Monday, February 26, 2007

Selling the country

On Friday, 23 February 2007, we got Muhammad Al Aula for sharing session. He is a young diplomat from Indonesian Department of Foreign Affair. The two-hour discussion was so hot and lively, that we forgot there was another event to attend to.

We discussed many things, especially his experience as a diplomat. He shared with us what are the responsibilities of a diplomat. But in this session he gave more emphasis on public diplomacy -- communicating Indonesian foreign policy toward the Indonesian citizens first.

When we hear about that, we just thought how complicated the role of diplomats. They must make complicated decisions, and still they have to balance the national interest with public opinions established by the press.

It is quiet interesting to know how the department of foreign affair is doing their job. One of which interest me is how they approach prominent and influential leaders through a “breakfast meeting” to create awareness, change perception, and drive action. Well, to this part, it sounds pretty much like a PR practitioner -- in a sense that we also like to treat certain people for lunch or diner of course. :)

I think it is a good step to communicate to the public about Indonesian foreign policy. As the Indonesian society is patriarchic, people would believe respected individual leader, rather than the mass media for instance. :(

Aula also share that Department of Foreign Affair has been reforming itself for many years. Unfortunately they don’t socialize very well which make people’s perception the department stand still.

From the discussion, we can also learn that they haven’t really pushed the envelop, as they have so much potential, partly because the short numbers of diplomats. I hope in the future Department of Foreign Affair is more proactive to communicate what they have done, and why they make such measures.

But most important is what Aula calls the second track diplomacy. Any Indonesian can be the ambassador of the country, through interactions with people from other countries. Thus, every Indonesian must understand the nation’s foreign policy, so we can achieve the goal together.

Sounds like a great idea, isn’t it?

*written by Tuhu

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