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Interview with Arno Truger (Director, Austrian Study Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ASPR))

Q1.Do you think the focus of “power-political interests” undermine efforts which seek to encompass soft power such as cultural exchange, gender issues, and increasing the significance of civil society?

0911_4.3_trugerYes of course because power interests are based on the thinking that security achieved against a perceived enemy. Also the means would be mainly power means, mainly military means, and security should be based on a common security concept. Even so, military means are meant to be only a last resort, but if you look at how much money is going into this, it’s clear that power instruments are also used for financial gains. These efforts are preventing soft power to take it’s place.

Q2. In your opinion, how best can civilian crisis intervention and traditional military efforts and interventions be combined? How can shared responsibilities be coordinated to achieve required results for a successful peace-building approach? 

Well an example was in Austria last spring when the foreign minister, along with the minister of defense coming from the field of development and peace building joined efforts to think about what is needed with regard to collaboration in the field. One thing is clear, when one whole comprehensive approach in order to tackle crisis successfully, various actors have to co-operate in that regard. In order to do that, one has to recognize the differences of the various actors-their approaches, instruments, and abilities. One has to look how far we can go together and this is a major effort. There is of course a dividing line, and limits to this co-operation particularly with regard to the military and humanitarian aid. In particular, the military taking on the decision tasks to perform humanitarian aid mixes up the picture, and humanitarian organizations have to leave. But what is needed is for both parties to talk to each other, know about each other, see how far they can go together-and this is very important.

Q3. Given the growing global interconnectedness between states, including economic and political, how do you foresee possibilities of advanced communication amongst states, governments, private institutions, and civil society in conducting policies to improve peace-building efforts and approaches? Do you think universal approaches are attainable, and what role can cultural diplomacy play in this process?

I will try to outline some of the requirements for peace building which are somewhat universal. However, when it comes to the implementation you have to look at the specific situation where you apply peace building. Again, there is a need for international co-operation and let’s look at the example of the European Union. In my presentation I mentioned Catherine Ashton’s reply to the request of the peace building department in the newly established external action service. When she replied we don’t need a department, peace building is what we do everywhere, so we don’t need extra instruments. I would say that we need both as we need to streamline peace building in all elements, but we need to establish the structures in order to execute peace building properly. In that regard, the peace building department would be an important instrument and could link the analysis for crisis with the planning for the response, along with the organization responsible for handling the crisis. When I talk about the planning and organization of the response, I also mean the training, recruitment, implementation, and finally the evaluations. Structurally, you have to put them together and have clear lines of communication established between those various elements that contribute towards peace building.

Thank you for your time.

Interview conducted by Mark Warman & Elizabeth Hurst

Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies Publication
Institute for Cultural Diplomacy


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