By Dr. Eugenio Matos G.
Minister Counselor, Dominican Republic Embassy in The Hague.
In my line of work at the Embassy of the Dominican Republic here in The Hague, 75% of my time is dedicated to excelling in the art of Public Diplomacy. This is my passion and I have thoroughly enjoyed it since my first official assignment in Montreal in 1986. It was my honor and privilege to have been the first to introduced the concept of this buona pratica which defined the Dominican Public Diplomacy at my embassy in Canada in 2004. Positive results were quickly achieved in winter 2005 thanks to an open-minded entrepreneur-ambassador and economist. He allowed me to play l’art de la Diplomatie publique in Ottawa, even though it was somewhat outside the box and far from bureaucratic procedures and unproductive traditional diplomatic techniques.
With the arrival of a new Head of mission in Ottawa in 2007, I received the green light from my new boss, Dr. Luis Arias, a lawyer, former Dean at the University of Santo Domingo and a prolific writer, to finalize under his supervision what former US Ambassador David Wilkins dubbed “An outstanding Public Diplomacy result for such a small country like the DR”. H.E. Dr. Alvaro Marcelo Moerzinger, currently Ambassador of Uruguay to The Hague and former ambassador to Canada, witnessed many of our public affairs strategies in Ottawa. We endeavored to highlight two selected illustrations, one of which was the introduction of “Xmas of the Americas” http://www.artemapale.com/Xmas2007.html and “Poetry of the Americas” http://www.artemapale.com/poesia.html
In the Netherlands, the Dominican Embassy in The Hague has achieved a thriving Public Diplomacy program as part of our foreign policy. In addition to the six top art exhibitions, four concerts, four publications, a new user-friendly bilingual website, and the launch of our first bilateral Chamber of Commerce and trade missions, the subscriber would have never imagined the direct liaison that lies between fine arts and the International Criminal Court*, until this magnificent personal experience https://diplomatmagazine.eu/2013/08/04/international-criminal-justice-day-2/
Video at the ICC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GM6dijsEwDI
More recently, it was an opportunity to be a participant at the celebrations commemorating the centennial of the PeacePalace last 28 August here in The Hague. I had the privilege not only to salute dignitaries on behalf of my country, but I was also delighted to see how impressed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s wife, Madam Yoo (Ban) Soon-taek, was whilst touring Peace Palace’s permanent art exhibition.
Moreover, editor Roy Lee illustrates in this month’s Diplomat Magazine, the initiative of H.E. Haim Divon, Ambassador of Israel, in gathering sportive Head of diplomatic missions to instill a novel Public Diplomacy concept which is quite fitting for The Netherlands called “Cycling Diplomacy”. Diplomatic colleagues from different embassies concur that a competitive diplomatic mission undoubtedly dictates at least 60% of their agenda as it relates to Public Diplomacy. Sometimes this percentage falls short due to special circumstances, such as during the Inti-Raymi, which was organized at the magnificent Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam last June.
On certain days, participating embassies like Bolivia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela have been known to fill most of their agenda with the organization of the Inti-Raymi. It was an extraordinary cultural program which was made possible due to the initiative of H.E. Miguel Eduardo Calahorrano, Ambassador of Ecuador to the Netherlands. Jose Luis Jacome, Counselor at the Embassy of Ecuador, is very enthusiastic about Ecuador’s Diplomacia ciudadana, Ecuador’s Public Diplomacy https://diplomatmagazine.eu/2013/08/04/management-of-public-diplomacy-and-regional-brands/
Public diplomacy is the weapon of mass culture. It is the armor for better country-branding overseas as well as an art of introducing the values of one’s own country to foreign audiences at the receiving State. However, in order to win the hearts and minds of the Dutch, we need to be familiar with Bitterballen, Poffertjes, Hollandse Haring and l’art des merveilles culinaires des Pays-Bas. Art is a universal language in our search for common ground and an outstanding expression of our shared humanity in an ever changing globalized world.
Picture: National Theater of Panama. Pianist Luis Troetsh and soprano Elisa Troetsch Pérez, both from Panama, and the author with a violin during a gala concert organized by the Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Panama, February, 2010, in the presence of the Minister of foreign affairs of Panama, the corps diplomatique and special guests. http://elsoldesantiago.com/2010/03/21671/
The author is Honorary Associate Publisher of Diplomat Magazine.