Coronavirus and the future of public diplomacy
Natalia Burlinova spoke for Brussels Dialogue
April 11, 2020

On April 8, PICREADI President Natalia Burlinova conducted an online discussion at the Russian Centre in Brussels, addressing the topic: "Is there public diplomacy at the time of coronavirus? What will it look like when the outbreak trails off?"

Natalia argued that public diplomacy will emerge from this crisis in a much less traditional and much more digital form. The fear of traveling will linger for quite some time, prompting people to opt for online format.

Additionally, as the perceived importance of the state is rising — particularly since the response by the world's NGOs is nearly invisible — national interests will decisively move to the forefront of the public diplomacy agenda. Meanwhile, the role of the NGOs will likely decrease.

Interestingly, although the advocates of globalization are expected to be losing appeal, the voices in support of deepening international cooperation in certain fields will be gaining ground. And all this against the backdrop of revived concerns about powers of the state.

We have seen, for example, how media exploited the pandemic in conjunction with the negative trends in perception of Russia in Europe. It was able to capitalize on people's fears by claiming Russia is deliberately misinforming Europe on virus-related issues — clearly, without offering any plausible argumentation of the use of an alleged campaign of this kind.

To conclude, it is critical today more than ever to stay watchful and sensible, while also preparing for a different reality that awaits us.

Natalia Burlinova is the President of PICREADI – Creative Diplomacy, as well as a member of Expert Advisory Council for Rossotrudnichestvo.

Please find some of her articles here.