REALPOLITIK FLASH NR. 58
1 – 16 NOVEMBER 2023
On the five major diplomatic events, bluntly in Albanian and with only 1.000 words by the well-known analyst,
Dr. JORGJI KOTE
1.The wrong Kiss was seen on 3 November in Berlin in the Meeting of Western Balkans Foreign Ministers hosted by their German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock. It was in the context of the importance that official Berlin attaches to speeding up EU Enlargement towards this Region and Ukraine. Everything was going ok, until the meeting was suddenly “ stolen” by an impropriate kiss from the Croation FM Radman; while being late for the family photo, instead of apologising, he hasted to snatch abruptly an almost sexist kiss from his German counterpart.
Mrs. Baerbock averted with a lot of elegance a serious diplomatic incident. Nonetheless, the damage remained, the true message of that meeting was “kidnapped” and displaced and its bitter taste overshadowed the said meeting. Apparently, it is high time that the chief diplomats too, even those of EU Member States should also learn how to kiss, especially in such high diplomatic formats.
2. Problematic progress with many BUTS was the message of the Progress Report 2023 released by the EU Commission on 8 November in Brussels for Western Balkan states and Albania. With some moderate progress in some areas, but even that belated, limited, deficient; with many BUTS, ENDS and IFS and other pressing concerns. Not to mention many other points where there was regress, stagnation and even drawbacks as in the fight against corruption, organized crime, democracy, parliamentary control over the Government, the elections of 14 May 2023 with several problems, which were qualified as well managed but far from being “free and fair”. The governing majority will certainly draw the proper lessons, “without hiding like the ostrich” and make the possible promising ameliorations as soon as possible.
So that on 14/15 December, in the EU Summit we could be in a position to ask for the opening of negotiations for the first cluster of chapters and receive a YES in return. BUT, to that end we have to resolve until then the Greek demand to allow the Mayor of Himara Fredi Beleri to swear office; and then let justice make its own work, otherwise, they would tell us “ come back next June or september”!
3. Little benefit, much harm! This may be said right now for the Memorandum of Understanding signed in Rome on 6 November between the Italian and Albanian Prime Ministers, Meloni and Rama on the sheltering of emigrants that would land on Italian’s coasts. We say this since foreign policy is not a matter of marriages, wedding guests, love or even moral debts. It is guided mainly by the sacred principle of costs/benefits or to put it into blunt Albanian « benefit and harm” In this viewpoint, this Memorandum is only the first step, since there is yet a long way with legal, parliamentary and constitutional hindrances until its practical implementation. The only single benefit for us seems to be Prime Minister’s image and of a sort of solidarity by our people, although they were not asked in the least about this major issue. Moreover, at a time when Albanians are massively leaving the country.
But the harms are much more visible and in many aspects; from the arrival of asylum seekers in the Italian costs, their tumultuous trips in the open seas for two days up to Shëngjini, separation from their families, long queues and several procedures and formalities, the decision and legal hidrances until the question without an answer what will happen with the emigrants whose application will be rejected. Besides, both countries have problems with the Convention of Human Rights, Albania’s extra territoriality, the social concerns with those that may remain in Albania and others, in short, it maybe a “ time bomb”
As for its impact in speeding up Albania’s process of EU Accession, zero effect, since Italy cannot dictate its own will to the other 26 Member States. Moreover, this maybecome a backflash for us and prolong even more the accession process due to the above-mentioned and other arising concerns that are difficult to tackle even for larger states. The latter in fact have many years trying to find the proper solution, but they hav failed, because they do not solve things with a “stroke of a pen”as we do. Therefore, one may say that this new idea will produce much more harm than benefits. Fortunatly, it is very likely that it will be “a flash in the frying pan” and wane quicker than Open Balkans and the drafts on Kosovo.
- Parisian Davos! Such was apparently intended to be the sixth edition of the International Peae Forum in Paris (11 – 12 November) under the auspices of French President Macron. The conflict in Middle East was certainly the major issue in the speeches, discourses and research papers there. However, it did not have any international echo and colour. It seems that the french diplomatic attempt to create “ Davos in Paris” did not stick. Even the appeal by President Macron on Israel to stop the attacks against the civilians was rejected by PM Netianahu without any diplomatic prudence. Thus, even that forum was much more to enjoy Paris, its culinary delicatésen and the grandeur of Chanse Elysee! That was all!
5. A moment’s respite! This is how we may characterize the Meeting between President Biden with Xi Jinping in San Francisco on 15 November. After a year loggerheads, attacks, incidents and conflicts it was time for “a moment’s respite” for both sides, indeed. President Xi needs some time to recover from some drawbacks and concerns in the economy and the somewhat tarnished international image after Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and now the terrorist attack on 7 October by the Hamas militants against Israel need a new repositioning of its foreign policy and diplomacy.
Likewise, President Biden just a year ahead of the next presidential elections, with so many problems inside and abroad, the attacks by Republicans about the new budget needs some time to breathe and reflect on his future decisions.
Therefore, a certain pause is necessary for both sides. This was the major message given during their meeting on 15 November. Certainly, it is good news, it means de-escalation of violence and conflicts, evethough temporary, especialy now on the Christmas and the New Year Eve. So a little peace and calm before the political, diplomatic, economic and military storms restart.
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