Diaspora as a diplomatic tool in the era of New Diplomacy : A Comparative Case Study of Greece and Ireland - Lessons learned from Ireland
Abstract: Diplomacy has been changing and evolving for some time now. Diplomacy has gone public and new types of diplomacy and diplomatic tools have emerged. The number of actors has pluralised. The emergence of new technologies, like social media, also offers a new addition on how diplomacy is being conducted. However, a far less discussed diplomatic tool is diaspora. The diaspora of a country can also be used to conduct diplomacy. “Both ‘diaspora’ and ‘diplomacy’ are concepts that have undergone considerable expansion in recent years, marking a shift away from understanding diaspora as a descriptive category and diplomacy as the practice of state officials respectively” (Ho & McConnell, 2017, p. 15). The study aims to gain a better understanding of how the diaspora of a country can be used as a diplomatic tool in the world of ‘New Diplomacy’. The theoretical framework builds upon the notions of New Diplomacy, Diaspora Studies and the existing pre-understanding of Diaspora Diplomacy. The study pursues a qualitative research approach by means of a Comparative Case Study conducted with the method of Most-Similar Case Comparison. The two cases analysed are those of Greece and Ireland, in which the former is identified as the case facing challenges in relation to modern-day diaspora diplomacy, while the latter is identified as a successful case. The research uses both primary and secondary data. The secondary data was collected by means of the empirical research method of Participant Observation. The researcher identified four independent variables in order to explain the dependent variable which is ‘Successful Diaspora Diplomacy’. Three independent variables, ‘Nature of their diaspora’, ‘Recent socio-economic developments’ and ‘Structure of ministry of foreign affairs & the position of the diaspora unit within it’ were concluded to be too similar among the two countries in order to explain the difference in successfulness of their diaspora diplomacy. The analysis conducted indicated that the fourth independent variable ‘New Diplomacy-Culture’, however, was significantly different among the two cases and leads to an explanation of the difference in the outcome. The findings of this research indicated that a ‘New Diplomacy-Culture’ should incorporate the following characteristics and initiatives: a concrete diaspora strategy; individual initiatives all need to be linked to the strategy, but at the same time be tailor-made for the different types of diaspora members; all actions need to be monitored and evaluated; and technology needs to be utilised. Furthermore, governments should adopt a facilitating role instead of an implementing role. Knowledge sharing and access to networks constitute two of the main benefits that a country can achieve through Diaspora Diplomacy. In general, new diplomacy initiatives are not sufficient for achieving successful diaspora diplomacy if foreign ministries do not adopt a new diplomacy mentality as a whole. Countries should focus on communication, cooperation and a culture of openness, flexibility and transparency. In New Diplomacy the notion that citizens play a more prominent role than they used to in the past, is central. This idea can be expanded to include diasporas as well. Furthermore, not only should New Diplomacy include diaspora, but also the other way around; in order for Diaspora Diplomacy to be successful, it should include New Diplomacy in its practices. This brings us to the conceptualisation of a new subfield of New Diplomacy and Diaspora Diplomacy, that of New Diaspora Diplomacy. New Diaspora Diplomacy is Diaspora Diplomacy that incorporates a high degree of elements of 21st century’s New Diplomacy, in order to successfully achieve diaspora engagement on contemporary issues of strategical importance.
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