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The Public and Cultural Diplomacy of NATO and the EU

by on April 29, 2012

Comparing the Public and Cultural Diplomacy of two states is fascinating and leads to a great deal of insight in to their foreign policy aims and targets.  Observing non-state actor’s involvement in Public and Cultural Diplomacy likewise provides an interesting take on the methods in which Public and Cultural Diplomacy can be conducted; however there is a lot of scepticism around where we draw the line on who we can call actors.  NATO and the EU are organisations that are made up of member states.  Any form of Public and Cultural Diplomacy therefore must be analysed as a body working together, and the focus of the Diplomacy (the receiving state) and ‘projects’ undertaken are completely relevant to the different organisations.

One of the differences that can be observed between NATO and the EU is that the EU has a much more decentralised style towards Public and Cultural Diplomacy compared to the centralised style of NATO.  This can be seen on their websites where there is a striking difference in structure and management.

The European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) seeks ‘to facilitate cultural co-operation’ with members working in over 150 countries.  This is based on the notion that the EU is multicultural and not only prides itself in this but brands itself as diverse.  The EUNIC network describes itself as an active network, a learning network, a partnering network and an advocacy network.  By drawing on this diversity it centres its activities on the ‘Language Rich Europe’.  One of these projects is ‘Projects – From Routes to Roots: Transnational writings in contemporary Europe (’.  This was held at a university in Victoria, Australia in 2011, and involved three authors form Germany, Italy and the UK who reflected ‘the transnational’ in a contemporary Europe.  They discussed their work and debated with the audience to draw attention to how global migration and the legacy of colonialism has brought new communities to Europe, resulting in the evolving face of Europe made up of transnational identities.

Unlike the strong focus on culture by the EU, NATO has a strong Public Diplomacy division.  This Public Diplomacy division includes a NATO Multimedia Library, Fellowship and Sponsorship programmes, a NATO information and Documentation Centre in Kyiv, Ukraine and a NATO Information Office in Moscow, Russia (  Among the Fellowship and Sponsorship programmes is the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) (, and among the programmes in the SPS is a programme of support between scientists and experts from Russia and NATO countries.  This programme brings these different experts together to work on issues such as defence against terrorist threats and countering threats to security such as environmental, disaster threats or modelling sustainable consumption, food security and biotechnology.  This NATO-Russia cooperation promotes, encourages and co-ordinates joint co-operative nationally funded projects, involving experts from NATO countries and Russia.

These two examples of Public and Cultural Diplomacy by the EU and NATO make very different use of academia to bring the organisations closer together with non-member countries.  I can’t help but consider the specific focus of NATO on Russia and Eastern Europe in the Public Diplomacy division reflects the Public and Cultural Diplomacy of the USA during the Cold War yet it also reflects the fact that NATO is a collective defence organisation whereas EU encompasses a lot more than that.  An ordinary civilian from a country that is a member of both organisations would undoubtedly feel a greater sense of belonging to the EU than NATO, so it is of great significance that the EU builds on this image of diversity and culture and demonstrates this around the world.


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One Comment
  1. isabelletreat permalink

    Heya! I really liked that post! I think you draw a very interesting and informed comparison between the two approaches and I agree that those differences are very strongly related to the fact that the EU and NATO are very different organisations with different aims and assets.
    I would like to point you towards and interview with NATO’sDeputy Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, who mentions the specific focus on Eastern Europe/ Russia by saying: “Some of them have only limited knowledge of what NATO actually is and what the Alliance is doing, what it has on its agenda. Some of them have stereotypical thinking still in their minds, so we need to address these publics with specific programs.”
    The interview can be found here:
    My only other suggestion on how to improve this already very interesting blog would be to add some pictures or videos. From past experience, I always feel that the better we use the opportunities that working online gives us and go beyond just using text, the more favourable that will refelct in our grades 🙂
    The link i sent includes the video of the interview, that could add a nice touch, or simply inserting a screenshot of one of their websites! I think that might make it a bit more attention grabbing 🙂
    All the best

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