The Berlin International Economics Congress 2011

Testimonial with Adam Lenton from the UK.

12/03/2011 Interview conducted by Ashley S. Fitzpatrick

Q1. What brought you to the conference?

Many things brought me to the conference. One of my friends came to a previous conference on China and Europe and he highly recommended it, so I applied as soon as this conference came on. As well, I am also quite interested in international relations, politics and economics. This is a field I would like to go into and because my degree isn’t really tailored to international politics and economics, I wanted to come experience something that I can also put on my CV more related for future study.

Q2. Has the conference met your expectations and have you been able to gather some useful information from it?

Yes, it’s been very useful. I found out so much about other countries and their programs, and about politics in general. It’s been a fantastic experience to meet some of these people and to talk to them in formal and informal settings. It’s really inspired me to reapply and to come back to more conferences. I definitely want to go down this path in the future.

Q3. What does cultural diplomacy mean to you?

It’s a difficult one to describe clearly but my take on it is that it is the diplomacy outside of diplomacy. It’s more about building bridges between people from diverse backgrounds and those people are therefore continuing their careers being influenced by the speakers, the social events and building bridges as a sideline to political diplomacy.

Q4. Can you think of any examples or programs going on in the UK to do with cultural diplomacy?

Yes, actually I’ve been very fortunate in having been chosen for the Global Fellowship by the British Council. It sends 100 young people to visit emerging economies such as China, Brazil and India to build bridges between people and to further altruistic globalization. It’s really been my motivation and kick-started me onto this desire to come to these places. I can’t think of any others and I know that the British Council has had a lot of funding taken away so I don’t know if the program will continue.

Q5. Has there been any particular speaker that changed your view on an issue or a country and helped you get rid of a stereotype or generalization that you held?

I think that Alfredo Palacio, because he is a very passionate speaker, gave a very honest account of issues affecting developing countries such as exportation and consequent corporate greed, etc. Also the Zimbabwe delegation may not have changed my views on the political system there, but it helped to be able to ask some question and talk to real people and to build that discussion as opposed to being force-fed information from newspapers.

Q6. Coming from the UK, would you say that the UK has a cohesive national brand or identity? I don’t think that the UK has a strong brand at all. I think Scotland has developed quite a strong brand along with the Republic of Ireland and Wales. I don’t think that the UK as a whole has really tried to tap this market. It needs to develop a stronger brand because the UK has so much diversity culturally, economically and politically, and I don’t see that being promoted anywhere really. Developing countries are promoting themselves because they need to, but the UK doesn’t recognize that it needs to attract investment and tourism from abroad. I think that the UK has so much to draw from. Some countries that aren’t perhaps as recognized internationally have managed to find things to characterize their country and make it unique. There is some much that the UK has to offer and it’s not being tapped into at all.

Testimonial with Isabel Nino Valladolid from Spain.

12/03/2011 Interview conducted by Keith Norris

Q1. How did you learn of the conference?

It was recommended to me by a professor at my university.

Q2. Has the conference thus far met your expectations?

I anticipated that the themes of tourism and nation branding would be discussed at length. However, that so many other topics and themes were also touched upon and discussed, was a pleasant surprise. Over all, the quality of the presentations is excellent. However, depending on the speaker, some lectures and discussions were more interactive than others, and some less so as a result of media presentations or PowerPoint.

Testimonial with Jose Carlos Santos from Portugal.

09/03/2011 Interview conducted by Agnieszka Mystek and Deepa Sury

Q1. What attracted you to the BIEC conference?

First of all, this is a very cosmopolitan gathering and in my activities I have been involved in tourism, so it was the synchronism between tourism and political sciences that really appealed to me. I also have had colleagues who participated in conferences at the ICD in previous years and they enjoyed it.

Q2. Was there any particular speaker you liked and why?

In the morning, I very much liked the Prime Minister of Namibia, Nahas Angula, because of his determination. The speech by the tourism minister of Ghana, Akua Sena Dansua, was also interesting.

Q3. How does this conference fit into your future academic and career plans?

There is always something positive that comes of these types of gatherings. I have a Masters in Human Rights and I think I can build on that knowledge with some insights I’ve gained here.

Q4. In line with that, would you say that this has been a good networking opportunity for you?

Yes definitely. There are always some contacts that you make that you can contact in the future and build upon.

Q5: How would you define Portugal’s national brand?

I am very critical of the concept of nation branding. The image one gets can be quite artificial and not sustainable or naturally created from base to the top. I find it a bit too top down and not enough bottom up.

Testimonial with Justyna Dobber from the UK.

12/03/2011 Interview conducted by Agnieszka Mystek

Q1. What attracted you to the BIEC?

I’m currently doing a year abroad in Bremen, so that’s where I found out about this conference. The topics dealing with diplomacy and globalization are what attracted me – basically the more political aspect of it. Economics is part of my degree, but only in the European sense. The political issues are much closer to what I’m currently doing.

Q2. Has this been a good networking opportunity for you?

Yes, and I managed to mingle and work with my fellow participants, as well as a few speakers. So it’s been quite productive, and I hope to make a few more contacts during the rest of the conference.

Q3. Which speakers did you like, in particular?

What really interested me were the speeches by the ambassador of Ireland and the First Minister of Scotland. Both of them are very good speakers, and talked about issues that were very close to what I am doing. The speech by Keith Dinnie was also very interesting, especially dealing with aspects of diplomacy in China. I actually want to talk to him later and ask him a few questions.

Q4. You’re originally from Poland. What do you think of Poland’s national brand, and how would you sum it up?

Well I have not lived there for a few years, but I suppose it’s getting there, it’s definitely promoting itself. I am not too familiar with the ins and outs of it, exactly, but I do know that, for instance, it’s the main sponsor for the ITB conference, which is happening right now. Also we will be hosting the European Football Championships together with Ukraine next year, so I suppose this kind of event will help promote Poland. We will also have European Presidency this October, which will present a challenge, but also an opportunity to get out there.

Q5. Finally, would you say that having a strong national brand is necessary for the economy?

Yes, definitely. The approaches to branding are very diverse among different countries, as we have seen in this conference. One would promote themselves as a typical tourist destination, while another would promote itself in terms of political or diplomatic characteristics. This is definitely helping the economy grow. What I found quite interesting is that some organisations and countries are quite hostile to the promotion of nation brands, which was quite shocking to learn, as this is essential to the existence of a country in the international system.

Testimonial with Monique van Eijk from Germany.

12/03/2011 Interview conducted by Agnieszka Mystek

Q1. Are you here with a group or on your own initiative? Have you found this conference effective in providing networking opportunities?

I am here by myself for my own interests. It has been interesting to get to know people from all different nations, and it was a good opportunity. I think it was very interesting to be in an international surrounding and not to see everything from a European point of view, but also from Asian and African perspectives. It was very interconnected.

Q2. What got you interested in coming to this conference on nation branding? Could you describe what you perceive to be Germany’s nation brand?

I was interested in learning about strategies for nation branding and learning about some case studies. And actually I’m also Dutch and I work for the embassy, the consulate general in Munich. For Germany I actually don’t know much about the brand.

Q3. Did you like any of the discussions or speakers in particular during the conference?

Yes, mostly the scholars and representatives from consulting agencies were most interesting for me. Yesterday the last speaker of the day, Jose Torres, and today Joao Freire and Keith Dinnie were interesting.

Q4. Do you feel that your expectations for the conference were met?

I think my expectations were met; I was very interested in in-depth studies in this field. However, I think because the relation to the ITB this year, a problem was that representatives from various countries did not see us as an audience and as scholars, but more as tourists. And that’s not the goal, you know. I think that many of the people just used possibility to just advertise the country, not tell us really about the branding strategies or how they come to develop their brands. It would be better if it were more academic and scholarly, because that was the target group for the conference. Students, not tourists. ‘’Please invest in our countries’’ is a different target group.

Testimonial with Sera Snyder from the United States.

12/03/2011 Interview conducted by Ashley S. Fitzpatrick.

Q1. What brought you to the conference, what are you looking to gain, and has the conference met your expectations?

I am here as a professional looking to learn more about international relations, economics, and cultural diplomacy, and to develop a better understanding of these issues from more of a cultural perspective. I feel that the cultural point of view is sometimes missing from the discourse in the United States.

Q2. How did you learn about the conference and the institution?

I actually have a very unusual story in this regard. I have had a Swedish pen-pal since I was in third grade. We have stayed in touch through the years, particularly as technological advancements made long-distance communications increasingly faster, and easier especially with Facebook and the like. We had the good fortune to meet personally last year in New York, and since then we have become great friends. She recently relocated to London for a new job, and there she heard about this conference. I had planned on doing some traveling and visiting her in London, so we coordinated coming to Berlin to the conference together. So, I am here with my grade school pen-pal of twenty years. Of course at the beginning, we did not recognize the cultural exchange that was taking place, but through the years we have both learned a lot about each others respective culture at a very personal level.

Q3. Was there a particular speaker or lecture that really made an impression on you or perhaps helped you to change an outmoded point of view or stereotype?

For me personally, Lord Jack McConnell, really stands out. He was interesting in a variety of ways, and was an excellent presenter and was very engaging. He also provided a lot of information and background about Scotland from a political point of view. However, what truly made the biggest impression on me was his address during the Rwanda evening with the other panellists. You could really see, almost feel, the passion with which he spoke. It was very moving to hear about the work he has done in Rwanda and the impression the Rwandan people have made on him. In light of his background, it was really a powerful statement, and clear that he is very passionate about the future of Rwanda given the incidents of the past. The Rwanda evening did not so much change my perspective, but it truly impacted me profoundly, and reminded me of the importance of following your passions in your work.

Q4. Could you provide your thoughts on the American brand abroad?

I would say that this conference has been really eye-opening for me in this regard. For me it is almost sad how much Americans take for granted. Perhaps due to the strength of the American brand, too many Americans are somewhat sheltered, even ignorant about the many different cultures the world has to offer. Other countries and other cultures are of course not blind to American ignorance, excessive consumption, and wealth, and I think this is sad. However, America, for all it weaknesses, has created a powerful brand around multiculturalism. America is truly a melting pot, and a diverse set of people identify themselves as Americans all with vastly different heritages.

Testimonial with Victor Aguilar Pastor from Spain.

12/03/2011 Interview conducted by Ashley S. Fitzpatrick

Q1. How did you learn about the ICD and this conference?

I got an email from my university. I had a look at the link and it looked interesting. I also had a week off from my internship, so I decided to come.

Q2. What were your expectations for this conference and have they been met? Has it helped shape or guide your future studies?

Concerning my future studies, I still have to go through 2 more years of my studies which are purely technical as is industrial engineering. So being here is not really complementing or part of my studies. I’m just here for my own interest. I want to try to combine in my future career my technical knowledge with some more human and social insights. So I’m here to learn about nation branding , to hear important speakers and what they have to say and to become aware of the situation from first hand information. My expectations have been met and even exceeded.

Q3. Have you been able to network and meet people?

Yes of course. Knowing people and knowing what they do is valuable. Here there are really a lot of inspiring people. It’s quite enriching to meet them. They have a really different background than me.

Q4. You mentioned that you were interesting in knowing more about nation branding. What is your perception of Spain’s national brand?

I think the image for Spain right now is damaged because of the crisis. The media has influenced that a lot. In many newspapers you can often see articles saying that Spain could suffer bailouts, Spain has lots of unemployment and is struggling, and it’s true. It’s damaging our image. But still in the field of tourism, it’s not that bad. It is only damaging investments. In the field of tourism, when people look at Spain, they still think about the beach, the sun and the good food. This still remains the same.

Q5. How would you describe cultural diplomacy?

I would say cultural diplomacy is the awareness that many cultures exist and that that’s something great. It’s not bad. But we have to see the common points that all the cultures respect like human rights. There is agreement on basic rights and values that all cultures should share. From this, diversity can blossom.

Q6. Has there been lecture or speaker that has really helped open you up to new perspectives or perhaps got rid of a stereotype?

I really liked Dr. Kolodko. There were many speeches that were purely politics and were just promoting their country and that I didn’t really find interesting. But this man has some interesting conclusions presented with proper reasoning. I had the feeling that he was very interesting, intelligent and everything he said was backed up.

Testimonial with Alicia Menguez from Spain.

12/03/2011 Interview conducted by Agnieszka Mystek

Q1. What are the defining characteristics of your country’s national identity?

The world’s perception of Spain is that it’s a friendly country. Citizens of the world think Spain is an enjoyable, bright and shiny place, where culture and gastronomy are our main tourist attractions. However, after this conference, I think we’ve left the real essence of Spain, which is energetic, open and intelligent.

Q2. Has the conference helped you overcome stereotypes and broaden your view of the world?

Of course. This conference has changed my perception of stereotypes and my constructed mental structures of some countries and regions, especially of African countries. I’ve learned a lot from the representatives from Africa, and discovered that traditional values such as solidarity, honesty, honor, and brotherhood are those that they also defend.

Q3. Did a particular speaker appeal to you and why?

The Minister of Tourism of Jamaica, Edmund Bartlett, was the most touching and transparent speaker, so therefore the most interesting one for me. He defined human values and emphasized cooperation between countries, highlighting our similarities and peaceful coexistence.

Q4. Can you identify situations in which nations’ brands can be adversely affected?

The brand of Spain is beach, party, gastronomy and culture. The first two can be quite harmful for Spain’s image because people tend to reduce all of Spain’s characteristics to sun and alcohol. We should promote a quality brand, which relates Spain to our vast variety of activities, museum, architecture, history, literature and traditions.

Q5. Finally, would you say that having a strong national brand is necessary for the economy?

The countries in Latin America rely on foreign investment and international aid; the way this money is managed by their leaders is their weak spot. For a lot of time the only aid has been to pump money in these countries, but the real solutions come with less liberal ideology and more socially minded policies which count more with the local people and create less dependency and autonomous international relations.

Testimonial with Anna Katharina Stahl from Belgium.

12/03/2011 Interview conducted by Ashley S. Fitzpatrick

Q1. What brought you to the conference?

I am a PhD researcher working on European and Chinese policies in Africa and that’s why I was interested in this event.

Q2. How did you learn about the conference?

I had some of my colleagues already attending so I asked them for some information.

Q3. How would you define cultural diplomacy?

It a very broad topic so it is very difficult to find a definition that would encompass everything. What I think is interesting about the concept is that it goes beyond traditional diplomacy. Originally I worked more on traditional diplomacy which would looks more as military diplomacy and security issues. Cultural diplomacy goes beyond that at other issues like development, cultural policies and history. This is also something that we have to take into account when looking at diplomacy.

Q4. What information were you hoping to gain at this conference and has it met your aims and needs?

It was very useful because it gave me some more practical insights into some of the African countries. I was very impressed by the presentation of the former President of the Seychelles. I thought it was very interesting because he talked about cultural diplomacy more from this global vision really focussing on the main problem which is development and also taking into account other issues that go beyond tourism. That was a bit problematic at the beginning for me that most of the speakers were focussing on tourism while I am more interested in this more global approach that is cultural diplomacy. I think I was also impressed by this presentation of the representative of Zimbabwe because he also mentioned the challenges that his country is facing. When you talk about cultural diplomacy or branding your country, you should not only talk about all the positive aspects but show how your country is facing its more problematic issues. You should discuss the specific solutions that your country is employing to tackle these problems. These issues may include security problems or environmental policies.

Testimonial with Ana Bennasar from Spain.

11/03/2011 Interview conducted by Olivia O'Connell

Q1. What were your expectations about the conference and have they been met by the conference?

I must admit, before coming here my expectations were quite different. I had anticipated more speeches and lectures concerning foreign policy and international cooperation. I have, however, very much enjoyed learning about tourism, nation branding, and cultural diplomacy.

Q2. Have you found this conference useful in terms of providing networking opportunities?

I have found the conference effective in providing networking opportunities, and this is of course possible thanks to the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy. Additionally, the comparatively small number of participants provides the setting for and facilitation of productive communication across groups and disciplines. I also find interesting the idea of joint dinners with participants and speakers, such that everyone is free to network amongst one another.

Q3. In your opinion, which speaker or lecture has been particularly interesting and how so?

From my point of view, the most interesting speaker was Rica Rwigamba, as the head of the Rwandan Tourism and Conservation Department. This is mainly as a result of her perspective and her ability to relate to and interact with the participants. I also found her extremely intelligent, organized and memorable. She seems truly involved and aware of the issues and challenges Rwanda faces, as well as Rwanda’s assets.

Q4. What are your thoughts on your home country’s national image or brand abroad?

I think that Spain’s image abroad is hospitable and friendly. Mainly, I think citizens around the world like Spain perhaps due to its landscapes, culture, food, and climate. I should also mention that while the stereotype of Spanish people as being lazy, and only interested in partying is often referenced, this stereotype is not accurate, and of course there are all kinds of different people in Spain.

Q5. In today’s globalized world, what new challenges do Latin American countries face?

From my perspective, I think that Latin American countries main challenges lie in their dependency on some of the developed countries, their lack of credibility, in some cases a negative image abroad. For example, the negative associations of drug trade in Colombia, or Mexico’s perceived crime rate, immediately come to mind.

Testimonial with Andreas Sontgerath from Poland.

12/03/2011 Interview conducted by Olivia O'Connell

Q1. How did you learn about this conference and what motivated you to attend?

I heard about this conference form a Polish friend who was visiting Berlin. I was motivated to attend as I enjoy learning and trying new things. I am Polish living in Berlin and am always eager to participate in different events in the city.

Q2. Have you come here as an individual or as part of a group?

I came here as a part of a group. I am here with some Polish and German friends and also a couple of work colleagues.

Q3. What were your expectations about the conference and has it met them?

I hadn’t heard of the ICD before and had no expectations for the conference. I was very pleased with the conference as it is always interesting to experience a new perspective or take part in something different. I found some of the speakers to be very inspiring and their ideas interesting.

Q4. Has the conference inspired any thoughts or plans for a leadership initiative?

Yes it has, although I must say my ideas are more concerned with the future. I will continue to think about future organisation activities. I am currently a freelance consultant and am always looking for inspiration for my future career plans.

Q5. Do you think the current events in North Africa are indicative of a reenergised youth in politics?

I think it is very important for the youth of any country to be involved in politics. NGOs and civil society organisations are very important to any society and these are often characterised by youth led movements. It is difficult however, to say whether the current events in North Africa are indicative solely of a reenergised youth; there are no doubt other factors to consider. The political mobilisation of the youth of Libya is a good example of how youth movements can be organised through social networking sights. Social networking sights play a very important role in the mobilisation of youth movements and so can be considered a to have reenergised youth in politics.

Testimonial with Billy Mbuyane from South Africa.

12/03/2011 Interview conducted by Ashley S. Fitzpatrick

Q1. What brought you here to the ICD?

I came mainly for the “Rise of Africa” conference. My hope is to get into development one day, so this is a perfect platform to hear professionals’ views and also from people that are involved in development on the continent of Africa. I heard about this through the South African embassy.

Q2. What were you hoping to gain from the conference?

I was hoping to hear other people’s views on Africa and what they feel that Africa is missing out on. I also wanted to share ideas with other people and get to talk to the speakers. I was hoping to gain some insights and find out about the opportunities for working in Africa, either in the institutions or the NGOs.

Q3. Has this conference been a good networking opportunity for you?

Yes it has. I’ve met some interesting people, from speakers to students. I’ve also met many African students that are studying elsewhere in the world. I’ve gained knowledge from what they’ve learned from the different countries they study in. For example, there was a girl from Nigeria who is studying in Scotland and she’s given me the views of the Scottish people on what they think about Africa. She shared with me what she’s learned from these experiences mixed with what she is studying, which is tourism. So I’ve seen many different angles and different views on the whole African topic.

Q4. As someone coming from South Africa, when you think of tourism in Africa, do you view it as a very positive opportunity for Africa or more specifically for South Africa? Would you say that it helps local people on an individual level or is the wealth and money that are generated from tourism going to corporations and individuals who may not even be living in Africa?

I think that individuals at the very bottom of the market in Africa are at an advantage because it has created employment for them and also helps them to be able to feed themselves and make communities. The many tourists that come from Europe that visit many of these villages have many organizations that help with construction. They hear about all these countries and all these projects that have started through such things like here at the ICD and at the ITB. I think that the one thing that Africa needs to do though is when advertising for tourism or marketing tourism within Africa, nations shouldn’t do it on their own. For example, in South Africa should market the region itself since for smaller countries it is harder for them to have a voice. So at the ITB, the smaller countries can market themselves with South Africa, which can also be an advantage. At the world cup last year, that was a great opportunity for many smaller countries to have a say and also to participate. The rest of Africa also benefitted from the tournament and the exposure that Africa got.

Q5. Do you see a real awareness in Africa, or South Africa, of the concept of sustainable tourism and protecting the environment?

Yes, I think that people are aware as to how important ecotourism is and how important our ecosystems are. There are many initiatives that have been created over the past decades to protect the environment such as the national parks and everything else. Of course there could be a lot more being done such as saving the apes in the Congo.

Q6. If you think about what cultural diplomacy means, how would you describe or define it in a couple sentences?

I think cultural diplomacy is people of different cultures relating in a particularly diplomatic manner. I think of cultural relations. When I think of the ICD, I think of a melting pot of people from different backgrounds that come together to discuss things and it’s a platform to exchange ideas.

Testimonial with Elizaveta Ogloblina from Russia.

Testimonial with Elizaveta Ogloblina from Russia.

Q1. How did you learn of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy and the Berlin International Economics Congress?

I am an assistant professor at the Finance University under the government of the Russian Federation in Moscow. I am here on a business trip to this conference, and I am very interested in many of the questions being discussed and raised by this conference. I found the institute and the conference on the internet.

Q2. What were your expectations about the conference and what were you hoping to gain from the conference?

I came here mainly hoping to learn more and broaden my knowledge about nation branding. Additionally, I came hoping to communicate with other professionals and academics in the field and across disciplines in business and science. In other words, to network.

Q3. How would you generally define and describe cultural diplomacy?

Well, this is quite a tough question to answer. There are many, many different definitions of cultural diplomacy. However, it certainly has something to do with the world as we know it today. I would say that it has something to do with peoples’ identity as they are coping in today’s globalised world.

Q4. How would you describe Russia’s image abroad, and how has Russia been able to reinvent its national brand from the Soviet power that it once was, to the modern Russia we know today?

In my mind, we have a very big discrepancies between modern Russia’s image and the modern Russian identity, and this is a problem. We have many internal problems in Russia these days, and this affects identity construction and self-image perceptions.

Q5. Would you say that the Russian national brand is tied up with or deeply connected to prominent political personalities in Russia today?

Indeed, that is a really tricky question, but I would say to some extent yes, the Russian brand is connected to national politicians like Putin and Medvedev.

Q6. Has the conference suited your needs and met your expectations in terms of networking?

Oh yes, 100%, it has been extremely useful and productive for me professionally.

Testimonial with Javier Carretero Cruzado from Spain.

12/03/2011 Interview conducted by Agnieszka Mystek

Q1. What attracted you to the BIEC?

It was proposed to us by our university professor that we attend this conference together as a group learning experience. Additionally, I personally was very motivated to come to this innovative event.

Q2. Did you find that the conference met your goals in attending?

It didn’t fit to my goals as much as I thought it would before I came. I think the conference was more aimed towards businesses and tourism industry and marketing firms… I am more interested in politics and foreign policy.

Q3. Which speakers did you like in particular?

Jose Torres, the CEO and head of strategy at Bloom Consulting, and Norman Garcia Paz, the ambassador of Honduras to Spain, were both very dynamic speakers. I appreciated the styles of their presentations, they were informative and easy to follow. I found the topics very interesting, especially since they covered not only their own countries, but also others and did not use the conference as a marketing platform.

Q4. Do you think this conference will help further your future career?

I would like to hope so! I am very interested in foreign policy, diplomacy and politics. Perhaps when I finish my degree I will apply for something more with the ICD. It is a great chance toget to know how diplomacy works.

Q5. What should new or emerging governments do to achieve a successful and sustainable nation brand?

I would say that strong anti-drug policies are important, as is tackling international cooperation in drug trafficking. Moreover, changing the governmental structures and laws, remodeling security forces, such as the police, from the top down is necessary. Education is also very important; teaching morals and values to young people is a big responsibility of any government.

Testimonial with Martin Chandarov from Bulgaria.

11/03/2011 Interview conducted by Keith Norris

Q1. How did you learn of the conference?

It was recommended to me by my International Relations professor, Heike Pintor.

Q2. Do you feel you have gained new perspectives or insights from this conference?

Indeed, it is useful to understand many of the issues each state grapples with such as tourism, nation branding and so on. Likewise, I did also find it really useful for my future career.

Q3. Was there a particular speaker or lecture that you found especially interesting, timely, or relevant?

Mr. José Torres and the Honourable Dr. Grzegorz W. Kolodko, because from my point of view, they are excellent orators and also the topics they dealt with were especially relevant and interesting.

Q4. Can you give an example of cultural diplomacy from your own country or your own life experience?

Yes, of course. Well, I am Bulgarian, however, I am living and studying in Spain, so I am continuously involved in cultural diplomacy.

Q5. In your opinion, which county is the global leading force in Latin America?

In light of the situation on the ground, and the continuously increasing economy, I would say that Brazil is quite possibly the global leading force from the region.

Testimonial with Marcia de Ocaña from Argentina.

10/03/2011 Interview conducted by Agnieszka Mystek and Deepa Sury

Q1. How did you learn of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy and this conference?

I learned of the conference through a friend who is also here in Berlin, and participating in the Economics Congress.

Q2. Was there a particular speaker that interested you or that you knew of beforehand?

I had heard of a few of the presenters before. My main interest in tourism and that is what mainly brought me to the conference.

Q3. Has the conference provided sufficient networking opportunities?

Indeed, the networking opportunities have been excellent. I would say that networking is may favourite part of events like this one. It is really important in today’s globalised world to reach out and meet new people and make new contacts to build future relationships.

Q4.How does the BIEC conference fit in or align with your current and future academic and professional goals?

I would say that as a result of this event, I will develop new points of view and new perspective on developing countries in particular. It will also help to reshape my own personal views on Argentina.

Q5. How would you define or describe your country’s national brand or image abroad?

Argentina is a wonderful country, however, I would say that many people are misinformed or have false perceptions about it. It takes time to get to know Argentina. Many people see Argentina simply as part of Latin America. Argentina’s national image or brand is much more that this, and Argentina should be proud of its own identity that is independent of and still part of Latin America.

Testimonial with Nerea Maximiano Humanes from Spain.

12/03/2011 Interview conducted by Tatevik Sargsyan

Q1. How did you learn of the conference?

I heard about the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy from one of my professors. She suggested that the conference would be a great opportunity for me and my colleagues and recommended that we all attend. So, I came to the conference with a group of other students, and we are all studying International Relations.

Q2. Did you find a particular speaker especially interesting and how so?

So far, I found Ambassador Fesseha Asghedom Tessema, the Ethiopian ambassador to Germany,
particularly interesting as he was an excellent public speaker and really conveyed information well.

Q3. To what extent is culture an important part of your home country’s image abroad?

Culture in Spain is very important, particularly since many tourists are attracted to our cultural differences and the Spanish way of life. In this way Spain stands out from the rest of Europe.

Q4. Does the international perception of your country’s brand differ from the domestic perception of the national brand?

I would say that Spain’s brand is universal as Spain is known around the globe for its wonderful climate. Many tourists maximize Spain’s mild climate year round in order to relax and enjoy the sun.

Testimonial with Oluwaseun Foluso Phillips from Nigeria.

11/03/2011 Interview conducted by Tatevik Sargsyan

Q1. Is culture an ingredient or a product of society?

I would say that culture is both an ingredient and also a product of society. It is an ingredient because it is the flavor of a group of people. On the other hand, it is the product of society because it develops from the lifestyle of a group of people.

Q2. Do you think the current events in North Africa are indicative of a politically-minded re-energized youth?

In my opinion, I would not say that the current unrest is a result of a re-energized youth, rather I believe it is a result of a whole people hat is tired of the old system. Indeed, they are tired of the old and broken system that has not added an value in a very long time.

Q3. Has the conference provided you with enough cultural activities? Did you experience a wide variety of other cultures during your stay?

Yes, indeed, it has provided enough cultural activities especially in light of the short time frame and busy schedule.

Q4. Do you find that the conference reflects a resentment towards globalization?

I would say instead that the conference reflects a support of fairer forms of globalization, ones that employ globalization as a means to development.

Testimonial with Pauline Chenier from Spain.

20/03/2011 Interview conducted by Deepa Sury

Q1: How did you hear about the ICD?

I received an e-mail about this conference from my department at the university.

Q2: What were your expectations of this conference, and have they been met?

As I have recently completed my PhD, I have reached a turning point in my life. I was interested in the topic of economics and nation-branding, but I found there was too much focus on advertising. I would have preferred more of a focus on anthropology and culture, as those are areas I’m interested in.

Q3: Has this been a good opportunity for networking?

Yes. I enjoyed meeting people in fields similar to mine. Right now, I am thinking of working as something than an academic, so it’s good that I was able to meet people in my situation.

Q4: Have you personally experienced cultural diplomacy? Have you found yourself in a situation in which you exercised cultural diplomacy yourself?

I studied for a year in Japan, and I found I had to face this constantly, because of cultural differences between myself, coming from France, and the mostly-homogeneous Japanese society.

Q5: Were you able to achieve a level of understanding between these two cultures?

Unfortunately it was very difficult. As I said, Japanese society is very homogeneous, and they are not as accustomed to the presence of foreigners as some other countries are. People still cling to stereotypes of my country, and that is very difficult to change. One way to change this would be through nation-branding, done in a way that focuses on connecting cultures and fostering understanding.

Testimonial with Sara Peiró Herranz from Spain.

12/03/2011 Interview conducted by Ashley S. Fitzpatrick

Q1. What attracted you to the ICD?

I study international relations at the European University in Madrid. I came to this conference with my partners to network with people, and to learn more about the world, and about cultural diplomacy. I’ve met a lot of people here from so many different cultures and countries.

Q2. What were your expectations of this conference, and what have you learned here?

I expected less, since in Spain, you cannot talk to politicians from other countries at conferences – there is too much security. When I came here, I was amazed that I could talk to a former minister from Scotland! I was very impressed by that.

Q3. It may be a difficult concept to define, but what does cultural diplomacy mean to you?

I think that culture, education, and diplomacy are the basis for world peace. If we didn’t have these, we would be at war all the time. Diplomacy allows people to change. During times of war, it’s impossible to communicate with others, as everyone is constantly fighting. Nowadays, people are more able to agree, because we are focusing more on culture and communication with others. I personally believe we should focus on these, and be able to look past any other differences which may cause conflict.

Q4. Has there been a particular lecture or speaker that has made an impression on you, or has changed your point of view on a certain subject?

Nobody changed my point of view, because I have very strong opinions – I know what I want. But I have learned some things here. For example, I have learned a lot about how to speak, how to present my country and answer questions while making my country look good. I’ve also learned a lot of good things about so many countries – their cultures, their languages, their attractions, and now I want to visit them. Some speakers I particularly enjoyed were the ones from the Prime Minister of Namibia, and the speakers form Nicaragua and from Scotland.

Q5. What do you think about Spain’s image abroad?

Spain is one of the main tourist destinations in Europe. I think that is good for our country, because we have a lot of things to offer the world – culture, good people, good food, a rich history. We have so many things in Spain, and so many people around the world know that. I love my country, and I’m really proud of it.

Testimonial with Vadim Pshtyka from Russia.

11/03/2011 Interview conducted by Tatevik Sargsyan

Q1. Did you find a particular speaker especially interesting and how so?

In my opinion, Mr. José Torres was the most memorable so far. He is a very passionate speaker as well as extremely knowledgeable.

Q2. Has the conference met your expectations thus far?

Indeed, I would say so. I appreciate the host of international speakers and the wide range of different topics.

Q3. In your opinion do countries in Latin America rely too heavily on foreign aid and investment?

I would agree, in my opinion. Yet, still much of Latin America needs help and guidance from their foreign ‘friends’ to develop more stable economies. However, this help and aid should not be the mainstay of these Latin American economies.

Q4. What are your thoughts on your home country’s national image or brand abroad?

In my opinion, Russia’s national image abroad is inaccurate. Many individuals still think of the former USSR and not of modern day Russia, as these were of course two different eras in history, and of course two different countries. Modern day Russia is better than many perceive it to be!

Q5. In your opinion, which county is the global leading force in Latin America?

From my perspective, it is Brazil without a doubt. But I would also add that nearly all of the other Latin American countries are also growing fast, and indeed, others in the region are also poised to become “global forces,” too.

Testimonial with Victor Garcia from Spain.

12/03/2011 Interview conducted by Agnieszka Mystek

Q1. What attracted you to the BIEC?

One of our teachers proposed to us that we go to this important conference to experience this type of international meetings.

Q2. Has this been a good networking opportunity for you?

Yes, because one of my aims is to live in a world of equality among the different cultures and people of the world. The international and intercultural experience we are getting from this conference will allow me to be better prepared for a future of vast opportunities.

Q3. Which event or speech did you like in particular?

The reception organized by the ICD and the Rwandan Embassy was my favorite because of the atmosphere, and relation of information and emotion the speakers relayed to me about the Rwandan history and people.

Q4. How would you describe your country’s own national brand?

I think people outside Spain think we are open-minded, active, social and that we are people of solidarity.