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Publication - "Sovereign Liechtenstein: The Soft Power Projection of a Very Small State

Dr. Kevin D. Stringer, of the Faculty of Business and International Relations at Webster University, recently published Sovereign Liechtenstein: The Soft Power Projection of a Very Small State through the Centre for Small State Studies at the University of Iceland. His research paper was also aided by the Embassy of Liechtenstein to the United States, particularly by Tamara Büchel-Brunhart. Dr. Stringer's research paper discusses various aspects of Liechtenstein's economic strength, diplomacy, and nation-branding efforts and explains the disparity between Liechtenstein's small size and the influence it maintains.

Dr. Kevin Stringer, Chair and Associate Professor, Walker School of Business & Technology at Webster University.

While Liechtenstein possesses few natural resources, lacks a military, and has a small population, it has been able to maintain its sovereignty and establish itself as an important global actor through soft power, which includes diplomacy, information, culture, and economics. Liechtenstein meets its foreign policy goals through multilateral and bilateral cooperation, through organizations such as the UN, the WTO, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the European Economic Area (EEA), the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Liechtenstein’s knowledge resources have proved valuable to the UN and the Security Council and it has taken a leading role on reforms and human rights issues.

Regarding bilateral relations, Liechtenstein's relationship with the U.S. is especially important in the business and security sectors. The U.S. remains Liechtenstein's greatest bilateral trading partner, and in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Liechtenstein made a renewed effort to combat terrorism and criminality, specifically regarding terrorist financing and money laundering.

An interesting aspect of Dr. Stringer’s paper is his comparison of Liechtenstein’s nation branding efforts to that of a company, with an image representing five significant images of the principality: openness to the world, successful financial center, highly developed industry, diverse cultural life, and a vacation and recreation country. Liechtenstein has also invested in an attractive website and an expanded diplomatic network, which has allowed the previously little-known state to reach a much larger group.

Through its informational power, including branding, public diplomacy, and research expertise, Liechtenstein has been able to offer much more to the world than its size would imply. Liechtenstein has drawn attention to its artists abroad, including pianist Jürg Hanselmann and poet Mathias Ospelt, as well as its own rich history to strengthen its cultural power. Economically, the attractive business climate, highly skilled work force, robust trade, and financial services presented in Liechtenstein have created a strong economy with even greater opportunity to grow, while fiscally sound policies have earned the principality a AAA credit rating from Standard and Poor’s, zero national debt, and healthy reserves, an especially remarkable accomplishment given the past several years of recession, crisis, and spiraling debts.

Liechtenstein’s Ambassador to the United States, Claudia Fritsche noted that the paper provides a “very impressive, comprehensive overview of how Liechtenstein’s foreign policy regards the country’s small size and limited resources as an opportunity".


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