of the soviet empire, the cease of the Cold War, NATO and EU enlargement, new areas of market economy and democracy, the first decade of a century prudently called 21 did not bring along great turns. Even though it was marked by a serious terrorist attack against the USA and by a world economic crisis, it still did not bring changes in the expression manner of the international politics. Metaphorically, I would describe this decade as „a bridge along the river”, allowing us to better see both banks, but that do not cross us on the other side.
For the next decade, the scenario „success” and the scenario „failure”, as you can see them in the politics and classical diplomacy take into account mainly the + (plus) or – (minus) signs for some issues coming from the last part of the past century:
• achievement or not of a peace solution in the Middle East
• advance or recession of terrorism and Islamic extremist currents in the Arab world
• stopping or accepting access to the nuclear weapon by Iran and North Korea
• increasing or reducing the number of local conflicts and identity wars
• destabilizing events taking place in big actors’ areas, especially China and Russia
to which we add the capacity or incapacity to respond to possible geological, meteorological or biological catastrophes.
It seems that challenges of the present are so urgent and important, that we are very often bind to come up with an answer even before we face the signs of a future which is mostly under the uncertainty sign. But in the meantime, world is rapidly changing around us. To talk about a way in which the EU may face the third millennium represents first of all an intellectual challenge. Claiming to bring a really new perspective may seem audacious. In a globalised world which announces the knowledge society we can not conceive present but as subordinated the future. Even in a Europe whose two millenniums past is in the same time elevating and painful, present itself reveals itself as a memory of the future.
In order to elaborate a long-term common strategy of the EU and the USA to assure the global and regional peace, it is necessary for us to make an effort of understanding and anticipating the evolution or involution tendencies of the world we live in. The changes within the security environment can be understood only if take into account the changes within the nature of the international relations, the rules, the norms, the actors’ typology, the goals and the action mechanisms.
Our contemporary world can be characterized as a uni-multipolar one, with an anarchic periphery. Within this context, even a super-power like the USA cannot act by itself, but only together with other powers. The West itself is multipolar and uneven. The Western multipolarism is generated by the domestic democracy and the one present within the international bodies and institutions it had created.
Every state security should adapt itself to the post-modern society. In our contemporary world, states can no longer be divided in blocks because the reactions following different interests lead to changing the alliances and the opposite parts due to different topics or subjects. On one hand, it is a reflex of the contemporary world democratization, but also of the governments’ pragmatism forced to respond to the needs of their own citizens.
Problems of the transition towards democracy, along with the separatism and the delay in consolidating the new independent states create, on their turn, risks directly connected to the states and governments political legitimacy that put under question mark the fighting capability against the institutionalized corruption, but also against mafia type cores which nourish the separatism idea and blocks the new states consolidation. Populism represents one of the threats to the democracy global model. Populism can lead to weakening the power and efficiency of the key democratic institutions, of the independency of justice, mass media and army. The elements along with the existing old frozen conflicts arouse concerns both about the dividing tendencies within the new independent states, but also about the terrorist elements transit to Europe, as well as about maintaining the backward mentalities generating attractiveness towards authoritarian administrative models.
Conflict prevention and post-conflict situations management require a more comprehensive and balanced vision, which would take into account the interests of different ethnical and religious communities, the states duties and their citizens’ natural rights, the conjunctural and long-term interests of the regional actors. It cannot be elaborated without involving representatives competent to express the voices plurality, questions and aspirations of billions of people.
Not understanding “the other’s” motivations have lead, during the time in our history, to adopting many mistaken foreign politics decisions, which triggered into conflicts or wars. That is why the „common values” objective seems to me today of such an importance for the new structure of the international relations. The shared common values have brought Western Europe stability after centuries of conflicts between France, Germany and Great Britain. After the fall of the Soviet Empire in 1989-1990, there were these countries, which have brought stability within the Central and Eastern Europe and, eventually after some conflicts, within the troubled Balkan area. Only a common values politics as a dialogue basis may bring the stability.
International politics, as well as classic diplomacy, was 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. I want to be well understood. I do not advocate for replacing classic diplomacy with the cultural one. It would mean for me to encourage a dangerous utopia. But I stand up for associating 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 report with classic diplomacy as there are the non-Euclidean geometry with the Euclidean geometry, the relativistic physics with the Newtonian physics, the law of included middle with the law of excluded middle of the Aristotelian logic, the modernism and the post-modernism with the classicism and neoclassicism in literature, music and art.
All these are illustrations of the order-disorder ratio and modern approaches trying to manage uncertainty as classical ones underlie certainty.
However, I believe that we can hope for more. So far both major powers and international organizations like UN, UNESCO as well as civil society try to create a political culture of security through negotiation and cooperation. In order to promote peace and understanding in the world one searches the lowest common denominator around which we can agree upon. My belief is that we must put forth much more. If we want to achieve a true peace and understanding between people, we should focus not on the lowest common denominator, but to relate to the highest common denominator.
Twenty years ago, people in Eastern Europe were ready to fight and die for freedom and democracy. In a new millennium, let us rediscover faith. Not to use it, as in a long mankind history, against others, but to understand our mission on earth. Peace is the name of God, whether we are Christians, Muslims, Hebrew or Asian religions’ believers. Only human arrogance made man forget the message of God, whatever the name we give him in our language or in our faith.
[*] Welcome Address at the conference Cultural Diplomacy in Europe: A Forum for Young Leaders (CDE), Berlin, January 4, 2011.