Albania And Kosovo Without A Strategy For Diplomacy And Career Diplomats – OpEd


Albanian diplomacy on both sides of the national border, between Albania and Kosovo is currently faced with enormous challenges.  The domestic and international level of criticism has increased recently pertaining to the deplorable diplomatic corps of both governments.  Among those voices there are some cogent and professional experts that ought to be taken seriously, while others are unprofessional, politically outspoken and amateurs speaking before overblown press conferences.  

Just like in Albania, as well as in Kosovo everyone participates on matters of international politics and diplomacy in the very same way as they poke their noses in football games.  If we observe continually and carefully the international politics and the media, it is clearly ascertained that there is a narrow team of government professionals across the world that are highly trained in dealing with matters of foreign policy and international diplomacy. This is certainly common sense. 

Over the last months, in Tirana, Pristina and in other centers of expertise in International Politics and Diplomacy we have seen that voices of criticism have rapidly exacerbated.  In this context are included the neighborly relations, challenges of ethnic Albanian minority communities in the Balkans, the alarming stagnation of cooperation with European Union and its individual member countries, international image and fractured reputation of both states, weaknesses in public diplomacy, serious failures in economic diplomacy, meager potential in negotiations and other problems connected to them.  

The problems in the two Albanian states’ Diplomacy emerge especially on two aspects:  in Kosovo are evident in the dialogue with Serbia for the normalization of relations through an overarching final agreement that is accepted by both parties and ensured, guaranteed by EU and USA; in Albania is visible a weak posture in the dialogue with EU and its individual states regarding all aspects of integration.

Sadly enough, it is easily observed even through simple scientific methods and observation that Tirana’s and Pristina’s officials have not prioritized nor paid a much-needed attention towards diplomacy.  Let alone that diplomatic service and implementation of foreign policy are considered as chiefdoms of political rewards, nepotism hotbeds, victims of shortsighted games, spontaneous solutions without any professional long-standing strategy.

In Tirana and Pristina a professional diplomatic leadership with a national and international reputation has been missing for years.  In Albania is uncertain as to who is in charge of the foreign policy and diplomacy.  Formally in charge of the diplomatic service is Prime Minister Edi Rama, who is also the leader of Government, as chairman of the committee handling the natural emergency of the recent earthquake (November 26th, 2020), he is in charge of the team fighting COVID – 19, leads the disgraceful education reform, running the ongoing judicial reform, and many other matters.  

While harboring a visible autocratic leadership style and narcissistic overall the Prime Minister Edi Rama has completely paralyzed the institution of foreign policy and diplomatic services of Albania.  He glazes a public statement here and there, takes an initiative from the top without any connection or international coordination, shows off his gulley as Chairman in Office of OSCE and they evaporate without even taking shape.   

In order to only explain himself, but also to ignore on purpose the diplomatic potential of Albania and, in acquiring without any doubt a popular pseudo-nationalist posture, Rama has appointed Mr. Gent Cakaj in charge of the country’s diplomacy, who has turned – and for this I am terribly sorry to say but it must be emphasized due to majeure national interests – into a comical reference in the media and public opinion of Albania as well as being totally ignored in the international arena.  There is no prosthesis Deputy Minister who can sustain and uphold the Minister in Charge of Foreign Affairs appointed by Prime Minister Rama. 

In Pristina for many years Mr. Hashim Thaçi and his party, with a propensity of war generals in his team has totally monopolized the Foreign Policy and Diplomacy of Kosovo.  It appears that Thaçi and his political-nepotism concoction not only failed to establish Kosovo’s foreign policy and diplomatic institutions but have clearly destroyed even those very few organizational structures and effective human resources that were inherited and built with a great sacrifice in Kosovo.    

Thaçi and his political – nepotism concoction have completely paralyzed Kosovo’s Diplomatic Service.  The Former Commander, former Chairman of Democratic Party of Kosovo, Former Prime Minister, the incumbent President Hashim Thaçi has appallingly failed to consolidate the Foreign Policy, Negotiations’ Posture and Diplomacy of Kosovo.  Thaçi’s statements, his press conferences, thoughts, public opinions and actions in Foreign Policy and Diplomacy are his genuine expression of ignorance, lack of knowledge, gross irresponsibility, arrogance and became a galumph bureaucrat.  

The brazen Foreign Policy and yawping Diplomacy have also taken away Thaçi’s very few contributions he had grappled over the years, for some he is veered as an awful public figure and for many others he is simply a buffoon.  To complete his parody with Kosovo’s Diplomatic Service, over the last years, at the helm of the Foreign Service Thaçi appointed Mr. Behgjet Isa Pacolli, a highly successful international businessman, but without any ties to Foreign Policy and Diplomacy.   

The legacy of Mr. Pacolli’s leadership in Kosovo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is overwhelmed by many blunders. There was not a single success, to avoid the withdrawal or rejection of Kosovo’s Independence Recognition made by various countries. There was headway towards securing Kosovo’s membership in regional organizations and international agencies, a stand still was experienced in the country’s overall integration, in fact we have no tangible results from the public diplomacy and ongoing economic integration negotiations of Kosovo.  Therefore Mr. Pacolli was in and out of the Ministry just like a puppet that was heavily relying on the political imbroglios of Thaçi and his nepotism concoctions throughout Kosovo’s public service structure.  With oracle – like clarity, Thaçi has thrived to be Conspiratory Diplomacy’s bespoke cookie.  

Regrettably neither in Tirana nor in Pristina their respective Foreign Policies and Diplomatic Services are underestimated and heavily subjugated.  The two leaders: Edi Rama and Hashim Thaçi, have entered in politics and are in their final chapters of public leadership and still cannot understand the importance and weight of Diplomacy in the fate of these two small states and the Albanian nation.

The role and weight of diplomacy is heavily conditioned by the size, power and international status of a State that it represents. States like Albania and Kosovo are with a small size, limited power and irrelevant status in the shaping of international politics and global decision-making. Therefore, in away the diplomacy of small states, such as Albania and Kosovo cannot depend on their territorial size, power and international status of those countries it represents. 

Meanwhile the challenges of small countries are overwhelmingly huge.  The asymmetry of tremendous challenges and size, power and limited status of small states, for Albania and Kosovo it is fundamental to provide a special attention and a priority to their diplomatic actions.

Albert Einstein emphasized the great weight that is carried by the diplomacy of small states.  He noticed that the smaller was the state the better its diplomatic service must be.  The power of diplomacy compensates the inevitable limits of a small state.

When we talk about diplomacy, we consider the diplomat himself who is exercising this profession.  During the period of Albania’s transition into democracy and Kosovo’s state formation the image of Albanian diplomat has been ignored in a unparalleled fashion.  In the field of diplomacy more than anywhere else, has come out the exact prediction of Prof. Esat Stavileci who noted that “in Kosovo the leadership is failing to build a solid state, in Albania are failing to keep a state…”

Diplomacy is its diplomats.  The missing of a consolidated status, the abrupt, unprofessional hits of politicians, the influence of conflict of interest, the meager investment towards professional training, the lower wages have hit really hard the establishment of career diplomats in Albania, and in Kosovo the diplomatic service is absolutely absent.  

Consequently, today we are going through a deep crisis in the qualification of career diplomats in Albania and Kosovo.  And this calamity happens at a time when the two countries need highly qualified diplomats more than ever before. In Kosovo they are required to lead the intricate, complicated negotiations with Serbia, which President Thaçi and his political-nepotism concoction has plunged them into chaos.  In Albania, highly qualified diplomats are needed lead the extremely difficult negotiations with the European Union and its member countries so that Tirana can become a full member of this club, the inception stage of these negotiations has already been ruined by Mr. Edi Rama and his puppet Gent Cakaj. 

Today is urgently required the drafting of a new strategy for the creation and consolidation of well-prepared diplomats in Albania and Kosovo.  This strategy must clearly define the profile of Albanian diplomats that are needed for the two countries in this millennium.

I believe that Albanian diplomats in Tirana and Pristina must have advanced skills in public speaking, knowledge in strategic communication, equipped with advanced postgraduate degrees, have ingrained knowledge of history and political philosophy, acquire an encyclopedic culture, must have a long term political vision, guided by prudence and wisdom, should have a strong character, embrace cordiality, maintain a sustained pressure and be polite in negotiations; a diplomat must be at the highest levels of ethics and morality as well as apply an attractive dress code that demands respect.

This profile Albanian diplomats must shape and consolidate through the establishment of a new strategy assigned to the development of Albanian career diplomats on both sides of the border and throughout the embassies that represent these two governments across the globe.

The newly shaped Government of Kosovo, with only 55 days into office, under the leadership, stewardship of Prime Minister Albin Kurti initiated a series of radical reforms in the diplomatic service.  These effective measures started to reshuffle diplomats and ambassadors from one country to another.  These kinds of actions are needed.  However, a great level of responsibility is required when human resources in diplomacy come into play. Shaping a strategy must come first, then movement of diplomats must immediately follow.  Furthermore, the appropriate training of diplomatic personnel must come first and then implement their changes into the diplomatic posts.  The diplomatic reform must be shared with the public, then actions should follow.  Otherwise we may have a gross repetition of the mistakes committed by Thaçi and his cronies in the political-nepotism concoction, who terribly ruined Kosovo’s cradle of diplomacy at its very early stages.  

Meanwhile in Tirana we don’t a single movement, at least in public, while reforms are out of the question, when it comes to the preparation of the Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Institution in charge of the negotiations for membership of the country into the European Union.  European Diplomacy is the oldest, the most conservative with a top-notch professionalism in the world.  EU Diplomacy is accordingly much more complicated.

Albania secured a green light to begin the negotiations with EU, but its government is not taking the appropriate measures to begin this process.  In addition to fulfilling in time the conditions placed by the EU, Albania must urgently prepare its team of negotiators and experts that will be representing the country in Brussels.   At the center of negotiating teams are diplomats.  And on top of these diplomats is needed a capable diplomatic leadership, well educated, with a vast experience and a steady responsibility for a long time, since the membership negotiations process between Albania and European Union will be extremely long and tedious. 

Albania and Kosovo are two small states facing great challenges.  Such an asymmetry can be handled well, swiftly and successfully with a modern diplomacy, professional diplomats and sustainability of their human resources. Small countries need a greater platform of diplomats and distinguished ambassadors, in order to successfully protect their weaknesses due to their territorial size, resources and irrelevant influence in the international arena.

This analysis was translated from Albanian Language by: Peter M. Tase

*Prof. Dr. Lisen Bashkurti is the President of Albanian Diplomatic Academy in Albania. Prof. Dr. Bashkurti is the Global Vice President of Sun Moon University in South Korea. As a distinguished scholar of international relations he has received many international awards including: A “Gold Medal” for his research on US-Albanian Partnership,” “Four Silver Medals” for his great contribution during his service as Albania’s Ambassador to Hungary (1992-1993); appointed as “Peace Ambassador” from the International Peace Foundation, United Nations (2009). Prof. Dr. Lisen Bashkurti was a keynote speaker in the “Intercultural Dialogue and Innovations in Diplomacy and Diplomatic Training” of the Dubrovnik Diplomatic Forum in Dubrovnik, Republic of Croatia (2011, 2012, 2013). He is the author of more than 18 books that cover a range of issues including: International Affairs, Negotiations and Conflict Resolution, International Diplomacy, Multilateral Diplomacy and Diplomatic History. He is an honorary professor in many prestigious European Universities and an honorary fellow to a few prominent International Institutions.  Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lisen BASHKURTI is the Dean of the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences, Epoka University,Tirana – Albania.  Previously Prof. Bashkurti has been a Chancellor of various universities in South East Europe and served as Senior Adviser of International Relations to several governments. Prof. Lisen Bashkurti is the author of “Crumbled Bridges of the Balkans” a book published in the United States, in 2016.

Dr. Lisen Bashkurti

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lisen Bashkurti is the Dean of the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences (FLSS), Epoka University, Tirana, Albania. In 1992-1993, Bashkurti was the ambassador of Albania to the Republic of Hungary.

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