Literature is an integral part of the culture of each country which can create or revive the dialogue between nations. Events focusing on books and literature at large, as forms of soft power, can play a significant role in cultural diplomacy. Τhe promotion of Croatian literature both domestically and internationally has been a primary objective of the Croatian Writer’s Society over the last 20 years. It is a non-governmental organisation, involved in the fields of literature, poetry and research through the organisation of workshops, festivals as well as the publication of scientific journals that gives platform to both Croatian and foreign writers and translators.
The international cooperation of the Croatian Writer’s Society not only with European countries but also with countries from other continents makes its work particularly important in Croatia, as it contributes to the country’s outreach in the fields of literature and publishing. In particular, one of the programmes that have been organised annually since 2013 is the Lit Link Festival. The festival aims to bring together Croatia’s local literary scene with other literary areas by offering activities for both the general public and specialists such as writers, critics, poets, translators and publishers. Every year Croatia hosts writers from different countries with a specific language as the main focus of the events in order to present their personal work.
The ultimate goal is intercultural communication through reading books and interacting with Croatian and foreign literature. For example, this year the festival took place during the summer months in three different locations, in Zagreb, Labin and Rijeka hosting French-speaking authors from Canada, France, Belgium and Switzerland. During the events, the visiting authors were able to get to know the country and interact with the general public.
The long-standing presence of the festival, combined with its wide range of themes and the variety of languages it hosts each year, has opened a cultural channel of communication in Croatia. Literature is, after all, an inherent part of the culture and a source of inspiration for those who work with it. Such festivals create a fertile ground for constructive dialogue by promoting the interaction and collaboration between artists and citizens, and therefore actively practicing cultural diplomacy.
Another benefit of such an initiative is the declaration of interest in promoting and translating works in other countries. Translation is, after all, one of the main ways for cultures to come into contact with each other. It is a cultural product which facilitates the country’s extroversion and therefore does not make the nations isolated. The presence of prominent names at the festival strengthens Croatia’s international partnerships. Literary festivals, creative writing workshops, lectures and scholarships for writers are, thus, orchestrated in an effort to disseminate Croatian literature and poetry.
In conclusion, the Lit Link Festival as an initiative of the Croatian Writer’s Society has a significant influence on the outward orientation of the country’s literary wealth through the presentation and translation of Croatian works into other languages. Whether intentionally or not, the festival in addition to being a meeting point for cultures and languages inevitably engages in cultural diplomacy.