Model Changes in Polish and Hungarian Cultural Diplomacy Throughout the Transition Period (1990-1999)

  • Abstract:

    Using broadly defined culture to promote states abroad and, most of all, to seek support for political goals is not a new phenomenon in foreign policy. By presenting their cultural achievements in various art forms, teaching their native languages and establishing cooperation between cultural institutions – activities referred to as cultural diplomacy – states create positive images of themselves and their citizens. At the same time, they contribute to building mutual understanding and trust between nations. Post-communist states, such as Poland and Hungary, have engaged in the above-described sense of cultural diplomacy only since the beginning of the 1990s. Before 1989, culture had been a neglected factor in their foreign policies. For almost fifty years under the communist rule, they had tended to promote political ideology rather than cultural heritage. The basic objective of the paper is to demonstrate that the practical activity of Poland and Hungary with regard to a broadly defined promotion of culture abroad was very much dynamic in the transition period (1990-1999). Changes in the choice of tools and instruments of cultural diplomacy as well as means of influence resulted from current priorities and objectives of these states’ foreign policies (particularly before their accession to the European Union and NATO). A comparative analysis of Poland and Hungary’s cultural diplomacy presented here identifies similarities and differences in the development of cultural diplomacy models. The reasons for these similarities and differences can be found in political and institutional factors. In order to fully illustrate the change in the Polish and Hungarian models of cultural diplomacy, the author examines Polish Institutes and Hungarian cultural centres – Balassi Institutes – as examples. A comparison of the functioning of cultural diplomacy institutions has enabled the author to draw a thesis concerning the impact of determining characteristics of each state.