Young Leaders´ Forums

Europe Meets Latin America: A Forum for Young Leaders

February 2010

Europe Meets Latin America: A forum for Young Leaders

(Berlin, 14th - 19th of February 2010)

Forum Report

The conference for “Europe Meets Germany: a Forum for Young Leaders” took place in Berlin from the 14th to the 19th of February 2010. It brought together young leaders with an interest in exploring and strengthening relations between Europe and Latin America. The speakers included members of academia as well as figureheads from the Latin American diplomatic corps in Europe. The existing links between the two regions were explored as well as the implications of relations with increasing geo-strategic, economic, and political importance for both sides. Special focus was given the region’s economic integration and its strong countries in the international arena, as well as the importance and strength of the arts for Latin America to represent itself in the globalised world. Climate change and the democratic deficit in the continent were also central themes of the conference, as the lectures and discussions led to constructive debate among the speakers and participants, who mutually benefited from each other’s experiences and expertise.

Forum Speakers

Mark Donfried  (Director and Founder of the ICD)
Peter Rees (Development Director of the ICD)
H. E, Ph.D. Ernesto Pinto-Bazurco Rittler (Peruvian Ambassador to Romania)
Dr. Marta Moneo (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research)
Professor Juan Monroy (Director and Founder of LACCS)
Dr. des. Oliver Gliech (Freie Universitaet Berlin)
Miguel A.Padilla Acosta (Encargado de Negocios; Mexican Embassy, Berlin)
Dr. Ulrich Brückner (Jean Monnet Professor for European Studies, Stanford University in Berlin)
Gonzalo Caceres (Chief Correspondent for Latin America, Deutsche Welle TV)


  • ICD House of Arts and Culture
  • Kupferstich-kabinett
  • German Parliament
  • European Commission Representation in Germany
  • Deutsche Welle

Summary of events

Monday February 15th, 2010: After an introduction session by Mark Donfried, founder of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, and Peter Rees, Development Director of the ICD, the participants visited the Deutsche Welle, and in the evening attended the screening of “Besouro,” a Brazilian film by João Daniel Tikhomiroff, at the Zoo-Palast, the historic home of the Berlinale Film Festival.

Tuesday February 16th 2010: The participants spent the day exploring some of Berlin’s most important political landmarks, thus obtaining a true feel for the political landscape in modern Germany and Europe as they visited the European Commission and Bundestag. They also toured through the Museum of Prints and Drawings and explored the role of arts in European-Latin American relationships.

Wednesday February 17th 2010: The third day of the conference focused on Latin American historical perspectives and the issue of democratisation throughout the continent. Participants were also introduced to the concept of Nation Branding and the strategies Latin America can use to brand itself.

Thursday February 18th 2010: The focus was put on on the economic and cultural ties within Latin America as well as the Asian continent. After a session on leadership initiatives, the participants attended a panel discussion, which focused on the tremendous artistic creativity within the Latin American continent and how these strengths can be used to represent the Latin American culture. It also showed how these strengths in the international sphere could strengthen European-Latin American cultural understanding and exchanges.

Friday February 19th 2010: The last day of the conference focused on economics, and the future of international trade for the region. Migration and remittances were also considered as an important and stable part of the economic development of the continent. Climate change was a also a central theme of the day, as well as the emergence of countries such as Brazil and Mexico as global economic players.

Monday February 15th, 2010

Central Daily Themes
  • Soft Power can be defined as: “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments. It arises from the attractiveness of a country's culture, political ideals, and policies. When our policies are seen as legitimate in the eyes of others, our soft power is enhanced” (Joseph Nye, 2005).
  • Following the destruction and devastation unleashed by the alliance system of Nation-States in World War I, Soft Power became the mainstream approach in international relations, notably helpful in establishing economic bridges between countries.
  • Deutsche Welle, the German media station aims to give a European perspective through the television and radio in the foreign market.
  • The media market is expanding at a very fast pace in Latin America, and DW is launching additional programmes in Chile, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia.
  • Europe and Latin America can exchange ideas through the media, which will contribute to understanding, further tolerance and cultural exchange between the continents. In this light, agencies such as DW, as well as the broadcasting of Latin American films during European film festivals, play a crucial role in cultural diplomatic relations for the two regions.

Tuesday February 16th 2010

Central Daily Themes
  • The European Commission works towards promoting peace, stability and prosperity within Europe. It has also put into place many frameworks aimed at deepening the relationship between European countries and Latin America.
  • Cultural Diplomacy plays a big role within the European Union, such as solving the problem of Turkey’s accession, but also around the world within the context of human rights as an example.
  • The artistic relationship between Europe and Latin America has been developing since the 1980s. Pictorial representations of Latin America by European artists are very insightful in order to understand the creative element of the European-Latin American partnership.
  • This year, Latin America is celebrating the bicentennial of the continent’s independence.
  • The celebrations that will be taking place in ten Latin American countries are an example of how cultural diplomacy can play an important role in cooperation and have a great impact on the cultural integration within the region.

Wednesday February 17th, 2010

Central Daily Themes
  • Before considering the opportunities for the future of Euro-Latin American partnerships, it is important to consider the in-depth history of Latin America and explore its historical relationship with Europe.
  • Latin American countries have suffered from crises in democracy since independence. The causes and consequences of ‘interruptions in democracy’ in Latin American countries between 1996 and 2006, and the commonalities between these crises must be considered in order to learn from these past events.
  • Public opinion plays an extensive role in the legitimacy and stability of a particular democratic regime, and the lack of the people’s confidence in the state apparatus has been an ongoing issue in Latin America.
  • Sports have played an important role for Cultural Diplomacy in Latin America. For example, soccer, one of the most popular sports in the region, has served to strengthen cultural ties between nations in the entire Latin-American continent.
  • Sports can also be a tool for Latin American Nation Branding. It can help bridge cultural ties, and athletes can act as international ambassadors as they represent the face of their nation in the eyes of the international media. The values of sports such as teamwork, sportsmanship and respect for common authority can also be applied to Cultural Diplomacy.

Thursday February 18th, 2010

Central Daily Themes
  • Latin America must continue to develop through regional cooperation and find its own economic model based on its history and administrative cultures, as opposed to following another region’s path, such as Europe.
  • Forging bonds with Asia will be essential if Latin America wishes to become a strong player in the global economy, and expansion into the Asian market would benefit the continent a great deal from a socioeconomic and political perspective.
  • Latin American literature has become a big part of Latin America’s image in the eyes of the world and is becoming increasingly available throughout Europe. The Spanish language itself is an ever-evolving “organism” which is intrinsically connected to the history of the people of Latin America. It is also crucial that Latin American governments preserve indigenous languages throughout the continent.
  • The intense creativity that is bounded in Latin American visual art, literature and music is translated to the European market and forges the image of the continent in the global community. The first Latin American cultural festival was founded in 1984 with the aim of using music as a vehicle for bringing Latin American culture to an international forum.
  • Incorporating different cultural traditions into the international art scene, as well as providing a platform for emerging artists from Latin America in the global art community are two essential elements to Latin America’s reputation and rise in the international arena.

Friday February 19th, 2010

Central Daily Themes
  • Mexico is considered a newly industrialised country and is now emerging as an important power in international trade. It has strong economic relations with the European Union today, particularly with Germany.
  • The wave of migration has become a phenomenon in Latin America. Remittances are extremely important for these developing economies. Indeed, recent research shows how remittances are actually more stable than foreign direct investment, as well as much more substantial than development aid in Latin America.
  • Climate change will affect Latin America, notably through the rise in temperature and precipitation, which could be disastrous when considering that most Latin American countries are highly vulnerable to such changes. It is paramount that policymakers take into account the environmental impact of their decisions and provide a framework in order to avoid further damages.
  • The continent has rising economic players, particularly Brazil and Mexico, which are emerging as international economic forces and to which the rest of the world, particularly Europe, is now paying close attention.
  • To complete political cohesion, such as that seen in the European Union, is an overwhelming challenge, which may not be possible in the Americas. However, with the education of young leaders from all Latin American countries, a better future is indeed possible for the next 200 years, and beyond.