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Critical Review of the Danish Foreign Ministry’s ‘Danmark i Dialog Med Verden’

by on May 8, 2012

Due to the accelerating speed of globalization and the communications revolution the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recognised the importance of grabbing the prominence of public and cultural diplomacy to promote a more positive image of Denmark abroad. Reasoned the major diplomatic setback Denmark experienced as a result of the Cartoon Crisis, Denmark has assigned greater priority to the MENA-region as a crucial strategic target of PCD.

The report, ‘Danmark i Dialog med Verden’ (Denmark in Dialogue with the World) provides a range of examples of public and cultural diplomacy initiatives around the world with a particular focus on the MENA-region. A special emphasis on cooperation with non-state actors such as NGOs, companies, interest-organisations and the media is articulated. 

In concordance with Nicholas Cull’s statement that action speaks louder than words[1], the report attempts to draw attention to Denmark’s top position among donors of development assistance to promote an image of Denmark as a development assistance role model. This can prove to be a rather effective strategy as Denmark as of 2009 was among the only five nations who have met the International Aid Target of 0.7% of GNP.

The report promotes the necessity of nation branding as it aims to project its ‘50 years of participation in peacekeeping operations and defense efforts, a top spot on the quantity and quality of development assistance and a place in the first ranks in the struggle for human rights are the main motives in the image of Denmark’s global engagement[2].’This constitutes a part of the idea of ‘borderless responsibility’ which attaches importance to stability, peace and democracy aimed at international organizations, opinion-makers, decision-makers and the broad public in selected countries. It is obvious that the report finds its inspiration domestically. Because Denmark’s job market model flexicurity (a contraction of the English words ‘flexibility’ and ‘security’) has been promoted as the road to economic growth and employment by the European Commission, Denmark has used this as a public diplomacy tool in Greece in order to generate better acquaintance with Danish experiences and expertise in this area. The Danish welfare model is something it has in common with other Scandinavian countries but Denmark has been more eager than for instance Norway and Sweden to market this image. Hence, it can be argued that the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs truly comprehends the importance of congruence between words and deeds adding enhanced credibility to the country’s efforts abroad.

Project Hip Hop Palestine is directly aimed at resurrecting the image of Denmark in Palestine where 59% of the population view Denmark as an enemy of Islam and only 4% believe that the Danish government handled the cartoon crisis appropriately[3]. The initiative is one among many and is characterised as ‘offbeat’ remaining apolitical but cultural in nature where ‘intercultural dialogue’ often occurs in the rhetoric. To enhance this intercultural dialogue, the report and its Palestinian collaborators have in particular appreciated the credibility that Danish youths with Palestinian backgrounds bring to the dissemination of information about Denmark and hence these cultural non-state ambassadors comprise an essential part of the project. The primary goal of the project, which has also involved song contests, has been to raise the prospects of Palestinian participation in the Eurovision Song Contest. The success of the project has been so highly-profiled that even Israeli media has picked up on it.

Project Hip Hop Palestine is part of a larger initiative called Det Arabiske Initiativ (The Arabian Initiative) whose purpose it is to create a foundation of strengthened dialogue (two-way communication), understanding and cooperation between Denmark and the Arab world to support ongoing local processes of reform.

Because Denmark as a nation initially failed to understand the implications of the Cartoon Crisis, this report constitutes a crucial effort to rectify that mistake. Denmark has understood that it’s success as a nation, also domestically due to its large Muslim population,  is dependent on its image abroad leading to an appreciation of mutual understanding and cooperation across borders.


[1] N. J. Cull, ‘Public Diplomacy: Seven Lessons for its Future from its Past’, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2010, p. 14.

[2] This part is translated.

[3] Independent Media Review Analysis,


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