AMBASSADOR DR. EMIL BRIX:
Good evening from my side, and thank you for inviting
me for this evening. And I have to say it is refreshing to be
the only man on the panel. (laughter) [inaudible] I do not abuse this situation. My daily work is cultural diplomacy.
And I have to say at the very beginning, I’m not sure that I know what
cultural diplomacy really is. Why I’m saying this…Austria tries
to be very strong in cultural diplomacy. We are doing a lot. I could give you
all the list like you did about U.S. public diplomacy, cultural diplomacy.
But why, I am not sure whether the 5,000 projects we support annually
worldwide are cultural diplomacy or they are arts exchange. We tend to say
we can manage to have it both ways. We can say that when we do exchange
that it might be helpful to bring people closer to each other, to bring nations closer.
You mentioned, again, the very typical role of cultural diplomacy that is the belief
that if you have more cultural relations, you do not kill each other immediately,
but you understand the other better. I am not so sure whether better
cultural exchange, more cultural exchange automatically means also a better
understanding between people. This is an assumption we all do in
all countries, Austria included. But when we look especially
in the European history, I would say countries and people
who know each other quite well are also ready sometimes
to fight against each other, and especially neighboring countries.
Having said that, so culture is not a pre-requisite…the only pre-requisite
for better relations, I would also at the same time say there is a fair
chance that if we invest in more cultural relations,
that we understand each other better. I’ll give you one example
from the Austrian situation. We had in the year 2002,
a real problem concerning Polish-Austrian relations.
Poland at that time, wanted to join the European Union,
as other countries in the former Eastern Block, but the reputation
Poland had in Austria was very low. When we asked people in 2001
whether they had a favorable assessment of Poland and Polish people
and Polish culture, there was only about 25 percent
who said yes, and 75 percent said no. So the thing that developed
with the Polish government actually, and artists from Poland, was let’s
try to concentrate for a full year on cultural relations, as exchanges
between Poland and Austria, call it Polish year in Austria.
And then we checked after the year. So we had an opinion poll after
the year whether it really changed the mind of people in this country.
And I was very surprised. Five percent more had a favorable
image of Poland in Austria, after this massive attempt to
invade Austria with Polish culture. So possibly, it is possible to use
cultural exchange if you do it in the right way, and if you do it
on the citizens’ level, to change reputation image of countries. Why are we doing this if this is not for sure? I would say we are doing it because
it is a much better approach to relations and diplomacy than
only what you call “hard power.” And I am mentioning the term hard power
here because, in the theoretical context of what international relations should be,
every country is thinking about how much hard power should we use
and how much soft power should we use. But that was very interesting to see that
in the United States over the last 15 years, this discussion about cultural diplomacy
turned into a discussion about soft power. There is some researcher
called Joseph Nye, who even then after he wrote
the book on soft power, was invited to prepare a study,
I guess already for the incoming U.S. administration,
how the American people after 9/11 and after the Iraq War can possibly
become more popular worldwide, how they can sort of strengthen
their credibility. I would have said this is possibly
not only related to good or less good cultural diplomacy.
It has to do with policy also. So one of the things that
I would like to stress here is whatever we do in cultural diplomacy,
you should never try to be too far away from real politics
and from the real situation in your own country and also
your own artistic scene. So don’t believe that with
cultural diplomacy, you can create images which do
not relate to reality. And this is not something
far-fetched to say, because when I realized…
may I criticize the former administration in
the United States? Am I allowed? FEMALE SPEAKER:
Of course. AMBASSADOR BRIX:
I am allowed. When the second Bush Administration…
it became clear that hard power alone will not solve the problems
for the United States, the Administration decided to have
a secretary called Karen Hughes, who had the direct job from
President Bush to create a new network of cultural diplomacy
to use all the possibilities of soft power to change the
image of the United States, which presumably was
seen as being too negative, because of the Iraq War, worldwide.
The result of this was that Karen Hughes retired even before the end
of President Bush’s Administration because the idea was…that Karen Hughes
was given…the brief that was given was to provide the world an image
of the excellent cultural expectations and values of the American nation.
And this has been, I think, from the very beginning, a problematic
approach, because when you really want to do cultural diplomacy,
you have to accept that excellency is quite equally divided among the nations.
It’s not good to start with the idea that you know better than the others.
And so, the recipe that we try to follow in our cultural diplomacy is saying
that it’s not so much about teaching others about the qualities of our culture
or our traditions. It’s much more about trying to network,
bring people together, try to make them work together.
And hopefully, out of this comes also some sort of interests of which relates
people to each other so that… and as a consequence also it improves
the image and reputation of other countries. I believe…this is already…my final
sentence is I believe that we need a lot of investment in this.
And I’m not satisfied, I have to say, with any of the effort in European countries,
including my own country, Austria, where we would need much more
investment in our cultural diplomacy. But I have to say there is some hope
in the United States now, because, as you mentioned, the Obama Administration
has promised from Secretary Clinton that a new term will be realized in
your way you do diplomacy, which is called “smart power.”
Again, I’m not so sure what it really is, but Hillary Clinton used it in her
first speech in front of the Congress. She said that the future of diplomacy
of the United States depends very much on smart power.
I’m a [inaudible] Austrian, so I’m not sure what
smart power may mean, but when we asked the Americans,
they said, “Well, that’s a clever combination of hard and soft power.” (laughter) I was as wise as before I got this answer. Where I think it is…we have to work on
is what was also mentioned by the new Administration is we should
invest in citizen diplomacy. People should talk to each other.
We need the investment of people who are interested to work together.
I believe that the world is a battle for the minds, and if politics
wants to change minds of people, they have to accept that.
But I prefer that artists, writers, and others do this on a very concrete,
direct level, and hopefully more than they did it so far, also between
Austria and the United States. Thank you. (applause)