Disinterest towards one’s own nationality may be regarded as indifference, but this indifference is nuanced. For example, most of the post-Soviet Koreans who increasingly settle in the EU today seem well-assimilated and unconcerned about their identities, but they still continue to live their deeply ingrained national traditions. National indifference can therefore be dynamically combined with the concept of a ‘dormant diaspora’.
The EU’s cultural policy is characterized by a structural oxymoron: The EU pursues European identity-building via a national framework. While the locus of EU cultural policies is delegated onto co-opted national organizations, the main share of successful identity-building discourse is arrogated by the EU. It is the eternal dialectic between Member States and supranational interests that leads to this institutional conundrum. The EU Prize for Literature serves as an illustration.
Several (post-)Socialist governments established new state awards in the past years, which all carry the name ‘Order of Friendship’. The term ‘friendship’ here is genealogically related to the Stalinist concept of ‘friendship of peoples’. Western political theories, on the other hand, have largely abandoned this appellation in international relations. The burgeoning of ‘friendship orders’ is culturally contingent on a collectivist mindset, while the general popularity of state awards can be attributed to the increasing attention governments pay to public diplomacy.
By exclusively targeting foreign citizens, the Transnistrian “Order of Friendship” is confined to a limited scope: The tiny republic enjoys recognition only by a few Russian-backed breakaway regions. The recipients therefore consist of disputed leaders from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, some Russian politicians with influential NGOs, and a Soviet-era singer whose connection with the Donbass placed him on the EU’s list of sanctioned people. The political logic revealed in the government’s implicit criteria for “awardworthiness” is that of a narrow understanding of diplomacy.