The agenda of the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly includes issues of scientific diplomacy and scientific cooperation. Why did this happen and how can we use scientific diplomacy to implement and develop integration of different states in the Eurasian space, Kira Kovnat, Head of the Department for International Cooperation of the Eurasian Peoples' Assembly, told EADaily.
- Why are scientific diplomacy and issues of scientific cooperation on the agenda of the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly?
- Scientific diplomacy is not a new phenomenon, although there has been a significant surge of interest in it recently. For many years, governments and individuals have been aware of the value of science in the development of external relations and have applied it in their development, although these actions have often not been defined as scientific diplomacy but have remained part of public diplomacy.
At the same time, it should be understood that scientific diplomacy and international scientific cooperation are not identical concepts. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, published since 1823, diplomacy is defined as "the art and practice of negotiating between peoples." And in this sense, scientific diplomacy absolutely fits into this context.
Science has always played and will continue to play an important role in relations between peoples, as it always stands above national conflicts. History has seen many examples in which countries with certain contradictions have nevertheless continued to cooperate in various scientific fields, creating additional horizontal links and setting the stage for further development of relations.
Unlike scientific cooperation, which is always organized within a narrow professional community of scientists on research or scientific issues, scientific diplomacy engages the widest circle of participants. For example, it is already difficult for us to imagine that key science issues, such as ecosystem, water quality, disease control, do not affect the social sphere (management, economy, organization and access to health care).
- How much easier is it to interact in the field of scientific diplomacy than in other areas of public diplomacy? What difficulties does scientific diplomacy face today?
- In fact, scientific diplomacy overcomes all the same barriers to progress as any form of global interaction. These include restrictions on mobility for one reason or another, and excessive control of the scientific sphere under the pretext of preserving technological advantage, visa barriers, ignorance of languages, weak business participation in global scientific and technological interaction, lack of human capital, which is relevant for most countries of the Eurasian space because of brain drain, when the lack of scientific infrastructure in a country contributes to a significant migration of scientists. Moreover, it is insufficient involvement of politicians and the public in understanding the role of science and its potential value in diplomacy and the development of relations between peoples. In a very complex public-diplomatic system involving NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, the media, new ways and networks of communication, the scientific community should be able to inform and more effectively engage with all these groups and governments.
In this sense, scientific diplomacy, by providing dialogue between different spheres, allows society to find both private and global solutions, taking into account the achievements of scientific and technological progress.
- What exactly can the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly and other NGOs bring to the development of scientific diplomacy?
Thanks to communication with numerous partners in the Eurasian space, the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly has come to understand that at the moment scientific diplomacy needs both a clear understanding of its sphere of activity and a clear definition of the difference between its functions and international scientific cooperation, as well as the development and implementation of tools for its promotion.
Despite the fact that scientific diplomacy is part of public diplomacy, for many participants of this process it remains a kind of mystical unicorn - many have heard of it, but no one has seen it. As a broad communication platform, the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly brings together a wide range of state, scientific, educational, non-profit and business communities of Greater Eurasia for a productive discussion on this issue. In the course of this discussion, it is planned to develop new effective tools for broadcasting through the scientific diplomacy of important national and global contexts, as well as to bring to this area effective tools of public diplomacy.
Much of this process the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly relies on young scientists, members of the Assembly and its youth wing. As the most creative and progressive part of the scientific community, young scientists are at the same time the most vulnerable part of it, as their opinions and needs are often not fully implemented due to the existence of various social and administrative barriers. The organization of multi-level interaction will contribute to the awareness and resolution of social problems of young scientists; will help them to participate more actively in solving social problems.
All this creates a fertile ground for mutual enrichment of ideas, methods and new forms of communication and, as a result, promotes greater understanding between certain segments of society and peoples in general.