A new future for old empires?

Christian Hütterer

When European mariners discovered the world and founded colonies all over the world, they also brought their languages into these regions. When the colonial powers collapsed, this did not make much difference, because in many states which had become independent the languages of the former European sovereigns were used further on. In the present essay, on the basis of the French and Portuguese languages, the question is analysed which consequences this global linguistic heritage has up to the present day. The francophone and lusophone organisations are based on these two languages and represent the global framework for cooperation in various fields. During the first years of their existence, cultural coperation were in the limelight, but in the course of the years their fields of activity have increased considerably, and now comprise security-political topics as well. In the first chapter of this essay, the rise and fall of the French and Portuguese colonial empires are basically depicted. This is followed by the description of the foundation and development of the two global organisations. Then, security-political topics are reflected upon, especially the question which roles francophonia and lusophonia play with conflict-preventing or peace-keeping measures. Additionally it is to be depicted whether France and Portugal use these two organisations in order to extend their international influences in the sense of soft power. At the end of the essay, a comparison of the two organisations is supposed to demonstrate which contributions to the international security can be made by linguistic-cultural organisations. Both the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa - CPLP) were founded on a linguistic basis, and the common language of their members gives the countries where the language originates a special role within the framework of the organisation. The results, however, are variable. Whereas the superpower France uses its undisputable and central position within francophonia, it is more difficult for Portugal, which is much smaller, and with Brazil has a powerful rival within the organisation, to draw a maximum possible profit from its central role in lusophonia. Both francophonia and lusophonia are very much present and embedded in Africa. At the moment, however, it is difficult to foresee how the roles of both states as former colonial powers will develop on this continent. On the one hand, the African Union decided in the course of ist 2019 summit in Niamey to extend and intensify the cooperation of the African states in various fields, including security policy. As a consequence, the involvement of non-European powers in Africa would not be necessary any longer. On the other hand, France and Belgium tried during missions in Sahel as well as in the Great Lake Region to involve the European Union and ist member states, which resulted in a loss of importance of francophonia. Finally, one has to watch which effects the growing Chinese influence in Africa will have on OIF and CPLP. Thus, the two linguistc-cultural organisations are facing several challenges. One will see whether language and culture are strong enough to let outlast the existing ties.