While the European culture has come to light from “a millennium dormant” and was courageously introduced into the period of the European Renaissance, Ottoman culture, based on Arab heritage has been for centuries in its zenith. Although the different and conflicting religious grounds were highly present (i.e. the Crusades), the King of France (Francois I) and the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (Suleiman the Magnificent), accomplished strategic alliances overcoming ideologies, cultures and religions (in 1536). In the subsequent centuries, these alliances among the great powers, designed to reach a compromise among them, took the form of the Balance of Power Policy, regardless of their cultural and religious affiliations.
Interests within cultural backgrounds
Over centuries to date, the Balance of Power Policy coexists, collides and communicates with the one that emanates from the common cultural environment. This coexistence entirely relates to the shape of nations’ interests or groups of states belonging to the same culture, including political culture.
Even though interests were produced in the same cultural background, in political terms they were violently confronted, and, as prominent historians claim, they were more violent within the same cultural background than between different ones. With the emergence of the Balance of Power Policy, which has governed international relations for over three centuries, there have been (and are) clashes of national interests but also, time after time, States have concluded agreements and compromises that have made possible reaching and maintaining peace. The UN, conceived as “the World Government” to preserve peace and support common development (the interest of the whole humanity), was basically established to implement this policy. Thus, the Security Council which counts 5 countries with their veto right is a typical case of this policy.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, while identifying their common interests, European democratic powers digged perhaps for the first time (politically speaking) ”deeply into themselves” – their culture, in its broad and narrow sense. The founding of the European Economic Community (later, the European Union- EU) marked a shift from the classic rule of the Balance of Power Policy into a structure of two correlated phenomena: The policy of the balance of interests (within the continent) fell back into second place and the new policy rose under a common cultural bed. In my opinion, although the EU was inspired by the idea of “putting an end on devastating wars on the Continent”, it is the first historical case on the long road of world-hugging development when politics became entirely democratic and narrowed down the circle of national interests in favor of the common ones. Most importantly, this paved the way for the humanization of inter-state and inter-citizen relations.
Certainly, given the short-term (i.e. for decades) complex developments in European societies, the EU has had and will have as its co-traveler what political sciences call “crisis”. But, if the European political establishment conducts its policy based on the idea-makers, it will overtake crisis not by dismantling this unique union in the world, but by reshaping it, always based on the Great Principle of Humanity’s Future: the endless strengthening of Common Interests in every area.
The EU progress is based on many factors that help this process, such as the democratic political system, economic and social developments at comparable levels, and others. However, the basic foundation remains the common cultural bed in its broadest sense, which favors obviously and naturally the fulfillment of common interests, due to the fact that common Culture, Tradition, along with Political system might lead easily to the economic, social and political unions.
If in the future, such unions would be dictated mainly by geographical factors, the world may recognize other formations of this kind, or even state communities with their common culture and traditions. Meanwhile, for a long time, national political or geopolitical interests, in general, will continue to be of primary importance in most parts of the world regardless of their geographical distance or their different culture ground.
Cultural and Regional Unions
Although the world will shape into an integration and union influenced by the exceptional development of IT (information technology) and AI (artificial intelligence), its essence will remain for a very long time “compromise and balance of interests” intending to create and maintain lasting peace and development. In the long, very long process of human history, those balance changements and clashes of any forms, including wars, are acknowledged to be temporary events which cannot stop the mankind tendency of development and progress.
Political history shows that winner states were seen as defeating their opponents. The “victorious” concept which meant that “another was destroyed” remains today in the political table. Under the terms of a policy whose goal and mission is to maximize States’ national and particular interests, only the confrontation of military forces has restored the international order. In the view of this reasoning line, we see that cultural differences are set aside and not considered by States concerned as mentioned above, in the case of the alliance between the King of France and the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Another example relates to Western policies towards Russia (the Tsarist, Communist or Post-Communist) and those of post-Ottoman Turkey. In a nutshell, the above-mentioned can be described as follows: The Franco-Ottoman Alliance continued while the Ottoman army had arrived by the gates of Vienna. The same policy was pursued by the Vatican when the Ottomans had for centuries been on the other side of the Adriatic. The distancing of the European powers from Russia during the time of Czar (while both sides enjoy similar source of culture and religion) resulted to a policy in support of the Ottoman Empire at any cost, although the latter’s “free fall” had already begun. In later periods when the communism was installed in Russia, the European and Western powers used economic sanctions to impose democratic values in the country (to some extent, this policy is still applied today, inspired by the same goal). Meanwhile, from another approach, there are two Asian states, Japan and South Korea, whose strong partnership with the West is beyond regionalism despite their very different cultures.
The relations between the West and Russia illustrate exactly the strength of political particular interests, according to the Balance of Power Policy, which is higher than the strength of the common ones, even if they are brought from a common cultural bed. The opposite applies to the case of Japan and South Korea, where cultures cooperate freely, and in some aspects melt with the western space. It can be said that the same process has been developed in the Turkish space although the Turkish social component remains much more “resistant” towards Western culture.
Therefore, due to these factors, the World is rapidly moving towards globalization in every area turning into a “big Village”. It is clear that the causes and effects are quite natural among neighbor countries first. These countries, which have slowly taken the form of regional unity or cooperation, will be the first “victims” of global forces. Also, as mentioned above, unions were built not only on a regional but also on a cultural basis, especially following the development of a common political tradition. Hence, global forces converge easily with the common interests of regional forces.
The general conclusion is that the international spectrum of relations among states has offered and offers diversity, producing in this way political unions and economies that go beyond the regional forces. The future will show whether regional unions will be avant-garde to non-regional ones, which as a rule, merge either historical traditions of development, either bilateral or common multilateral political interests.
Politics and interests
Just like the state sovereignty comes and gains a relative meaning in the multilateral system, the Interests need to be defined, with new content and new dimension. Among others, there might be mentioned here a new approach or principle driving the multilateral relations and the UN system. It is the “win-win” principle which is backed by many delegations, including the Chinese one, in UN system or other international organizations. If this principle is to be accepted in its essence by States, it might be seen as prevalence of the “Balanced Common Interest” in relation to the “Maximum National Interest”. In this regard, “win-win” may be considered as the future principle on the international stage. In the coming decades, with the emergence of number of particular interests, single-sided winners will be just history.
Social Media and Diplomacy
In addition to the information of technology and our small world, there are two elements that emerge and become decisive. The first is the growing awareness of citizens about everything happening in their country and abroad; and the second one relates to the communication between the domestic and international policy.
Media – as classical definition including social media, can no longer be seen as the fourth power, but perhaps the “first one” as Policy itself arises from the citizens and is placed well in their service. To some extent, although there is and there might continue to be manipulation and misperception, it will be on the decline. Thus, increased citizen participation on every issue of society through social media and education is making politics almost fully transparent, both at home and abroad.
Its international efficiency will make the current “dormant diplomacy” explode and extend everywhere, becoming part of citizens. If perhaps it would fail to do so, then it will be “the burden of today’s bureaucracy” but always with one goal: the clear identification of mutual interests, cooperation beyond any minimal doubt, i.e. that Faith comes to be transformed into an Institution. Today, the latter may sound out of date and even utopian, because the interests are not conceived to be displayed and shown openly, both in large or small states. But looking at the cornerstones of international relations, which are continuously enriched by new elements as integral parts of the unstoppable era of globalization, time will show that the Mutual Trust Institution will be the engine of bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation.
Throughout the multilateral negotiations, we see today i.e. the regional groups or States in UN system that excitedly declare as a victory when a resolution is approved by voting. But, if the above approach comes gradually true, we will the whole system to roll on to right way, although the negotiations might be related to sectors of “high sensitivity” such as the Human Rights Council, or the Security Council itself. As a matter of facts, decision-makers are already working consensually on drafting methods in a series of issues related to UN system and others.
This is certainly not expected to occur instantly but will be a trend of upcoming developments. To this end, the first step is the overwhelming change of concepts, on whose basis the protection of particular or even regional interests are built, and the multilateral world functioning, based on open, sincere and transparent diplomacy.
What does this mean? As mentioned above, under such new circumstances, traditional diplomacy guided by the unilateral combat and victory principle, would no longer function as such. Then, diplomacy should start to be reconsidered, in particular for large countries, as the major players in the multilateral system. Its occurrence is dictated or, to better say, conditioned by new trends in the modern and post-modern developments of world’s society, where interests begin to be no longer seen as “mine or yours”, but “ours”. Moreover, a branch of diplomacy based on this new concept – Environmental Diplomacy-, is already born. Still, “initial” Cultural and Economic Diplomacy are on the track of a “win-win” approach. In our time, both of them are going to expand the influence of the country X in the Y region and secondly, their mission would produce concrete results. As such, they will be still considered for a long time like the “right wing of classical diplomacy”.
As it was shown above, all mechanisms of the world system are changing rapidly and drastically. In my opinion, it is cultural diversity that makes the difference. The latter is certainly the wealth of mankind, even if its existence is endangered with a possible impact on the new forms that these mechanisms would take. But as many analysts, scientists and philosophers admit, cultural, traditional and linguistic differences will not be an obstacle to these changes and to the future diplomacy, which will have to work for common interests.
Therefore, it is up to think-tanks in general and to the idea-makers, in particular, to illuminate with their theories the path for decision-makers all over the world.
If the development of the world’s society pursuits its history tracks, under a functional multilateral system and global and interdependent society, States will lose the maximalist national interests in favor of common ones. This will be the same process like certain tribes based on a territory which has gradually shaped their own character and formed communities. So, the “classical diplomacy” or its branches will lose the “tribal” traditions in favor of fair and public diplomacy. As historical philosophy admits, the sprouts of the future were thrown centuries ago and they continue to spread out. With UN in the center, the recent example is the EU, or other “unions” in their beginnings anywhere in the world.
However, those who look closely at them are convinced that the Great Powers will continue to define the world and the national interest will be predominant. There is also the opposite side who observes the 70-year-old life of the UN or the EU together with other multilateral mechanisms as a “fraction” of seconds in the evolution of World’s Society, and they strongly believe in this approach, as I do as well.
Culture emanates and shapes the character of Politics; politics determines the character of Diplomacy, and the latter is in the Policy service. However, diplomacy has the luxury to be the sole mechanism that while defending and developing political national interests, will also keep on the bridges of cooperation and seek tirelessly new ways for peace and prosperity by using new concepts in negotiations based on multilateralism.