The evaluation of the Slovenian “honey diplomacy”

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The analysis of the foreign policy strategy behind the successful initiatives of Slovenia for the protection of bees and other pollinators set an example of a possible way for the diplomacy of a small state to make the state active, visible, and significant in international relations despite her dimensions. This extract describes the main results of the analysis of Slovenian honey diplomacy.

In the last few years, Slovenia managed to make more Slovenian initiatives connecting to the field of apiculture, internationally known, accepted, and appreciated. These are generally bottom-up ideas coming from for example the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association, however, the Slovenian political leadership, the Government, or the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food of the Slovenian Republic usually back and represent them at the international level. The “Honey Breakfast” event has been organized every third Friday in November since 2007. The goal of this initiative is to promote honey consumption among children and to raise their awareness of the protection of bees, pollinators, and their environment. The Republic of Slovenia successfully initiated to transfer of this Slovenian good practice to “European Honey Breakfast” in 2014. The “World Bee Day”, which was officially adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations was also proposed by the Republic of Slovenia. The Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association initiated to plant bee forage plants on 26 March 2022 establishing this date as the “Day of planting honey plants”. The Slovenian diplomacy asked other states to join the initiative. As a result of this campaign, several entities from different states demonstrated their support already before the dedicated day.

Considering the dimensions of Slovenia, it can be defined as a small state.[1]Neumann, B. Iver-Gstöhl, Sieglinde (2004): Lilliputians in Gulliver’s World? Small States in International Relations. Working Paper, Institute of International Affairs – University of … Continue reading If we compare the Slovenian foreign policy with the defined strategies of small states in the relevant scientific literature, it can be alleged, that in terms of the Slovenian initiatives for the protection of bees and other pollinators, the Slovenian foreign policy follows the typical small state strategies, like specialization and/or prioritization.[2]Steinsson, Sverrir-Thorhallsson, Baldur (2017): Small State Foreign Policy. The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics (Oxford University Press). Slovenia consequently and of high priority represents the protection of bees and other pollinators and their environment. Furthermore, Slovenia follows an image-building and coalition-building strategy connecting to the mentioned fields as well. These are also characteristics of small states strategies. The image-building could be also generally significant for relatively young states, like Slovenia. This image policy could emphasize the characteristics of Slovenia, like extensive areas of forests with their rich biodiversity or the traditional economic activities on her territory, such as apiculture.

It is also important to underline, that the protection of bees and other pollinators, and the protection of the environment are also significant factors from the perspective of security policy.[3]Buzan, Barry (2016): People, States & Fear An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold War Era 25th anniversary. Colchester: ECPR Press. pp. 296. For example, more than three-quarters of the leading types of global food crops rely to some extent on animal pollination for yield and/or quality. Due to primarily climate change and human activity pollinators are in danger nowadays, which causes risks to food security. For instance, in Slovenia, the honey self-sufficiency rate fell from 112% in 2000 to 44% in 2019.

These Slovenian campaigns already have some positive results. According to the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association for example due to the Honey Breakfast campaign, the awareness of children, teachers, and the general public was raised towards bees and the environment. Increased the number of children who participate in beekeeping clubs at schools. The number of young beekeepers and the consumption and sales of honey and other apicultural products also increased. Organic beekeeping has been spread in Slovenia. Although the analysis did not research the connection between the campaigns and honey trade, these activities could have had an impact on honey sales as well. For instance, it is interesting to note, that the export of Slovenian honey has significantly grown in the last few years. The growth rate of honey export in Slovenia was 323% between 2015 and 2019, which is a preeminent performance in regional comparison.

 

The change of honey export between 2015 and 2019 in Slovenia and the neighboring states

Own elaboration based on the data of World Bank World Integrated Trade Solution

Ádám Sashalmi, PhD student at University of Pécs, Doctoral School of Earth Sciences;
he is the Head of the International Economics section of the Külügyi Műhely online academic journal.

References

References
1 Neumann, B. Iver-Gstöhl, Sieglinde (2004): Lilliputians in Gulliver’s World? Small States in International Relations. Working Paper, Institute of International Affairs – University of Iceland.
2 Steinsson, Sverrir-Thorhallsson, Baldur (2017): Small State Foreign Policy. The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics (Oxford University Press).
3 Buzan, Barry (2016): People, States & Fear An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold War Era 25th anniversary. Colchester: ECPR Press. pp. 296.

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