Public Diplomacy and Global Communication 2014c

The Significance of Tourism Destination Branding: Branding Bulgaria

The gurus of nation branding are considered to be Wally Olins and Simon Anholt. They focus on nation branding simply because in a globalised world such as ours the competition between states for foreign direct investment (FDI), tourism and exports constantly increases. According to them nation branding is all about the image of a country across the world. Bulgaria in specific is highly dependent on its image as a tourist destination.

The actuality of the problem concerning the positioning of the foreign tourism market is justified, first, by the fact that tourism at present, provides a significant proportion of the foreign exchange earnings of Bulgaria, secondly, from the existing resource conditions for its further development. Hence this is one of the many good reasons to make an extra effort to build a more stable and recognizable brand of Bulgaria as a tourist destination.

The image of the destinations is influenced directly by the country’s national brand. Marketing of tourist destinations includes a set of activities to satisfy the consumers’ interest and demand. Marketing of a destination must engage with the complicated task of uniting heterogeneous product, which is offered by a large number of economic entities with different scales.In today’s highly competitive world, tourist destinations are fighting for every tourist, through the offering of attractive tourism products, prices, service, entertainment, security, and image perception to current and potential tourists.

With a unique and poorly known culture, ancient historical monuments, a varied climate, geographical positioning, offering multiple and varied tourist products, Bulgaria is an attractive tourist destination with potential for development. That’s why the future tourist Bulgarian position, following the strategic actions taken in recent years, must rely on four competing factors – the history, art and culture, traditions, and cuisine -showing its most powerful features: Uniqueness of the cultural and historical heritage; Regional tour leadership; Geographical position; Spa and seaside resorts; Price-quality ratio.

The country largely relies on natural resources as a source of formation and development of the tourism sector. The comparison in this respect with some major competitors shows the following. Bulgaria is among the European countries with the lowest indicators regarding the repeated visit of foreign tourists and on the recommendation of the country of their acquaintances. This is clear from a study done in the framework of the project “promotion of quality and sustainable development of tourist enterprises of the Bulgarian Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism.

Survey of 108 foreign tourists in Bulgaria found that only 21% plan to visit the country at an average rate for Europe 48%. Less than half of respondents (43%) have declared that they will recommend his compatriots to Bulgaria as a tourist destination, with Euro norm by 71%. [1]

The main type of tourism, with which it is associated, according to the “Bulgarian Sea Union Brandt Bulgaria”, foreign tourists are much less familiar with the other hiking opportunities available in the country. From the information presented in this work, the following conclusions can be:  1. Bulgaria has a positive image among Bulgarian and foreign tourists; 2. Lacking a unified and consistent image of the country through which it emphatically to be distinguished from the other competing tourist destinations;  3. the country is generally perceived as a peaceful destination, with beautiful scenery, good food with good conditions for SPA/Wellness and alternative tourism, good properties.  4. Destination that offers good conditions for sea and mountain-skiing tourism;  5. Inexpensive destination

Whilst World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) predicts that by 2017, Bulgarian will attract over 16 million visitors a year-more than twice the number recorded in 2009, these projections are indicative of larger investment opportunities, not only in traditional areas such as hotels, restaurants, beach and ski resorts, but also alternative opportunities for tourism in the country. WTTC’s opinion shows that the development of alternative forms of tourism in Bulgaria, are opportunities to attract foreign tourists, as well as the creation of diverse tourism products in order to expand the market and the provision of alternative forms of tourism[2].

According to a survey of Holiday Barometer for 2012, which is done annually by British post, Bulgarian was in fourth place in the world as a country with the best quality of the tourist product at an affordable price. According to the survey, tourism in Bulgaria is no longer divided into summer and winter, and is part of the global health, Spa, ECO and golf tourism[3]. However, a very small portion of foreign tourists associate the country country with a rich historical heritage, and hence with the possibilities for exploring the famous cultural attractions.

Although each potential user is surrounded by numerous brands that have a direct and indirect impact of its consumer behaviour, lack of brand appears to be a huge obstacle. The capital of the brand is what you need to effectively manage to bring lasting success of the tourist destination. The brand is the starting point for all marketing decisions and all the communication activities. Creating a brand of destination is the definition and expression of the uniqueness of the destination, it represents not only the creation of a logo, but also the creation of verbal and visual identity, while building the brand includes strategic planning for the positioning on the market and the platform of communication activities. Therefore, the role of tourism destination branding in Bulgaria is very important, not only because it presents the image of the country across the world, but also because an effective branding can lead to economic and cultural development.


[1] (Electronic document: project: “development of the brand” Bulgarian “, product and regional brands and introducing integrated brand management”, the main results of the research in the first phase )

[2] (Electronic document: Travel and Tourism: Economic Impact, Bulgaria. Accessed12.05.2015 )

[3] (Electronic document: Holiday Barometer collects data on prices in different countries around the world and groups those data in analysis for potential tourists compared to the living standards of the particular destination accessed 12.05.2015 )


The Role of Animal Diplomacy in the Political World

Animals have a long history of being used as symbols of power and diplomacy. This work focuses on several examples of animal diplomacy across the world. It is a well-known fact that pet ownership can have positive effect on humans, but is this the case when it comes to politics? Well, it seems that many people believe animals can actually contribute to the development of good international relations.

For instance, ‘Panda Diplomacy’ is very popular worldwide. This type of Chinese diplomacy dates back to the seventh century, when Empress Wu Zetian sent a pair of pandas as a gift to the Japanese emperor. Since the end of the Second World War to the early 1980s, the Republic of China “gave 23 pandas to nine different countries[1]”. One of the most recent examples of ‘Panda Diplomacy’ happened in 2014 when a pair of pandas (Ms. Feng Yi and Mr. Fu Wa) were sent from China to Malaysia on a diplomatic mission. The aim of the mission was “to cement the relationship between the two states and help them get past the considerable trauma caused to that relationship by the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370”[2]. ‘Panda Diplomacy’ is generally seen as a huge success because of its attractiveness to the public. Pandas are very peaceful animals so perhaps this is the reason so many countries are happy to receive them and accept them as a symbol of good relationship between China and the host state.

Another example of animal diplomacy is the so called ‘Koala Diplomacy’ which took place at the G20 meeting in 2014. Of course the initiative came from Australia which is the motherland for koalas. Interestingly, “most of the world leaders were captured hugging away, even those who had threatened each other verbally weeks and days before. The White House made a dad pun that got 70,000 likes and rising. US and Chinese media ignored the policies and loved the wildlife”[3].

Looking back in 2012 there was another type of animal diplomacy known as ‘Puppy Diplomacy’. The Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez received a puppy (black terrier) from his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. “The puppy was presented as the two countries signed trade agreements worth about $20 billion, including a pact to allow the tapping of new Venezuelan oilfields by the state-controlled Russian oil company Rosneft”[4]. So, once again animal diplomacy proved to have a positive impact. In fact, Vladimir Putin himself has been a target of puppy diplomacy by Bulgaria. In 2010 the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov gave to Putin a Bulgarian shepherd dog, which later proved to be one of his favourite pets. Indeed this was done while Pr. Putin was in Bulgaria to sign a gas pipeline deal.[5]

These are only a few of the many animal diplomacy examples, but the important thing is that they prove that soft power is important and can have positive impact, especially when animals are involved. Meanwhile the practice of animal diplomacy continues at present and hopefully will continue in future.

[1] Alleyne R., A history of Panda Diplomacy, the Telegrapg,published 10 January 2011, accessed 09.05.2015

[2] Taylor A., China, Malaysia and the weird world of panda diplomacy, the Washington Post, published 14 May 2014, accessed 09.05.2015

[3] Rimmer S., Koala diplomacy: Australian soft power saves the day at G20, The Conversation, published 17 November 2014, accessed 09.05.2015

[4] Boehler P., Puppy Diplomacy: Venezuela’s Chavez Receives a New Pet from Vladimir Putin, Time, published 29 September 2012, accessed 09.05.2015

[5]Vladimir Putin given a puppy during trip to Bulgaria, The Telegraph, published 16 November 2010, accessed 09.05.2015


Food is a vital part of a nations identity. This can be observed by the fact that every nation has dish that represents it, emphasised by phrases like ‘as American as apple pie’, when we talk about a country we usually draw connections to their cuisine. [1]People often identify with their national dishes or traditional family recipes and miss those and regional products when they are abroad. However often the origin of a dish is unclear (for example Dolma, which is eaten in varying forms from central Asia to the Balkans and from north Africa to Russia) and there are often outdated prejudice about the gastronomic culture of other countries. While the British are known for bad food, Bavarians are known for beer and pretzels, these are only prejudices based on stereotype. It might be true that traditional pub food is not appealing for everyone, but the number of gourmet restaurants offering food from all over the world is paralleled with that of other gastronomy capitals of the world and while no one could imagine Oktoberfest without beer and pretzels and Weißwurscht (only invented in 1857[2]) , Bavarian dishes representing the culinary culture of the region better include the Schweinsbraten (pork roast) usually served with Sauerkraut and Knödel, which is traditionally eaten on Sundays, and the Schweinshaxe usually served with sauerkraut and potato mash or roast potatoes.[3] (an entertaining blogpost about Bavarian cuisine can be found here)

‘Culinary diplomacy is defined by Sam Chapple-Sokol “as the use of food and cuisine as an instrument to create cross-cultural understanding in the hope of improving interactions and cooperation.”[4] Gastronomy has always been recognized to play a part in entertaining foreign diplomats and envoys. However until recently the relationship between food and diplomacy was rather passive. While private culinary diplomacy, negotiations and conversations while sharing a meal or drink, used to dominate in the past, the focus now is on public culinary diplomacy as a part of cultural diplomacy. The main idea behind this concept is “nations employing their culinary distinctiveness to appeal to foreign publics.”[5] It is argued that little known countries which are lacking a well-respected image, by promoting their cuisine can attract international attention.[6] While food certainly has the potential to put little known countries on the map, gastro diplomacy’s has the potential to spread knowledge about the countries’ culture and traditions is uncertain. Moreover it is highly questionable whether food has the power to change peoples conceptions of a certain country or that gastro diplomacy can have a clear impact on policy. Like in other areas of public diplomacy, success is hard to measure.

A case study conducted by Braden Ruddy has come to the conclusion “that food does have the potential to change public perceptions of national image” it also finds that “out of the range of potential benefits to arise from changing public perception through food, the potential to increase tourism was the most pronounced and tangible for countries.” Thailand discover the potential of gastro diplomacy and the first nation to launch a campaign based on the concept, many argue it was also the most successful nation of implementing “gastro diplomacy. The Global Thai campaign aimed at increasing the number of Thai restaurants around the world with the goal to “not only introduce deliciously Thai food to thousands of new tummies and persuade more people to visit Thailand, but it could subtly help to deepen relations with other countries.” (the economist) The initiative additionally aimed at ensuring a certain standard of Thai cuisine abroad by introducing a brand to certify restaurants. Thailand’s success inspired other such as south-Korea to follow suit. The Korean campaign ‘Korean Cuisine to the Word’ aims at increasing the number of Thai restaurants as well as making Korean one of the most popular ethic cuisines. [7] Taiwan also launched a gastro diplomacy with the aim to “differentiate the country from its giant and sometimes antagonistic neighbour, China, and to end the perception that Taiwan is little more than a mass-production workshop at the end of the world.”  It is not surprising that ,as another south-east Asian middle-power, Malaysia also joined the “gastro diplomacy” club.

While gastro diplomacy is thought to be most useful for small to middle-sized countries, superpowers like the United States also engaged in it in 2012 the diplomatic culinary partnership was launched. The campaign is endorsed by Hillary Clinton, however her outlook on the potential of gastro diplomacy might be a bit to positive.

Surprisingly another superpower, that is known around the world for its gourmet food, France is also concerned about gastro diplomacy. The video below addresses why a nation known for excellent food sees the need to engage in gastro diplomacy.

Two noteworthy “gastro diplomacy” projects are the Turkish Coffee Truck, that toured the United states before taking up Europe and provides free Turkish coffee with the aim to provide information on the history of topic and share the traditions that go hand in hand with enjoying coffee in turkey and the Conflict Kitchen in Pittsburgh, which only serves food from countries that are in conflict with the united states. Previously the conflict kitchen served food from Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela and at the moment the focus is on food, culture and politics from Palestine. Cultural dialogue is encouraged by events, performances, publications, and discussions organized by the conflict kitchen.

While “gastro diplomacy” initiated by the government often has a top-down approach and can easily seem to be a form of tourism promotion rather than a way to promote open dialogue about cultures or raise awareness for hot topics, private or partly state funded projects such as the Turkish coffee truck or the conflict kitchen have potential to provide historical context as well as encourage and stimulate cultural dialogue.

[1] Culinary diplomacy the hague journal



[4] Culinary diplomacy the hague journal

[5] Culinary diplomacy the hague journal

[6] Culinary diplomacy the hague journal

[7] Culinary diplomacy the hague journal

A common language that we all speak

Sport has the reputation to bring together nations in a peaceful setting, which has its roots in the Olympic Truce of ancient Greece. Every for years for the weeks of the games a truce would be called, enabling to enable the athletes to get the athletes to the games safely to that than inter-city hostilities could be resolved though sports competition rather than by force. However while some argue that sports competitions could be used as proxies to resolve hostilities and therefore to reduce the likelihood of armed international conflict, it could also be argued that the emphasis on competition among states that already have tense relations could enhance hostile feelings towards each other. The paper ‘Sports-Diplomacy: a hybrid of two halves’ (while not denying its potential to do good) gives a detailed overview about the negative effects that mixing diplomacy and sports can have.

While it is questionable wether sports can directly resolve international conflicts by taking them to the football field or track, or if it has the power to directly influence foreign policy sports transcends cultural differences and brings together people, it therefore has great potential to facilitate cultural exchange and to promote international understanding. As Ban Ki-moon said “sport is a language everyone of us can speak.” Sport has great potential as a tool of public and cultural diplomacy (for example in the form of sports exchanges), to enhance the image of a country (by successfully hosting a major sports event, like the Olympics or the Fifa World Cup) and to bring together states that have otherwise tense relations with each other.

One of the most famous examples of sports-diplomacy is the visit of the US table tennis team to China in 1971. While first proposed by the not-for profit National Comitee on USA-China Relations, it was embraced by Mao and Nixon as a means to test how the public would receive a rapprochement. Another famous example is the cricket diplomacy of India and Pakistan “An attempt to use sport to create a feel good atmosphere between the two countries at a time when the atmosphere of suspicion and hostility towards Pakistan is very strong.” First after the kashmire krisis in 2002 and again after the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008 cricket was used to reduce tension and pave the way for the slow normalization of relations.

North Korea raised international attention in relation to the topic of sports diplomacy based on Dennis Rodman’s unofficial Basketball Diplomacy. While opinions on Rodman’s “friendship” with Kim Jong-un polarize and many argue that it could possibly do more harm than good other aspects of sports diplomacy in North Korea have received less media attention.North Korea, a country that is not easy to visit even under normal circumstances, banned tourists from entering the country in the fall of 2014 due to concerns about the spread of Ebola. It reopened the borders in the realm of the Pyongyang marathon to allow “foreign amateurs” to take part in the sporting event. A more unconventional example was the first government sanctioned surf tour of 21 international surfers organized by the Korean International Travel Company in cooperation with the non-profit Surfing the Nations with the intention “to use surfing to create an atmosphere where we could promote a peaceful relationship between North Korea and the rest of the world” (Segoine) and the following announcement that north Korea would now commence surfing tourism. (more on North Korea and surfing here, a lecture by Laderman on surf diplomacy here and here you can book a surfing holiday in North Korea) 

Aside of the positive interaction in the realm of sport events, north Koreas nuclear expansion is still a threat. The country “could be on track to have an arsenal of 100 nuclear weapons by 2020.” Until now the US and its partners have not been able to engage in continuous negotiation with North Korea. Possibly building on the interaction in relation to sport, could work to facilitate a more active level of negotiation.

Another unconventional form of sport diplomacy is Skateboard Diplomacy, worth mentioning because of the potential of exchanging culture and values the close relation among members of the skate community bring with them. “Skating is not just a board with four wheels; it’s a way to bring together people from all kinds of cultures to make a family.” One example of Half-pipe Diplomacy is the mission of Miles Jackson and a group of his friends to built the largest skate park of Latin America in Cuba. (An Article on this can be found here) Another example is the US sponsored initiative documented in the video below. 

Concluding it can be said that while sport is not a panacea for hostilities between nations it can play an important part in building a bridge among two countries that have an otherwise tense relationship. In the words of Nelson Mandela:

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair. Sport speaks to people in a language they can understand.”


The Lack of True Information – Christian Burned Alive in Nepal


In 2006, the newspaper Daily Mail, has published an article on a thief burned alive in Nepal. [1] He was not burnt to death, although, was tied up on a cross, stripped off and set on fire by the villagers whom take theirs summary of justice by making use of their own hands. In the event there was a priest as shown on the picture above.  And after the incident, sharers through social media have shown this picture as the man been crucified for religious matters. If not strong religious beliefs, explain the fact of someone else be set on fire as punishment. However, the same issue was raised again when Nepal appealed for help after the recent earthquake.

Then, on the 25th of April 2015, Nepal suffered a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake. It was a disastrous happening and around 8 thousand people were dead and over 15 thousand homelessness. Their rural crops were extremely affected and damaged by avalanches with the impact of the earthquake. The entire world is appealing for support, medical staff and donations. Those who still have a shelter, are still sleeping in the streets fearing the terrific consequences of the regular aftershocks. The (Disasters Emergency Committee) DEC members alongside their partners are working in order to get the basic needs for the population as clean water, food and blankets, so later they will be able to approach those communities and support them with a possible rebuilding of life.Considering the support needed by the Nepalese population nowadays, within all the consequences left from the earthquake, and the global appeal in regards supportive actions. How strong and dangerous is the effect of a tagged unreliable news/message of a man burned for preaching christianity.

The spread of the social media networking showing the heading ‘Christian Burned Alive in Nepal for Preaching God’ can possibly changed christians intention of donating any sum for the earthquake disaster? Even if the picture shown is from 9 years ago, it was raised once again, refreshing readers’ mind the way of the nepalese justice.

The affect of a possible black propaganda, saying that a man was burnt for preaching God, rather than been  punished for stealing, became a reason for many christians to possibly ignore Nepal’s need  or refuse to help towards a population in need after an environmental disaster. It is interesting the fact that different beliefs and religions, changes the population mentality of helping. Nepal has had occasions where people are accused and burnt for witchcrafts and yet, sources coming from reliable media, as The Telegraph reported. [2] Which empowers the strength of an information towards an anti-christian community possible.

The impact is seen through Facebook, newspapers and daily media sources of communication. Contributors are neglecting help by simple arguing that Nepalese do not deserve anyone’s else help for their hindu cruelty and misery. By all means, burn for theft or religion should not be accepted.

At the time of the break news of Nepal earthquake on the 25th of April 2015, readers have raised once again those happenings and their indignity for a country where mercy is not considered. For an instance, the truth beyond the man action of stealing, could have been taken under consideration, starvation or poverty which consequently could have driven him to steal. But then, there is no excuses for burning a human for beliefs or religion. Another event happened in 2013, when a husband simply burned his pregnant wife [3]. This beliefs of torture as a way of problem solving, encourages new generations to behave in the same way, denying others a chance of freedom of speech decent living.

An overall critic, it is the strength of a distorted propaganda. Readers, most of the time, react and understand as the heading of an article says so and therefore create its own conclusions.  It is extremely important to avoid false information, by committing your reading towards reliable sources of information in order to gather an efficient understanding.


[1] Dailay Mail, (2006) Burned alive for being a thief. [online] Available at: < > Last accessed 5th of May 2015

[2] The Telegraph. (2012) Nepal mob burns ‘witch’ alive in horrifying attack. [online] Available at: < > Last accessed 5th of May 2015

[3] The (2013) Nepalese man burns pregnant wife alive by stuffing her in a hay bale. [online] Available at: < > Last accessed 5th of May 2015

– Save the Children (2015) No time to waste. [online] Available at: < > Last accessed 5th May 2015

– DEC (2015) Nepal Earthquake Appeal. [online] Available at: < > Last accessed 5th of May 2015

A muffled whistle blow- the UN is in denial

The United Nations (UN) is the closest thing we have to a supranational and legitimate organisation. Not only does it promote the rule of law globally or endow the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but is responsible for several peace keeping projects around the world. In short, it is a protector of the peoples of the world.

Certainly, as all organisations, it is not flawless. But it is increasingly showed, the UN is incapable of maintaining its own values within the organisation. However, one would expect that it in order to sustain its own legitimacy and image it takes these problems seriously?

Unfortunately, the answer is often no.

On several occasions, it has come to the surface that rather than admitting its own flaws by dealing with the issues, the UN has chosen to cover up whistle blows from within it (Walden, 2012).

The most recent case came to the attention of the media only this week. The Swedish UN veteran ambassador, Anders Kompass, who has a long experience in the humanitarian field, reported about sexual abuse on children in the Central African Republic, executed by French UN peacekeeping soldiers. Several young boys were forced to sexual abuse in exchange of food, proving of how the UN soldiers took advantage of the children’s desperate situation and thus undermining their duty: to protect and bring hope (Laville, 2015).

Anders Kompass.

But instead of admitting flaws in the organisation, there was no response from the UN and consequently Kompass took the same report to French authorities, who instantly decided to take it seriously. This time, the UN responded, but not by dealing with the offenses, but by suspending Kompass for sharing confidential material. He now faces dismissal. Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon claims that this is not a case of whistleblowing but rather that Kompass has breached the protocol (Charlton, 2015).

This proves that the UN is more concerned with its own image and that it is unwilling to admit its internal problems, as it punished Kompass for displaying the flaws of the UN, which they tried to cover up, to the world. However, this might be just what is needed. People like Kompass is what helps maintain the legitimacy for the organisation. The media has a big and important role to play here as the eyes of the world subsequently turn to the UN (Laville & Chrisafis, 2015).

If the UN chooses to dismiss Kompass, this highlights the fact that the UN works under denial, especially in the light of the actions of the French government, who has acknowledged the misconducts (Laville & Chrisafis, 2015).

Whistle-blowers are vital for an organisations such as the UN to operate credibly and legitimately. Furthermore, the media is the most important tool for a whistle-blower, particularly when it is something on such high-level as the UN. The UN undoubtedly has obvious flaws in its operation. The media attention can consequently help in putting pressure to reform the organisation so that it can deal with its internal problems in the future (Matthewson, 2014).

Charlton, 2015, Authorities Secretly Investigated Accusations That French Soldiers Raped Children in Africa, in US News and World Report, Accessed April 2015.

Laville, 2015, UN Aid Worker Suspended for Leaking Report on Child Abuse by French Troops, in the Guardian, Accessed April 2015.

Laville & Chrisafis, 2015, UN Accused of ‘Reckless Disregard’ for Allegations of Peacekeeper Child Abuse, in the Guardian, Accessed April 2015.

Matthewson, 2014, Media, Ethics, and Whistleblowing, in Expolink Whistleblowing Hotline,

Walden, 2012, Protecting Whistleblowers at the UN, in Foreign Policy in Focus, Accessed April 2015.

The Sneaky Fox…

News are more important in a society than one might think. The basis of free press in democracies, means that the purpose of news is to accurately and neutrally inform the people. The information of the news affect people’s daily lives, public opinion and in the end, policy-making and politics, and subsequently, the news has a strong ability to shape our societies (Kellner, 2012, 1174). It is even argued that the media not only influence public opinion, but contribute to shaping it (Berger, 2012, 176).

However, it becomes increasingly obvious that the reality is far from the idea of an ideal democratic society of a variety of view-points represented in the news. The neutrality is rare and a handful of big corporations monopolise the news that we are actually exposed to, thus affecting the variety, different view-points, or even accuracy. Obviously, this has effects on our society (Oswald, 1994, 387).

Rupert Murdoch is undoubtedly one that is to blame for this. He is the owner of the huge news enterprise, News Corporation, and he is infamous for his selectivity and tempering of news in order to benefit businesses that are in his own economic interests (Manne, 2013). His right-wing orientated conservatism is no secret and he openly supports the Republican Party in his news (Bagdikian, 2014, 15). On several occasions he has been subject to scandals of news tampering, phone hacking, corruption… The list is long (Kellner, 2012, 1174-1181).

Yet, a recent poll states that the flagship of News Corp, Fox News, with almost a third of the votes, is the most trusted news source among Americans. Yes, that is correct. The. Most. Trusted. Keep in mind, the US is, despite what some argue, the most powerful country in the world. Add to this, the fact that almost a third of the voters use a tampered media as their mainstream resource for news. This means that American policy-making undoubtedly is affected by what is communicated, or ignored, by Fox News. Consequently, Mr Murdoch is a very powerful man (Schwartz, 2015; Manne, 2103).

This provokes the question of how free the press is in our democratic societies. If the media is not providing us with accurate, diversified, or neutral information, but news that are tampered with or favouring certain politicians, the media is devastating for the practice of true democracy (Kellner, 2012, 1173-4).To restore the democratic norms in our society, the extreme media monopoly needs to end in order to allow the media to become more versified and wide-spanning. The question that remains is how this would come about, as people such as Murdoch, who use the media as means to an end- to benefit their own interests, are much too powerful to be controlled. Moreover, despite scandals and the obvious issues with the accuracies of the News Corp news, people evidently put trust in these false news (Bagdikian, 2014, 17-21; Kellner, 2012, 1193).

The solution could be found on the state-level, where they put regulations on these corporations. However, that is challenging if the corporations serve the interest of the governments or if they are too powerful for governments to want to tackle them. Despite the fact that state regulations may be a undesired action for western liberal and capitalist societies, this may be the only way to actually protect these values. Meanwhile, the corporations grow ever more powerful and become ever harder to control. Thus, this is a complicated issue which needs to be addressed. If not, we would need to redefine our idea of democratic free press (Kellner, 2012, 1193; Manne, 2013).


Bagdikian, 2014, The New Media Monopoly, Beacon Press, Boston

Berger, 2012, Media and Society: A Critical Perspective,  Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc., Plymouth

Kellner, 2012, The Murdoch Media Empire and the Spectacle of Scandal, International Journal of Communication vol. 6, pp. 1169-1200, Accessed April 2015.

Manne, 2013, Why Rupert Murdoch Can’t Be Stopped: The Political Empire of the News Corps Chairman, in Monthly Magazine Essays, November 2013, Accessed April 2015.

Oswald, 1994, Mass Media and the Transformation of American Politics, Marquette Law Review, Vol. 77, No. 385, pp. 385-414. Accessed April 2015.
Schwartz, 2015, Fox News is the most trusted national news channel. And it’s not that close, in the Washington Post Online, Accessed April 2015.

The Success of EU Soft Power

Click image to get to resource.

              Recently, the popularity among the European citizens towards the European Union (EU) has been stagnating as the sense of lack of control to a central authority is being challenged. Polls painfully show that there is an increasing will to exit the Union or at least decentralise the power in Europe. The Union has met several problems in its operation and none the less in its economy. However, what many forget, is that the intentional objective of the EU is not the economic or political integration- these are merely means to an end- an end which is regional peace and stability (Dinan, 2010, 3-6).
Considering what the EU has accomplished is rather astonishing. It has managed to bring peace and stability to a region of war and antagonism with the means of cooperation not coercion. This is something that has been the theme of the organisation throughout its existence. Never has it used force in order to reach its scopes- it is solemnly based on soft power (Tuomioja, 2009, 4).

So to use the word success of the operation of the EU is not at all without substance or exaggerated. This is still present as there are still more states knocking on the door of the EU, wanting to get into the warmth. Moreover, the enlargement procedure is the ultimate method of soft power that the EU can perform. By spreading its liberal values to external states in a process of Europeanisation, makes these entities adopt the EU core values: the rule of law, democracy, market economy and advocacy of human rights, which all help spread the regional stability. This has been obvious in the recent enlargement rounds to the Central and European counties which have all needed a period of adaption and adoption to the EU system before the accession (Tuomioja, 2009, 3-4, Dinan, 2010, 483-5).

The states have voluntarily altered their own system and pooled their sovereignty with this central power. Arguably, this is because the EU values are attractive. The EU has created a stable system which allows its member-states to prosper both economically and politically under the security of the Union, which other states are willing to adopt. Yet, the EU does little to promote their own image. There is no single coordinated EU public diplomacy. The EU system and its success speaks for itself (Bay Rasmussen, 2012).

This can arguably be compared to the US model, which is undoubtedly based on hard power, and which spends huge amounts of funds on public diplomacy and to enhance its own image globally. There is no doubt that the image of the US is popular globally, however the hard US policy has a significantly low global support. The EU policy on the other hand, seem more appealing internationally, with its less conservative approach to for example gun control, civil rights, and climate change together with its softer conduct (Nye, 2004; Cooper, 2004, 13).

The Eurosceptics fails to see the bigger picture- what the EU actually has accomplished and what it keeps accomplishing. That the fulfilment of its main purpose makes it a success. That it through the soft power manages to spread peace and stability in the European region. Furthermore, the EU case proves that soft power does not always go hand in hand with public diplomacy. Soft power can be a story of success even without a strong promotion.

Summarises the core of the EU rather well. Click image get to resource.


Bay Rasmussen, 2012, Current Challenges to European Union Public Diplomacy, Public Diplomacy Magazine, Accessed March 2015.

Cooper, 2004, Hard Power, Soft Power, and the Goals of Diplomacy, in Held & Koenig-Archibugi, 2004, American Power in the 21st Century, pp. 167-180, Polity Press, Cambridge

Dinan, 2010, Ever Closer Union: An Introduction to European Integration, 4th ed., Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc., Buolder

Nye 2004, in Zalman 2012, How Power Really Works in the 21st Century: Beyond Soft, Hard & Smart, The Globalist, Accessed March 2015.

Tuomioja, 2009, The Role of Soft Power in EU Common Foreign Policy, International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy Berlin, vol. 30, no. 7, Accessed March 2015.

Today’s Special: Gastrodiplomacy

Can food be really part of Diplomacy? Well, it appears that even though the terminology is relatively new, the concept dates back to roman times. Gastrodiplomacy is believed by some to be very important. As Palmerston once stated “Dining is the soul of diplomacy.”[1]

Nowadays there many different examples of the effectiveness of gastrodiplomacy, the cases of South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey are to name just a few.

The case of South Korea and kimchi is indeed an interesting one. Kimchi is a Korean side dish made with fermented cabbage. However, in 2005 there was a trade dispute between Korea and China because of confusion as to which country the cabbage originated from. The dispute was resolved in 2012 when “South Korea successfully lobbied the UN Codex Alimentarius Commission to change the English name for “Chinese cabbage” to “kimchi cabbage””[2]. This shows how food can influence international relations. Of course on the other hand, food can have a positive impact by bringing together people and enforcing warm and friendly relations. The example of South Korea highlights the fact that gastrodiplomacy is not limited to national boundaries.[3]

Another fascinating example of gastrodiplomacy is that of Taiwan. According to ‘The Guardian’ newspaper:

“Taiwan’s consulate in London is hoping to make dishes such as “stinky tofu” and oyster omelette the stars of a diplomatic drive to differentiate the country from its giant and sometimes antagonistic neighbour, China, and to end the perception that Taiwan is little more than the mass-production workshop of the world.”[4]

As seen Taiwan knows the importance of gastrodiplomacy and is eagerly investing in order to ensure its success.

Turkey is well known for its delicious Turkish delight; however, this country has much more to offer. One of the latest trends to promote Turkish cuisine is the ‘Turkayfe’ project in America.  Turkayfe is famous with its Turkish coffee truck which aims to contribute to Turkey’s branding attempts. They even have their own website[5] which is very educational and entertaining. It is indeed very interesting and fun way to promote Turkey.

However, lately the centre of attention is the new gastrodiplomacy course available in the American University in Washington DC. As a consequence there are new issues arising such as: Is it right to have gastrodiplomacy courses in universities? Is there any possible future for such field of studies? or Should gastrodiplomacy remain an addition to the actual diplomacy course?

Actually, the gastrodiplomacy course seems to be very interesting and educational. The students from the course look at the history of war and peace, pre-9/11 e.g. the wars in Afghanistan and Vietnam. Parallel with this they get to know the specificity of the cuisine of the corresponding country. This part of the educational process includes visits to restaurants where only traditional food is served. Furthermore, the students of gastro-diplomacy learn how national food can be used as means of communication and influence.

The world and everything in it is constantly changing, consequently new relations and new ways of thinking emerge, and therefore new disciplines such as gastrodiplomacy appear and become more and more important. In the Journal of International Service(2013), Mary Pham concludes that gastrodiplomacy as “the practice of exporting a country’s culinary heritage in an effort to raise national brand awareness, encourage economic investment and trade, and engage on a cultural and personal level with everyday diners, is a potentially lucrative communication tool for nations seeking to distinguish their cultural and culinary assets for future boosts in exports, tourism, and nation brand awareness.”[6] Another person who emphasises on the significance of gastrodiplomacy is Leah Selim, the founder of Global Kitchen, who gave a brilliant TED talk related to this topic.

Gastrodiplomacy is innovative, important and limitless. It is essential to understand its significance and appreciate it.

[1]S. Soffer,The Courtiers of Civilization – study of Diplomacy, State University of New York, 20013,  P.87

[2] Mary Pham, Foods as communication, Journal of International Service (volume 22, November, 2013), p. 3

[3] Id.

[4]R. Booth, Taiwan launches ‘gastro-diplomacy’ drive, The Guardian, published  Sunday 8 August 2010, accessed 22.04.15


[6] Mary Pham, Foods as communication, Journal of International Service (volume 22, November, 2013), p.ii

Just A Flirt Or Long-term Commitment

The United Nations has recognized the potential of celebrities to raise funds and attract global media attention a long time ago. It „has enlisted the volunteer services and support of prominent personalities from the worlds of art, music, film, sport and literature to highlight key issues and to draw attention to its activities.“[1] Its official engagement with celebrities began when Danny Kaye was appointed as the institutions first goodwill ambassador in 195. What needs to be highlighted about the early goodwill ambassadors such as Kaye, Peter Ustinov and later Hepburn is their loyalty and commitment to the UN agency they were affiliated with “they saw it as their role to promote UNICEF’s activities.” [2] Portraying ‘good international citizens’, in the early days of celebrities’ relationships with organizations of the UN, their role was limited to promoting certain issues or causes in an apolitical manner.

Possibly the most glamorous goodwill ambassador of all was Audrey Hepburn. She was the epitome of the ‘good international citizen’ and her engagement with UNICEF left footsteps that are hard to fill. Current and future goodwill ambassadors should take her as a role model, not only because of her tireless work-ethic and unquestionable loyalty to UNICEF, but foremost because of her pure intentions. She had a strong credibility, strengthened by the fact that she had been a recipient of help from the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration during the end of the Second World War. Hepburn was effortlessly glamorous and her simple attire while travelling to projects emphasized her authenticity.

Along with an increase in celebrity engagement in the 80s and 90s came a transformation of the relationship between the UN and the celebrities it worked with. Moving away from an apolitical role as ‘international good citizens’, goodwill ambassadors such as Liv Ullman started to be more political conscious. Whilst political engagement underpins the sincere intentions of celebrities fighting for a certain cause, political work outside of the UN and its affiliated organizations can be controversial and is not always in the UN’s favour. Richard Gere, who has previously represented the UN in various matters, for example fell out with the UN over the non-recognition of Tibet and went as far as accusing the UNHRC of being manipulated by the Chinese. It is apparent that Gere’s actions were harmful to the UN’s image, shading a bed light on the relationship of the UN with its goodwill ambassadors. While goodwill ambassadors don’t necessarily need to limit themselves to be apolitical ‘good international citizens’, they should consider carefully if they want to take on the responsibility of being a goodwill ambassador and if they do they should be sure that their political stance is not in contradiction with that of the UN. They should only take on the role of good will ambassador if they can guarantee their loyalty to the UN.

Some might argue that Angelina Jolie is today what Audrey Hepburn was in the 1980s. However, while both of them have shown serious commitment to a specialized Un agency as well as a capacity for compassion, two very distinct approaches to the role as goodwill ambassador can be identified. Audrey Hepburn’s activities as a celebrity diplomat started when she was no longer developing movies. She always separated her personal life from her public appearances and kept the focus on the main issue during the numerous interviews she gave. Roger Moore pointed out: “ they only wanted to talk about movies but she would not let them… she kept on the issues that were facing children then and which still face children today.” [3] Angelina in contradiction is devoting time to humanitarian causes while at the same time having an active career. Additionally her personal and public life are intervened, as can bee observed by the fact she shares her humanitarian work with her husband Brad Pitt. The Brangalina phenomenon is a real media magnet. These differences between the work of Audrey and Angelina can be traced back to the fact that most celebrities now engage in diplomacy when their fame is at its peak, enhancing their power to attract attention and influence important global players. Another aspect is the fact that Audrey Hepburn always stayed impartial she “combined a concern with access to decision makers with persistence in vocalizing issues to wider publics”, but never took a side. [4] This illustrates the possibility to be an influential celebrity diplomat, without taking a political stance and getting caught in controversies such as Richard Gere did.

It is hard to measure the impact of celebrities to the UN’s work. It is true that they have a great potential for fundraising and attract large amounts of media attraction, however a symposium of the university of Southern California came to the conclusion that “in policy terms, it remains unclear whether the un’s celebrity diplomats are effective in helping the UN achieve its objectives in promoting the world body’s goals in peace building, disarmament, human rights, environmental protection and human development.”. [5] Additionally it is also questionable whether the media attraction raised by celebrities does actually have an impact. It is supposed to raise awareness for the issues among the general public, rather than the elites who are actually able to influence policy. Additionally it is questionable whether it is successful in actually raising awareness over the long term, rather than causing instant popularity for a cause that is forgotten as soon as the media-hustle around the celebrities’ engagement diminishes.

While the long term commitment to a relationship with the un of stars such as Hepburn, Jolie and has proven as a powerful tool of promoting the UN’s values, some of the rather short and casual relationships have proven problematic. In Sarah Fergusons case financial collapse caused her break up with the UN, while in Geri Halliwell’s case it was the inability to perform the tasks she had committed to. [6] The later seemed to have a strong commitment at first “ am famous, and I am damn well going to use my fame positively. If I save one persons life just by awareness, I’m going to damn well do it.”[7], however it quickly became evident that her relationship with the un was just a short fling rather than a long-term commitment. The un has seemed to have learned from past mistakes, realizing that fame alone does not alone decide whether one is suited for the role as goodwill ambassador. In 2005 the manager of the goodwill ambassador program declared “we don’t name anyone anymore without a period of engagement.”[8] This is a step in the right direction, getting to know the candidates well is vital in order to decid

[1] (Accessed 10.4.2014)

[2] Wheeler, Mark (2013): Celebrity politics. Polity Press p.145-6

[3] Cooper, Andrew Fenton (2008): Celebrity diplomacy. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers. p. 20

[4] Cooper, Andrew Fenton (2008): Celebrity diplomacy. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers. p.19

[5] The Public Diplomacy Role of Celebrity Diplomats.” Center for Public Diplomacy Workshop, University of Southern California, April 21, 2009. in (Accessed 8.4.2015)

[6] Wheeler, Mark (2013): Celebrity politicsPolity Press p.159

[7] Cooper, Andrew Fenton (2008): Celebrity diplomacy. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers. p.29

[8] Cooper, Andrew Fenton (2008): Celebrity diplomacy. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers. p.30

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