New Spirit in Albanian Diplomacy?
By By Genc Mlloja
Albanian Daily News
Published April 21, 2015

The insistence of the Albanian government that its diplomacy and the Albanian people must be seen differently, not as second-class Europeans, has already become the main topic of many pronouncements of Prime Minister Edi Rama.

This observation becomes valuable because of the fact that it is the head of the executive himself - and not the Foreign Minister - the one who is talking about these relations, repeatedly daring to point out flaws and "laziness" in the behavior of EU bureaucracy towards Albania and beyond, the entire Western Balkan region.

In fact, Mr. Rama has given a new dimension to this diplomacy insisting on the project of the unification of Albanians, of Albania and Kosovo, under the umbrella of EU integration, and if this fails, then this will be an initiative of Albanians themselves.

In a recent interview for Sky News Arabia, he said: "I have said that unification is an inevitable thing and I believe that this will happen in Europe". On the other hand, the Prime Minister mentioned the second option as well. "The other way is possible too if Europe does not intervene in its strategic calculations on Balkan countries and changes the looks of the region," he said.

Having a modest diplomatic career, which can now be considered as during the communist regime, but also the "luxury" that as the Editor-in-Chief of Albanian Daily News to be in contact with domestic and foreign diplomatic circles, I suggest that more individuality must be taken into account for a diplomacy based on the national interests of Albania.

I don't hesitate to say that the entire political class of Albania has behaved towards diplomacy as something which has treated its strategic alliance with the USA, NATO and the EU as untouchable. It's undisputable that this has been and will remain the greatest priority of foreign policy and Albanian diplomacy irrespective of which political force is in power in Tirana.

But when we talk about the active diplomacy, or rather about the economic one and diplomatic actions, they certainly have their shades of meaning often in conformity with interests which by someone may be seen as small and without profit, or as if they threaten strategic alliances. Alliances, as the practice of international diplomacy has shown, have many clauses, among which duties as well, which revolve around the main axis. But when this axis becomes an almighty and obligatory power, then we no longer have to do with specific diplomatic features in conformity with national interests.

"New Spirit in Albanian Diplomacy" is the title chosen for this editorial which got its inspiration from a Facebook post of the Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Selim Belortaja, who wrote as follows:

"I am not a career diplomat. But about seven years of work with diplomats teach you something, don't they? The first chronic problem which I have noticed for more than 20 years: our diplomacy still remains as an... ideological diplomacy! Ideology and formalism, fear and conformity, the care to be "... politically correct"! They have dried and stiffened our diplomacy. They have removed the juice, the talent, the realism, the pragmatism and... the effectiveness. There is no doubt that this diplomacy of receptions and "after-the-event" leaves us behind. At a time when the USA has relaxed its relations with Cuba, Iran, and others, we cry out: "What's with us and Iran? Still with Arabs...? "Again with China?!" The best diplomat is the one who murmurs "correct phrases"! And the one who... does not do protocol mistakes! In short, the one who keeps chewing over decades!! Good news that Minister (Ditmir) Bushati is sensitive towards this aspect. And there is a move... to shake things!"

The number two of Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Mr. Selim Belortaja belongs to the Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI) which is led by Ilir Meta, the Albanian Parliament Speaker, a former Foreign Minister during the time when this political force was in power in an alliance with the former Prime Minister of the Democratic Party (DP) Sali Berisha.

At that time, Mr. Meta was one of the promoters of a diplomacy which was valued for its regional and international multi-dimensionality, being among the first highest official to visit Belgrade when Ivica Dacic was Foreign Minister, considered as a hawk of Serbian foreign policy against Kosovo. After talks with him, Meta stated in a joint conference that Serbia must recognize Kosovo's independence.

Similar to this, people know of the efforts and achievements of a real campaign for the recognition of Kosovo during the time of 'Meta' diplomacy, something which has not happened during the last two years.

'The move to shake things' in the diplomacy forewarned by Mr. Belortaja of the SMI seems to me as welcomed news for Albanian diplomacy. It shows that Parliament Speaker Ilir Meta, the ally of Prime Minister Edi Rama, is revealing and developing his parliamentary diplomacy, which excludes nobody in this global world, including strategic countries in the world stage such as China and Iran.

Albania has no time to lose with protocol mistakes of any kind by any institution, let alone by its MFA!

Diplomats who are considered as better, as Mr. Belortaja puts it, just because they murmur "correct phrases" and do not make protocol mistakes, do not serve the rhythm that time demands, the domestic, regional and international developments, at a time when the world is getting shocked by the financial and economic global crisis, as well as a terrorism which knows no boundaries.

Through these 'murmuring' diplomats, Prime Minister Edi Rama cannot achieve his project for the unification of Albanians, because such a thing needs diplomatic work, besides the propagandistic side. This is necessary because such a national project has encountered the negative reaction of internationals and it is understandable that Serbia is at the head of this campaign.

'The move to shake things' in diplomacy forewarned by the Foreign Deputy Minister of Albania is news which must be welcomed and applauded.

This is the right time, which was accurately synthesized by the distinguished French politician and professor, Jacques Attali in an exclusive interview for Albanian Daily News on April 17, 2015, when he said that now it is time for Albania to become itself as a nation, and choose its own way.

"Albania should work to launch the 'Albanian Dream' which is something of real value," was the conclusion drawn by Mr. Attali, the special advisor to the former President of France, Francois Mitterrand. This dream can be achieved only through visionary, brave and professional diplomats. And Albania has enough of these people.

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