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Theoretical and practical aspects of NATO's public diplomacy at the present stage
Material posted: Publication date: 16-11-2018

Public diplomacy today is a unique instrument among those used by the military-political organizations in its activities. However, NATO is actively trying to apply for work with public opinion in countries not members of the Alliance. Of particular interest to public diplomacy came to Brussels after starting a full-scale campaign of Euro-Atlantic integration.

On the role of this mechanism in modern strategy NATO says is the fact that the structure of the Alliance has established the Office of public diplomacy, which is involved in interaction with the foreign audience, as well as with the society of States-members of NATO. It should be noted that the term "strategy" is used here not in the narrow sense to refer to documents setting forth the basic views of the Alliance management to public diplomacy and, more widely, as a long-term plan purposeful practical activities on the formation in the public mind States that are not members of NATO positive image of the Organization.

After the bombing of Yugoslavia, the Alliance needed to create a positive image, in order to strengthen their own positions in the regions not included in the geographic area of its traditional responsibility. To accomplish this task was chosen as a tool of public diplomacy[1].

From a logical point of view, this solution looks quite strange, because military-political bloc for the realization of their goals must act, first and foremost, using coercive methods. At the same time history knows many examples when the inclusion of a state in the sphere of influence of another stronger is not necessarily required to use hard power in practice, it was enough just to threaten its use[2] or to use economic levers of pressure[3]. Public diplomacy has traditionally been applied by individual countries, not blocks of States, in view of the fact that it has a selective effect. In this regard, NATO has acted as a kind of innovator and began to actively use public diplomacy for establishing its influence in those regions where it was necessary for her.

It is worth noting that in recent years NATO has learned to negotiate not only with the elites but with a population that is extremely important in the context of democratization around the world. In the former Soviet Union, where NATO has traditionally had problems with the image, the Alliance will have to work hard to secure sustainable support from the population in beginning or continuing in a number of countries of democratic transit, and public diplomacy can become a tool that will help NATO to achieve the desired result.

Conceptual framework the use of the mechanism of public diplomacy is contained in the "Strategy of NATO's public diplomacy"[4]. According to this document there are two methods of implementation of public diplomacy:1) coverage of NATO's position on various issues through the media; 2) direct interaction through seminars, briefings, visits with the people who shape public opinion in the partner countries. In accordance with the strategy, special attention should be given to the achievements of NATO operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo, as well as the identity formation of NATO through the use of information resources.

To date, the mechanism of public diplomacy of the Alliance as follows. The public diplomacy division, NATO acts as the primary coordinating mechanism, it organizes a programme of visits to the headquarters of NATO for the foreign delegations, informed the population of the partner countries about the activities of the Organization[5].

An important role for the dissemination of information on the role and policies of the Alliance in each partner country plays the Embassy of one of the States-members of NATO, acting as a contact point within two years. Often when the distribution of contact embassies takes into account the geographical, historical and ethno-political factor in the state that is a member of the Alliance may represent its interests in the partner country in more than one period (for example, Turkey has implemented pin functions in Azerbaijan and Georgia for almost 20 years).

Contact the Embassy contribute to the Management of NATO's public diplomacy in carrying out information and communication activities and participate in the immediate Organisation of individual events. In addition, a greater role played by focal points present at the most important NATO countries in the region: Center of information and documentation of NATO in Kiev, NATO Information office in Moscow, Information centre of NATO in Georgia, Euro-Atlantic center in Baku. Let us consider how, in practice, the public diplomacy of NATO in the post-Soviet space and other regions, representing the Alliance of great geopolitical importance.

Perhaps the most successful example of public diplomacy of the Alliance is an information campaign prior to the entry into NATO of States that were socialist bloc, including the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Integration of the Baltic republics into NATO was easy enough. This was due primarily to the coincidence of anti-Russian sentiment of the political elite and a significant part of Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians. The Alliance didn't even have to spend a lot of money in order to explain to citizens of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, who is bad and who is good "police" in Europe. As for the other Eastern European States, formerly the ATS, the choice in favor of NATO was primarily a choice against Russia and its potential Imperial ambitions. While the political establishment of the Baltic States focused on the fact that joining the Alliance is a logical step, due to the fact that the Baltic peoples are an integral part of the Euro-Atlantic civilization and share traditional democratic values of the West[6].

For public diplomacy, NATO and the integration of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania became a good information occasion in order to show the effectiveness of the policy of NATO expansion to the East. These countries on a plan of experts had become a kind of Outpost for penetration in the post-Soviet space, which implied, in particular, their active participation in conducting awareness campaign working with other republics of the former Soviet Union through the mechanism of contact embassies. However, the low political weight of the Baltic States does not allow them to play such a responsible role, forcing NATO to use directly the Office of public diplomacy for the Organization of contacts with the population and political elites in the former Soviet Union.

In order to fight the demonizing image of NATO in the global information space, experts of the office of public diplomacy we have to make serious efforts especially in light of current and completed missions and operations of the Alliance. The most important is the implementation of this in the countries of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, i.e. in those regions where traditionally the Alliance are ambiguous.

As the CSTO, NATO does not have its own television channel, however, at the summit in Bucharest in 2008 was launched the Internet channel "" that covers the most significant events in the life of the Alliance[7]. The journalists of the channel focus primarily on reporting on the Organization's mission in Kosovo and Afghanistan, to military exercises and visits and meetings of the NATO Secretary General. At the moment the number of subscribers and views on YouTube (66700 people) is not so great as the media giants "CNN International", "BBC World News" or growing "Russia Today", however, it is understood that these televisions, like all other media holdings in varying degrees, supported the States in which they are created. Internet TV channel NATO should be compared rather with the same media, intergovernmental organizations, and in this segment he looks quite decent.

In our opinion, today it is impossible to talk about the prospects of creating a full-fledged TV channel to NATO, at least in the near future. One can hardly imagine that the U.S., which has traditionally been the main financial donor of the Alliance, will allocate funds for the development of broadcasting Organizations to the detriment of the support of the national players of the media market, creating the image of the state in the world and, in fact, generating the American potential of "soft power" in the information space. Besides "" channel with highly specialized content and hardly permanent transfer of security and on the situation of women in Afghanistan will be of interest to a wide audience.

The public diplomacy division of NATO for propaganda purposes provides replication of printed and multimedia materials on the activities of the Alliance and to contact embassies and information centers operating in the partner countries. Most of these products is distributed among the participants of the various activities: essay competitions, conferences, round tables, summer and winter schools, all the rest goes to the universities.

Serious attention is paid to the development of the official website of the Alliance, which not only provides the news, but also contains a large number of unique archival material, telling about the activities of NATO. An important addition to the website is the Internet-the magazine "NATO Review", which is focused primarily on the expert community[8]. However, publications placed on this resource, are often promotional in nature and for obvious reasons, represent only one point of view on the issue of Euro-Atlantic security.

Many changes and innovations that have occurred in the strategy of public diplomacy of NATO, and in particular in its information and communication technology segment was associated with the inauguration of the Secretary General of the Organization Anders Fogh Rasmussen in 2009, which is to improve the level of information transparency of the Alliance for the global community took his video blog[9]. In it he published a short 2-3 minute video message about his trips for bilateral meetings and summits, talked about the results of the negotiations and outlined plans for the future.

Realizing the importance of social networking in the modern world for the formation of that government or Organization, the leadership of the Alliance created within the office of public diplomacy Department of social media, which is working in "Facebook", "Twitter", "YouTube", "Google+", "Flickr". The objective of this small structural unit is not only in the dissemination of information about NATO, but also in the analysis of activity of users in tracking their opinions about the Organization.

In the Arsenal of experts has the necessary tools to handle information about visitors to the Alliance accounts in different social networks. So, for example, failed to establish that, despite the focus on the youth audience, most of the visitors of the NATO channel on YouTube is people aged 35 to 55 years, while the main audience page on "Facebook" young people 18-24 years. It is worth noting that in recent years the number of subscribers on account of the Alliance in the world's most popular social network is growing by an average of 20 thousand per month. If at the end of January 2014, it was 341000 people, in early November, 2018 figure rose to 1285000 people[10].

You need to understand that often it is difficult for casual followers and people professionally interested in NATO: students, academics, public figures, politicians, journalists from different countries, in General, all those who shape public opinion. Possibility of commenting on posted messages allows visitors to organize a debate online, the progress of which is closely monitored by the specialists of the division for social media, removing statements that are detrimental to the image of NATO.

However, very often anti-Russian comments are not removed, and this creates a certain negative background information. After 2014, when relations between Russia and NATO has escalated, these platforms began to be used as an additional channel for dissemination of propaganda statements. Naturally, the user activity increases in connection with major events: the meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the Council Russia-NATO, the signing of important international agreements in the field of security, evidenced by the increasing number of comments.

In our opinion, it is obvious that the Alliance is paying serious attention to their image not only in real but also in virtual space and use all available means to strengthen their own capacity in public diplomacy via social networks, website, Internet channel and log in the future will continue to work in this area. To date, indicators such as audience reach and number of interactions (comments, retweets, and reshares) to social networks among international organizations NATO is second only to the UN and the world Bank. On the background of the Alliance lag of the CSTO in the above fields the information of the work is tangible and in the future will have a negative impact on the reputation of the Organization, especially among the youth.

As for the representatives of the public diplomacy division of NATO one of the priorities is to work with young people, they try to use international experience in this area. In particular, the recently started model NATO by analogy with models of the UN in various countries. In the framework of such events is modeled bodies of the Alliance, discussed topical issues of security and, most importantly, the participants not only from NATO but also from other countries know about this Organization, and they formed a respectful attitude towards its activities. For example, in Brussels, since 2012, held a Youth summit annually brings together 250 delegates from different countries[11]. Participants have a unique opportunity to meet with the NATO Secretary General and ask him your questions, and to interact with recognized experts on Euro-Atlantic security.

From 11 to 15 November 2013 the work of the Serbian international model NATO, which was first organized in Belgrade with the support of the public diplomacy division of NATO. The model brought together nearly 500 participants from 50 countries and was held under the slogan "breaking barriers, creating the future". The choice of Serbia as the site for such a serious event in the field of public diplomacy seems to us is not accidental.

In this country too remember, and the bombing of Belgrade and Kosovo's secession, so the Alliance is forced to work with public opinion, and especially with the Serbian youth, in order to preserve opportunities for integration into their ranks such of the Balkan States like Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in the long term and possibly Serbia. Active role in the Model is played by the Embassy of the Slovak Republic, which was the NATO contact point Embassy in Serbia in 2013-2014 In our opinion, this event can be seen not just as an educational event, but also as a kind of sociological survey, in which it is possible to reveal the true attitude of youth from different countries to the activities of the Alliance.

In Russia at the Moscow state linguistic University has been role play "international Model of the Council Russia-NATO", with the support of the NATO Information office at the Embassy of Belgium in Russia[12].

For example, the agenda of the meeting was worded as follows: "Partnership of Russia and NATO in countering challenges and threats of modernity". In preparation for the role play participants wrote their essays on the theme of role-playing game, in accordance with their gaming functions of the ambassadors of the countries participating in the NRC, as well as prepared speech on one of the official languages of NATO.

Students were consulted, meetings with diplomats of the Russian foreign Ministry, heads of state Duma committees, diplomatic representatives of foreign States. In addition, modelers could through the organizing Committee and the NATO information office to send a letter for transmission to the national delegation of the state member of the NRC at the headquarters of NATO in Brussels to learn about the positions of the governments of their countries on the agenda of the meeting.

On the one hand, it may seem that in the event the initiative for the formation of the image of the Alliance in the minds of participants role-playing is in the hands of Russian officials who hold meetings with them, explain the Russian position on the issue of Euro-Atlantic security, illuminate the negative aspects of the activities of the Alliance. However, the more useful this roleplay is for NATO, because the students in the simulation result, it is better to know the Organization and begin to understand that, in principle, the Alliance is able to work constructively on several fronts, not just solve its own geopolitical objectives, and it undoubtedly adds hints of positive image of NATO.

Thus, public diplomacy of NATO is a very effective tool for working with foreign public opinion. Conceptually, it relies primarily on American and European experience. In addition, experts of public diplomacy division of NATO in their daily activities take into account the evolution of existing communication channels with foreign audiences. This is confirmed by the active use of social networks and other Internet resources to disseminate information about NATO. The main target audience becomes the youth, which indicates the desire of the Alliance to build a long-term information from foreign public opinion. Unfortunately, this work is being done on anti-Russian basis and in the future will be aimed at ousting Russia from the regions where it had traditionally a strong position.


[1] Dmitry Rogozin As NATO caught the soul [Electronic resource] // Nezavisimaya Gazeta. – Mode of access: (date of access: 07.04.2014.)

[2] this is confirmed by the policy of Nazi Germany in the late 1930s.

[3] a Striking example of the use of the mechanism of economic pressure is the diplomacy of the dollar, was undertaken in the early twentieth century, American presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft in the Central and Latin America, and China.

[4] the 2010-2011 NATO Public Diplomacy Strategy // Public Intelligence. – URL: (date accessed: 30.01.2013.)

[5] Rogozin, A. D., "Public diplomacy," NATO: information security of Russia // Power. – 2008. No. 9. – P. 26-32.

[6] the Presidents of Latvia and Lithuania call for unity of the Baltic States on the way to EU and NATO [Electronic resource] // Ministry of foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia. – Mode of access: (accessed: 10.01.2014.)

[7] // The North Atlantic Treaty Organization. – URL: (date accessed: 10.01.2014.)

[8] NATO Review Online Magazine // The North Atlantic Treaty Organization. – URL: (date accessed: 28.01.2014.)

[9] NATO Secretary General's Blog // YouTube. – URL: (date accessed: 28.01.2014.)

[10] Official web page of NATO in the social network "Facebook". – URL: (date accessed: 28.01.2014.)

[11] Model NATO Youth Summit // Model NATO Youth Summit. – URL: (date accessed: 28.01.2014.)

[12] Role play "international Model of the Council NATO-Russia 2013" [Electronic resource] // access Mode: (date accessed: 28.01.2014.)

Korenev E. S.

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