Cultural Diplomacy News (CDN)
Amb. Carlos dos Santos (Ambassador of Mozambique to Germany)

27.07.2009 - Interview conducted by Diana Leca


His Excellency Carlos dos Santos was born in Maputo City in Mozambique and earned an MA in both International Relations (University of Zimbabwe) and Business Administration (Baruch College at CUNY). He has been the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Mozambique to Germany since May 2006. In addition to diplomatic affairs, Ambassador dos Santos has devoted considerable energy to international issues such as the banning of land-mines and the fight against the illicit small-weapons trade. Due to these efforts, he served as Chairman of the Preparatory Committee of the 2001 International Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects (2000-2001). He has been Mozambique's Permanent Representative to the United Nations since 1996.

Ambassador dos Santos participated in the International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy and spoke with a member of the CD-News Team on the first day of the event. He talked about cultural diplomacy in Mozambique, initiatives to promote Mozambican culture in Berlin, soft power as a long-standing foreign policy approach in his home country, as well as Mozambique's stance of non-alignment in order to encourage peaceful coexistence between nations.

Is there a wide awareness of the concept of cultural diplomacy in Mozambique or is it still a relatively new term?

Culture informs every activity that we do and actually influences how we live and how we interact with other people. We have not, to my knowledge, used the specific term “cultural diplomacy” as such in Mozambique. This is part of the reason why we find the work that the ICD is doing very interesting. My former President, Mr. Joaquim Chissano, was unfortunately unable to attend the International Symposium because of his commitment to conflict resolution in Africa [Mr. Chissano was requested to mediate the escalating situation in Madagascar during the period of the Symposium]. He was planning to come here not only to share his own experiences, but also to learn about the process of cultural diplomacy. I myself, am here to interact with other people, to learn about these ideas, and how they can be further developed in Mozambique.

Can you talk about some intercultural initiatives or events you have undertaken here in Germany?

We have, in fact, just held an event in Germany called Mozambique Week during the 23rd-30th of June. We brought the National Song and Dance Company of Mozambique to Germany, as well as a variety of musicians, artists, and Mozambican paintings. We hosted cultural exhibitions here in Berlin, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Aachen, Cologne, and Munich. This event was certainly within the context of cultural diplomacy, although we didn’t talk about it as a concept, as such.

Following the success of Mozambique Week, are you currently planning any future intercultural events that we can look forward to?

Mozambique Week was a kind of opening for other activities to happen. Basically, our idea is to generate new programs from this very successful event. Since then we have been contacted by different people who want to work on new projects with Mozambique—not only with the Embassy, but also with the Mozambican community and with a particular group of artists that came here in June. It was an excellent experience and people from both communities enjoyed it—both Germans and those from the Mozambican community (which numbers between 5–6,000 people here in Germany). I cannot tell you exactly what we will do next! [Laughs.] But we certainly want to do more.

You have said that terms like soft power are not necessarily frequently used in Mozambique, but have the concepts themselves been part of Mozambique's diplomatic approach?

I tend to see soft power as diplomacy and this is one area where Mozambique has always excelled. We are very proud of the fact that Mozambique has managed to develop excellent economic, social, and cultural relations with various countries and people all over the world. As a consequence, Mozambique has received a lot of assistance, for example in development, even in times of economic distress and “aid fatigue.” This is a result of issues such as soft power—the form of diplomacy that Mozambique has been using, though perhaps not under that particular name, for many years now.

In the pursuit of foreign policy, Mozambique has always put an emphasis on negotiation and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. The country has gone through an armed struggle for independence, and therefore the Mozambicans know what it means to use force to achieve a goal. They don’t want to always resort to weapons; they want to resolve conflicts through diplomacy. In that sense, we fully support—and have always supported—soft power. In this respect, we also have the example of Former President Chissano. But he, in fact, is not the only head of state to engage in such soft diplomacy in Mozambique: the current president, Mr. Guebuza, was one of the African leaders who was asked to help play the role of negotiator in settling the conflict in Burundi. He was also the chief negotiator in Mozambique for the peace process between the government and the rebel movement, because our country had an internal conflict for a number of years after independence. As you can see, Mozambique has had a lot of experience in terms of attempting to use soft power to resolve conflict situations.

Mozambique is also currently a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and has advocated a policy of political nonalignment in the past. Is this still an important part of Mozambique’s foreign relations strategy?

Indeed, Mozambique still pursues this principle and is still a full member of the Non-Aligned Movement. The idea of nonalignment has always been to have cooperation with all countries on an equal basis rather than forming blocks. Perhaps the disappearance of Eastern and Western blocks will manage to create a world where the Non-Aligned Movement is no longer necessary. However, until that day comes, there is still relevance for this movement and that is why Mozambique continues to be a member. If you look at the principles of nonalignment, they are fundamentally good principles: cooperation, coexistence, and peaceful resolution of conflict. We accept differences among countries and peoples, and we should work to peacefully coexist.

Thank you very much for the interview,  Mr. Ambassador.