Soft Power to Promote Peace and Stability
An interview at the Yemen EmbassyOctober 31st, 2019
Some of our interns had the pleasure of interviewing the Plenipotentiary Minister and deputy head of Yemen Embassy in Berlin, Mr. Loai Yahya Al-Eryani on the 29th October.
The topic of conversation centralized around cultural diplomacy and its introduction and implementation in tough situations. With regard to the Yemen Embassy cultural diplomacy has faced two divided phases. For example, prior to the war and crisis the Embassy was much more involved in promoting cultural events and activities, thus implementing soft power, understandably this changed with the war as resources became more limited. Despite this Mr Al-Eryani still believes that soft power is one of the most effective instruments in promoting communication between countries and spreading a message of peace and stability.
Indeed, as the Plenipotentiary Minister affirmed, “Cultural diplomacy in this time can help Yemen better than anything else”. Alongside this, Mr Al-Eryani highlighted the importance of accurate representation of the war, whilst underlining the role and responsibility of the media to correctly inform, suggesting that on occasion the conflict is only partially depicted. Linking to this the interns were told about the role that social media plays in aiding an embassy that is perhaps lacking in financial resources. Instruments such as this create a social environment where open communication and exchange can take place.
The Plenipotentiary Minister went on to give examples of their implementation of cultural diplomacy. For example, at the beginning of October they organized and hosted their National Day. What he highlighted as the greatest success of the event was the attendance of different political groups who’s focus all remained on their similarities of culture and not difference of opinion, “There were people who support Houthi group, people who support the government and people who decided to not take part in any parties”.
Yet another focus of the Embassy is education. They have implemented a student exchange, which focuses on sending students from Yemen to Germany, as they recognize that Germany offers one of the best opportunities for education and scholarship. Mr Al-Eryani stressed that education is the main focus of Yemen’s cultural diplomacy, which in his opinion should automatically link and raise the importance of culture.
Naturally the situation in Yemen forms a significant obstacle for putting soft power into practice but simultaneously it stresses the importance of creating dialogue and spreading knowledge to sensitize people, which perhaps can help make small steps towards stability and hopefully peace.