In 2013, Karel van Wolferen, influential scholar and publicist on international political and economic affairs, delivered the 12th Europe Lecture. The theme of this lecture was 'Europe in the World'. Former president of South Africa F.W. de Klerk i also gave his view on the position of Europe in the World during this lecture. Both speakers were introduced by Bernard Bot i.
Karel van Wolferen (1941) is an influential scholar and publicist on international political and economic affairs. In 1989 he wrote a standard work on Japan, its economy and its place in the world. It is one of his many books on Japan.
Karel van Wolferen believes that Japanese contemporary socio-economic history may provide valuable insights to the rest of the world when tackling certain societal issues. In his more recent work Karel Van Wolferen has shifted his focus more towards the United States and their relationship with and their influence on the rest of the world.
What does the world think of Europe? It does not much dwell on it, I am afraid.
Our continent is not doing much that makes it an entity about which one should have an opinion at all, except for its undeniable significance as an enormous market. Diplomatically it is virtually invisible; it is not a powerbroker, and it does not offer ideas about good international living that reverberate in other continents.
When Japanese, Chinese, Americans, and I suppose people from Africa and South America think about it at all, they do so as an area they may want to visit because of its sublime concentration of tourist attractions; in that respect there is no place quite like it.
When serious observers of international affairs think of Europe they most likely regard it as a realm of unrealized promise.