Understanding Culture Is an Antidote to Violence
The Ambassador of the Principality of Monaco to Germany, Austria and Poland H.E. Isabelle Berro Amadei talks to Berlin GlobalApril 07th, 2017
“Cultural diplomacy builds bridges between people. Understanding and improving our knowledge about other cultures is an antidote to violence“
On 30th of March a team from the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin, had the privilege and pleasure to interview Her Excellency Isabelle Berro Amadei Ambassador of Monaco to Germany, Austria and Poland.
This interview provides an in depth view and offers multiple perspectives of Monaco that go further than the usual superficial depiction of the Mediterranean country.
All of her efforts were directed to enabling us to develop a better impression of what Monaco truly is; from the Monaco themed books to the welcoming atmosphere in the Embassy.
You have been an Ambassador of Monaco to Germany here in Berlin since 2015. How have you enjoyed this position so far and what was the main focus of your work since you started?
As you know, being an Ambassador was a new career for me at that moment. Back in 2015, I came to Berlin full of enthusiasm and ready to discover Germany in order to strengthen the relations between the two countries. For this reason, I immediately visited different regions of Germany in order to meet Germans and know better the specificities of the country. I would like to mention that I was assisted and helped by six honorary consuls of Monaco, who are really active, engaged and dedicated to Monaco.
You have a very versatile and intriguing career. In which position do you think you gained the most experience or faced some of the most difficult challenges?
Due to the length of my judicial career, I'm of course more experienced as a judge. The highest challenge I was confronted with was at ECHR in Strasbourg, when together with 46 other judges coming from 46 different countries, with different cultures, backgrounds, educations, religions and judicial systems we discussed sensitive cases concerning societal issues in Europe, in order to defend the fundamental values of human rights. The exchanges and debates with my colleagues brought me an enrichment that I will cherish forever.
In Germany, my first challenge was linked to the language; although I studied German at school it was a long time ago so I worked actively on my language skills.
For what reasons did you decide to become an Ambassador? Did you encounter some unexpected difficulties that were not present in the legal system?
I had to leave the profession of judge because the ECHR elects candidates for one term of 9 years and there is no possibility of being reelected. After being in such a multicultural environment I wanted to stay and work in the international sphere. I had the honor to be appointed Ambassador by His Serene Highness Prince Albert II. His decision gave me the opportunity to continue my career in a field that I really like. From judge to Ambassador the path is not so different. For example, diplomacy has to be used to explain to state representatives the sometimes unpopular decisions which are taken against them by the Court.
More precisely, I note that all the sensitive issues which trouble our societies are, due to a number of reasons, also discussed in multilateral fora or taken up in bilateral relations, just as they are subject to ECHR examination.
In your opinion how important is being an Ambassador to Germany?
Needless to say that from a diplomatic point of view, it is important to be present in Germany, especially at this moment. Germany is the heart of Europe and plays a great role in the world as well.
How have the relations between Germany and Monaco changed over the years and in what ways is the Monegasque Embassy in Berlin promoting culture?
The relations between the countries are solid and strong. We share common values in human rights, democracy and also a strong involvement in protection of the environment. I would like to emphasize the deep commitment of the Prince of Monaco in favor of environment and sustainable development in national and international spheres.
The diplomatic relations between Germany and Monaco exist since 1951; therefore, you can understand how long lasting this relation is. Approximately 800 German citizens live in Monaco. It is a quite big number if you consider the population of Monaco, around 40.000 people.
HSH the Prince and the Princess paid an official visit to Germany and to Pdt Joachim Gauck in 2012 and The Prince is a regular guest to this country. Just to give you an example, during these last months he went to Gotha, Kiel and Dusseldorf where His foundation is engaged in a partnership with the German Ocean Foundation.
How do you evaluate the relations between Monaco and Germany? What does your Excellency considers to be the most important issues of cooperation between Monaco and Germany and in which areas do you think there is space for improvement?
As you know I am ambassador of Monaco to Germany, Austria, Poland and the international organizations in Vienna. This extended sphere of expertise causes me to determine priorities in my actions. For Germany one of them was meeting the six honorary Consuls of Monaco in their local counties. Such field visits are always very useful for developing our contacts and considering possibilities for collaboration and trade between our countries. In order to achieve this goal, the Embassy works with a German tourist agency, which is in charge of promoting Monaco in Germany and Austria. We organize road trips all over Germany to enhance the attractiveness of Monaco and to attract potential tourists.
Regarding the improvement, I can say that more can always be done, especially when we are talking about diplomatic relations.
When I arrived to Germany, I realized that the image of Monaco was still fueled by usual stereotypes: high prices, tax heaven and a destination where only a select few can live or even travel to. However, Monaco is not like that. I have to juxtapose good images and the reality on still stubborn prejudices: quality of life, safety, healthcare, cosmopolitan and international character and respect for environment. This is a very important mission and in this way, cultural diplomacy can help to overcome these clichés and improve the image of Monaco.
Could you please tell us more about the events that are taking place in Germany related to the Monegasque Embassy?
We have had a Monegasque culinary week in Berlin, where a famous chef from Monaco cooked Mediterranean specialties. Furthermore, education is a very big part of our culture. Every year we organize scholar exchanges for a better understanding of history and culture between the two countries. We had nice exhibitions in Cologne, Potsdam and Munich from Monegasque artists, such as painters, sculptors and many more other events.
I would like to add that the Monegasque boys choir, a famous vocal group with children voices, also held successful concerts all over Germany. That was a great success for us!
Finally, let me also mention and invite all of the readers to our upcoming events regarding the ballets of Monte Carlo and the philharmonic orchestra that are going to take place in Germany in the next upcoming months.
How would you define cultural diplomacy and what does it mean to you? How do you think we can use cultural diplomacy to strengthen the relations between nations and more especially between Monaco and Germany?
Cultural diplomacy is one of the crucial aspects of diplomacy. It allows to build bridges with countries and people and improve knowledge of others cultures, and in doing so increase tolerance .
Understanding cultures is an antidote to violence!
Cultural diplomacy is a tool of the state foreseeability which can be used outside the borders and is also able to help promoting economic or trade actions.
As I already stated, all the events contribute to strengthen the relations between the nations, connect people, and improve the image of the countries.
With regards to cultural diplomacy being used as a tool for conflict resolutions and the promotion of peace, can you give us an example of time during which you were involved in successful intercultural dialogue.
Monaco has a long history as a neutral State that has always potentiated the creation and being a platform for dialogue. For that reason and keeping in mind the conflict in Ukraine that started a few months before, we decided to maintain the 2015 the celebration of the Russian cultural year in Monaco as our authorities were convinced that maintaining dialogue was essential, especially through cultural events that took place in Monaco. All the conflicts would surely benefit from cultural diplomacy even though in some contexts it could be difficult to implement the tools.
Your career is dedicated to international relations and law. What advice would you give to young people who are interested in pursuing a career in international relations and diplomacy
I think you know already the answer!!!What you have to do? Of course you have to be interested in the world you are living in, to be curious, like to travel, and above all you have to like people. If you don’t like people, you cannot do this job. You surely have to be convinced that through your function you can defend human rights and their fundamental values.That is the biggest advice that I can give you.