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Public Diplomacy efforts between Asia and Europe bearing fruit

Published on 04 May 2015

Guest Article

30 diplomats from ASEM member countries completed the Asia-Europe Public Diplomacy Training at the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR) on 10-12 March 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After a successful 2014 edition in Geneva, Switzerland, this 2nd training edition has opened new doors to strengthen Public Diplomacy for better Asia-Europe dialogue.

After a 3-day intensive training in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 30 diplomats from 21 member countries of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) have mastered the techniques, arguments, and tools to achieve better results in terms of public affairs, outreach and visibility.The Asia-Europe Public Diplomacy Initiative, started in 2014, is operated by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), the Geneva-based DiploFoundation and the National Centre for Research on Europe (NCRE) – University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and supported by the Government of the Swiss Confederation.

“Malaysia, being ‘truly Asian’ proves its willingness here to be an active player of the Asia-Europe dialogue", explained H.E. Dato Mohammad Hussin NAYAN, Director General of the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia.

All subjects inherent to public diplomacy, from cultural diplomacy to diaspora exchanges, or conduct of prominent events like festivals or exhibitions, have been at the heart of this training and the interactive discussions provided by ASEF, DiploFoundation and NCRE. "Public Diplomacy brings ASEM countries closer, and touch upon the very crucial question of understanding", highlighted Mr Rolff OTT, Deputy Head of the Swiss Embassy to Malaysia.

Unique in its kind, this Asia-Europe Public Diplomacy Training Initiative mixes formal training sessions and live exercise sessions where participants work in groups to imagine ambitious campaigns, slogans, logos and activities to promote the Asia-Europe dialogue. Assisted by academics, media professionals and experienced diplomats, and taking advantage of the Asia-Europe perceptions study conducted over 12 years by NCRE, these early and mid-career diplomats are bringing back home to their respective ministries a new set of talents and ideas to be put in use for summits or events related to the ASEM process.

"ASEF is delighted to help build a new bridge among countries and societies of both continents", added Mr Thierry SCHWARZ, ASEF’s Director for Political and Economic department.

Too often, as the famous British writer Rudyard Kilpling wrote, the assumption is that “East is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet". But thanks to this Public Diplomacy Training Initiative, that very statement is being proved wrong. When brought together, diplomats' fertile imaginations prove to be the best remedy to cultural misunderstandings, and a very useful tool to make political and economic cooperation more result-oriented.

Several ASEM member countries have already shown interest to host further training. The next edition is planned to take place end of August 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand. This initiative also includes an online training course in June.

Open to all ASEM members, this training initiative will soon launch a new round of call for applications. All ASEM countries and organisations are encouraged to send candidates.

Click here to read more on the Asia-Europe Public Diplomacy Initiative.

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Guest Writer:

Mr Richard WERLY

Correspondant à Paris - Paris Correspondent 

Le Temps