German Networks in the East. German soft power in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the South Caucasus
In order to implement its interests in foreign, security and economic policy, Germany has employed soft power tools from such areas as public diplomacy and policy for development, culture and science. Contact network building and political lobbying, development co-operation programmes and foreign cultural and science policy are vital for supporting the German economy – which relies heavily on exports – and for the country’s ambition to gain the status of a European centre of technology and innovation, and to have a stronger influence on the EU’s external activity. From the German perspective, priority areas for the application of these tools include: the countries of Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. This is an effect of the geographical proximity and of markets opening up, the indispensability of modernisation for the economies of those countries, the threats to Germany’s ‘soft’ security and the development of relations between the EU and those countries. German activity in those countries is independent of the political situation and is part of a long-term strategy aimed at reinforcing the position of Germany as their key European economic and political partner.