Is the provision of cultural rights to minorities an element of a comprehensive package of minority rights or is it a compensatory mechanism – a substitute for missing democratic rights such as the right to political participation? Developing at the level of people-to-people relations, as a soft power mechanism cultural diplomacy has become an important part of the international politics. Governments however exercise cultural diplomacy at two levels. The ‘horizontal’ aspect addresses the governments of the other countries, while the ‘vertical’ level involves a two-way cultural relation between government and societal groups.

Focusing on this vertical aspect, the research aims to explore what is the role of minorities in cultural diplomacy – are they active agents in the vertical communication or passive ‘objects’ of top-down cultural policies? In the same time, by exploring the soft power strategies and projecting those over the current activities of minorities in various countries, the research aims at assessing to what extent cultural diplomacy could become a mechanism for raising awareness of minority issues and promoting minority rights in societies in transition to democracy. The project will also analyse whether the provision of cultural rights to ethnic groups and minority communities is a mechanism for their empowerment or a substitute for their democratic rights.

Aim and Objectives

The research project will address the following key questions:

What is the place of minorities in the soft power mechanisms of international politics – can they support the establishment and improvement of the inter-cultural relations?

Do governments tend to provide ‘cultural empowerment’ to minorities in order to diver them from claims for political participation and their democratic collective rights?

Are the mechanisms of cultural diplomacy used by minorities to promote themselves, to raise awareness, and to achieve collective goals?

Can cultural diplomacy and its instruments become mechanisms for promoting and advancing minority rights in a non-democratic environment?


ECMI Working Papers




Dr Zora Popova

ECMI founders:

The German Federal GovernmentThe German
Federal Government
The Danish GovernmentThe Danish
The Federal State Schleswig-HolsteinThe Federal State