Comment on Cultural Diplomacy

By H.E Amb. Gebhardt von Moltke (ICD Advisory Board Member –Former German Ambassador to the UK and NATO)


Cultural diplomacy has been for long an important part of international relations. Governments and their cultural institutes like Goethe, Cervantes, Institut Francais or British Council have a long tradition to bringing their countries´culture to other countries and people. Personally, in my years in London I have laid a great emphasis on public and cultural diplomacy in order to convey a realistic picture of Germany and to provide for a bridge for a better under-standing.

In today´s globalized world cultural diplomacy is of growing importance. The new media and the enhanced facilities for travelling and migration bring people and peoples in great number closer together. In looking for contacts they may be driven by curiosity only but if they want to judge a foreign country on the basis of their own national background they risk arriving at a misinterpretation or a mistaken judgment easily.

Language and culture make up for a country´s identity. They are key for understanding attitudes and behavior. There-for, the German Foreign Office, for instance, devotes a large part of its annual budget to cultural diplomacy. In addition, we all share in today´s world across borders and nations common public interests and challenges affecting our life regarding a healthy environment and climate change, the preservation of decent living conditions (health, food, water) or basic human rights which give cultural diplomacy a new important meaning. The ICD Annual Academic Conference on Cultural Diplomacy in December in Berlin is a good venue to explore these issues.