Ukrainian public diplomacy in the XXI Century: Evolution and practice

Mykhaylo Komarnytskyy,
Ph.D. (Political Science), Associate Professor,
Department of International Relations and Diplomacy, Ivan Franko National University of Lviv,

Center for American Studies, Ivan Franko National University of Lviv,

In the context of forming foreign policy in the global information space and deepening the processes of information and economic integration of states, an important component of Ukraine’s foreign policy and national security is the creation of a positive image and promotion of state interests in the international arena. There is a need to determine an effective mechanism for informing the world community about current events in Ukraine within modern globalization and geopolitical conditions. The process of European integration, which is a strategic vector of Ukraine’s policy in accordance with the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU, also needs a new model of communication and information support.

The popularization of Ukraine in the world is an important step on the path to European integration and a qualitative guideline for the internal transformation of society, an indicator of fundamental democratic values. Today, the sphere of public diplomacy in Ukraine is at the stage of formation and there is a gradual process of its institutionalization:

– in the field of public administration by establishing the Department of Public Diplomacy within the structure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine in 2015. Its key tasks include developing public relations with non-governmental organizations and the media from other countries; implementation of cultural and information projects about Ukraine abroad and coordination of activities of other executive bodies in these areas;

– in the sphere of civil society by the adoption of the strategy of development of public diplomacy through the professional network “Global Ukrainians” in 2017, which involves most active leaders from Ukrainian foreign students community, NGO’s and diaspora.

The analysis of the data of the effectiveness of public diplomacy in Ukraine after the Revolution of Dignity highlighted several problematic issues that need a comprehensive solutions: 1) the fragmentation and incoordination of the actions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine indicate the absence of a systematic (general) state policy/strategy in the field of public diplomacy (including cultural and digital diplomacy); 2) absence of systematic actions by the state in the field of public diplomacy. This issue is mainly taken care of by volunteers, public organizations and representatives of the diaspora. Undoubtedly, “volunteer” or “citizen” diplomacy plays a huge role in the process of promoting the interests of Ukraine’s foreign policy. At the same time, volunteers cannot replace state institutions, which are primarily responsible for the development of the strategy and its clear implementation. In the absence of such government guidance and strategic management by the state, it is almost impossible to avoid a situation where the strategies of the diaspora and volunteer organizations begin to compete with each other; 3) the thematic area of disseminated information about Ukraine is mostly devoted to the history and past glory of the Ukrainian people, its traditional culture, while modern Ukrainian culture is mostly ignored by the government, which significantly complicates the perception and understanding of modern Ukrainians. The outlined priority tasks and problematic issues form a new subject field for research for the Ukrainian academic community, including the development of the Strategy of Public Diplomacy in Ukraine, which should formulate conceptual principles and priorities of Ukrainian public diplomacy.

The main difficulty for the traditional presentation of public diplomacy as a tool for communication between the government and the foreign community is that public diplomacy is based on the unification of the state with the valuable resources of national actors. This encourages states (Ministries of Foreign Affairs) to develop coordination strategies to involve national actors in the formation of platforms to promote image and values, around which there may be synergies in involving the foreign public.

Analysis of the current state of development of public diplomacy in Ukraine allows to reasonably identify two priority areas for the development of public diplomacy in Ukraine: development and implementation of long-term image strategy of the state on the principles of proactive management and organization of coordination of activities of numerous state and non-governmental subjects of public diplomacy. An integral part of public diplomacy should be the synergy of the public and NGO sectors and the improvement of the mechanism of coordination of their interaction, so that public diplomacy does not remain only a declaration and does not appear only in the name of state structures. Finally, in order to solve the problems of ensuring the effectiveness of the system of public diplomacy, the subjects must effectively interact in the prescribed manner with other state bodies, local governments, associations of citizens, institutions and enterprises as well as international organizations.

Expert article 2913

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