By: Anastasia Nikitinskaya*
Dear ladies and gentlemen, my name is Anastasia Nikitinskaya, and I’m your captain on this blog today (Enjoy your flight!).
I am one of the eight lucky people, who were chosen to participate in the IKV Pax Christi Crash Course on Nuclear Diplomacy. After starting off with a bang by holding a workshop with amazing scholars a couple of weeks ago, the Crash Course proceeded on bringing us into the world of nuclear diplomacy. We were invited to the Dutch Ministry of foreign affairs to meet with people, who are responsible for the Dutch policy on nuclear arms. After attending this meeting, I hereby present you everything that you always wanted to know about nuclear diplomacy (but were afraid to ask).
Rule №1: never underestimate the power of coffee
Let’s face it: we all are caffeine addicts, and that is terrible. However, the love to coffee could be exceptionally beneficial to the fresh and young nuclear diplomats, especially when they all gather together over a cup of hot vanilla latte to discuss the strategy of the important meeting. What if you are very drawn to the situation with “nuclear exhibitionist” North Korea, while all your colleagues want to know more about the Dutch approach to Iranian problem? Such coffee gatherings help you decide on collective priorities and accents that should be made during the conversation (also, caffeine will keep you alive in case the meeting lasts too long).
Rule №2: RTFM
So, here’s the thing about diplomats: they love acronyms. To me, a student of International Relations, this makes perfect sense: if in the essay instead of “NPT” I had to write “Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty” every time I wanted to refer to it, I would die. But when a charming, but very professional Ministry worker that seats across from you at the round table (I felt like a Lancelot at the moment, not even kidding!) keeps on introducing more and more acronyms to his speech, it is hard not to lose track of conversation. Someone really has to create some kind of a special poem to remember all of the acronyms, ASAP! My point is: before you go to meet the diplomats, learn their language.
Rule №3: divide and rule
Acronyms, of course, are not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is: diplomats have an amazing ability to talk for hours while not revealing any relevant information (I honestly suspect it is in their job description). Our amazing host at the Ministry was very professional and eager to answer our questions (and some of them were rather straightforward and uneasy), but at the same time very careful not to give away too much. What makes the nuclear diplomat awesome? The ability to divide everything the other side says by two, and single out the new drops of information that somehow might have slipped from their tongue. In other words, divide the info and rule the world!
I hope that these simple rules (and other blogs that will follow) will help you in the uneasy task of becoming awesome nuclear diplomats. I and my amazing fellow Crash Course participants are definitely on the way!
* Anastasia Nikitinskaya is a Master student in Political Science and International Relations in Leiden University. Her interests are: human rights, arms control, social media and questionable humor.