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17.07.2017Ангелина Пивоварова, г. Волгоград

Angelina Pivovarova,
Graduate of the Volgograd State University,
Bachelor of the Foreign Area Studies

German approach to public policy

The international policy and dialogue of civilizations cannot be imagined today without the use of public diplomacy by states. Historically, countries based on the principle of peaceful coexistence and good will have used it to popularize their own cultural heritage. Since 1990 public diplomacy has acquired a new context as a form of "soft power" and has begun to serve more powerful purposes, such as the strengthening of geopolitical positions, the achieving the economic objectives of the state through the creation of a favourable image of the country and the popularization of its culture and language.

One of the most successful countries in this field is the Federal Republic of Germany, whose approach to public diplomacy is based on historical conditions. After the Second World War, the German government faced the difficult task of changing the negative image of the Nazi and military past, restoring the credibility of foreign societies in Germany as a democratic, reliable state, a bastion of European values and defender of human rights through the promotion of German culture and language. In the 1970s, the foreign cultural policy was proclaimed as the third pillar of German foreign policy, along with policy and economy.

Interestingly, the German language does not have an equivalent translation of the term public diplomacy, but the concepts of auswärtige Kuturpolitik (foreign cultural policy) and auswärtige Kultur- und Bildungspolitik (foreign cultural and educational policy) are widely used, and the structure and objectives coincide with the content of public diplomacy. This may be due to the superfluous politicization of the latter term and, as a consequence, to the lesser public confidence in it, and to the already well-established tradition of the use of concepts that focuses on cultural activities.

German public diplomacy is carried out in accordance with international conventions, cultural agreements ratified by Germany, documents of international organizations such as the United Nations, UNESCO, EU and OSCE. At the national level, there is no any normative law governing German public diplomacy. Local authorities, commercial and non-profit organizations are free to carry out international cultural and educational links based on the principles of freedom of speech, press and assembly provided with the German constitution. The “Konzeption 2000”, which sets out the main objectives, structure and strategies of the German foreign cultural policy, is also the basis for its public diplomacy. However, this document, although published by the German Federal Foreign Office, is of a recommendatory nature and has no legal effect.

The Government's main objectives of German public diplomacy are:

-               The establishment of a sustainable framework for the development of international relations                            through the creation of inter-ethnic dialogue and the exchange of knowledge and cultural

-                Promoting the German language in Europe and around the world;

-                Promoting European integration;

-                The preservation of cultural diversity in the world;

-                Communicating an image of Germany as a country with a universally renowned cultural life and a                   modern, attractive place for professional development in the field of education and science[i].

The methods of public diplomacy have changed over time: previously, the foreign cultural policy was considered to be, first and foremost, the unilateral transmission of cultural values and a positive image abroad, with the beginning of the work of the new minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeyer, building intercultural dialogue, interaction and feedback became the priority.

The main areas of German public diplomacy are identified in the “Konzeption 2000”: promoting the German language abroad, education and science, exchange programs, foreign media policy, intercultural dialogue and sports[ii]. Also since 1995, the Federal Foreign Office has being issued an annual report on German foreign cultural and educational policy, which identifies the most priority areas for further work.


The 2016 report identifies the following areas:

-                Education and cultural cooperation in crisis regions on migration issues;

-                Scientific and cultural cooperation, implying the promotion of the German language, scientific and                   educational exchanges, sports and the transmission of cultural values;

-                Collaboration with the civil society through international projects of the Eastern Partnership, the                     Islamic dialogue, government interaction with German foundations,

-                The forming of a positive image of Germany abroad, which is primarily the responsibility of the                       broadcasting company Deutsche Welle[iii].

Germany's public diplomacy is represented by a multitude of governmental and non-governmental institutions, the largest of which are the Goethe Institute, the German Academic Exchange service (DAAD), the Deutsche Welle, the Institute of International Cultural Relations (IFA), and the various political funds (the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and etc.). The sixth division of the German Federal Foreign Office acting as the platform analyzing and integrating the approaches and working methods of the various institutions is the coordinator of their activities. While they have legal freedom to make decisions, the Federal Foreign Office has a significant impact on their activities, primarily through funding of relevant areas and projects.

It occurs according to the annual budget law of the Bundestag. The Federal Audit Office of Germany is in control of the supported projects execution. As, for example, the annual financial report 2015 showed, for 2014 the Federal Foreign Office sent €738.8 million in support of cultural relations with foreign countries, of which 213.7 million were directed towards the promotion of partner German institutions abroad. €277.6 million were allocated to the activities of Deutsche Welle in 2014.[iv]

Thus, the public diplomacy of the Federal Republic of Germany is an effective, flexible system of institutions under the aegis of the Federal Foreign Office, which, on the one hand, gives freedom to carry out their activities, and on the other, tests the results of their work in the annual reports and coordinates their further development through the provision of funding for relevant programmes. The amount of funds sent from the federal budget for the development of international cultural relations proves the importance of public diplomacy for the government of Germany as a contribution to building long-term trust relations with other countries.


  1. Auer C., Srugies A. Public diplomacy in Germany // Figueroa Press, LA. – 2013. – 57 p.
  2. Denscheilmann H. Auswärtige Kulturpolitik als kulturelle Programmarbeit // Deutschlandbilder. – Springer. – 2013. – 313 p.
  3. Kersaint M.Exploring Public Diplomacy 2.0: Dissertation to obtain the academic degree Dr. phil. / Maïté Kersaint [European University Viadrina Frankfurt]. – Frankfurt, 2014. –162 p.
  4. Was wir tun. 20. Bericht der Bundesregierung zur Auswärtigen Kultur- und Bildungspolitik. – Auswärtige Amt. – Berlin, 2017. – 67 S.
  5. Zöllner O. German Public Diplomacy: The Dialogue of Cultures // Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy / Ed. By N. Snow, Ph. M. Taylor. – N.Y., Routledge. – 2008. – p. 262-269.

[ii] Auswärtige Kulturpolitik – Konzeption 2000, 25.05.2017 // Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen. URL:

[iii] Was wir tun. 20. Bericht der Bundesregierung zur Auswärtigen Kultur- und Bildungspolitik. – Berlin, 2017. – 67 S, 27.05.2017 // Auswärtige Amt. URL:

[iv] Jahresbericht 2015 // Bundesfinanzhof, 28.05.2017. URL:



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