Chapter 1 - Definition and Importance of Diplomacy

Learning Outcomes

  1. Define diplomacy and describe its scope, actors and functions.
  2. Review the theoretical framework of international diplomacy
  3. Analyze and compare the diplomatic relations of different actors
  4. Differentiate and describe different types of diplomatic engagement

What Is Diplomacy

Oxford English Dictionary defines diplomacy as:

The profession, activity or skill of managing international relations, typically by a country’s representatives abroad.

But more detailed definitions are made by scholars who provide a significant literature on diplomacy. Some of these definitions are as follows:

  • Diplomacy is the art of application of intelligence and tact to the conduct of official relations between the governments of independent states, extending sometimes also to their relations with vassal states; or, more briefly still the conduct of business between states by peaceful means. (Satow, 1932)

  • Diplomacy is the management of international relations by negotiation; the method by which these relations are adjusted and managed by ambassadors and envoys; the business or art of the diplomatist (Harold Nicholson, 1969)

  • Diplomacy is the conduct of relations between states and other entities with standing in world politics by official agent and by peaceful means, such conduct of relations by professional diplomatists and such conduct of relations between states that is carried out in a manner that is tactful or subtle (Hedley Bull, 1977)

  • Diplomacy is concerned with the management of relations between states and other actors. From a state perspective diplomacy is concerned with advising, shaping and implementing foreign policy. As such it is the means by which states through their formal and other representatives, as well as othe racturs, articulate, coordinate and secure particular or wider interests, using correspondence, private talks, exchanges of view, lobbying, visits, threats, and other related activities (Barston, 2013)

  • Diplomacy is an essential political activity and well-resoırced and skilful, a major ingredient of power. Its chief purpose is to enable states to secure the objectives of their foreign policies without resort to force, propaganda or law. It follows that diplomacy consists of communication between officials designed to promote foreign policy either by formal agreement or tacit adjustment (G. R. Berridge, 2010)

  • Diplomacy is the peaceful conduct of relations amongst political entities, their principals and accredited agents (Hamilton and Langhorne, 2010)

  • Diplomacy is conventionally understood as the processes and institutions by which the interests and the identities of sovereign states are represented to one another (Devetak et al., 2012)

As we can see those definitions all point out certain aspects of diplomacy but none of them can be deemed wrong or accepted as the precise definition of diplomacy. Therefore instead of focusing on finding a “definitive definition”, let’s focus on understanding the scope, actors and functions of diplomacy by using these definitions.

Scope: The first thing that has to be defined would be the scope of diplomacy since the other elements such as actors and tasks could only be determined according to how broad the scope is defined. When the term is taken in a narrow sense, it usually describes political relations between states and includes the practices of the diplomats and ministries of foreign affairs. But in the twentieth first century it is necessary to adopt a broader approach. This broader definition takes the narrow approach and includes many other aspects of international discourse like economical and social relations within the scope of diplomacy. Within this definition human rights, health, terror or environment can be seen in the discourse of diplomacy.

Actors: The main actors of diplomacy, regardless of the scope definition we use, are foreign ministers along with other employees of the ministry and the diplomatic agents in foreign countries; that is the head of mission and members of the diplomatic staff of the mission. But if we take the broad definition into account, the actors it involves widen significantly. This actor diversification in diplomacy is closely related to rapid globalization.

Functions: According to the Article 3 of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations the functions of a diplomatic mission are:

  • representing the sending state in the receiving state
  • protecting the interests of the sending state and of its nationals in the receiving state within the limits permitted by international law
  • negotiating with the government of the receiving state
  • ascertaining the conditions and developments in the receiving state by all lawful means and reporting back to sending state
  • promoting friendly relations between the sending state and the receiving state
  • developing their economic, cultural and scientific relations.

The most important function of diplomacy is communication. In a sense diplomacy is communication itself. What is expected with diplomatic communication is the establishment and maintenance of good relations based confidence and trust among the actors of international community. An important aspect of diplomatic communication in this contexgt is negotiations. In the international arena, dominated by sovereign states, negotiation is the primary and predominant mode of reaching joint decisions. These joint decisions have to be based on common or compromised interests of states.

Another major function of diplomacy is representation. The main instrument of representation is embassies and its main actors are:

  • ambassadors
  • consulates
  • attaches
  • other diplomatic personnel

Having embassies in foreign countries and international organisations are considered important elements of state sovereignty and recognition in international community. Also the number of diplomatic representatives in foreign states is considered a sign of international prestige. The decision to open embassies is influenced by several factors. Having representatives in major powers, allies, strategic or economic partners or strategic and economic interests that require developed relations, balance, reciprocity and universality, diasporas and economic capacities are among the reasons that motivate to establish embassies. (Barston, 2013,23-4)

Diplomatic agents present the stance and interests of their states in the receiving states and many other functions of diplomacy, monitoring, information gathering, protection of citizens and development of relations are all related to this kid of representation.

Another function of diplomacy is described as “contribution to international order”. This function refers to the creation, drafting and amendment of a wide variety of international rules of a normative and regulatory kind that provide structure in the international system and contribute to the creation of universal rules. (Barston 2013, 3)

Theories of Diplomacy

In order to understand the essence of diplomacy, its theory has to be studied too, as well as its practice.

Early Diplomatic Theories

Florentinian Theorists - Machiavelli and Guicciardini

It is generally accepted that modern diplomacy practices started in Italy. Naturally, early theories were also formulated there. One of the theories belongs to Nicollo Machiavelli. Diplomacy, according to him, must be permanent, in the sense that states should have diplomatic representatives, at least in those countries that they have high interests whether they are allies or enemies. Also, according to him, diplomacy is based on deception. Therefore the diplomat can use deceptions, tricks, and schemes in order to maximize the state’s interest in its relations with other states.

The diplomat has two duties:

  • to encourage the prince to whom he is accredited to pursue policies congenial to the interests of his own prince
  • to refuse to contemplate policies hostile to his own prince, which might involve sabotaging the activities of diplomatic rivals
  • to submit advice on policy to his own prince
  • at all costs defend his own prince’s reputation
  • to engage in formal negotiations
  • to obtain information and report it to home; including predictions based on the diplomat’s judgement about future developments

Another Florentine diplomat who has contributed to the theory of diplomacy is Francesco Guicciardini. The main theme in his theory is the value of good ambassadors, which he sees as a source of prestige for the price.

Hugo Grotius

Another contributor of the diplomatic theory is Hugo Grotius, who is a great opponent of war and deems it acceptable only when it is just and for this reason diplomacy has a vital role. He defines three methods to accomodate misunderstandings among states without a war:

  • Conference method
  • Arbitration between parties who do not belong to the same jurisdiction and have no common judge to appeal to.
  • Cast lots.

Another diplomatic issue in his theory is related to diplomatic representation which he sees as an attribute of sovereignty.

Cardinal Richelieu

French statesman Richelieu has also formulated ideas on diplomacy. The main theme of his theory is negotiations. According to him, negotiations must be continuous and directed by a single person - the foreign minister - otherwise they would not be successful or effective. Also he states that any agreement that is reached at the end of negotiations should be applied by all parties, since otherwise the reputation and the power of the monarch would be questioned by others.

Diplomatic Theories and International Relations

Ernest Satow

The first significant diplomatic writer of the twentieth century is Ernest Satow. He studies diplomatic tradition, international politics and diplomacy as an instrument of statecraft as a whole. Diplomatic relations were to be regulated by international law, which equalises states. But in practice international community is not based on equality, according to him, and Great Powers, which dominate the international society with predominant military and naval power, should act as a committee that could be called into action in case a minor state does not comply with the concert of Europe. He also believes that even though diplomacy and international law is important, these are not enough to provide state security in an international system without supreme authority and for these reasons states should also count on their own military power.

Harold Nicolson

According to Harold Nicolson, who is also a British diplomat, principles that has evolved from the Greek, Roman and Christian thought have laid the bases that Western civilization was built on and these principles should not be abandoned. This also applies to interstate relations.

Nicolson’s theory draws attention the difficult relation between diplomacy and domestic policy. The change of policy with the change of governments is closely related to the fact and these new governments are elected and are accountable to their voters and their concerns. At this point, there appears the question of being liable to the public, which will have an increasing importance in diplomacy.

Hans Morgenthau

Hans Morgenthau, who is considered the founder of international relations, sees the quality of diplomacy as the most important of all factors which make the power of a nation, since it is diplomacy that brings the different elements of national power to bear with maximum effect upon those points in the international situation which concern the national interest most directly.

He defines the aim of diplomacy as the promotion of national interests by peace and has four tasks in accordance with this aim:

  • determining its objectives in the light of the power actually and potentially available for the pursuit of these objectives
  • assessing the objectives of other nations and the power actually and potentially available for the pursuit of these objectives
  • determining to what extent these different objectives are compatible with each other
  • employing the means suited to the pursuit of these objectives

The quality of diplomacy to achieve these tasks is determined by tradition and institution.

Henry Kissinger

The last diplomatist/writer to be discussed in this chapter is Henry Kissinger. He believes that international politics cannot be seized by only theoretical approach and for this reason the study of history is crucial. For him, diplomacy had a secondary role and is dependent upon politics and statesman. He accepts that the states are the main actors of international system and diplomacy is an instrument in conducting relations among these actors by peaceful means. Although peace and stability cannot be perfect, an efficient stability can be achieved through balance of power system. Order on the other hand, can only be secured through physical precautions. Therefore states have influence as much as their military power.

Diplomatic Relations

Diplomacy has a wide scope with many different actors. Even when states are accepted as the main actor of diplomacy, diplomacy is formed by the characteristics of the state. Nevertheless it is a fact that states have given up some of their powers in favour of other actors on several levels and this led to the emergence of different diplomatic engagements

Diplomacy Between States

In very broad terms it is possible to separate diplomatic relations between states into two, depending on the number of actors:

  • bilateral diplomacy
  • multilateral diplomacy

Bilateral diplomacy defines relations between two states, multilateral diplomacy is relations between more than two states.

Having diplomatic relations with a state does not necessarily mean having good relations. When states go into conflict with each other, diplomacy gets involved in several ways. First of all it is the means of communication between states, they declare their position through diplomacy. If ending the relations is in question, diplmatic missios are called back, but then again this does not necessarily mean that communication between the states has to stop. They can still communicate within the context of diplomacy through intermediaries, or use some non-diplomatic methods like establishing non-diplomatic offices, setting up non-diplomatic local arrangements to deal with continuing bilateral issues and signalling which may consist of subtle hints dropped in leaders’ speeches or a change in voting behaviour on a matter which comes before the General Assembly of the UN.

Multilateral diplomacy is an outcome of modern diplomacy, which came to exist after the Congress of Westphalia and usually functions through conferences. An important step towards multilateral diplomacy was the establishment of League of Nations following the end of First World War. Another phenomena that pushed the development of multilateral diplomacy was the significant increase in the number of states since 1945.

Great Power Diplomacy

A great power is generally described as a state that has influence in international relations. This influence mostly derives from state capabilities such as:

  • territory
  • strategic position and geographical extent
  • population
  • resources
  • military strength
  • political stability
  • strong economy
  • soft power (the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments)

Congress of Vienna and the Holy and Quadruple Alliances were the first significant appearances of great power diplomacy.

Middle Power Diplomacy

The term middle power refers to the states which have neither the capacity nor the claim to be great power but have more strength and influence than the small states. These states are usually accepted to be established democracies, industrialized and affluent economies, managed by efficient public bureucracies with a low incidence of corruption and adopt functional rather than dominant behaviours towards their geographical neighbors. Middle power diplomacy is usually a multilateral diplomacy. This is because they lack the sources to be influential in unilateral and bilateral actions.

Middle powers perceive international institutions as the ideal framework for governing international affairs and strive to provide multilateral solutions to global problems. Because they cannot have the means to develop hard power, they focus on their soft power.

Small State Diplomacy

Being a small state means to have relatively less power in the international system. They usually have:

  • small territory and population
  • low resources and income
  • weak economy and military
  • high vulnerability.

As a result diplomacy becomes more important for these states than is for any other state as a tool for overcoming their vulnerability and weakness. The only way that these states gain influence is to act together. While some of the new states of the post Second World War era sided with one of the superpowers of the Cold War, others chose not to be a part of it and started the Non-Aligned Movement, bringing a new dynamic to the international system.

Diplomacy of Non-State Actors

Non-state actors of diplomacy include non-governmental organizations, corporations, as well as the intergovernmental organizations. The oldest group of actors in this category are the intergovernmental organisations which still is a form of state representation. International organisations usually come in form of regional organisations or organizations that have established on other common ground like common resources, level of economy, proximity on important issues or historical legacy.

In the face of global economic, social, humanitarian and environmental crises as states proved to be insufficient of answering all these problems; non-state actors offered more efficient solutions. This has made them indispensable actors for diplomacy. The diplomatic relations of these actors with state actors is defined by the term polylateralism, which is the third dimension in addition to bilateralism and multilateralism.

Types of Diplomacy

Secret Diplomacy

Secret diplomacy refers to diplomatic engagements that take place without the knowledge of the public. However it does not mean that the diplomatic meetings that occur behind closed doors are secret diplomacy; nor it means confidentiality. In other words, secret diplomacy means that the very existence of certain diplomatic meetings are kept secret from domestic and foreign public.

In some cases, although the existence of the diplomatic engagement is not denied, it is intentionally kept away from the attention of the public. This would be another type of diplomacy called quiet diplomacy.

Conference and Summit Diplomacies

Conference diplomacy refers to the multilateral diplomatic negotiations that take place in international conferences. But this does necessarily mean that all negotiations also occur with the participation of all actors. Bilateral or limited multilateral negotiations also take place among the participants of conference diplomacy. Conference diplomacy can be divided into two according the way they take place:

  • through international organisations which provide a permanent and stable base with wide participation, defined context, established structure and specialized assistance
  • through ad hoc conferences are one-time events that are organized for the negotiation of a given conflict.

A diplomatic conference has eight objectives:

  • to serve as a forum for general discussion of broad or specific issues
  • to make decisions binding upon governments
  • to make decisions giving guidance or instructions to the secretariat of an intergovernmental organization, or on the way in which a programme financed by governments should be administered
  • to negotiate and draft a treaty or other formal international instrument
  • to provide for the international exchange of information
  • to provide for the pledging of voluntary contributions to international programmes
  • to review progress under an agreement or a treaty concluded earlier.

Political leaders have always been determinant agents of diplomatic conferences since the Congress of Vienna, when tsar Alexander of Russia decided to represent his country himself, but their roles have also increased in the meantime, replacing the diplomats in many cases. This had led to the development of a branch of diplomacy called summit diplomacy. It refers to the meetings of heads of states or governments. It can be bilateral or multilateral. It also can be ad-hoc or institutionalized.

Coercive Diplomacy

Coercive diplomacy defines the use of limited force or the threat of using force in diplomatic relations, with the aim of achieving desired ends. This makes coercive diplomacy a type of engagement that differs from the generally accepted conceptualization that diplomacy involves peaceful means in interstate relations. The success of coercive diplomacy depends on the outcomes that are aimed and the way that it is used. Coercion should only be employed reactively to stop or undo undesirable actions already undertaken by an opponent and should be about influencing or avoiding rather than defeating or winning. The most legitimate use of coercive diplomacy is to avoid or to stop armed conflicts and wars

A version of coercive diplomacy is military diplomacy which can be described as the use of force of thread of it to achieve military goals.

Crisis Diplomacy

Crisis diplomacy defines the international efforts to manage and solve a crisis. Armed conflicts or those that carry a risk of turning into an armed conflict is the priority of crisis diplomacy. In such cases the aim is to prevent the conflict or stop it and start a peace process, by finding a solution that would be accepted by all parties of the conflict.

Track Two Diplomacy and Multi-track Diplomacy

Track two diplomacy refers to the unofficial diplomatic activity, presupposing that official diplomacy is Track one. Since it differs from official diplomacy, its actors are also not state officials. This diplomacy type came to be discusses and defined in the 1980s. Joseph Montville defined it as the unofficial, informal interaction between members of adversarial groups or nations with the goals of developing strategies, influencing public opinion, and organising human and material resources that might help resolve the conflict.

Multi-track diplomacy claims that placing all aspects of unofficial diplomacy under track-two makes it difficult to seize whole scope and context of the field. For this reason, multi-track diplomacy offers a multilayer differentiation with nine tracks instead of two. It also foresees a cooperation with official diplomacy. Therefore

  • the first track in multi-track diplomacy is the government,
  • track two is the professional, experienced nonofficial attempts of conflict resolution through NGO actors.
  • Track three is defined as business and consequently carried out by businessmen.
  • Track four is carried out by private citizens.
  • Track five includes research, training and education
  • Track six is activism
  • Track seven is religion
  • Track eight is about the funding of al lthese multitrack diplomacy activities.
  • Track nine is communication and media.

Economic Diplomacy

Economic diplomacy is the implementation of foreign policy by using economic means to achieve political goals or that it is a strategy to promote foreign policy objectives. It increases the negotiating power of a country, with its tool of economic power, which is one of the most important grounds on which an effective foreign policy is now based.

Economic diplomacy takes various forms such as the formation of an export policy, the attraction of foreign investment, multilateral or bilateral level of internal market protection measures and the development of aid programs. State institutions, international economic organizations like IMF, World Bank and WTO are still the major actors of economic diplomacy but private companies, especially multinationals, and individuals are also powerful actors. The influence of these actors in both domestic and international economics have increased considerably. This has led to definition of another type of diplomacy called business diplomacy as part of the domination of markets and international firms.

Public Diplomacy

Public diplomacy defines the diplomatic communication between the traditional actors of diplomacy and the public. By public it is meant foreign publics and the international community as a whole. but in certain cases domestic public also becomes the audience of public diplomacy. This diplomacy type is basically about the image of a state. States care about their image in order to improve their political, economical, strategic positions and relations.

In 1965 Edmund A. Gullion gave a definition of public diplomacy, according to him

Public diplomacy deals with the influence of public attitudes on the formation and execution of foreign policies. It encompasses dimensions of international relations beyond traditional diplomacy; the cultivation by governments of public opinion in other countries; the interaction of private groups and interests in one country with those of another; the reporting of foreign affairs and its impact on policy; communication between those whose job is communication, as between diplomats and foreign correspondents; and the processes of inter-cultural communications.

Digital Diplomacy

Digital diplomacy is one of the newest modes of diplomacy. It is about the technological developments that have transforming effects on diplomacy. Digital diplomacy has developed in several stages defined by vision, rapid technological innovations and organizational adoptions by foreign ministries.

Chapter 2 - The Historical Evolution of Diplomacy: First Practices

Learning Outcomes

  • Grasp the birth of the first practices of the diplomacy
  • Understand the evolution of these practices throughout centuries and differet civilizations

Ancient Diplomacy

The Beginning of Institutional Diplomatic Practice: Mesopotamian Diplomacy

The first system of city-states occured in Mesopotamia between the 4th and the first millenium. In this age the diplomatic system was mainly based on that of Sumerians in the south, Babylonian and Akkadian in the center and Assyrians in the north. Within this system Mesopotamia was characterized by steady interaction basing on both trade and security issues. It looked like a system of balance of power since no single entity enjoyed significiant superiority.

Sumerians were the earliest practitioners of diplomacy. The diplomatic tradition emerged from this site mainly because the sumerians were the civilization which invented writing sometime in the 4th millenium BCE. Diplomacy was used by Sumerians with a motivation to end conflicts through the conventional method of sending messengers with the messages written on clay tablets in cuneiform. Sumerian was used as the lingua franca of diplomacy until the Akkadian hegemony was established in the region.

The first known diplomatic letter was a message sent by the King of Ebla to the Kingdom of Hamazi which shows a similar style of language and contend of modern diplomacy. This letter was not written by the king himself but an official and it was directed to Hamazi King’s envoy.

Babylon, established around 1894 BCE, was another polity which had used diplomacy intensively and effectively in the ancient Near East. Diplomacy as a means of foreign relations was intensified particularly under the rule of Babylon’s sixth and most famous King Hammurabi. He is known for his law code but he also led the establishment of careful alliances which were broken when necessary and through political manuevers, he held the entire region under Babylonian control. There are two documents left to us from that age:

  • Archives of Mari
  • Amarna Letters

We find that in Amarna letters contain information about:

  • Strategic-military cooperation
  • Treaty negotiations
  • Dynastic marriages
  • Trade regulations
  • Strengthtening friendly relations
  • Negotiating alliances

Letters were written in a specific pattern; first they identify who was writing and to whom the letter was written, then report their wishes to the other.

Despite the intense diplomatic relationship between the political entities of the Near East, during the Late Bronze Age fixed embassies never existed. Envoys were sent for ad-hoc purposes: however some diplomatic missions could be extended to more than twenty years.

It should also be noted that the political order of the whole area during this period was structured on divine principles, hence diplomatic relations were thought to be a part of the divine, in other words relations between gods. Therefore, oaths had a profound place in diplomatic conduct; and highest place was given to the swearing moment during the ceremonies. Another general feature of the Late Bronze Age diplomacy was that diplomatic commitments were not concluded between states but between kings individually. Therefore when a king died, agreements or alliances had to be renewed with the new king.

A few centuries after Amarna diplomacy another diplomatic system emerged between Hittite and Egypt. The nuance of the Hittite system was its different formulization which based mainly on treaties. These treaties were concluded either between kings or the Hittite King and his vassals. They were written in a structured pattern and they included the information about the Hittite King, conditions that brought the parties into forming an alliance, reciprocal obligations, a list of witnesses and the rules to be applied in case of disloyalty.

Hittite diplomacy is best known for the first peace treaty signed in 1270 BCE between King Ramses II of Egypt and Hittite King Hattusili III after the battle of Kadesh in Syria.

As the Egyptian and Hittite Empires weakened, the Assyrian state emerged. In order to manage their relations with the powers they were surrounded by, the Assyrians were dependent on diplomacy since their early stages. Their main focus of diplomacy involved military affairs and therefore they had shifted the emphasis away from the general tendency of greeting towards more pragmatic aspects of politics. The most interesting point regarding Assyrian diplomacy was their intelligence gathering activities.

Ancient China

Ancient China is another civilization where we can look for the origins of diplomacy as a system. Their history can be categorized under two different periods which were the:

  • Warring States Era
  • Qin Dynasty Unification

In the first era there was a balance of power system so international relations was based on great power rivalry and ephemeral alliances. Diplomacy was based on bilateral relations and missions related to fleeting alliances including manuevers, secrecy and bribery. Sun-Tzu and his thoughts were influential at this period.

In the second era China’s diplomatic dealing with the foreign world lessened to level of defense and trade issues.

Ancient India

Diplomatic practices were quite systematically designed in Ancient India but they were also quite different from the coexistent systems in other parts of the world. India had very little political connection to the outside world until Alexander the Great conquered its northern regions in 326 BCE. Subsequently with the establishment of the Mauryan Empire had changed the course of diplomacy in India. They were quite active in diplomacy in order to extend their influence both in politics and in religious situation.

The general pattern of diplomacy in ancient India can best be inferred from the work of the famous ancient philosopher and statesman Kautilya. He is widely accepted as the first political realist in history; and in conjunction with his approach to international relations, his account on diplomacy represents the same political realist tone.

Kautilya defined the state system as a ruthless realistic system which was determined by self interest. Also according to him, war is the defining concept of inter-state relations. He defined six forms of foreign policy:

  • Peace: Entering into a treaty; when the state is weaker than the enemy, it should make peace
  • War: Attacking and doing injury, when the state is stronger than the enemy, it should make war
  • Non-Alignment: Staying quiet; when the state is equal with the enemy and neither is capable of harming the other, the state should stay quiet.
  • Seeking shelter: When threatened by a stronger enemy, the state should seek protection from another stronger state, somewhat forming an alliance.
  • Shows of force: When the state is increasing in capabilities, it should augment and mobilize resources to prepare for war.
  • Double-dealing: When a state seeks help for attacking another state, it resorts to peace and war at the same time with different states.

As we can see in his definition of foreign policy strategies of states, the core theme is war and diplomacy is only regarded as an extension of warfare. But he also discussed diplomacy in detail. He classified diplomats in three categories:

  • Plenipotentiary envoys
  • Envoys for specific missions
  • Messengers

In Ancient India, the functions of diplomats were threefold:

  • Declaration of war and peace
  • Forging Alliances
  • Gathering intelligence overtly, and also spying.

Alliances as a Means of Diplomacy: Diplomacy in Ancient Greece

The main source or ancient Greek diplomacy has been the writings of Thucydides. It is widely accepted that the first account of diplomacy at this period was a diplomatic conference held in 432 BCE. As Nicolson quoted from Thucydides, this conference was convened by Sparta to decide with its allies on punishing Athens with war due to its violation of treaties.

A peculiarity of the ancient Greek diplomacy was that they preferred oral messages to written notes; therefore there is not a large archive of diplomatic correspondence left to us from that period. There were three kinds of representatives:

  • Angelos: A messenger used for brief and specific missions
  • Keryx: A Herald
  • Proxenos: A resident consul who was also the ctizen of the city they reside.

Envoys were selected frmo among the prominent members of the state by the city assembly and they were not necessarily qualified people. They were rather chosen for their political stance and for their association with the state which they were negotiating with. Representatives were first expected to show their oratorical abilities. The number of members in a mission ranged from three to ten men and they were given brief instructions such as:

  • ratifying treaties by oral oath
  • inquiring about terms for peace
  • solving a dispute in the interest of the community.

One of the distinctive features of Greek diplomacy was its open and public nature. Decisions were taken and treaties were approved by public debate. It is thus widely accepted that diplomatic representatives in ancient Greece were not negotiators but skillful orators for advocating the given policy.

The Roman World and The Use of Diplomacy

Considering its longevity and organization, the Roman Empire contributed little to the development of diplomacy. This may be explained by their will to impose their policies on others instead of negotiating. This does not mean that diplomacy was unimportant to them. Rather it had an important place in governing their relations with rival states in Italy and in managing their relations with foreign nations after establishing their empire.

In the course of becoming a Republic, many exchanges took place between Rome and its Italian allies and various Greek states. They extended their political influence not only through warfare but also agreements, alliances and treaties. However it is also important to note that Romans used diplomacy brutally, as a method. They forced people to conclude a treaty; and conditions of these treaties were determined on the basis of the community’s power to resist Rome’s demands.

Romans inherited the diplomacy pattern from Greece, but they developed a distinctive method to suit their own needs. Envoys were chosen not for their qualification, since they were given strict instructions prepared by the Senate, there was no need to seek the skills for negotiating. On their return, envoys were subject to report to the Senate and the final decision on the issues which the envoy reported was given by the Senate.

In the imperial period, the most changing feature of Roman diplomacy was the role that the emperor played. Decisions were taken by the emperor and the envoys were met by him in person. Under the command of the emperors, the main function of diplomacy was to achieve agreements and treaties. However the terms were mostly dictated by Rome and there was no tone of reciprocity in treaties. They also developed the practice of taking hostages for the guarantee of the terms. This practice was implemented unilaterally, the Romans never sent hostages. They were well treated unless the terms of the treaty were violated.

Medieval Diplomacy

Masters of Diplomacy: The Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire originally was the eastern part of the Roman Empire and it was one of the longest lasting political entities in history, from 330 CE until the fall of Constantinople in 1453. One of the most important reasons for the empire’s longevity was its use of diplomacy. This was a necessity for this empire for it had enemies on all of its borders as well as a threat of invasion always hung upon them like the sword of Damocles.

Since the rulers of the empire were aware of their military weakness, they first adapted the practices of former civilizations and developed their own way of diplomacy with their political and cultural contributions. For example, they adapted the practices of protocol and dynastic marriages from the Near Eastern civilization, oration as a tool for public speaking from Greece, and the divide and rule tactics from the Roman Empire.

The Byzantines employed a number of tactics, both overt and covert to achieve their aims through diplomacy rather than military force. They were unique in their method of involvement in internal affairs of other countries. For this purpose, the empire initiated a new institution for diplomatic practice, the Bureau of Barbarians.

It was a department of goverment responsible or foreign relations, primarily with the barbarians living on the Balkan Peninsula. Founded in 740, this bureau is the first sample of a permanent office dealing with foreign affairs. The bureau sent envoys on diplomatic missions to barbarian lands in order to gather information from every possible source.

The main motive in the use of diplomacy for the Byzantine Empire was to avoid war, and all diplomatic practice was devoted to this aim.

Diplomacy in the Early Islamic World

Diplomacy in the Islamic World began with the establishment of the first Islamic state in 622 and it was not founded through military means but by a social contract, the Medina Charter. During this time of the Prophet, diplomatic representatives were received, and they were accepted through ceremonies. Gift exchanging was a common conduct of diplomacy as in the previous civilizations and cultures.

The functions of diplomats were:

  • to communicate with other states
  • to conclude an agreement or alliance which was decided previously
  • to arrange the exchange of prisoners and the truce
  • to announce war

In theory, for Islam, the world was divided into two: dar-el Islam and dar-el harb. Dar-el Islam consists of countries where the rules of Islam are implemented and Islamic rituals were performed. The abode of war (Dar-el harb) comprises countris where the religious and political rule of Islam are consequently not implemented; therefore a state of war was always prevalent in these countries.

Chapter 3 - Historical Evolution of Diplomacy: Transition to Permanent Diplomacy

Learning Outcomes

  1. Track the roots of modern diplomacy back to the period starting from ancient times to renaissance
  2. Examine the emergence of certain diplomatic practices such as resident embassies among Italian city states
  3. Note the main aspects of diploatic practices between Peace of Westphalia and Vienna Congress
  4. Examine the emergence of diplomatic missions and specific ministries of foreign affairs
  5. Categorizing the different features of the contemporary diplomacy in late 20th and 21st centuries.

Diplomacy in the ‘Old World’: From Ancient times to Renaissance

Understanding the circumstances that paved the way for transition to permanent democracy requires a quick look at the context of the diplomatic practices before the emergence of permanent diplomatic institutions. Although contemporary diplomacy is considered as a practice of centralized modern state units, interactions resembling to today’s diplomatic practices had existed between ancient states and state-like formations.

On that sense two main characteristics of the diplomacy in ancient times can be noted:

  • Ancient diplomatic practices were not operated through permanent institutions
  • The diplomatic interactions were not constant and institutionalized; they were characterized by intermittency.

Although we consider these practices as the forerunners of diplomacy in the ancient world, it should be strenuously noted that they were not operated through institutionalized structures. For example, one of the main principles of modern diplomacy, pacta sunt servanda, did not exist as an ordering principle of interaction among these local authorities. Therefore, the agreement between two local authorities were being interrupted or abolished when one of the local rulers passed away or the ruling family changed.

As noted above, the main subject matters of the ancient diplomacy were about the general principles of trade and ascendancy talks. It was used as a tool of expanding borders by the stronger parties. Smaller powers on the other hand, saw diplomacy as an instrument of survival by avoiding violent conflict with the great powers of time. Ancient Greek civilization can be considered as the first political context that left certain reliable and copious evidence for a diplomatic system that emerged among equal counterparts and inherited by the later Europan political units as the custom of diplomacy. Collectivity of small city-states, connectivity of them through trade paths and sea routes and the custom about sharing the internal waters provided diplomatic rules and norms quite similar to modern practices of diplomacy.

The main contribution of the Roman Empire was its legal efforts to determine what is internal and what is external. In other words the concept of border was mainly institutionalized and legalized through the efforts of Roman Empire system to determine the territories of its equal suzerainties.

The medieval world also prepared the political context for transition to permanent diplomacy. Drastic fragmentation of the Europle, especially after the Fall of Rome, accelerated conflicts as quite well as diplomatic interactions among the political entities in Europe. When we consider that modern diplomacy’s major achievement is to create a form of interstate society in which a sense of collective identity is built, the medieval Europe can be noted as a political context in which such a collective identity burgeoned. Respublica Christiana was how this collective identity called, although it never turned into an acquired state structure. Within this context diplomatic contacts between the political entities were quite structured, organized and also were built upon a common custom that were adopted from the past experiences. Most significant and novel concept of medieval Europe is the term nuncius. A nuncius is the person in charge who is appointed by the ruler as the voice of the principal in another political entity, an early example of resident ambassadors in modern diplomacy.

Italian City States and Renaissance Diplomacy

Italian peninsula was home to certain developments that impacted the whole European political context, especially in the 15th and 16th centuries. Began in Florence in the 14th century, the period called Renaissance contributed to the developments not only in art, philosophy and science, but also in the conduct of diplomacy.

The political structure of the Italian peninsula was quite fragmented and it was not under the ascendancy of a single political union. It was, rather, composed of smaller city states which were organized as distinct principalities. It can be asked why in the Renaissance Italy, but not somewhere else, did the early institutions of modern democracy emerge. Three important factors can be noted:

  • Firstly, the political equation among small Italian city states facilitated the consolidation of diplomacy as a preferred tool for solution of problems in the Peninsula. Italian City States were in fact feudal units controlled by certain dynasties.
  • Secondly, the common language that is shared by all these small city states served as another facilitator for diplomatic progress in the region. Despite the lack of a political unity among the city states, there was a linguistic unity among them.
  • Thirdly, the small scale political organization due to over-fragmented political structure in the Peninsula rendered some other coercive political tools such as war much more costly and ineffective.

The content of diplomatic practice in the Renaissance Italy was also a facilitator for transition to permanent diplomacy. Diplomatic interactions of the ancient world were built upon quite an intermittent structure and shaped in an issue-specific manner. Yet, the modern diplomacy, which required continuity and constant contact, emerged in the Renaissance Italy. This content focused mainly on:

  • long-term alliances
  • customs union
  • defense against the intervention that would potentially come from non-Italian Europe.

The very notion of “national interest” was suggested as the only and foremost priority of statehood and noted as the ultimate goal of conducting diplomacy, a principle which has been dominating the modern states system for centuries.

In accordance with the aim of keeping constant correspondence, we see that Italian city states were first to invent the very notion of a resident ambassador. A resident ambassador was considered as someone in charge who has the capacity and power to speak on behalf of its state in the hosting country. Therefore these ambassadors were trained for some years in politics, philosophy and other fields before they were sent as envoys to other countries.

Old Diplomacy

Many diplomatic practices that interactions among ITalian city states revealed were also copied in other regions of Europe. The emergence of modern centralized states has been the most significant factor that triggered a need for transition to more continous, organized and constant conduct of diplomacy for European states.

Thirty Years War, which settled through the Peace of Westphalia, was mainly a fight over the status of the principalities from different Christian sectarian backgrounds. The demand of Protestant German-speaking principalities for being treated equal and legitimate by Catholic principalities were met with this peace. In this regard, peace prepared a political ground in which all German-speaking principalities were accepted as functionally equal to each other, regardless of their sectarian orientations.

With this peace, German principalities institutionalized the notion of resident ambassador just like Italian city states did in the 16th century. The British also copied and internalized these diplomatic customs. British envoys were sent to the states of continental Europe mainly after the Peace of Westphalia.

France can be noted as one exception to this. Although France did have envoys and resident diplomatic missions in several countries as early as the beginnings of 16th century, it did not follow the general European fashion to build resident and constant diplomatic missions in European capitals.

Two important diplomatic practices turned into a general diplomatic practice in this term:

  • Firstly, diplomatic immunity was recognized by all parties in Europe as a general principle of diplomacy.
  • Secondly, arrival of a new diplomatic mission to a capital started to be welcomed ceremonially by the host country.

Transition to Permanent Diplomacy

After the Congress of Vienna, permanent diplomacy was a model followed by all European powers including Ottoman Empire. Three main important developments can be noted for the full transition to permanent diplomacy:

  • professionalization and recruitment
  • administrative structure
  • emergence of ministries

Professionalization and Recruitment

After the Congress of Vienna, diplomacy became a distinct subject field and diplomatic career became a specific profession. Actually, this professionalization should be considered as one of the main cornerstones in the transition to permanent diplomacy.

Before the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the diplomatic missions and envoys sent to other countries were expected to be accomodated and funded by the host state.Therefore professionalization of the diplomatic civil servants appeared as a necessity for the continuity and reliability of the diplomatic contact. To this aim European states followed a threefold strategy:

  • Firstly, they allocated generous budgets for the accommodation and expenses of the diplomatic missions sent to other countries.
  • Secondly, the recruitment process was also professionalized in the post-Congress of Vienna term in many European states. The personal relationship between the ambassador and the ruler was seen as the necessart credit for being appointed in charge of conducting diplomacy with another state.
  • Thirdly, ambassadors of the permanent diplomacy were not only seen as the envoys of their ruler. They were also authorized to develop instant policies as a reaction to sudden developments and crisis situations.

Administrative Structuration and Hierarchy

An important cornerstone in the transition to a fully modern and organized diplomacy was to define the posts, hierarchy and structure within an embassy. There was no confusion about the head of the diplomatic mission in a country, ambassador had the highest post in charge. But other posts in the mission didn’t have this clear definition. This lack of definition created problems in administration and difficulties in the issue of espionage. The paperwork and archival documents of the embassy were exposed to the access of any staff member in the embassy which created leaks in some cases.

Another important clarification was about the assigned duties of the embassy staff. The classical distinction between administrative staff and career diplomats was made in middle 1800s. According to this distinction, administrative staff were not allowed to read the diplomatic correspondence, encrypted messages and policy documents of the embassy.

Emergence of Ministries of Foreign Affairs

Today, almost all the states in the world have a specific ministry in charge of determining and conducting foreign policy. Yet this wasn’t always the case. As diplomacy was professionalized and acknowledged as a field which required special expertise and training, the states of Europe also recognized the need for a specific ministry under the government which is solely responsible from the conduct of foreign policy. France was again the first country which initiated a specific department responsible from the foreign policy.

Other European states did follow France and they started to open such ministries one by one, though each of these ministries were organized under different titles and through different models. This variation started to end within the political context of early 20th century due to the tasks of these ministries started to become alike worldwide. Firstly, policy making mission was given to them. Secondly these ministries also given the task of staffing and supporting the missions abroad. Thirdly, they started to coordinate foreign relations especially after the WWI.

New Diplomacy

What is referred as the “new diplomacy” does not constitute a new paradigm in the conduct of diplomacy, but this differentiation aims to emphasize certain new attachments to diplomatic practice which emerged after the Post-Cold War period.

The Cold War context had created a political environment in which security concerns dominated every aspect of the social and political agenda. In such an atmosphere diplomacy was understood as a practice in which states correspond with one another. Yet, the end of the Cold war gradually eased the hard security concerns and opened a space for new actors to get involved in diplomatic practice.

Several aspects have changed during this period. Firstly the nature of foreign policy shifted from a pure state-centric to a more mult-actor and multi-factorial ground. Neack calls this form of foreign policy as new foreign policy and argues that it has these characteristics stated below:

  • Foreign policy is made and conducted in complex domestic and international environments
  • Foreign policy results from the work of coalitions of interested domestic and international actors and groups
  • Foreign policy issues are often linked and delinked, reflecting the strength of various parties and their particular concerns
  • The “stuff” of foreign policy derives from issues of domestic politics as well as foreign relations
  • Foreign policy analysis needs to be multilevel and multifaceted in order to confront the complicated sources and nature of foreign policy.

Secondly, states also noted these changes in the nature of diplomacy and they also developed new strategies to address the new necessities of international politics. Amongst others, public diplomacy has come forward as a new and steady institution within the permanent machineries of diplomacy.

Chapter 4 - Ottoman Diplomacy and Diplomatic Letters

Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain the dynamics, instruments and institutions of ad-hoc Ottoman Diplomacy
  2. Explain the dynamics, instruments and institutions of permanent Ottoman Diplomacy
  3. Analyze the institutional and instrumental impact of Ottoman Diplomacy on the Republican diplomacy

Ad-Hoc Ottoman Diplomacy (1299-1793)

Dynamics of Ad-Hoc Ottoman Diplomacy

Although it was an expansionist power with imperial claims, the Ottoman Empire did not neglect diplomacy in the period between 15th and 18th centuries and conducted diplomatic relations with:

  • Venice
  • Genoa
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • Iran
  • Hungary
  • Austria
  • France
  • Transylvania
  • Bogdan
  • Wallachia
  • Ragusa
  • Georgia
  • Algeria
  • Tripoli
  • Morocco
  • Marrakech

The sense of superiority and powerfulness were important factors in Ottomans’ diplomatic relations in its heyday. Some scholars argue that the empire conducted unilateral diplomacy with these states due to the perception of its dominance over others. In adddition, Ottoman sultans did not care for the support of other states or learning opinions and policies of them in certain issues because they thought that it was a kind of inferiority for them to establish permanent diplomatic missions in these countries.

Under these circumstances major instruments of Ottoman diplomacy until the 18th century were:

  • Amans (mercies)
  • Ahidnames (treaties)
  • Capitulations

For the first time in Ottoman history, Mehmed II granted capitulations to Venetians in 1454 on the basis of existing custom which was derived from the capitulatory agreement between the Byzantine Empire and Venice.

The main objective of the Ottoman rulers through conducting these pragmatic relations with foreign states was to be an influential actor in the European system. Nevertheless the change of dynamics in the European state system with the end of Dark Ages after the 15th century with Renaissance and Reformation movements and geographical discoveries, the Ottoman Empire faced new challenges and started to decline. However this decadence cannot be explained only by external factors. In addition to these, the empire was not ruled by strong and competent rulers after the 16th century and its military system began to decline as well.

Instruments and Institutions of Ottoman Ad-Hoc Diplomacy

Since the establishment of the Ottoman Empire, diplomacy was a significant tool for inter-tribal and inter-state relations. As a part of diplomatic strategy, Ottoman sultans married daughters of chiefs of other tribes or monarchs of the Byzantine Empire. Main objectives of this strategy were:

  • developing friendly relations with other states
  • expanding territories through obtaining them as dowries

Ottomans used Aman system which constituted the basis of treaties and agreements signed between them and foreign states. In accordance with the principles of this system, they signed treaties and armistices for no more than ten years, so they were temporary agreements rather than permanent ones due to ghaza policy derived from Islamic dogma.

Institutionally Ottoman sultans were sending agents or envoys to carry out specific missions in this period. Although they did not establish permanent embassies in foreign states before 18th century, they allowed foreign states to establish diplomatic missions in the empire. Venice was first, then followed by Poland, Russia, France,Austria, The Great Britain, the Netherlands. These envoys were selected based on their social status and language skills.

Permanent Ottoman Diplomacy (1793-1922)

The Ottoman Empire had to adapt the instruments and institutions of modern diplomacy at the end of the 18th century.

Dynamics of Permanent Ottoman Diplomacy

The French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution had serious impact on the Ottoman Empire. Ideas of nationalism, nation-state, equality, fraternity, liberty and justice accelerated the collapse of the empire as well as other multi-ethnic and multi-religious empires. In the face of these reactions the Ottoman rulers had to take some serious measures. In 1839 Tanzimat edict and in 1856 Islahat edict were declared to grant some rights and privileges to the foreign subjects of the empire. The main actors of this process were the Ottoman diplomats Mustafa Reşit Paşa, Ali Paşa and Fuat Paşa who were formulating and implementing Ottoman Foreign Policy in this period. They believed that the empire could be saved through West-oriented reforms and modernization.

Therefore the first Ottoman Embassy was established in London in 1793 and this was a turning point in Ottoman diplomacy. Being aware of the loss of dominance and superiority over the European powers, Ottoman rulers used all instruments and institutions of diplomacy.

Instruments and Institutions of Permanent Ottoman Diplomacy

Ottoman diplomacy had to adapt the rules and instruments of modern diplomacy flourished and consolidated in Europe from the 15th century onwards. The empire became a part of bilateral diplomacy on the basis of mutuality and equality, on the one hand and multilateral diplomacy on the other.

In this period the main motive of the European powers was to prevent the hegemony and control of any one of them over the empire, but as the time passed Ottoman empire began to be considered as the sick man of Europe this policy changed to sharing the empire amongst themselves.

Ottoman ambassadors were chosen among the families acting in the bureaucracy. Most of them were coming from the higher echelons of the society. Missions of the Ottoman ambassadors in the permanent diplomacy period were similar to the ad-hoc period.

Ottoman Heritage in the Republican Diplomacy

The Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic can be said to share the same root in international relations. There are various reasons for this:

  • First of all, the Turkish Republic was established on the same geography, despite the shrinkage of Ottoman territories after the 18th century.
  • Secondly, the mindset of the Republican rulers and diplomats have been shaped by the Ottoman balance of power strategy.
  • Thirdly rulers of the Turkish Republic refrained from wars and they have attached great importance to the solution of problems through diplomacy, just like the Ottoman sultans and statesmen during the collapse period.

All-in-all, the heritage of Ottoman diplomacy can be clearly seen in the dynamics and institutions of Turkish foreign policy and diplomacy.


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