In our Public Diplomacy class today, we discussed at length the significance of "Collaboration" for effective public diplomacy through sustainable relationship-building. As defined by Cowan and Arsenault, "Collaboration" primarily refers to "initiatives that feature cross-national participation in a joint venture or project with a clearly defined goal." According to them, collaboration can take a wide range of forms, including but not limited to "solving shared problems or conflicts," "advancing shared visions," or "the completion of a physical project,"
As outlined in this Euronews segment, NATO's Science for Peace and Security Program does just that in the Southern Caucasus:
Those involved are only several individuals (at the moment), but it is at the level of individuals that such constructive collaboration and understanding take root. These relationships are the ones to later provide the foundation for a "constructive" communication between the wider societies. Not only do these people get to invest in a "shared-interest" goal, but they also have to spend time together. Working on common problems (and looking for solutions, together) gradually helps to build trust and establish relationships, breaking stereotypes and creating the "third space" not just for communication, but also for interaction (which will bring about long-term "commitment", to use RS Zaharna's words).
Such an initiative by NATO, then, helps to bring more advanced agricultural techniques to the region (and thus, develop it) and new approaches to conflict resolution, as well as facilitates the creation of an environment conducive to public diplomacy. And here, I am referring to the public diplomacy of not just the actual countries involved, but also that of NATO itself. After all, having a stable and conflict-free region is in everyone's interest, and it's great to see that the long-term efforts that focus on relationship-building are still very much under way.
Although tonight's post was supposed to be on a completely different subject, it is currently too late and I am too tired to be able to formulate my thoughts in any coherent shape or form (mostly due to snow-related transportation problems: really dislike winter!). So, I'll leave at that, promising a more substantial/analytical post for tomorrow.