Countries wield both “hard” and “soft power” to achieve political, economic and other ends, not least in the area of foreign affairs. Soft power relies on persuasion and attraction, and those entities with the best access to varied communication channels through which to project a positive self-image and frame issues enjoy greater credibility and more success in setting the agenda than others.
Most discussions of soft power in Central Asia focus on the use of soft power by Russia, China, the United States, and other entities to influence countries in the region. This Occasional Paper, the sixteenth published by the Eurasian Council on Foreign Affairs entitled “Soft Power of Central Asian Nations in the 21st Century: Heritage, Modernity, Aspirations”, refocuses attention on soft power resources in Central Asia, and offers suggestions as to how they can be further developed and leveraged into real power.
The Paper considers several sources of soft power – history and culture, tourism, education, and communications – before concluding: “all five Central Asian states have soft power assets that they hope to strengthen in conjunction with their efforts to satisfy their [Sustainable Development Goals] commitments and by other means. Some have a better developed soft presence than others – or have leveraged it more adeptly”, while noting that subpar scores in rankings measuring the indicators of soft power “[underscore] how much is yet to be achieved.”
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