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The constant expansion of soy production within the MERCOSUR countries exceeds 50% of total world production

While many typically associate South American commodities with hydrocarbons and minerals, soy or soybean is the other great commodity of the region. Today, soy is the agricultural product with the highest commercial growth rate in the world. China and India lead world consumption of this oleaginous plant and its byproducts, thus making South America a strategic supplier. Soy profitability has encouraged the expansion of crop production, especially in Brazil and Argentina, as well as in Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay. However, such expansion comes at an environmental cost; such as recent deforestation in the Amazon and the Gran Chaco. 

ARTICLE / Daniel Andrés Llonch [English version] [Spanish version].

Soy has been cultivated in Asian civilizations for thousands of years; today its cultivation is also widespread in other parts of the world. It has become the most important oilseed for human consumption and animal feed. Of great nutritional properties, due to its high protein content, soybeans are sold both in grain and in their oil and flour derivatives.

Among the eleven largest soybean producers, five are in South America: Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay. In 2016, these countries were the origin of 50.6% of world production, whose total reached 334.8 million tons, according to FAO data. The first producer was the United States (34.9% of world production), followed by Brazil (28.7%) and Argentina (17.5%). India and China follow the list, although what is significant about this last country is its large consumption, which in 2016 forced it to import 83.2 million tons. Much of these import needs are covered from South America. Furthermore, the South American production focuses on the Mercosur nations (in addition to Brazil and Argentina, also Paraguay and Uruguay) and Bolivia.

The strong international demand and the high relative profitability of soybean in recent years has fueled the expansion of the cultivation of this plant in the Mercosur region. The price boom for raw materials, which also involved soy, led to benefits that were directed to the acquisition of new land and equipment, which allowed producers to increase their scale and efficiency.

In Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay the area planted with soybeans represents the majority (it constitutes more than 50% of the total area sown with the five most important crops in each country). If we add Uruguay, where soybean has enjoyed a later expansion, we have that the production of these five South American countries has gone from 99 million tons in 2006 to 169.7 million in 2016, which constitutes a rise of 71%. In addition, the production of Brazil and Bolivia has almost doubled their production, somewhat exceeded by Paraguay and Uruguay, where it has tripled. In the decade, this South American area has gone from contributing 44.7% of world production to 50.6%. At that time, the cultivated area increased from 40.6 million hectares to 58.4 million.

 

 

Countries

As the second largest producer of soybeans in the world, Brazil reached 96.2 million tons in 2016 (28.7% of the world total), with a cultivation area of 33.1 million hectares. Its production has been in a constant increasement, so that in the last decade the volume of the harvest has increased by 83.5%. The jump has been especially B in the last four years, in which Brazil and Argentina have experienced the highest growth rate of the crop, with an annual average of 936,000 and 878,000 hectares, respectively, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Argentina is the second largest producer of Mercosur, with 58.7 million tons (17.5% of world production) and a cultivated area of 19.5 million hectares. Soybeans began to be planted in Argentina in the mid-70s, and in less than 40 years it has had an unprecedented advance. This crop occupies 63% of the areas of the country planted with the five most important crops, compared to 28% of the area occupied by corn and wheat.

Paraguay, for its part, had a harvest of 9.1 million tons of soybeans in 2016 (2.7% of world production). In recent seasons, soy production has increased as more land is allocated for cultivation. According to the USDA, in the last two decades, the land dedicated to the cultivation of soybeans has constantly increased by 6% annually. Paraguay currently has 3.3 million hectares of land dedicated to this activity, which constitutes 66% of the land used for the main crops.

As far as Bolivia is concerned, soybeans are grown mainly in the Santa Cruz region. According to the USDA, it represents 3% of the country's Gross Domestic Product, and employs 45,000 workers directly. In 2016, the country harvested 3.2 million tons (0.9% of world production), in an area of 1.3 million hectares.

Soybean plantations occupy more than 60 percent of Uruguay's arable land, where soybean production has been increasing in recent years. In fact, it is the country where production has grown the most in relative terms in the last decade (67.7%), reaching 2.2 million tons in 2016 and a cultivated area of 1.1 million hectares.

 

 

Increase of the demand

The production of soy represents a very important fraction in the agricultural GDP of the South American nations. The five countries mentioned together with the United States make up 85.6% of global production, so they are the main suppliers of the growing global demand.

This production has experienced a progressive increase since its insertion in the market, with the exception of Uruguay, whose product expansion has been more recent. In the period between 1980 and 2005, for example, the total world demand for soybean expanded by 174.3 million tons, or what is the same, 2.8 times. In this period, the growth rate of global demand accelerated, from 3% annually in the 1980s to 5.6% annually in the last decade.

In all the South American countries mentioned, the cultivation of soy has been especially encouraged, because of the benefits that it entails. Thus, in Brazil, the largest regional producer of oilseed, soybean provides an estimated income of 10,000 million dollars in exports, representing 14% of the total products marketed by the country. In Argentina, soybean cultivation went from representing 10.6% of agricultural production in 1980/81 to more than 50% in 2012/2013, generating significant economic benefits.

The outlook for growth in demand suggests a continuation of the increase in production. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that global production will exceed 500 million tons in 2050, which doubles the volume harvested in 2010 and clearly, much of that demand will have to be met from South America.

The constant expansion of the crop in Mercosur countries has led them to exceed 50% of world production.

Soybean is the agricultural product with the highest commercial growth in the world. The needs of China and India, major consumers of the fruit of this oleaginous plant and its derivatives, make South America a strategic granary. Its profitability has encouraged the extension of the crop, especially in Brazil and Argentina, but also in Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay. Its expansion is behind recent deforestation in the Amazon and the Gran Chaco. After hydrocarbons and minerals, soybeans are the other major commodity in South America subject .

article / Daniel Andrés Llonch [English version].

Soybean has been cultivated in Asian civilizations for thousands of years; today its cultivation is also widespread in other parts of the world. It has become the most important oilseed grain for human consumption and animal feed. With great nutritional properties due to its high protein content, soybeans are marketed both in grain and in their oil and meal derivatives.

Of the eleven largest soybean producers, five are in South America: Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay. In 2016, these countries were the origin of 50.6% of world production, whose total reached 334.8 million tons, according to FAO's data . The first producer was the United States (34.9% of world production), followed by Brazil (28.7%) and Argentina (17.5%). India and China follow on the list, although what is significant about the latter country is its large consumption, which in 2016 forced it to import 83.2 million tons. A large part of these import needs are covered from South America. South American production is centered in the Mercosur nations (in addition to Brazil and Argentina, also Paraguay and Uruguay) and Bolivia.

Strong international demand and the high relative profitability of soybeans in recent years have fueled the expansion of soybean cultivation in the Mercosur region. The commodity price boom, in which soybeans also participated, led to profits that were directed to the acquisition of new land and equipment, allowing producers to increase their scale and efficiency.

In Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay, the area planted with soybean is the majority (it constitutes more than 50% of the total area planted with the five most important crops in each country). If to group we add Uruguay, where soybean has enjoyed a later expansion, we have that the production of these five South American countries has gone from 99 million tons in 2006 to 169.7 million in 2016, which is an increase of 71.2% (Brazil and Bolivia have almost doubled their production, somewhat surpassed by Paraguay and Uruguay, a country where it has tripled). In the decade, this South American area has gone from contributing 44.7% of world production to total 50.6%. In that time, the cultivated area increased from 40.6 million hectares to 58.4 million hectares.

 

 

Countries

As the second largest soybean producer in the world, Brazil reached in 2016 a production of 96.2 million tons (28.7% of the world total), with a crop area of 33.1 million hectares. Its production has known a constant increase, so that in the last decade the volume of the crop has increased by 83.5%. The jump has been especially B in the last four years, in which Brazil and Argentina have experienced the highest rate of increase of the crop, with an annual average of 936,000 and 878,000 hectares, respectively, from agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) department .

Argentina is the second largest producer in Mercosur, with 58.7 million tons (17.5% of world production) and a cultivated area of 19.5 million hectares. Soybean began to be planted in Argentina in the mid 1970s, and in less than 40 years it has made unprecedented progress. This crop occupies 63% of the country's areas planted with the five most important crops, compared to 28% of the area occupied by corn and wheat.

Paraguay, meanwhile, had a 2016 harvest of 9.1 million tons of soybeans (2.7% of world production). In recent seasons, soybean production has increased as more land is allocated for its cultivation. From agreement with the USDA, over the last two decades, land devoted to soybean cultivation has steadily increased by 6% annually. There are currently 3.3 million hectares of land in Paraguay dedicated to this activity, which constitutes 66% of the land used for the main crops.

In Bolivia, soybeans are grown mainly in the Santa Cruz region. According to the USDA, it accounts for 3% of the country's Gross Domestic Product, and employs 45,000 workers directly. In 2016, the country harvested 3.2 million tons (0.9% of world production), on an area of 1.3 million hectares.

Soybean plantations occupy more than 60 percent of the arable land in Uruguay, where soybean production has been increasing in recent years. In fact, it is the country where production has grown the most in relative terms in the last decade (67.7%), reaching 2.2 million tons in 2016 and a cultivated extension of 1.1 million hectares.

 

 

Increased demand

Soybean production represents a very important fraction of the agricultural GDP of South American nations. The five countries mentioned above, together with the United States, account for 85.6% of global production, making them the main suppliers of the growing world demand.

This production has experienced a progressive increase since its insertion in the market, with the exception of Uruguay, whose expansion of the product has been more recent. In the period between 1980 and 2005, for example, total world soybean demand expanded by 174.3 million tons, or 2.8 times. During this period, the growth rate of global demand accelerated from 3% per year in the 1980s to 5.6% per year in the last decade.

In all the South American countries mentioned above, soybean cultivation has been especially encouraged, due to the benefits it brings. Thus, in Brazil, the largest regional producer of the oleaginous grain, soybeans contribute revenues estimated at 10 billion dollars in exports, representing 14% of the total products marketed by the country. In Argentina, soybean cultivation went from representing 10.6% of agricultural production in 1980/81 to more than 50% in 2012/2013, generating significant economic benefits.

The outlook for growth in demand suggests that production will continue to rise. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that global production will exceed 500 million tons in 2050, double the volume harvested in 2010. Much of this demand will have to be met from South America.

Categories Global Affairs: Energy, resources and sustainability Articles Latin America

▲Trilateral Summit of Russia, Turkey and Iran in Sochi, November 2017 [Presidency of Turkey].

ANALYSIS / Albert Vidal and Alba Redondo [English version].

Turkey's response to the Syrian Civil War (SCW) has gone through several phases, instructed by changing circumstances, both domestic and foreign. From supporting Sunni rebels with questionable organizational affiliations, to being a target of the Islamic State (IS), to surviving a coup attempt in 2016, a constant theme underpinning Turkish foreign policy decisions has been the Kurdish question. Despite an initially aggressive anti-Assad stance at the onset of the Syrian war, the success and growing strength of the Kurdish opposition as a result of their role in the anti-IS coalition has significantly reordered Turkish foreign policy priorities.

Relations between Turkey and Syria have been riven with difficulties over the past century. The Euphrates River, which originates in Turkey, has been one of the main causes of confrontation, with the construction of dams by Turkey limiting water flow to Syria, causing losses in agriculture and negatively impacting the Syrian economy. This issue is not confined to the past, as the ongoing GAP project (Project of the Southeast of Anatolia) threatens to further compromise water supplies to both Iraq and Syria through the construction of 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric dams.

Besides resource issues, the previous support of Hafez al-Assad to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the 1980s and '90s severely strained relations between the two countries, with conflict narrowly avoided with the signing of the Adana Protocol in 1998. Another source of conflict between the two countries relates to territorial claims made by both nations over the disputed Hatay province; still claimed by Syria, but administered by Turkey, which incorporated it into its territory in 1939.

Notwithstanding the above-mentioned issues between the nations - to name but a few - Syria and Turkey enjoyed a good relationship in the decade prior to the Arab Spring. The response to the Syrian regime's reaction to the uprisings by the international community has been mixed, and Turkey was no less unsure about how to position itself; eventually opting to support the opposition. As a result, Turkey offered protection on its territories to the rebels, as well as opening its borders to Syrian refugees This decision signaled the initial stage of decline in relations between the two countries, and the situation significantly worsened after the downing of a Turkish jet on 22 June 2012 by Syrian forces. Border clashes ensued, but without direct intervention of the Turkish Armed Forces.

From a foreign policy perspective, there were two primary reasons for the reversal of Turkey's non-intervention policy. The first was an increasing string of attacks by the Islamic State (IS) in the summer of 2015 in Suruç, the Central Station in Ankara, and the Atatürk Airport in Istanbul. The second, and arguably more important one, was Turkish fears of the creation of a Kurdish proto-state in neighboring Syria and Iraq. This led to the initiation of Operation Shield of the Euphrates (also known as the Jarablus Offensive), considered one of the first instances of direct military intervention by Turkey in Syria since the SCW began, with the aim of securing an area in the North of Syria free of control of IS and the Party of the Democratic Union (PYD) factions. The Jarablus Offensive was supported by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations (nations' right to self-defense), as well as a number United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions (Nos. 1373, 2170, 2178) corresponding to the global responsibility of countries to fight terrorism. Despite being a success in meeting its objectives, the Jarablus Offensive ended prematurely in March 2017, without Turkey ruling out the possibility of similar future interventions.

Domestically, military intervention and a more assertive stance by Erdogan was aimed at garnering public support from both Turkish nationalist parties - notably, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Great Unity Party (BBP) - as well as the general public for proposed constitutional changes that would lend Erdogan greater executive powers as president. Along those lines, a distraction campaign abroad was more than welcome, given the internal unrest following the coup attempt in July 2016.

Despite Turkey's growing assertiveness in neighboring Syria, Turkish military intervention does not necessarily signal strength. On the contrary, Erdogan's effective invasion of northern Syria occurred only after a number of events transpired in neighboring Syria and Iraq that threatened to undermine Turkish objectives both at home and abroad. Thus, the United States' limited intervention, and the failure of rebel forces to successfully uproot the Assad regime, meant the perpetuation of the terrorist threat but, more importantly, the continued strengthening of the Kurdish factions that have, throughout, constituted one of the most effective fighting force against IS. In effect, the success of the Kurds in the anti-IS coalition had gained it global recognition akin to that earned by most nation states; recognition that came with funding and the provision of arms. An armed Kurdish constituency, increasingly gaining legitimacy for its anti-IS efforts, is arguably the primary reason for both Turkish military intervention today, but also, a seemingly shifting stance vis-à-vis the question of Assad's position in the aftermath of the SCW.

 

▲Erdogan visits the command center for Operation Olive Branch, January 2018 [Presidency of Turkey].

 

Shifting Sand: Turkey's Changing Stance vis-à-vis Assad

While Turkey aggressively supported the removal of Assad at the outset of the SCW, this idea has increasingly come to take a back seat to more important foreign policy issues regarding Turkey and its neighboring states, Syria and Iraq. In fact, recent statements by Turkish officials openly acknowledge the longevity and resilience of the government of Assad, a move that strategically leaves the door open to future reconciliation between the two parties, and reinforces a by now widely supported view that Assad is likely to be part and parcel of any future Syria deal. Thus, on20th January 2017, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Mehmet Şimşek said: "We cannot keep saying that Assad should leave. A deal without Assad is not realistic."

This relaxation of rhetoric towards Assad coincides with a Turkish pivot towards Assad's allies in the conflict (Iran and Russia) in its attempts to achieve a resolution of the conflict, yet the official Turkish position regarding Assad lacks consistency, and appears to be more dependent on prevailing circumstances. Recently, a war of words initiated by Erdogan with the Syrian president played out in the average, in which the former accused Assad of being a terrorist. Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem, for his part, responded by accusing Erdogan of being responsible for the bloodshed of the Syrian people.

On January 2, 2018, Syrian shells were fired into Turkish territory by forces loyal to Assad. The launch provoked an immediate response from Turkey. On January 18, Mevlüt Çavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, announced that his country intends to carry out an air intervention in the Syrian regions of Afrin and Manbij. A few days later, Operation Olive Branch was launched under the pretext of creating a "security zone" in Afrin (in Syria's Aleppo province) yet has been almost entirely focused on uprooting what Erdogan claims are Kurdish "terrorists", may of which belong to US-backed Kurdish factions that have played a crucial role in the anti-IS coalition. The operation was allegedly initiated in response to US plans of creating a 30,000 Syrian Kurds border force. As Erdogan commented in a recent speech:"A country we call an ally is insisting on forming a terror army on our borders. What can that terror army target but Turkey? Our mission is to strangle it before it's even born." This has significantly strained relations between the two countries, and triggered an official response from NATO in an attempt to avoid full frontal confrontation between the NATO allies in Manbij.

The US is seeking a balance between the Kurds and Turkey in the region, but it has maintained its formal support for the SDF. Nevertheless, according to analyst Nicholas Heras, the US will not help the Kurds in Afrin due to the fact that its intervention is only active in counter-IS mission areas; geographically starting from Manbij (thus Afrin not falling under US military protection).

The Impact of the Syrian Conflict on Turkey's International Relations

The Syrian conflict has strongly impacted on Turkish relations with a host of international actors, of which the most central to both Turkey and the conflict are Russia, the US, the European Union and Iran.

The demolition of a Russian SU-24 aircraft in 2015 caused a deterioration of relations between Russia and Turkey. However, thanks to the Turkish president's apologies to Putin in June 2016, relations were normalized and a new era of cooperation between both countries has seemingly begun. This cooperation reached a high point in September of the same year when Turkey bought an S-400 defense missile system from Russia, despite warnings from its NATO allies. Further, the Russian company ROSATOM has planned the construction of a nuclear plant in Turkey worth $20 million. Thus, it can be said that cooperation between the two nations has been strengthened in the military and economic spheres.

Despite an improvement in relations however, there remain to be significant differences between both countries, particularly regarding foreign policy perspectives. On the one hand, Russia sees the Kurds as important allies in the fight against IS; consequently perceiving them to be essential to participants in post-conflict resolution (PCR) meetings. On the other, Turkey's priority is the removal of Assad and the prevention of Kurdish federalism, which translates into its rejection of including the Kurds in PCR talks. Notwithstanding, relations appear to be quite strong at the moment, and this may be due to the fact that the hostility (in the case of Turkey, growing) of both countries towards their Western counterparts trumps their disagreements regarding the Syrian conflict.

The situation regarding Turkish relations with the US is more ambiguous. By virtue of belonging to NATO, both countries share important working ties. However, even a cursory glance at recent developments suggests that these relations have been deteriorating, despite the NATO connection. The main problem between Washington and Ankara has been the Kurdish question, since the US supports the Popular Protection Units (YPG) militias in the SCW, yet the YPG are considered a designated terrorist outfit in Turkey. How the relationship will evolve is yet to be seen, and essentially revolves around both parties reaching an agreement regarding the Kurdish question. Currently, the near showdown in northern Syria is proving to be a stalemate, with Turkey clearly signaling its unwillingness to back down on the Kurdish issue, and the US risking serious face loss should it succumb to Turkey's demands. Support to the Kurds has typically been predicated on their role in the anti-IS campaign yet, with the campaign dying down, the US finds itself in a bind as it attempts to justify its continued presence in Syria. This presence is crucial to maintaining a footprint in the region and, more importantly, preventing the complete political domination of the political scene by Russia and Iran.

Beyond the Middle East scene, the US's refusal to extradite Fetullah Gülen, a staunch enemy that, according to Ankara, was one of the instigators of the failed coup of 2016, has further strained relations. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, only 10% of Turks trust President Donald Trump. In turn, Turkey recently stated that its agreements with the US are losing their validity. Erdogan has stressed that the dissolution of ties between both countries will seriously affect the legal and economic sphere. Furthermore, the Turk Zarrab has been found guilty in a New York trial for helping Iran evade sanctions through enabling a money-laundering scheme that filtered through US banks. This has been a big issue for Turkey, because one of the accused had ties with Erdogan's AKP party. However, Erdogan has cast the trial as a continuation of the coup attempt, and has organized a average campaign to spread the idea that Zarrab was one of the authors of the conspiracy against Turkey.

With regards the EU, relations have also soured, despite Turkey and the EU enjoying strong economic ties. As a result of Erdogan's "purge", the rapidly deteriorating situation of freedoms in Turkey have strained relations with Europe. In November 2016, the European Parliament voted to suspend EU accession negotiations with Turkey, due to human rights issues and the state of the rule of law in Turkey. By increasingly adopting the practices of an autocratic regime, Turkey's access to the EU will be essentially impossible. In a recent meeting between the Turkish and French presidents, French president Emmanuel Macron emphasized continuing EU-Turkey ties, yet suggested that there was no realistic chance of Turkey joining the EU in the near future.

Since 2017, following Erdogan's victory in the constitutional referendum in favor of changing over from a parliamentary to a presidential system, access negotiations to the EU have effectively ceased. In addition, various European organs that deal with human rights issues have placed Turkey on "black" lists, based on their assessment that the state of democracy in Turkey is in serious jeopardy thanks to the AKP.            

Another issue in relation to the Syrian conflict between the EU and Turkey relates to the refugee issue. In 2016, the EU and Turkey agreed to transfer 6 billion euros to support the Turkish reception of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. Although this seemed like the beginning of fruitful cooperation, tensions have continued to increase due to Turkey's limited capacity to host refugees. The humanitarian crisis in Syria is unsustainable: more than 5 million refugees have left the country and only a small segment has been granted sufficient resources to restart their lives. This problem continues to grow day by day, and more than 6 million Syrians have been displaced within its borders. Turkey welcomes more than 3 million Syrian refugees and consequently, it influences on Ankara, whose policies and position have been determined to a large extent by this crisis. On January 23, President Erdogan claimed that Turkey's military operations in Syria will end when all the Syrian refugees in Turkey can return safely to their country. Humanitarian aid work has been underway for civilians in Afrin, where the offensive against Kurdish YPG militia fighters has been launched.

With regards the relationship between Iraq and Turkey, in November 2016, when Iraqi forces entered Mosul against the IS, Ankara announced that it would send the army to the Iraqi border, in order to prepare for important developments in the region. Turkey's defense minister added that he would not hesitate to act if Turkey's network line was crossed. He received a response from Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi, who warned Turkey not to invade Iraq. Despite this, in April 2017, Erdogan suggested that in future stages, Operation Euphrates Shield would extend to Iraqi territory stating, "a future operation will not only have a Syrian dimension, but also an Iraqi dimension. Al Afar, Mosul and Sinjar are in Iraq."

Finally, Russia, Turkey and Iran have been cooperating in the framework of the Astana negotiations for peace in Syria, despite having somewhat divergent interests. In a recent call between Iranian President Rouhani and Erdogan, the Turkish president expressed his hope that the protests in Iran, which occurred at the end of 2017, would end. The relations between the two countries are strange: in the SCW, Iran supports the Syrian government (Shia), whereas Turkey supports the Syrian (Sunni) opposition. A similar thing occurred in the 2015 Yemen intervention, where Turkey and Iran supported opposing factions. This has led to disputes between the leaders of both countries, yet such tensions have been eased since Erdogan paid a visit to Iran to improve their relationship. The Qatar diplomatic crisis has similarly contributed to this dynamic, since it placed Iran and Turkey against Saudi Arabia and in favor of Qatar. Although there is an enduring element of instability in relations between both countries, their relationship has been improving in recent months, since Ankara, Moscow and Tehran have managed to cooperate in an attempt to overcome their differences for finding a solution to the Syrian conflict.

What next for Turkey in Syria?

Thanks to the Astana negotiations, a future pact for peace in the region seems possible. The de-escalation zones are a necessary first step to preserve some areas of the region from the violence of war, as the Turkish strategic plan has indicated from the beginning. This being said, the outcome is complicated by a number of factors, of which the continuing strength of Kurdish factions remains a significant bone of contention, and source of conflict, for power brokers managing post-conflict transition.

There are two primary factors that have clearly impacted Turkey's foreign policy decisions vis-à-vis the Syrian conflict. The first relates to the long and complex history of Turkey with its Kurdish minorities, and its fixation on preventing the Kurds from achieving a degree of territorial autonomy that would embolden Turkish Kurds and threaten Turkey's territorial integrity. Turkey has unilaterally attacked positions of the Kurdish opposition, including those supported by a NATO ally (the US), effectively demonstrating the lengths to which it is planning to go to ensure that the Kurds are not part of a post-civil war equation. All this fuels uncertainty and increases chances of further conflict erupting in Syria, and elsewhere.

The second relates to the changing nature of governance in Turkey, with a clear shift away from the Western, democratic model to a more authoritarian, quasi-theocratic one; looking more to Russia and Iran as political allies. In its pivot to the East, Turkey plays a careful balancing game, taking into consideration the conflicting goals that both itself and its new friends, Russia and Iran, hold regarding the political outcome in Syria. What current events indicate, however, is that Turkey seems to be moving more towards a compromise over the Assad issue, in return for flexibility in dealing with the Kurdish element of the anti-IS coalition that it deems a threat to its national security.

At the time of writing, Turkey and the US appear to be at a stalemate regarding particularly the US-backed SDF. Erdogan has stated that its operation in Afrin will be followed by a move toward Manbij, and, as such, an agreement to clearly delineating zones where both countries are militarily active is being negotiated under NATO auspices. How long such a partitioning under the pretext of an anti-IS coalition can last before further conflict erupts is uncertain. What seems to be likely however is that one of two possible scenarios must transpire to avoid the potential breakout of war in the Middle East among the major powers.

Either an agreement is reached regarding the future role of the SDF and other Kurdish factions, on which the Turks can agree. Or else the US strategically withdraws its support to the Kurds, based on the mandate that the alliance was limited to the two parties' joint efforts in the anti-IS coalition. In the latter case, the US risks losing its political and military leverage via the Kurds in the region, as well as losing face with their Kurdish allies; a move that could have serious strategic repercussions for US involvement in the region. 

▲Trilateral summit of Russia, Turkey and Iran in Sochi in November 2017 [Turkish Presidency].

ANALYSIS / Albert Vidal and Alba Redondo [English version].

Turkey's response to the Syrian Civil War (SCW) has gone through several phases, conditioned by the changing circumstances of the conflict, both domestically and internationally: from giving support to Sunni rebels with questionable affiliations, to being one of the targets of the Islamic State (ISIS), to a failed coup attempt in 2016, and always conditioning its foreign policy decisions on the Kurdish issue. Despite an initially aggressive stance against Assad at the beginning of the Syrian war, the success and growing strength of the Kurdish civil service examination , such as result of its role in the anti-ISIS coalition, has significantly influenced Turkey's foreign policy .

Relations between Turkey and Syria have been fraught with difficulties for the past century. The Euphrates River, which originates in Turkey, has been one of the main causes of confrontation between the two countries. Turkey's construction of dams limits the flow of water to Syria, causing losses in its agriculture and generating a negative impact on the Syrian Economics . This problem is not limited to the past, as currently the project GAP (project of Southeastern Anatolia) threatens to further compromise the water supply of Iraq and Syria through the construction of 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric dams in southern Turkey.

In addition to disputes over natural resources, Hafez al-Assad's support for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the 1980s and 1990s greatly hindered relations between the two countries. However, conflict was avoided altogether with the signature of the protocol of Adana in 1998. Another source of discord between Syria and Turkey has been the territorial claims made by both nations over the province of Hatay, still claimed by Syria, but administered by Turkey, which incorporated it into its territory in 1939.

Despite the above issues, Syria and Turkey enjoyed a good relationship during the decade leading up to the Arab Spring and the revolutions of the summer of 2011. The international response to the Syrian regime's reaction to the uprisings was mixed, and Turkey was unsure of what position to take until, in the end, it chose to support the rebel civil service examination . Thus, Turkey offered protection on its territory to the rebels and opened its borders to Syrian refugees. This decision signaled the initial stage of the decline in Syrian-Turkish relations, but the status significantly worsened after the downing of a Turkish plane on June 22, 2012 by Syrian forces. This resulted in border clashes, but without the direct intervention of the Turkish Armed Forces.

From a foreign policy perspective, there were two main reasons for reversing Turkey's non-intervention policy. The first reason was a growing series of Islamic State (ISIS) attacks in July 2015 in Suruc, Central Station in Ankara and Atatürk Airport in Istanbul. The second, and arguably the most important reason, was Turkey's fear of the creation of a Kurdish proto-state in its neighboring countries: Syria and Iraq. This led to the launch of Operation Euphrates Shield (also known as the Jarablus Offensive), considered one of Turkey's first direct military actions in Syria since the SCW began. The main goal was to secure a area in northern Syria free from control of ISIS and Democratic Union Party (PYD) factions. The Jarablus Offensive was supported by article 51 of the UN Charter (the right of nations to self-defense), as well as several UN Security committee resolutions (Nos. 1373, 2170, 2178) pertaining to the global responsibility of countries to fight terrorism. Despite being successful in achieving its objectives, the Jarablus offensive ended prematurely in March 2017, without Turkey ruling out the possibility of similar future interventions.

Internally, Erdogan's military intervention and assertive posturing aimed to gain public support from Turkish nationalist parties, especially the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Grand Unity Party (BBP), as well as general public backing for the constitutional changes then being proposed. That would give Erdogan greater executive powers as president. Consequently, a foreign distraction campaign was more than welcome, given the growing domestic unrest and general discontent, following the coup attempt in July 2016.

Despite Turkey's assertiveness sample towards Syria, Turkish military intervention does not indicate strength. On the contrary, Erdogan's actual invasion of northern Syria occurred in the wake of disputes (between Syria and Iraq) that threatened to undermine Turkish objectives, both at home and abroad. Thus, limited United States (US) interference and the failure of rebel forces to topple the Assad regime meant the perpetuation of the terrorist threat; and, more importantly, the continued strengthening of Kurdish factions, which posed the most effective force against ISIS. Indeed, the Kurds' success in the anti-ISIS coalition had helped them gain worldwide recognition similar to that of most nation-states; recognition that meant increased financial support and increased provision of weapons. A Kurdish region, armed and gaining legitimacy for its efforts in the fight against ISIS, is undoubtedly the main reason for Turkish military intervention. In any case, the growing Kurdish influence has resulted in Turkey's shifting and ambiguous attitude towards Assad throughout the SCW.

 

▲visit of Erdogan to the command of Operation Olive Branch, January 2018 [Presidency of Turkey].

 

Turkey's changing stance on Assad

While Turkey aggressively supported Assad's ouster at the beginning of the SCW, this stance has increasingly taken a back seat to other more important issues of Turkey's foreign policy with its neighboring states, Syria and Iraq. Indeed, recent statements by Turkish officials openly acknowledge the resilience of the Assad government, a fact that opens the door to future reconciliation between the two sides. These statements also reinforce a very profuse view, according to which, Assad will be a piece core topic in any future agreement on Syria. Thus, on January 20, 2017, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek said,"We cannot keep saying that Assad should go. A agreement without Assad is not realistic."

This easing of rhetoric towards Assad coincides with a positive shift in Turkey's relations with the Syrian regime's allies in the conflict (Iran and Russia), in its attempts to bring about a resolution of the conflict. However, the official Turkish position towards Assad lacks consistency, and appears to be highly dependent on circumstances.

Recently, a war of words initiated by Erdogan with the Syrian president took place, in which the Turkish president accused Assad of being a terrorist. Moreover, Erdogan rejected any subject negotiations with Assad on the future of Syria. For his part, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem responded by accusing Erdogan of being manager of the bloodshed of the Syrian people. On January 2, 2018, forces loyal to Assad fired shells towards Turkish territory. Such a launch prompted an immediate response from Turkey. On January 18, Mevlüt Çavusoglu (Turkish Foreign Minister) announced that his country intended to carry out an air intervention in the Syrian regions of Afrin and Manbij.

A few days later, Operation Olive Branch was launched, under the pretext of creating a "security zone" in Afrin (in Syria's Aleppo province); although it has focused almost entirely on expelling what Erdogan calls Kurdish "terrorists," which are actually composed of Kurdish factions backed by the U.S. These Kurdish groups have played a crucial role in the anti-ISIS coalition. The operation was reportedly launched in response to U.S. plans to create a border force of 30,000 Syrian Kurds. Erdogan stated in a recent speech :"A country we call an ally insists on forming a terror army on our borders. Who can that terrorist army attack if not Turkey? Our mission statement is to strangle it before it is born." This has significantly worsened relations between the two countries, and triggered an official NATO response, in an attempt to avoid confrontation between NATO allies in Manbij.

The US is seeking a balance between the Kurds and Turkey in the region, but has maintained its formal support for the SDF. However, according to analyst Nicholas Heras, the US will not help the Kurds in Afrin, as it will only intervene in the areas of mission statement against ISIS; starting from Manbij and towards the East (thus Afrin is not under US military protection).

Impact of the Syrian conflict on Turkey's International Office

The Syrian conflict has had a strong impact on Turkish relations with a wide range of international actors; of which the most important for both Turkey and the conflict are Russia, the United States, the European Union and Iran.

The downing of a Russian SU-24 aircraft in 2015 led to a deterioration of relations between Russia and Turkey. However, thanks to the Turkish president's apology to Putin in June 2016, relations normalized, ushering in a new era of cooperation between the two countries. This cooperation reached its pinnacle in September of the same year when Turkey purchased an S-400 defense missile system from Russia, despite warnings from its NATO allies. In addition, the Russian business ROSATOM has planned to build a nuclear power plant in Turkey worth $20 billion. Thus, the partnership between the two nations has been strengthened in the military and economic spheres.

However, despite the rapprochement, there are still significant differences between the two countries, particularly with regard to foreign policy perspectives. On the one hand, Russia sees the Kurds as important allies in the fight against ISIS; and considers them essential members in the post-conflict peaceful resolution (PCR) meetings. On the other hand, Turkey's priority is to bring democracy to Syria and prevent Kurdish federalism, which translates into its refusal to include the Kurds in PCR talks. Nevertheless, the ties between Turkey and Russia seem to be quite strong at the moment. This may be due to the fact that the (in Turkey's case, increasing) hostility of both countries towards their Western counterparts outweighs their differences regarding the Syrian conflict.

The relationship between Turkey and the United States is more ambiguous. As important members of NATO, both countries share important ties from work. However, looking at recent developments, one can see how these relations have been deteriorating. The main problem between Washington and Ankara has been the Kurdish issue. The US supports the People's Protection Units (YPG) militias in the SCW, however, the YPG is considered a terrorist group by Turkey. It is not yet known how their relationship will evolve, but possibly both sides will reach a agreement regarding the Kurdish issue. As of today (January 2018), the confrontation in northern Syria is at a stalemate. On the one hand, Turkey does not intend to give in on the Kurdish issue, and on the other hand, the US would lose its prestige as a superpower if it decided to succumb to Turkish demands. Support for the Kurds has traditionally been based on their role in the anti-ISIS campaign. However, as the campaign winds down, the US is finding itself in a bind trying to justify its presence in Syria in any way it can. Its presence is crucial to maintain its influence in the region and, more importantly, to prevent Russian and Iranian domination of the contested theater.

The US refusal to extradite Fethullah Gülen, a bitter enemy who, according to Ankara, was one of the instigators of the failed 2016 coup, has further strained their relations. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, only 10% of Turks trust President Donald Trump. In turn, Turkey recently declared that its agreements with the U.S. are losing validity. Erdogan subryaed that the dissolution of ties between the two countries would seriously affect the legal and economic sphere. In addition, Turkey's Zarrab was convicted in a trial in New York, for helping Iran evade sanctions by enabling a money laundering scheme, which was filtered through US banks. This has been a big problem for Turkey, as one of the defendants had ties to Erdogan's AKP party. However, Erdogan has called the trial a continuation of the coup attempt, and has dealt with potential criticism by organizing a media campaign to spread the idea that Zarrab was one of the perpetrators of the conspiracy against Turkey in 2016.

With respect to the European Union, relations have also deteriorated, despite the fact that Turkey and the EU have strong economic ties. As result of Erdogan's "purge" after the failed coup, the continued deterioration of freedoms in Turkey has strained relations with Europe. In November 2016, the European Parliament voted in favor of fail EU accession negotiations with Turkey, justifying its decision on the abuse of human rights and the decline of the rule of law in Turkey. By increasingly adopting the practices of an autocratic regime, Turkey's accession to the EU is becoming impossible. In a recent meeting between the Turkish and French presidents, French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized the ties between the EU and Turkey, but suggested that there was no realistic chance of Turkey joining the EU in the near future.

Since 2017, after Erdogan's victory in the constitutional referendum in favor of changing the system (from a parliamentary to a presidential system), EU accession negotiations have ceased. In addition, several European bodies, which deal with human rights issues, have placed Turkey on a "black" list, based a assessment, according to which the state of democracy in Turkey is in serious danger due to the AKP.

Another topic related to the Syrian conflict between the EU and Turkey is refugees. In 2016, the EU and Turkey agreed to transfer €6 billion to support Turkish reception of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. While this appeared to be the beginning of a fruitful cooperation, tensions have continued to rise due to Turkey's limited capacity to host such issue of refugees. The humanitarian crisis in Syria is unsustainable: more than 5 million refugees have left the country and only a small issue of them have received sufficient resources to restart their lives. This problem continues to grow day by day, and more than 6 million Syrians have been displaced within its borders. Turkey hosts, as of today, more than 3 million Syrian refugees and, consequently, Ankara's policies have result been greatly influenced by this crisis. On January 23, President Erdogan stated that Turkey' s military operations in Syria would end when all Syrian refugees in Turkey could return safely to their country. The humanitarian financial aid is being sent to civilians in Afrin, where Turkey launched the latest offensive against Kurdish YPG militiamen.

Regarding the relationship between Iraq and Turkey, in November 2016, when Iraqi forces arrived in Mosul to fight against the Islamic State, Ankara announced that it would send the army to the Iraqi border, to prepare for possible developments in the region. The Turkish Defense Minister added that he would not hesitate to act if Turkey's red line was crossed. This received an immediate response from Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi, who warned Turkey not to invade Iraq. Despite this, in April 2017, Erdogan suggested that in future stages, Operation Euphrates Shield would be extended to Iraqi territory: "a future operation will not only have a Syrian dimension, but also an Iraqi dimension. Al Afar, Mosul and Sinjar are in Iraq."

Finally, Russia, Turkey and Iran have cooperated in the framework Astana negotiations for peace in Syria, despite having somewhat divergent interests. In a recent call between Iranian President Rouhani and Erdogan, the Turkish president expressed his hope that the protests in Iran, which occurred in late 2017, will end. The relations between the two countries are strange: in the SCW, Iran supports the Syrian (Shiite) government, while Turkey supports the Syrian (Sunni) civil service examination . Something similar happened in the 2015 intervention in Yemen, where Turkey and Iran supported the opposing factions. This has led to disputes between the leaders of the two countries, however, such tensions have eased since Erdogan made a visit to Iran to improve their relationship. The Qatar diplomatic crisis has also contributed to this dynamic, as it positioned Iran and Turkey against Saudi Arabia and in favor of Qatar. Although there is an enduring element of instability in relations between the two countries, their relationship has been improving in recent months as Ankara, Moscow and Tehran have managed to cooperate in an attempt to overcome their differences to find a solution to the Syrian conflict.

What lies ahead for Turkey in Syria?

Thanks to the negotiations in Astana, a future agreement peace in the region seems possible. The "cessation of hostilities" zones are a necessary first step, to preserve some areas from the violence of war, as outlined in the Turkish strategic plan from the beginning. That said, the result is complicated by a number of factors: the strength of the Kurdish factions is a major element of discord, as well as a source of conflict for the powerful who will manage the post-conflict transition.

There are two main factors that have clearly impacted Turkey's foreign policy decisions regarding the Syrian conflict. The first has to do with the long and complex history of Turkey and its Kurdish minorities, as well as its obsession with preventing the Kurds from achieving a Degree territorial autonomy. If achieved, this would embolden the Turkish Kurds and threaten Turkey's territorial integrity. Turkey unilaterally attacked positions of the Kurdish civil service examination , including some backed by a NATO ally (the US), thus demonstrating how far it is capable of going to ensure that the Kurds are not part of the solution at the end of the civil war. All this produces uncertainty and increases the chances of new conflicts in Syria.

The second factor is related to the changing nature of the government in Turkey, with a move away from the Western-democratic model towards a more authoritarian and quasi-theocratic model , taking Russia and Iran as political allies. In its pivot to the east, Turkey maintains a fragile balance, considering that its objectives differ from those of its new friends (Russia and Iran), with respect to the political result in Syria. Recent developments indicate, however, that Turkey seems to be reaching a agreement on the Assad issue, in exchange for more flexibility in dealing with the Kurdish issue (part of the anti-ISIS coalition), which it considers a threat to its national security.

Currently, in January 2018, the relationship between Turkey and the U.S. appears to be at an impasse, especially in relation to the U.S.-backed group SDF. Erdogan has stated that, after his operation in Afrin, he will continue with a move towards Manbij. Therefore, under NATO auspices, a agreement is being negotiated to clearly delineate the areas in which both countries are militarily active. There is great uncertainty as to how long such partition agreements (under the guise of an anti-ISIS coalition) can last before a new conflict breaks out. However, it seems likely that one of the two possible scenarios will occur to avoid the possible outbreak of war between the great powers in the Middle East.

There are two options. Either a agreement is reached regarding the future role of the SDF and other Kurdish factions, with Turkey's consent, or else the US will withdraw its support for the Kurds, based on the mandate that their alliance was limited to joint fighting in the anti-ISIS coalition. In the latter case, the US risks losing the political and military advantage that the Kurds give it in the region. It also risks losing the confidence of its Kurdish allies, a fact that could have serious strategic repercussions for US involvement in this region.

Categories Global Affairs: Security and defense Middle East Analysis

ESSAY / Marianna McMillan [English version].

I. Introduction

On the 31st of March 2016, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative for Foreign affairs and Security Policy of the European Commission, launched a Cultural Diplomacy Platform to enhance the visibility and understanding of the Union through intercultural dialogue and engagement. By engaging all stakeholders from a bottom-up perspective, the platform forces us to reconsider the context in which it operates, the internal constraints it wishes to address, and lastly, the foreign policy objective it aspires to. However, in order to export a European cultural image abroad with a single, coherent voice, the Union must first address its 'unity in diversity' of national cultures without threatening the national identities of the individual Member States. Therefore, the EU as an international actor and regional organization, based on unity in diversity, has an internal need for intercultural dialogue and negotiation of shared identities (European External Action Service, 2017). Not only to establish conditions favorable to Brussels policies but as an instrument for the EU to counter external, non-traditional security threats - terrorism, populist narratives, cyber insecurity, energy insecurity and identity ambiguity.

This understanding of culture as a potential instrument or means for Europe's soft power is the basis for the analysis of this paper. In doing so, the purpose of the article is to explore the significance of culture relative to soft power and foreign policy as theoretical foundations for understanding the logic of the EU's New Cultural Diplomacy Platform.

II. Unity in diversity through the New Cultural Diplomacy Platform

If the European Union aspires to a "rules based" liberal order founded on cooperation, then to what extent can the EU obtain global influence and domestic unity by preserving its interests and upholding its values, if it lacks both a single voice and a common external policy?

The lack of a single voice is symptomatic of a history of integration based on diversity rather than equality. And the incoherent common external policy refers to the coordination problem, in which the cultural relations remains a competence of the individual Member States and the Common Foreign and Security Policy remains a supranational competence of the EU since the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992 (Banus, 2015:103-105 and Art 6, TFEU).

With the acceleration of globalization, non-traditional security challenges such as cyber warfare, climate change, radicalization, refugee and economic migration and energy insecurity test the EU's idea of a common Foreign Policy between the EU institutions and the individual member states. These threats not only demand a new security paradigm but a new coexistence paradigm, in which security is directed towards radicalization reduction and coexistence is directed towards civil societies based on democratic order and rule of law (European Commission, 2016). For example, regarding the regional integration process, the process sustains itself by promoting narratives of shared cultural heritage. However, growing skepticism towards immigrants following the refugee crisis fosters a conflicting narrative with the wider societal and communitarian narrative projected by the EU - The European Commission (EC), the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Parliament (EP), and the Council of the European Union. The Union's failure to address the pervasive divisions between member states in issues pertaining to the Brexit negotiation, the financial crisis or international terrorism, further fuel populist narratives and solidify nationalist prejudices against the EU These institutional and structural constraints - diversity and shared competences - reflect the dynamics of the cultural landscape and its unintended consequences on the European Union as a political entity (institutional), the European project as an integration process (unity in diversity) and the European identity as a single voice (social).

In response to a blurring of the distinction between internal constraints and external threats - radicalization, energy and cyber insecurity and populist regimes -, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini established the New Cultural Diplomacy Platform (NCP hereafter) in 2016.

In order to eliminate terminological ambiguity, cultural diplomacy is understood from both a realist "balance of power" approach and a conceptual "reflexive" approach (Triandafyllidou and Szucs, 2017). Whereas the prior refers to an art of dialogue to advance and protect the nation's interest abroad (ex. joint EU cultural events - film festivals, bilateral programs - Supporting the Strengthening of Tunisia's Cultural Sector, creation of European Cultural Houses, Culture and Creativity Programme, average and culture for development in the Southern Mediterranean region, and the NCP). The latter, a more reflexive approach, is a policy in itself, promoting sustainable social and economic development through people-to-people diplomacy (e.g. cultural exchanges - like Erasmus Plus, the Development and Cooperation Instrument and its sub-Programs, the Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the ENI Cross Border Cooperation, the Civil Society Facility). By applying it to the EU; on one hand, it contributes to global visibility and influence of the EU through soft power and, on the other hand, it seeks to promote economic growth and social cohesion through civil societies (Trobbiani, 2017: 3-5).

Despite being financed by the Partnership Instrument (PI), which has for its objective the enhancement of the "widespread understanding and visibility of the Union", the EU's NCP is a balance of both the realist and conceptual approach to cultural diplomacy (European Commission, 2016b). As such it is a strategy of resilience that responds to a new reality in which the emergence of non-traditional security threats and a shift in citizens from independent observers to active participants demands a constructive dialogue that engages all the concerned stakeholders - national governments, international organizations and civil societies (Higgot, 2017: 6-8 and European Union, 2016). As a strategy of societal or cultural resilience, resilience is understood in terms of the society's inclusiveness, prosperity and security. According to the Global Strategy of 2016, it aims for pluralism, coexistence and respect by "deepening work on education, culture and youth" (European Union, 2016). In other words, it invests in creative industries, such as Think Tanks, Cultural Institutes or local artists, to preserve a cultural identity, further economic prosperity and enhance soft power.

By seeking global understanding and visibility, the EU's recent interest in International Cultural Relations (ICR) and Culture Diplomacy (CD) reflect the entity's ongoing need for a single voice and a single common external policy. This effort demonstrates the significance of culture in soft politics by highlighting the relationship between culture and foreign policy. Perhaps the more appropriate question is to what extent can Mogherini's NCP convert culture in a tool of soft power? And is such a strategy - ICR and NCP - an effective communication and coordination model before the current internal and external security threats, or will it undermine its narrative?

III. Culture and Soft Power

The shift in the concept of security demands a revisiting of the concept of soft power. In this case, cultural diplomacy must be understood in terms of soft power and soft power must be understood in terms of capacity - capacity to attract and influence. Soft power according to Joseph Nye's notion of persuasion grows out of "intangible power resources": "such as culture, ideology and institutions" (Nye, 1992: 150-170).

The EU as a product of cultural dialogues is a civilian power, a normative power and a soft power. The power of persuasion of the EU relies on its legitimacy and credibility in its institutions (European Union, 2016a and Michalski, 2005: 124-141). For this reason, the consistency between the identity the EU wishes to portray and the practices it should pursue is fundamental to the projection of itself as a credible international actor. This consistency will be necessary if the EU is to fulfill its goal to "enhance unity in diversity". To do otherwise, would contradict its liberal values and solidify the populist prejudices against the EU. Thus, internal legitimacy and credibility as sources of soft power are ultimately dependent on the consistence between the EU's identity narrative and democratic values reflected in its practices (European Union, 2016). Cultural diplomacy responds to the inconsistency by demanding reflection on one hand and enhancing that identity on the other hand. For example, the positive images of Europe through the OPEN Neighborhood communication program helps advance specific geopolitical interests by creating better lasting conditions for cooperation with countries like Algeria, Libya and Syria to the south and Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to the East. This is relevant to what Nye coined soft power or "co-optive power": "The ability of a country to structure a situation so that other countries develop preferences or define their interests in consistency with its own" (see Nye, 1990: 168). Soft power applied to culture can work both indirectly or directly. It works indirectly when it is independent of government control (e.g. Popular culture) and directly via cultural diplomacy (e.g. NCP). Foreign policy actors - can act as advocates of a certain domestic culture both consciously - e.g. politicians - and unconsciously - e.g. local artists. By doing so they serve as agents for other countries or channels for their soft power.

V. Culture and foreign policy

If soft power grows out of the EU's culture, domestic values and policies then culture is both a foundation and resource of foreign policy (Liland, 1993: 8). First, as a foundation, foreign policy operates within the cultural framework of any given society or society in which it wishes to interact. Thus, necessitating a domestic cultural context capable of being influenced (e.g. the difference in the accession negotiations between Croatia and Turkey and the appeal of economic integration, on one hand, and the ability to adjust human rights policies, on the other hand). And secondly, as a resource, the cultural interchange yields power to the EU. This ability of attitudes, feelings and popular images to influence foreign policy, domestic politics and social life demonstrates culture's ability to be a power resource of its own (Liland, 1993: 9-14 and Walt, 1998). This is significant because cultural interchange will increase as the acceleration of globalization makes communication faster, cheaper and more accessible. And lastly, as part of foreign policy, it diffuses information and obtains favorable opinions in the nation at the receiving end (Liland, 1993:12-13).

Therefore, Cultural Diplomacy at the forefront of European Foreign Policy does not signify the use of culture to substitute the traditional foreign policy goals - geography, power, security, political and economic - but the use of culture to support and legitimize them. In other words, culture is not the primary agent in the process to foreign policy rather the foundation that reinforces, contradicts or explains its content (e.g. Wilsonian idealism in the 1920s can be traced to a domestic culture of "manifest destiny" at the time) (Liland, 1993 and Kim, 2011: 6).

V. Conclusions

The purpose of the article has been to highlight the significance of culture relative to soft power and foreign policy as theoretical foundations for understanding the logic of the EU's New Cultural Diplomacy Platform. By identifying culture as playing an integral role in contributing to social cohesion within the EU and strengthening its influence as a global actor outside the EU, we can deduct culture as a source of soft power and an instrument of foreign policy. But the sources of soft power - culture, political values and foreign policy - are dependent on three conditions: (1) a favorable context; (2) credibility in values and practice; and (3) a perception of legitimacy and moral authority (see Nye, 2006). The EU must first legitimize itself as a coherent actor and moral authority so as to be able to effectively deal with its existential crises (European Union, 2016a: 9 and Tuomioja, 2009).

To do so, it must overcome its institutional and structural constraints by collectively confronting its external non-traditional security threats. This demands a strategy of resilience in which the EU is not a threat to national identity as a cultural, economic and legislative entity (Higgot, 2017: 11-13 and La Porte, 2016).

Various themes relating to culture and soft power, culture and foreign policy and the EU and its internal dynamics are covered in this article, however little has been said on the impact of a "uniform cultural system" and how foreign policy can influence the culture of a society. Culture is not an end in itself nor are the intercultural dialogues and the development on cultural diplomacy. The Union must be cautious to evolving into a dehumanizing bureaucratic structure that favors a standard culture to counter both its internal constraints and external, non-traditional security threats. If democracy is one of the prevailing values of the EU and democracy is a system based on trust in human responsibility, then the EU cultural diplomacy must foster trust rather than impose a standard culture. According to Vaclav Havel, it can do so by supporting cultural institutions respective of the plurality and freedom of culture, such as those fundamental to one's national identity and traditions of the land. In other words, culture must be subsidized to best suit its plurality and freedom as is the case with heritage sites, libraries, museums and public archives - or witnesses to our past (Havel, 1992). By incentivizing historical reflection, cultural diplomacy promotes shared narratives of cultural identities. To do otherwise does not only solidify the populist rhetoric and internal prejudices against the Union but is endemic to cultural totalitarianism, or worse, cultural relativism.

To aspire to a "uniform culture system" through an agreed European narrative would be to trade off pluralism and freedom and consequently contradict, first the nature of culture and secondly, the liberal values in which the Union was founded on.

 

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essay/ Marianna McMillan

I. Introduction

On 31 March 2016, the High Representative of the EU, Federica Mogherini, presented the new cultural diplomacy platform, which goal is to enhance visibility and understanding of the Union through intercultural dialogue. The fact that all influential actors are committed to this platform (from a top-down, bottom-up perspective), means that we need to reconsider three EU factors: (1) the context in which it operates; (2) the domestic constraints it has to address, and (3) the foreign policy it aspires to. However, the EU wants to give a single cultural image, with a single voice that is consistent with its policies; That is why, first and foremost, the EU must uphold its motto 'unity in diversity'. This motto signifies the integration of national cultures into other countries, without this integration endangering the different national identities of the member states. Consequently, in its status as an international actor and regional organisation, the EU is lacking in intercultural dialogue and negotiation between identities (European External Action Service, 2017). For this reason, it must strive both in one and in the other (intercultural dialogue and the negotiation between identities) to face threats to European security such as terrorism, cyber-insecurity, energy insecurity or identity ambiguity.

The goal The aim of this analysis is, on the one hand, to understand the importance of culture as an instrument of soft power, and on the other hand, to reflect on the influence of culture as the theoretical foundation of the new European cultural platform.

II. Unity in diversity through the New Cultural Diplomacy Platform

If the European Union aspires to be a liberal order based on cooperation, then to what extent can the EU be globally influential? What is undeniable is that it lacks a single voice and a coherent common foreign policy.

The fact that the EU lacks a single voice is result of the course of integration throughout history, an integration that has been based more on diversity and not so much on equality. On the other hand, the assertion about the incoherence of the common foreign policy makes reference letter to all those cases in which, in the face of a coordination problem, what was agreed in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty takes precedence (Banús, 2015: 103-105 and Art. 6, TFEU): the competences may be of the member states, of the EU or they may be shared competences

As a result of the acceleration of globalisation, the increase in non-traditional security threats (international terrorism, energy vulnerability, irregular migratory flows, cyber threats or climate change) the idea of a common foreign policy between member states and the EU is challenged. Such threats demand not only a new paradigm of security, but also a new paradigm of coexistence. This paradigm shift would allow the EU to have a greater capacity to reduce radicalisation and to direct coexistence towards the needs of civil societies (see European Commission, 2016). By way of illustration of the new paradigm, we can name the promotion of narratives of a shared cultural heritage that financial aid to the regional integration process. However, at the same time that initiatives such as the above are implemented, scepticism towards immigrants is growing and narratives contrary to the EU narrative projected by the EU are being promoted. These institutional and structural constraints – diversity and shared competences – reflect the dynamics of the cultural landscape and their unintended consequences within the EU. They also give a glimpse of the project European identity as a process of integration (unity in diversity) and European identity as a single voice. Therefore, the EU, as an international actor and regional organisation, based on unity in diversity, has a need to establish an intercultural dialogue and a negotiation of shared identities from within its organisation (EEAS, 2017). This would serve not only to establish favourable conditions for Brussels' policies, but also as an instrument or means for the EU to counter non-traditional and external threats, such as terrorism, populist narratives, cyber threats, energy insecurity and identity ambiguity.

Regarding the difficulty in distinguishing internal constraints and external threats, Federica Mogherini established the New Cultural Diplomacy Platform (NPC) in 2016.

With the goal to clarify the terminology Previously used, 'cultural diplomacy' is understood as a 'balance of power' according to the approach realistic and as a "reflective balance" from a approach (Triandafyllidou & Szucs, 2017). On the one hand, the approach realist understands cultural diplomacy as a subject of dialogue that serves to advance and protect national interests abroad (e.g. joint European cultural events or bilateral programmes, such as film festivals, support for the strengthening of Tunisia's cultural sector, the creation of European cultural houses, the Culture and Creativity, Communication and Culture programme for the development in the Southern Mediterranean region, and the NPC).  On the other hand, the approach Conceptually, more reflectively, he understands cultural diplomacy as a policy in itself. The potential of cultural synergies is fostered for a development social and economic sustainability through individuals (e.g. cultural exchanges such as Erasmus Plus, the Instrument for Promoting and Developing Countries). development and Cooperation and its subprogrammes, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the ENI Cross Border Cooperation and the Civil Society Facility). The application of cultural diplomacy to the EU seeks to have global visibility and influence, and on the other hand, seeks to promote economic growth and social cohesion through civil societies (Trobbiani, 2017: 3-5).

Despite being funded by the Partnership Instrument (PI), which has as its goal to promote visibility and understanding of the EU, the NPC is a balance between the approach realistic and the approach (European Commission, 2016b). Consequently, it is a resilience strategy that responds to a new reality (resilience is understood in terms of inclusiveness, prosperity and security of society). In this reality, non-traditional security threats have emerged and in which there has been a change in the position of citizens, who have gone from being independent observers, to being active participants demanding a constructive dialogue involving all stakeholders: national governments, international organizations and civil societies (Higgot, 2017:6-8 and EU, 2016).

The 2016 Global Strategy seeks pluralism, coexistence and respect by "deepening the work In the Education, culture and youth" (EU, 2016). In other words, the platform invests in Structures creative organizations, such as think tanks, cultural institutes, or local artists, to preserve a cultural identity, advance economic prosperity, and enhance soft power.

By seeking global understanding and visibility, we see how the EU's interest in international cultural relations (ICR) and cultural diplomacy (CD) has grown. This, in turn, reflects the EU's internal need for a single voice and a common foreign policy. This effort demonstrates the fundamental role of culture in soft power, thus creating a connection between culture and external power. Perhaps the most appropriate question is: to what extent can Mogherini's NCP turn culture into a tool soft power? And are the strategies – ICR and NCP – a communication and a model effective coordination in the face of internal and external security threats, or will it inevitably undermine their narrative of unity in diversity?

III. Culture and Soft Power

The change in the concept of security requires a revisit of the concept of soft power. In this case, cultural diplomacy must be understood in terms of soft power, and soft power must be understood in terms of attractiveness and influence. Soft power, of agreement with Joseph Nye's notion of persuasion, it arises from "intangible resources of power": "such as culture, ideology and institutions" (Nye, 1992:150-170).

The EU as a product of cultural dialogues is a civil power, a normative power and a soft power. The EU's power of persuasion depends on its legitimacy and credibility in its institutions (EU, 2016a and Michalski, 2005:124-141). For this reason, the coherence between the identity that the EU wishes to show and the practices it will follow is fundamental for the projection of itself as a credible international actor. This coherence will be necessary if the EU is to meet its goal to "reinforce unity in diversity". Otherwise, their liberal values would be contradicted and populist prejudices against the EU would be solidified. Thus, domestic legitimacy and credibility as sources of soft power ultimately depend on the written request of the consistency between the EU's narrative identity and the democratic values reflected in its practices (EU, 2016).

Cultural diplomacy responds to incoherence by requiring reflection, on the one hand, and improving that identity, on the other. For example, optimising Europe's image through the European Neighbourhood Instrument communication programme and association (ENPI) help promote specific geopolitical interests, creating more durable conditions for cooperation with countries such as Algeria, Libya and Syria to the south; and Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to the east. This is relevant in relation to what Nye coined as "co-optive power": "the ability of a country to manage a status so that other countries develop certain preferences or define their interests in the agreement with their own" (Nye, 1990:168). Soft power applied to culture can work indirectly or directly. It works indirectly when it is independent of government control (e.g., popular culture) and directly through cultural diplomacy (e.g., the NCP). Foreign policy actors can act as defenders of domestic culture, both consciously (e.g., politicians) and unconsciously (e.g., local artists). In doing so, they serve as agents for other countries or channels of soft power.

IV. Culture and foreign policy

Considering soft power as an emergence of culture, values, and national policies, we can say that culture is both a foundation and a foundation. resource of foreign policy (Liland, 1993:8). Foreign policy, in turn, operates within the framework of any society interacting at the international level. Therefore, there is a need for a European cultural context capable of influencing the world (such as the difference in the accession negotiations between Croatia and Turkey and the attractiveness of economic integration or the ability to adjust human rights policies). Culture, in turn, is a resource, as the exchange empowers the EU. This new capacity of the EU allows it to become acquainted with new attitudes, sentiments and popular images that are capable of influencing foreign policy, domestic policy and social life. (Liland, 1993:9-14 and Walt, 1998). Another noteworthy function of culture is the dissemination of information and its ability to obtain favorable opinions in the foreign nation (Liland, 1993:12-13).

Cultural diplomacy is therefore at the forefront of European foreign policy; On the other hand, this does not mean that the use of culture can replace traditional foreign policy objectives – geography, power, security, politics and economics – but that the use of culture serves to support and legitimize them. In other words, culture is not the main agent in the foreign policy process, but is the foundation that reinforces, contradicts, or explains its content – thus, Wilson's idealism in the 1920s can be linked to a domestic culture of "manifest destiny" (Liland, 1993 and Kim, 2011:6).

V. Conclusions

The purpose of this article has been to highlight the importance of culture in relation to soft power and foreign policy, as a theoretical foundation to understand the logic of the new EU Cultural Diplomacy platform. Identifying the role of culture as a fundamental part of social cohesion within the EU, we can conclude that culture has made the EU a global actor with more capacity for influence. Culture, likewise, has been identified as source and as an instrument of foreign policy. But the sources of soft power—culture, political values, and foreign policy—depend on three factors: (1) a favorable context; (2) credibility in values and internship, and (3) the perception of legitimacy and moral authority (see Nye, 2006). The EU must first legitimise itself as a coherent actor with moral authority, in order to be able to deal effectively with its existential crisis (European Union, 2016a:9 and Tuomioja, 2009).

To do so, the EU must overcome its institutional and structural limits by collectively confronting its non-traditional external external security threats. This requires a strategy of resistance in which the EU is not identified as a threat to national identity, but as a cultural, economic and legislative entity.

In this article various topics related to culture, soft power, the EU's foreign policy and its internal dynamics were discussed; However, the impact of a "uniform cultural system" and how foreign policy can influence a society's culture has not been analysed in depth. Culture is not an end in itself, nor are intercultural dialogues and the development of cultural diplomacy.

The Union should avoid the risk of evolving towards a dehumanising bureaucratic structure favouring a standard culture to counter its internal constraints and non-traditional external security threats. According to Vaclav Havel, the EU can avoid this phenomenon by supporting cultural institutions that work for plurality and freedom of culture. These institutions are critical to preserving each nation's national identity and traditions. In other words, culture must be subsidized to better adapt to its plurality and freedom, as is the case with national heritages, libraries, museums and public archives – or the witnesses of our past (Havel, 1992).

As a final touch and as a historical reflection, cultural diplomacy promotes shared narratives about cultural identities. To do otherwise would not only solidify populist rhetoric and domestic prejudice against the Union, but would also make cultural totalitarianism, or worse, cultural relativism, endemic. To aspire to a 'uniform culture system' through an agreed European narrative would be to negotiate pluralism and freedom and, consequently, to contradict firstly the nature of culture and, secondly, the liberal values on which the Union was founded.

 

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Arndt, R. T. (2013). Culture or propaganda? Reflections on Half a Century of U.S. Cultural Diplomacy. Mexican Journal of Foreign Policy, 29-54.

Cull, N. J. (2013). Public Diplomacy: Theoretical Considerations. Mexican Journal of Foreign Policy, 55-92.

Cummings, Milton C. (2003) Cultural Diplomacy and the United States Government: A Survey, Washington, D.C. Center for Arts and Culture.

European Commission. (2016). A new strategy to put culture at the heart of EU international relations. Press re-read.

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European External Action Service. (2017). Culture – Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations. Joint Communication.

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European Union. (2016b). Towards an EU Strategy for International Cultural Relations. Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council.

European Union (2017) Adminstrative Arrangements developed by the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) in partnership with the European Commission Services and the European External Action Service, 16 May (https:// eeas.europa.eu/sites/eeas/files/2017-05-16_admin_arrangement_eunic.pdf).

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Higgot, R. (2017). Enhancing the EU's International Cultural Relations: The Prospects and Limits: Cultural Diplomacy. Institute for European Studies.

Howard, Philip K. (2011). Vaclav Havel's Critique of the West. The Atlantic.

Kim, Hwajung. (2011) Cultural Diplomacy as the Means of Soft Power in an Information Age.

La Porte and Cross. (2016). The European Union and Image Resilience during Times of Crisis: The Role of Public Diplomacy. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, 1-26.

Liland, Frode (1993). Culture and Foreign Policy: An Introduction to Approaches and Theory. Institutt for Forsvarstudier, 3-30.

Melissen, J. (2005). The New Public Diplomacy: Between Theory and Practice.

Melissen, J. (2005). The New Public Diplomacy: Between Theory and Practice. In The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations (pp. 3-30). Basinggstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan.

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Nye, Joseph. S. (2006) Think Again: Soft Power, Foreign Policy.

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Triandafyllidou, Anna and Tamas Szucs. (2017). EU Cultural Diplomacy: Challenges and Opportunities. European University Institute.

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Walt, Stephen M. (1998) International relations: One world, many theories. Foreign Policy. Washington; Spring, pp. 29-35.

Categories Global Affairs: European Union World order, diplomacy and governance Essays

ESSAY / Celia Olivar [English version].

The emergence of a new global context further challenges the European collective action in terms of development. The most significant challenge it faces are both the migrations coming from the south Mediterranean and the difficulty to articulate a common reaction. Given the urgency of the situation, the European Union is attempting to draft a new and ambitious response, which is the New European Consensus on Development (from now on, 'the Consensus'). It is both an ambitious answer and revision of the Millennium Goals made by the United Nations.

The Consensus is an 'acting framework' that intends to boost both the integration and coherence of the cooperation for the development of the European Union and its members states. This acting framework needs to adopt various changes if the communitarian legislation and the national legislation seek to reach the 2030 diary for sustainable development proposed by the United Nations and the Paris agreement on climate change.

Despite its main objective to eradicate poverty, the Consensus additionally includes a triple proposal perspective: economic, social and environmental. Given its additional aim to fulfill the 2030 diary, the Consensus addresses five pillars: (1) the population; (2) the planet; (3) prosperity; (4) peace; and lastly, (5) partnership. The consensus adds to this list, numerous original and transversal elements that include: the importance of the youth (e.g. solve the basic needs of the youth, such as employment); gender equality; good governance (e.g. attain rule of law capable of guaranteeing human rights, boosting the creation of transparent institutions, a participative decision process and independent and impartial tribunals); mobilization and migration; sustainable energy and climate change, investment and trade, Innovative commitment with the most advanced countries; and the efficient use of national resources (e.g. through the initiative "raise more, spend better").

Considering its intention to fulfill all the initiatives and objectives previously addressed, the Consensus applies not only to the European Union's policy, but also through the new, multilateral and better adapted associations, given their inclusiveness to civil societies and a broader participation of the member states. The tools used to implement the Consensus are a combination of traditional aid and other innovative ways of funding. For example, the private sector's investments and the national resources' mobilization. Concerning its evaluation, the new Consensus will have a periodic monitoring mechanism that forces the European Parliament and national parliaments to be held accountable via its reports.

The first evaluations of the new Consensus agree that it is a perfect synthesis of the international concerns about development. Nevertheless, it raises criticism in terms of its effectiveness to solve those previous concerns.

Firstly, and as the Overseas Development Institute has pointed out, it is not a true strategic plan. Rather it is a sum of unrelated priorities. If it were a real strategy, the Consensus would have demanded a set of determined roles for the Commission and the member states. Additionally, it would have required a definition of the thematic, sectoral and geographic priorities (e.g. The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) included in the 2030 diary are treated as equally important). Thus, it would have demanded the creation of new European institutions, or the utilization of the existing ones to more efficiently coordinate the national funds. This is the case of the 'International Climate Found'. Lastly, if the Consensus was a real strategy it would have determined the way and the content in which the middle-income countries cooperate, ultimately leading to a horizontal, vertical and sectorial coordination. This coordination would have required at the same time an establishment of the division of tasks in the European Union in order to attain a better resource allocation.

Secondly and accepting James Mackie's contribution (chief of the department of learning and quality of the European Centre of Development), it is difficult to know to whom the Consensus is addressed and what it demands. The fact that the geographic and sectorial priorities are not determined leads the members states to adopt an uncertain grade of commitment, and in the case that there will be a compromise it would be more tactic than explicit.

The third criticism concerns the Consensus implementation. Although it is ambitious with its objectives, it lacks an adequate institutional framework and an efficient mechanism to implement its new proposals. Thus, as Marta Latex explained, investigator of the European Parliamentary Research Services, the Consensus gives the private sector a very important role, but it does not provide the needed transparency in the cases surrounding human rights abuses or environmental damages.

In terms of its objectives, there are a lot of stakeholders, like CARE (the International Confederation of Development) that agree that the Consensus primarily focuses on migration control, ultimately removing the attention from the poorer necessities. This can be proven with the fact that not only in the frame of cooperation with other member states, but also in the foreign investment plan, the Consensus prioritizes the security and economic interests of the EU over helping the population confronted with poverty.

The fifth criticism refers to the political dimension. The new Consensus should contain a double concept of security, both holistic and sustainable, in order to join the problems of stability and democracy with the EU's security and foreign issue problems. A holistic concept of development signifies a vision of a long - lasting sustainability. In other words, it comprises aspects such as the sustainability condition, social justice or democracy. (Critic taken by Henökl, Thomas and Niels Keijzer from the German Development Institute)

Lastly, concerning its funding, the European parliament continues asking the member states to donate 0.7% of their annual budget to the cooperation for development. Given the fact that only a few countries arrive to give that 0.7%, the Consensus reinforces the importance of the private sector's participation in the European plan for foreign investment.

In conclusion, we are confronted with a document that gathers the needs of the current global context, but at the same time, requires an amount of changes to be both a true and effective strategy. Those changes are necessary if the Consensus is to be an effective strategy rather than yet another theory.

 

REFERENCES

Questions and Answers: New European Consensus on development: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-17-1505_es.pdf 

The new European Consensus on development - EU and Member States sign a joint strategy to eradicate poverty: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-1503_es.htm

The proposed new European Consensus on Development Has the European Commission got it right? https://www.odi.org/sites/odi.org.uk/files/resource-documents/11263.pdf

NewEuropean consensuson development Will it be fit for purpose? http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2017/599434/EPRS_BRI(2017)599434_EN.pdf

Seven critical questions for review of 'European Consensus on Development ' https://www.euractiv.com/section/development-policy/opinion/sevencritical-questions-for-review-of-european-consensus-on-development/

The Future of the "European Consensus on Development" https://www.die-gdi.de/uploads/average/BP_5.2016.pdf

European Union Development Policy: Collective Action in Times of Global Transformation and Domestic Crisis http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/dpr.12189/full

essay / Celia Olivar Gil [English version].

The global context continues to pose new challenges to European collective action at subject of development, the most important of which is migration from the Southern Mediterranean and the difficulty of articulating a well-articulated joint reaction. Aware of the urgency of status, the European Union is trying to offer a new and ambitious response in the form of the New Consensus on development (hereafter 'Consensus') which also coincides with the review of the Millennium Development Goals by the United Nations.

The Consensus is a 'framework of action' to promote the integration and coherence of cooperation to development of the European Union and its member states. This framework of action requires the adoption of those changes necessary for both EU and national legislation to comply with the diary 2030 of development Sustainable proposal by the United Nations and with the agreement of Paris on climate change.

The Consensus maintains the eradication of poverty as its main goal, goal , but includes a novel vision, proposing that poverty be addressed from a triple economic, social and environmental perspective. In addition to the eradication of poverty, the Consensus aims to achieve diary 2030, and to this end articulates its five pillars: population, planet, prosperity, peace and cooperation. To this articulation, the Consensus adds some novel and cross-cutting elements, which are: emphasis on youth (meeting the basic needs of young people such as employment); gender equality; good governance (achieving a rule of law that guarantees human rights, promoting the creation of transparent institutions, participatory decision-making and independent and impartial courts); mobilization and migration; sustainable energy and climate change; Investment and trade; innovative engagement with countries at development more advanced (building new partnerships with these countries to implement diary 2030 here); domestic resource mobilization and use (effective and efficient use of resources through the "raise more, spend better" initiative).

 

 

In order to achieve all the initiatives and objectives set out above, the application of the Consensus extends to both the policies of the European Union and those of all its member states. In addition, it emphasizes that the Consensus should also be applied in new, more tailored and more multilateral partnerships involving civil society and greater participation of partner countries. The means of implementation combine traditional financial aid with more innovative forms of financing for development, such as private sector investments and mobilizing additional domestic resources for development. In terms of follow-up, the new consensus will have a regular monitoring mechanism, including accountability through the European Parliament and national parliaments and reporting obligations.

Initial assessments of the new consensus agree that it is a good synthesis of the international concerns of development. However, it raises some criticisms regarding the effective capacity to address these concerns.

First of all, as the Overseas Development Institute points out, it is not a real strategic plan, but a set of unconnected priorities. development For it to be a real strategy, the roles of the Commission and the member states would need to be determined, the thematic, sectoral and geographic priorities defined (the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) contained in the diary 2030 are treated with equal importance), and new European institutions built or existing ones (such as the International Climate Fund) used to coordinate national funds more effectively. Likewise, the Consensus should determine the form and content of cooperation with income countries average, establishing horizontal, vertical and sectoral coordination. At the same time, this coordination would require the establishment of a division of tasks within the EU to achieve a better use of resources.

Secondly, and from agreement with James Mackie (head of the department learning and quality of the European Center for the development) it is difficult to perceive to whom it is addressed and what exactly it demands. The fact that geographic and sectoral priorities remain undetermined leaves the Degree commitment of member states uncertain and if there is commitment, it will be tactical rather than explicit.

The third criticism is related to its implementation. Although the consensus is ambitious in its objectives, it lacks an adequate institutional framework and an efficient mechanism to implement its new proposals. In addition, it gives the private sector a very important role, without providing it with transparency in cases of human rights abuses or environmental damage, as Marta Latek, researcher at EPRS (European Parliamentary Research Service) explained

In terms of its objectives there are many influential actors such as CARE (the international confederation of development) who agree that it focuses too much on migration control and does not prioritize the needs of the poor. This can be seen in the fact that both in the framework cooperation with other non-EU countries, as well as the external investment plan, it prioritizes the security and commercial interests of the EU before helping the population out of poverty.

A fifth criticism makes reference letter to the political dimension. The new Consensus should integrate a holistic as well as a sustainable security concept to connect the problems of stability and democracy with those of security in EU foreign affairs. A holistic concept of development means a vision of lasting sustainability, encompassing aspects such as the condition of sustainability, social justice or democracy. (Criticism according to Henökl, Thomas and Niels Keijzer of the German Development Institute).

Finally, as far as financing is concerned, the European Parliament continues to ask member states to donate 0.7% of their annual budget for cooperation to development. Given that very few of them are able to give this 0.7%, the consensus is on the importance of private sector participation via the European External Investment Plan.

In conclusion, this document reflects the needs of the current global context but requires a series of changes in order to be fully effective and a true strategy. These changes are necessary to prevent the Consensus from remaining only theoretical.

 

REFERENCES

Questions and Answers: New European Consensus on development: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-17-1505_es.pdf 

The new European Consensus on development: EU and Member States sign a joint strategy to eradicate poverty: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-1503_es.htm

The proposed new European Consensus on Development Has the European Commission got it right? https://www.odi.org/sites/odi.org.uk/files/resource-documents/11263.pdf

New European consensus on development Will it be fit for purpose? http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2017/599434/EPRS_BRI(2017)599434_EN.pdf

Seven critical questions for review of 'European Consensus on Development ' https://www.euractiv.com/section/development-policy/opinion/sevencritical-questions-for-review-of-european-consensus-on-development/

The Future of the "European Consensus on Development" https://www.die-gdi.de/uploads/average/BP_5.2016.pdf

European Union Development Policy: Collective Action in Times of Global Transformation and Domestic Crisis http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/dpr.12189/full

Categories Global Affairs: European Union World order, diplomacy and governance Essays

The 'One Belt-One Route' project aims to consolidate China's rise as a superpower

The ambitious initiative launched by Xi Jinping to connect China with the rest of the Eurasian continent can be costly and difficult. But unlike the land route through the republics of Central Asia, the seaway can soon be a reality in certain sections, as China has already built some ports in part of the route.

▲The two ways for the 'One Bell-One Route' project [yourfreetemplates]

ARTICLE / Jimena Puga Gómez [Spanish version]

After the speech of the Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2013 about revitalizing the ancient Silk Road, the project that started as a simple idea has become the biggest challenge for the world economy, a total revolution in the infrastructures of people's transports, goods, hydrocarbons and high technology. Known as One Belt-One Road (OBOR), this plan is expected to be key for the Chinese supremacy as a superpower over the rest of the countries.

OBOR is now a great plan for redesigning the strategic environment of China, projecting the Chinese economic power, guaranteeing China the access to energy and minerals and stimulating the economic growth in western China. OBOR tries to reach these objectives by promoting a better connectivity between China and Europe through the development of intermediate points in the center, west and south of Asia.

The maritime route, one of the OBOR's key pieces (also known as the Maritime Silk Road of 21st century), will take advantage of the fact that seven of the world's ten biggest harbors are in China, something that helped China to become an important exporter of services of port management.

The maritime Silk Road headed to the East will start in the province of Fujian and will cross Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan before directing towards the South until the Strait of Malacca. From Kuala Lumpur, the Route will go through Kolkata and Colombo, then it will cross the rest of the Indic Ocean to Nairobi. From Nairobi, it will go to the North around the African Horn and it will move over the network Sea towards the Mediterranean, with a stop in Athens before coming across with the terrestrial part of the Belt in Venice. In accordance with the maritime tract towards Europe, China's investment has focused on the Piraeus Port (Greece), and on the development of a network of logistic infrastructures over the Balkans and Hungary. In this strategic map of routes, the South Pacific is also included.

To sum up, the Maritime Silk Road is composed by two routes: one from China over the South Sea of China until the harbors of the Indic Ocean, expanding towards Europe; and the other one over the South Sea of China, which extends from the East to the South Pacific.

In spite of being a long-term economic project, the Chinese Government has already started the construction of some infrastructures and a series of negotiations with different countries. A clear example is Germany. The EU is the biggest commercial partner of China, while China is the second for the EU. In addition to its great reputation as a reliable partner, Germany is considered as the "door to Europe". In Duisburg, the biggest indoor harbor of the world, Xi Jinping proposed to Germany working together in order to make possible the new Silk Road. Nowadays, Germany and China are connected by the railway international line Chongqing-Xinjiang- Duisburg. China, in this negotiation period, has shown its capacity to take advantage of its new skill of modernizing and administrating harbors to enforce its strategy.

The initiative of the new Silk Road focuses on the collective construction of fluent, secure and efficient routes of transport which will connect the main harbors along the route. The effects of this economic net ensure benefits not only for China as the leader of the OBOR, but also for all the countries affected by it. However, the financing of the project is still an unknown that should be clarified.

The project 'One Belt-One Road' aims to consolidate China's rise as a superpower.

Xi Jinping's ambitious initiative to connect China to the rest of the Eurasian continent may prove costly and difficult. But unlike the overland route through the Central Asian republics, the sea route may not take long to become a reality on certain stretches, as China has already built some ports along part of the route.

▲The land and sea routes of the Chinese initiative [yourfreetemplates].

article / Jimena Puga Gómez [English version].

Following Chinese President Xi Jinping's 2013 revitalisation of the ancient Silk Road speech , the initiative that started as an idea has become the Beijing government's biggest economic challenge: a revolution that, if realised, will change the Asian continent's passenger, freight and hydrocarbon transport infrastructure, as well as high-tech. Dubbed OBOR-OneBelt-One Road, the plan is intended to be the core topic of China's rise as a regional superpower.

The OBOR initiative is a grand plan to reshape China's strategic environment, project Beijing's economic power, secure the communist country's access to energy and mineral supplies, and boost economic growth in the west of the People's Republic. OBOR seeks to achieve these goals by fostering greater and faster connectivity between China and Europe through intermediate points in Central, West and South Asia, as well as with Russia.

For its part, the maritime route that will form one of the pieces core topic of the OBOR initiative, also known as the Silk Road of the 21st century, counts on the fact that seven of the ten largest ports in the world are in China and, as is well known, these infrastructures make the Asian giant an important exporter of port services management . 

The Eastbound Maritime Silk Road will start in Fujian province and pass through Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan, before heading south to the Strait of Malacca. From Kuala Lumpur, the Route will continue to Kolkata and Colombo, then cross the rest of the Indian Ocean towards Nairobi. From there, it will travel through the Horn of Africa, seeking to cross the strategic Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea. Beijing's plan aims to create sufficient infrastructure to allow Chinese ships to safely reach the Mediterranean after sailing through the Suez Canal. But the People's Republic's ambition does not stop at the EU's doorstep, as China wants to reach Athens via the Aegean and from there to Venice, where it will look for land routes to move its goods throughout the Union. Chinese investment has focused, among other things, on the port of Piraeus, with a new logistics centre, and on the development of a network of logistics infrastructures through the Balkans and Hungary.

The South Pacific has also been included in this strategic route map devised in Beijing. Thus, the maritime Silk Road has two routes. The first, as mentioned above, originates on China's east coast and, via the South China Sea, aims to establish strategic control of the Spratley Islands, the Strait of Malacca and the entire Indo-Pacific area, including the Bay of Bengal, in order to reach the heart of Europe. The second sea route will also cross the South China Sea to direct its ships to the coastal ports of the South Pacific. In this way, China would also control the routes for the essential raw materials that come from Latin America.

Although this is a long-term economic project deadline , the Chinese government has already begun the construction of certain infrastructures and the necessary negotiations with different countries. A clear example is Germany. The European Union is China's largest trading partner , while the People's Republic of China is the EU's second largest provider . sample . Germany is a country that not only enjoys an excellent reputation as a reliable partner in China, but is also regarded as "Europe's trade gateway". test This is why, at a meeting in Duisburg, the world's largest inland port and an important transport and logistics hub in Europe, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed to Germany "to work together to realise the ambitious project of the revival of the economic belt of the new Silk Road of the 21st century". Germany and China are currently connected by the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Duisburg international railway line.

The ports built by China at Hambantota and Colombo in Sri Lanka, the China-Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone in Egypt, Kazakhstan's negotiation of the right to clear its imports and exports through the Chinese port of Lianyungang, and a new alliance between ports in China and Malaysia are further examples of China's ability to leverage its new skill as a port moderniser and manager to support its strategy.

The New Silk Road initiative is a project that will require multi-billion dollar investments in order to build smooth, safe and efficient transport infrastructures. The effects of this economic network ensure benefits not only for China, the leader of the OBOR initiative, but also for all countries affected by it. However, the financing of project is still a question mark that needs to be clarified.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia Economics, Trade & Technology Logistics & InfrastructureArticles

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Argentina ve en Vaca Muerta una tabla de salvación, pero falta más capital para su desarrollo

The hydrocarbon field is the central axis of the Gas 2020-2023 Plan of President Alberto Fernández, which subsidizes part of the investment Activity of YPF, Argentina's state-owned oil and gas... ReadmoreAboutArgentina sees Vaca Muerta as a lifeline, but more capital is needed for its development "

El gas natural licuado cambia el juego en el hemisferio americano

U.S. LNG sales to its neighbors and exports from Latin American and Caribbean countries to Europe and Asia open new perspectives Not to depend on gas pipelines, but to be able to buy or sell... ReadmoreAboutLiquefied natural gas is a game changer in the American hemisphere "

Could Spain partner up with Morocco in the field of solar energy?

The two countries are greatly exposed to solar radiation and they already share electricity interconnectors Spain was an early developer of solar energy, but it didn't keep the pace with the... ReadmoreAboutCould Spain partner up with Morocco in the field of solar energy? "

Surinam sigue a Guyana en el ‘milagro’ petrolero

The finding of a "significant" amount of oil in off-shore wells places the former Dutch colony in the footsteps of neighboring Guyana. The intuition has proved to be right and the... ReadmoreAboutSuriname follows Guyana in the oil 'miracle' "

Climate Refugees will raise, nations should find the way for shelter them

▲ Flood rescue in the Afghan village of Jalalabad, in 2010 [NATO]. ESSAY / Alejandro J. Alfonso In December of 2019, Madrid hosted the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP25,... ReadmoreAboutClimate Refugees will raise, nations should find the way for shelter them "

La nueva guerra de precios petroleros

March and April 2020 will be remembered in the oil industry as the months in which the perfect storm occurred: a drop of more than 20% in global demand at the same time that the oil industry... ReadmoreAboutThe new oil price war "

Was the Madrid COP25 useful?

The UN Conference did little to increase international commitment to climate change action, but did at least boost the assertiveness of the EU In recent years, the temperature of the Earth has... ReadmoreAboutWas the Madrid COP25 useful? "

La minería ilegal, la otra destrucción de la Amazonía

Gold mining and oil transport pollute Amazonian rivers It is not only the fires that are negatively affecting the Amazon, which is undergoing an accelerated reduction of... ReadmoreAboutIllegal mining, the other destruction of the Amazon "

Centroamérica aprovecha sus volcanes para generación eléctrica

Geothermal energy already accounts for 7.5% of the Central American electricity mix, with installed capacity still far below the estimated potential. Volcanic activity and tectonic movement... ReadmoreAboutCentral America harnesses its volcanoes for power generation "

Jordan River Basin: Hydropolitics as an arena for regional cooperation

▲Satellite imagery of the Jordan River [NASA]. ANALYSIS / Marina Díaz Escudero Water is an essential natural resource, not only for individual survival on Earth, but also for nation-states... Read moreAboutJordan River Basin: Hydropolitics as an arena for regional cooperation "

Qué hará Bolivia con su gas natural cuando Brasil y Argentina ya no lo necesiten

The upcoming gas self-sufficiency of its two major gas-buying neighbors forces the Bolivian government to seek alternative markets Yacimientos Pretrolíferos Fiscales gas plant in... ReadmoreAboutWhat Bolivia will do with its natural gas when Brazil and Argentina no longer need it "

Blood diamonds keep going through Antwerp

The Belgian city, the world's capital of diamonds, has applied more regulations, sanctions and scrutiny on the industry, but still there are some bad practices ▲ The diamond industry has... ReadmoreAboutBlood diamonds keep going through Antwerp "

Cumbre del Clima 2018, un paso hacia adelante

The meeting COP24 made progress in regulating the Paris agreement , but "carbon markets" remained blocked. Mobilizations in favor of governments taking more drastic measures... ReadmoreAboutClimate Summit 2018, a step forward "

La nueva Guyana petrolera y su proyección internacional

One of the poorest countries in the Americas may become the world's largest oil producer per capita, disrupting the relationship with its neighbors. The promising oil discoveries... ReadmoreAboutThe new oil Guyana and its international projection "

Acuífero Guaraní: mejor que otros, pero pervivencia no asegurada

Geopolitical misgivings about perceived foreign interests should not distract beneficiary countries from implementing sustainable use. The Guarani Aquifer has given rise to a... ReadmoreAboutAquifer Guarani: better than others, but survival not assured "

El 'boom' de la quinoa

Global interest in this fashionable grain has brought additional income to Andean communities. The localization of quinoa production, especially in Peru and Bolivia (together they account for... ReadmoreAboutThe quinoa boom "

Impulso a la conexión gasística de los países de la Iniciativa de los Tres Mares

Poland-Germany struggle for influence in the European region between the Baltic, the Adriatic and the Black Sea The latest summit of the Three Seas Initiative (TMI) was attended by the... ReadmoreAboutBoosting the gas connection of the Three Seas Initiative countries "

'Guerras del agua' en Asia Central

Central Asian republics dispute scarce water resources in the Aral Sea Basin The lack of effective cooperation between the republics through which the two main water resources of the... Read moreAbout'Water Wars' in Central Asia "