Entradas con etiqueta soft power .

Kim Jung-un and Moon Jae-in met for the first time in April, 2018 [South Korea Gov.]

▲Kim Jung-un and Moon Jae-in met for the first time in April, 2018 [South Korea Gov.]


North Korea has always utilized its nuclear power as a leverage for negotiation in world politics. Nuclear weapons, asymmetric power, are the last measure for North Korea which lacks absolute military and economic power. Although North Korea lags behind the United States and South Korea in military/economic power, its possession of nuclear weapons renders it a significant threat to other countries. Recently, however, they have continued to develop their nuclear power in disregard of international regulations. In other words, they have not used nuclear issue as a leverage for negotiation to induce economic support. They have rather concentrated on completing nuclear development, not considering persuasion from peripheral countries. This attitude can be attributed to the fact that the development of their nuclear power is almost complete. Many experts say that North Korea judges the recognition of their nation with nuclear power to be a more powerful negotiation tool (Korea times, 2016).

In this situation, South Korea has been trying many different kinds of strategies to resolve the nuclear crisis because security is their main goal: United States-South Korea joint military exercises and United Nations sanctions against North Korea are some of those strategies. Despite these oppressive methods using hard power, North Korea has refused to participate in negotiations.

Most recently, however, North Korea has discarded its previous stance for a more peaceful and amicable position following the PyeongChang Olympics. Discussions about nuclear power are proceeding and the nation has even declared that they will stop developing nuclear power.

Diverse causes such as international relations or economic needs influence their transition. This essay would argue that the soft power strategies of South Korea are substantially influencing North Korea. Therefore, an analysis of South Korea’s soft power strategies is necessary in order to figure out the successful way to resolve the nuclear crisis.

Importance of soft-power strategies in policies against North Korea

North Korea has justified its dictatorship through the development of its ‘Juche’ ideology which is very unique. This ideology is established on the theory of ‘rule by class’ which stems from Marxism-Leninism. In addition, the regime has combined it with Confucianism that portrays a dictator as a father of family (Jung Seong Jang, 1999). Through this justification, a dictator is located at the top of class, which would complete the communist ideal. People are taught this ideology thoroughly and anyone who violates the ideology is punished. To open up this society which has formerly been ideologically closed, their ideology should be undermined by other attractive ideology, culture, and symbol.

However, North Korea has effectively blocked it. For example, recently, many people in North Korea have covertly shared TV shows and music from South Korea. People who are caught enjoying this culture are severely punished by the government. In these types of societies, oppression through hard power strategies doesn’t affect making any kind of change in internal society. It rather could be used to enhance internal solidarity because the potential offenders such as United States or South Korea are postulated as certain enemies to North Korea, which requires internal solidarity to people. North Korea has actually depicted capitalism, United States and South Korea as the main enemies in media. It intends to induce loyalty from people.

As a result, the regime have developed nuclear weapons successfully under strong censorship. Nuclear power is the main key to maintain the dictatorship. The declaration of ‘Nuclear-Economy parallel development’ from the start of Kim Jung-Eun’s government implies that the regime would ensure nuclear weapon as a measure to maintain its system. In this situation, sending the message that its system can coordinately survive alongside South Korea in world politics is important. Not only oppressive strategies but also appropriate strategies which attract North Korea to negotiate are needed.

Analysis of South Korea Soft Power Strategies

In this analysis, I will employ a different concept of soft power compared from the one given by Joseph Nye. Nye’s original concept of soft power focuses on types of behavior. In terms of his concept, co-optive power such as attraction and persuasion also constitutes soft power regardless of the type of resource (Joseph Nye, 2013). However, the concept of soft power I will use focuses on what types of resources users use regardless of the type of behaviors. Therefore, any kinds of power exerted by only soft resources such as images, diplomacy, agenda-setting and so on could be soft power. It is a resource-based concept compared to Nye’s concept which is behavior based (Geun Lee, 2011).

I use this concept because using hard resources such as military power and economic regulation to resolve the nuclear problem in North Korea has been ineffective so far. Therefore, using the concept of soft power which is based on soft resources makes it possible to analyze different kinds of soft power and find ways to improve it.

According to the thesis by Geun Lee (2011: p.9) who used the concept I mentioned above, there are 4 categories of Soft Power. I will use these categories to analyze the soft power strategies of South Korea.

1. Application of soft resources – Fear – Coercive power (or resistance)

2. Application of soft resources – Attractiveness, Safety, Comfort, Respect – Co-optive power

3. Application of soft resources (theories, interpretative frameworks) – New ways of thinking and calculating – Co-optive power

4. Socialization of the co-optive power in the recipients – Long term soft power in the form of “social habit”


1. Oppression through diplomacy: Two-track diplomacy

South Korea takes advantage of soft power strategies that request a global mutual-assistance system in order to oppress North Korea. Based on diplomatic capabilities, South Korea has tried to make it clear that all countries in world politics are demanding a solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis. Through these strategies, it wants to provoke fear in North Korea that it would be impossible to restore its relationship with the world. These strategies have been influential because they are harmonized with United Nations’ Security Council resolutions. Especially, the two-track diplomacy conducted by the president Moon-jae-in in the United Nations general assembly in 2017 is evaluated to be successful. He gave North Korea two options in order to attract them to negotiate (The fact, 2017). The president Moon-jae-in stressed the importance of cooperation about nuclear crisis among countries in his address to the general assembly. Moreover, he discussed the issue with the presidents of United States and Japan and pushed for a firm stance against the North Korea nuclear problem. However, at the same time, he declared that South Korea is ready for peaceful negotiation and discussion if North Korea wish to negotiate and stop developing its nuclear power. By offering two options, South Korea not only aimed to incite fear in North Korea but also left room for North Korea to appear at the negotiation tables.

Strategies using diplomatic capabilities are valuable because they can induce coercive power through soft resources. However, it would be difficult to judge the effectiveness if North Korea didn’t show any reaction to these strategies. Moreover, the cooperation with Russia and China is very important to persuade North Korea because they are maintaining amicable relationships with North Korea against United States and Japan. In the situation that North Korea has aimed to complete development of nuclear weapons for negotiation, diplomatic oppression is not effective itself for making change.


Joint statement by the leaders of North and South Korea, in April 2018 [South Korea Gov.]

Joint statement by the leaders of North and South Korea, in April 2018 [South Korea Gov.]


2. Sports and culture: Peaceful gesture

The attempt to converse through sports and culture is one of the soft power strategies used by South Korea in order to solve the nuclear crisis. This strategy intends to obtain North Korea’s cooperation in non-political areas which could then spread to political negotiations. As a result of this strategy, South Korea and North Korea formed a unified team during the last Olympics and Asian games (Yonhapnews, 2018). However, for it to be a success, their cooperation should not be limited to the non-political area, but instead should lead to a constructive conversation in politics. In these terms, South Korea’s peaceful gesture in the Pyeong-Chang winter Olympic is seen to have brought about positive change. Before the Olympics, many politicians and experts were skeptical to the gesture because North Korea conducted the 6th nuclear test in 2017, ignoring South Korea’s message (Korea times, 2018). In extension of the two-track diplomacy strategy, nevertheless, the South Korea government has continually shown a desire to cooperate with North Korea. These strategies focus on cooperation only in soft power domains such as sports, culture, and music rather than domains that expose serious political intension.

In the United Nations general assembly which adopted a truce for the Pyeong-Chang Olympics, gold medalist Kim-yun-a required North Korea to participate in Olympics on her address (Chungang, 2017). Moreover, in the event for praying successful Olympics, the president Moon-jae-in sent another peaceful gesture mentioning that South Korea would wait for the participation of North Korea until the beginning of Olympics (Voakorea, 2017). This strategy ended up having successfully attracted North Korea. As a result, they composed a unified ice hockey team and diplomats were dispatched from North Korea during the Olympics to watch the game with South Korean government officials. And then, they exchanged cultural performances in Pyeong-Chang and Pyeong-yang. Finally, the efforts led to the summit meeting between South-North Korea, and North Korea even declared that it would stop developing nuclear power and establish cooperation with South Korea.

It is too early to judge whether North Korea will stop developing their nuclear influence. However, it is a success in the sense that South Korea has attracted North Korea into conversations. Especially, South Korea has effectively taken advantage of the situation that all countries in international relations pay attention to the nuclear crisis of North Korea. They continuously pull North Korea into the center of world politics and leave North Korea without alternative option. Continuous agenda-setting and issue making has finally attracted North Korea.

3. Agenda-setting and framing

It is important to continuously set agendas about issues which are related to North Korea’s violations concerning the nuclear crisis and human rights. Although North Korea is isolated from world politics, it can’t operate its system if it refuses to cooperate or trade with other countries. As a result, it do not want to be in constant conflict with world politics. Therefore, the focal point of agenda-setting South Korea should impress is the negative effects of nuclear policies and dictatorship of North Korea. Moreover, South Korea should recognize that the goal of developing nuclear influence of North Korea is not to declare war but to ensure protection for their political system. South Korea needs to continuously stress that political system of North Korea would be insured after nuclear dismantlement. These strategies change thoughts of North Korea and induce it to participate in negotiations.

However, South Korea has not been effectively employing this strategy. Agenda-setting which might arouse direct conflict with North Korea could aggravate their relationship. This explains its unwillingness to resort to this strategy. On the other hand, the United States show effective agenda-setting which relates to the nuclear crisis mentioning Iran as a positive example of a successful negotiation.

South Korea needs to set and frame the agenda about similar issues closely related to North Korea. For example, the rebellion against the dictatorship in Syria and the resulting death of the dictator in Yemen which stem from tyrannical politics could be a negative precedent. Also, the agreement with Iran that acquired economic support by abandoning nuclear development could be a positive precedent. Through this agenda setting, South Korea should change the thought of North Korea about their nuclear policies. If this strategy succeeds, North Korea will obtain a new interpretative framework, which could lead them to negotiate.

4. Competition of system: North Korea defector and Korean wave

The last type of soft power strategy is a fundamental solution to provoke change. While the strategies I mentioned above directly targets the North Korea government, this strategy mainly targets the people and the society of North Korea. Promoting economic, cultural superiority could influence the North Korean people and then it could lead to movements which would require a transition from the current society. There are many different kinds of way to conduct this strategy and it is abstract in that we can’t measure how much it could influence society. However, it could also be a strategy which North Korea fears the most in the sense that it could provoke change from the bottom of the society. In addition to this, it could arouse fundamental doubt about the ‘Juche’ ideology or nuclear development which is maintained by an exploitative system.

One of these strategies is the policy concerning defectors. South Korea has been implementing policies which accept defectors and help them adjust to the South Korea society. These defectors get a chance to be independent through re-socialization. And then, some of them carry out activities which denounce the horrible reality of the internal society of North Korea. If their voice became influential in world politics, it could become a greater threat to the North Korea system. In 2012, some defectors testified against the internal violation of human rights in UNCHR to gain attention from the world (Newsis, 2016).

In addition, recently, Korean dramas and music are covertly shared within the North Korea society (Daily NK, 2018). It could also provoke a social movement to call for change. Because the contents reflect a much higher standard of living, it triggers curiosity and admiration from North Korean people. These strategies lead society of North Korea to socialize with the co-optive power in the recipients. Ultimately, long term soft power could threaten North Korea itself.

Limits and conclusion

This essay has analyzed the strategies South Korea has used in order to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis. South Korea threatens North Korea utilizing consensus among countries. Strategies its government has shown such as the speech of the president Moon-jae-in in the United Nations general assembly, the winter Olympics which reflected a desire for peace and the two-track diplomacy are totally different from the consistently conservative policies that the previous governments showed during the last ten years. In addition, the declaration of the Trump’s administration that they would continuously pressure North Korea about nuclear issues offered the opportunity to react to North Korea’s nuclear policies. In this process, active joint response among South Korea, United States and Japan is also necessary.

However, it is true that there are some drawbacks. In order for North Korea to eventually accept nuclear disarmament, South Korea absolutely needs to cooperate with Russia and China which are not only in a good relationship with North Korea but also in a comparatively competitive relationship with the United States and Japan. If South Korea will succeed in gaining their support, the process of reaching an agreement concerning nuclear issues would be much easier.

Eventually, in contrast with the hard power strategies with hard resources, soft power strategies with soft resources can only be effective when South Korea offers the second attractive option. The options are diverse. The main point is that North Korea should recognize the positive effects of abandoning nuclear.

Also, South Korea should recognize that the effect of soft power strategies is maximized when it coexists with economic / military oppression through hard power. In other words, South Korea must take into account Joseph Nye’s smart power to solve the nuclear crisis.

In this process, the most important thing is to persuade North Korea by offering an attractive choice. The reason why North Korea desires to have a summit meeting with South Korea and the United States is because they judge that the choice would be more profitable. Therefore, the South Korean government needs to reflect upon what objectives North Korea has when they accept to negotiate. For example, China’s economic opening is an example of a good precedent that North Korea could follow. South Korea needs to give North Korea a blue print such as the example of China and lead the agreement about the nuclear problem.

Lastly, it is difficult to apprehend the effectiveness of soft power strategies with soft resources, mentioned by Geun Lee, in the sense that the data and the figures about this strategy are not easy to measure in contrast with hard power strategies. Also, many causes exist concerning change of North Korea. Therefore, further research needs to establish a system to get concrete and scientific data in order to apprehend the complex causes and effects of this strategy such as that stem from smart power strategies.



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Categorías Global Affairs: Asia Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Análisis

WORKING PAPER / N. Moreno, A. Puigrefagut, I. Yárnoz


The fundamental characteristic of the external action of the European Union (EU) in recent years has been the use of the so-called soft power. This soft power has made the Union a key actor for the development of a large part of the world’s regions. The last decades the EU has participated in a considerable amount of projects in the economic, cultural and political fields in order to fulfil the article 2 of its founding Treaty and thus promote their values and interests and contribute to peace, security and sustainable development of the globe through solidarity and respect for all peoples. Nevertheless, EU’s interventions in different regions of the world have not been free of objections that have placed in the spotlight a possible direct attack by the Union to the external States’ national sovereignties, thus creating a principle of neo-colonialism by the EU.


The European Union's soft power: Image branding or neo-colonialism Download the document [pdf. 548K]

Categorías Global Affairs: Unión Europea Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Documentos de trabajo

ESSAYMarianna McMillan [Spanish version]

I. Introduction

On the 31st of March 2016, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative for Foreign affairs and Security Policy of the European Commission, launched a Cultural Diplomacy Platform to enhance the visibility and understanding of the Union through intercultural dialogue and engagement. By engaging all stakeholders from a bottom-up perspective, the platform forces us to reconsider the context in which it operates, the internal constraints it wishes to address, and lastly, the foreign policy objective it aspires to. However, in order to export a European cultural image abroad with a single, coherent voice, the Union must first address its ‘unity in diversity’ of national cultures without threatening the national identities of the individual Member States. Therefore, the EU as an international actor and regional organization, based on unity in diversity, has an internal need for intercultural dialogue and negotiation of shared identities (European External Action Service, 2017). Not only to establish conditions favorable to Brussels policies but as an instrument for the EU to counter external, non-traditional security threats - terrorism, populist narratives, cyber insecurity, energy insecurity and identity ambiguity.

This understanding of culture as a potential instrument or means for Europe’s soft power is the basis for the analysis of this paper. In doing so, the purpose of the article is to explore the significance of culture relative to soft power and foreign policy as theoretical foundations for understanding the logic of the EU’s New Cultural Diplomacy Platform.

II. Unity in diversity through the New Cultural Diplomacy Platform

If the European Union aspires to a “rules based” liberal order founded on cooperation, then to what extent can the EU obtain global influence and domestic unity by preserving its interests and upholding its values, if it lacks both a single voice and a common external policy?

The lack of a single voice is symptomatic of a history of integration based on diversity rather than equality. And the incoherent common external policy refers to the coordination problem, in which the cultural relations remains a competence of the individual Member States and the Common Foreign and Security Policy remains a supranational competence of the EU since the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992 (Banus, 2015:103-105 and Art 6, TFEU).

With the acceleration of globalization, non-traditional security challenges such as cyber warfare, climate change, radicalization, refugee and economic migration and energy insecurity test the EU’s idea of a common Foreign Policy between the EU institutions and the individual member states. These threats not only demand a new security paradigm but a new coexistence paradigm, in which security is directed towards radicalization reduction and coexistence is directed towards civil societies based on democratic order and rule of law (European Commission, 2016). For example, regarding the regional integration process, the process sustains itself by promoting narratives of shared cultural heritage. However, growing skepticism towards immigrants following the refugee crisis fosters a conflicting narrative with the wider societal and communitarian narrative projected by the EU – The European Commission (EC), the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Parliament (EP), and the Council of the European Union. The Union’s failure to address the pervasive divisions between member states in issues pertaining to the Brexit negotiation, the financial crisis or international terrorism, further fuel populist narratives and solidify nationalist prejudices against the EU These institutional and structural constraints  – diversity and shared competences – reflect the dynamics of the cultural landscape and its unintended consequences on the European Union as a political entity (institutional), the European project as an integration process (unity in diversity) and the European identity as a single voice (social).

In response to a blurring of the distinction between internal constraints and external threats – radicalization, energy and cyber insecurity and populist regimes –, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini established the New Cultural Diplomacy Platform (NCP hereafter) in 2016.

In order to eliminate terminological ambiguity, cultural diplomacy is understood from both a realist “balance of power” approach and a conceptual “reflexive” approach (Triandafyllidou and Szucs, 2017). Whereas the prior refers to an art of dialogue to advance and protect the nation’s interest abroad (ex. joint EU cultural events – film festivals, bilateral programs – Supporting the Strengthening of Tunisia’s Cultural Sector, creation of European Cultural Houses, Culture and Creativity Programme, Media and culture for development in the Southern Mediterranean region, and the NCP). The latter, a more reflexive approach, is a policy in itself, promoting sustainable social and economic development through people-to-people diplomacy (e.g. cultural exchanges – like Erasmus Plus, the Development and Cooperation Instrument and its sub-programmes, the Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the ENI Cross Border Cooperation, the Civil Society Facility). By applying it to the EU; on one hand, it contributes to global visibility and influence of the EU through soft power and, on the other hand, it seeks to promote economic growth and social cohesion through civil societies (Trobbiani, 2017: 3-5).

Despite being financed by the Partnership Instrument (PI), which has for its objective the enhancement of the “widespread understanding and visibility of the Union”, the EU’s NCP is a balance of both the realist and conceptual approach to cultural diplomacy (European Commission, 2016b). As such it is a strategy of resilience that responds to a new reality in which the emergence of non-traditional security threats and a shift in citizens from independent observers to active participants demands a constructive dialogue that engages all the concerned stakeholders – national governments, international organizations and civil societies (Higgot, 2017: 6-8 and European Union, 2016). As a strategy of societal or cultural resilience, resilience is understood in terms of the society’s inclusiveness, prosperity and security. According to the Global Strategy of 2016, it aims for pluralism, coexistence and respect by “deepening work on education, culture and youth” (European Union, 2016). In other words, it invests in creative industries, such as Think Tanks, Cultural Institutes or local artists, to preserve a cultural identity, further economic prosperity and enhance soft power.

By seeking global understanding and visibility, the EU’s recent interest in International Cultural Relations (ICR) and Culture Diplomacy (CD) reflect the entity’s ongoing need for a single voice and a single common external policy. This effort demonstrates the significance of culture in soft politics by highlighting the relationship between culture and foreign policy. Perhaps the more appropriate question is to what extent can Mogherini’s NCP convert culture in a tool of soft power? And is such a strategy – ICR and NCP – an effective communication and coordination model before the current internal and external security threats, or will it undermine its narrative?

III. Culture and Soft Power

The shift in the concept of security demands a revisiting of the concept of soft power. In this case, cultural diplomacy must be understood in terms of soft power and soft power must be understood in terms of capacity - capacity to attract and influence. Soft power according to Joseph Nye’s notion of persuasion grows out of “intangible power resources”: “such as culture, ideology and institutions” (Nye, 1992: 150-170).

The EU as a product of cultural dialogues is a civilian power, a normative power and a soft power. The power of persuasion of the EU relies on its legitimacy and credibility in its institutions (European Union, 2016a and Michalski, 2005: 124-141). For this reason, the consistency between the identity the EU wishes to portray and the practices it should pursue is fundamental to the projection of itself as a credible international actor.  This consistency will be necessary if the EU is to fulfill its goal to “enhance unity in diversity”. To do otherwise, would contradict its liberal values and solidify the populist prejudices against the EU. Thus, internal legitimacy and credibility as sources of soft power are ultimately dependent on the consistence between the EU’s identity narrative and democratic values reflected in its practices (European Union, 2016). Cultural diplomacy responds to the inconsistency by demanding reflection on one hand and enhancing that identity on the other hand. For example, the positive images of Europe through the OPEN Neighborhood communication program helps advance specific geopolitical interests by creating better lasting conditions for cooperation with countries like Algeria, Libya and Syria to the south and Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to the East. This is relevant to what Nye coined soft power or “co-optive power”: “The ability of a country to structure a situation so that other countries develop preferences or define their interests in consistence with its own” (see Nye, 1990: 168). Soft power applied to culture can work both indirectly or directly. It works indirectly when it is independent of government control (e.g. Popular culture) and directly via cultural diplomacy (e.g. NCP). Foreign policy actors - can act as advocates of a certain domestic culture both consciously – e.g. politicians – and unconsciously – e.g. local artists. By doing so they serve as agents for other countries or channels for their soft power.

V. Culture and foreign policy

If soft power grows out of the EU’s culture, domestic values and policies then culture is both a foundation and resource of foreign policy (Liland, 1993: 8). First, as a foundation, foreign policy operates within the cultural framework of any given society or society in which it wishes to interact. Thus, necessitating a domestic cultural context capable of being influenced (e.g. the difference in the accession negotiations between Croatia and Turkey and the appeal of economic integration, on one hand, and the ability to adjust human rights policies, on the other hand). And secondly, as a resource, the cultural interchange yields power to the EU. This ability of attitudes, feelings and popular images to influence foreign policy, domestic politics and social life demonstrates culture’s ability to be a power resource of its own (Liland, 1993: 9-14 and Walt, 1998). This is significant because cultural interchange will increase as the acceleration of globalization makes communication faster, cheaper and more accessible. And lastly, as part of foreign policy, it diffuses information and obtains favorable opinions in the nation at the receiving end (Liland, 1993:12-13).

Therefore, Cultural Diplomacy at the forefront of European Foreign Policy does not signify the use of culture to substitute the traditional foreign policy goals – geography, power, security, political and economic – but the use of culture to support and legitimize them. In other words, culture is not the primary agent in the process to foreign policy rather the foundation that reinforces, contradicts or explains its content (e.g. Wilsonian idealism in the 1920s can be traced to a domestic culture of “manifest destiny” at the time) (Liland, 1993 and Kim, 2011: 6).

V. Conclusions

The purpose of the article has been to highlight the significance of culture relative to soft power and foreign policy as theoretical foundations for understanding the logic of the EU’s New Cultural Diplomacy Platform. By identifying culture as playing an integral role in contributing to social cohesion within the EU and strengthening its influence as a global actor outside the EU, we can deduct culture as a source of soft power and an instrument of foreign policy. But the sources of soft power – culture, political values and foreign policy – are dependent on three conditions: (1) a favorable context; (2) credibility in values and practice; and (3) a perception of legitimacy and moral authority (see Nye, 2006). The EU must first legitimize itself as a coherent actor and moral authority so as to be able to effectively deal with its existential crises (European Union, 2016a: 9 and Tuomioja, 2009).

To do so, it must overcome its institutional and structural constraints by collectively confronting its external non-traditional security threats. This demands a strategy of resilience in which the EU is not a threat to national identity as a cultural, economic and legislative entity (Higgot, 2017: 11-13 and La Porte, 2016).

Various themes relating to culture and soft power, culture and foreign policy and the EU and its internal dynamics are covered in this article, however little has been said on the impact of a “uniform cultural system” and how foreign policy can influence the culture of a society. Culture is not an end in itself nor are the intercultural dialogues and the development on cultural diplomacy. The Union must be cautious to evolving into a dehumanizing bureaucratic structure that favors a standard culture to counter both its internal constraints and external, non-traditional security threats. If democracy is one of the prevailing values of the EU and democracy is a system based on trust in human responsibility, then the EU cultural diplomacy must foster trust rather than impose a standard culture. According to Vaclav Havel, it can do so by supporting cultural institutions respective of the plurality and freedom of culture, such as those fundamental to one’s national identity and traditions of the land. In other words, culture must be subsidized to best suit its plurality and freedom as is the case with heritage sites, libraries, museums and public archives – or witnesses to our past (Havel, 1992). By incentivizing historical reflection, cultural diplomacy promotes shared narratives of cultural identities. To do otherwise does not only solidify the populist rhetoric and internal prejudices against the Union but is endemic to cultural totalitarianism, or worse, cultural relativism.

To aspire to a “uniform culture system” through an agreed European narrative would be to trade off pluralism and freedom and consequently contradict, first the nature of culture and secondly, the liberal values in which the Union was founded on.



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