Trump - horror and shame; as a diplomatic sandwhich, the tale of mediation and 3 diplomatic contraventions!

Realpolitik “ flash”       2 - 18 JANUARY 2021

Dear readers and followrs,

Given the growing interest and several suggestions for this bi-monthly section which we launched exactly a year ago in Albanian, from this day on we are publishing it also in English.

EXCLUSIVELY at ARGUMENTUM, we “ dot the i’s and cross the t’s” in a nutshell on 4 major events by the renowned diplomat and analyst

Dr. Jorgji KOTE *

1. Trump - horror and shame! So it was with the 45th President of the United States! For the first time since 1792, he violated the tradition of a friendly presidency transition; overshadowed Joe Biden's inauguration with attacks on Capitol Hill, arming Washington "to the teeth" on January 20, and so on.

Trump is not a "democratic accident" but a typical phenomenon of neo-populism, right-wing extremism, racism, divisiveness and authoritarianism that seeks to "sit down cross-legged" in the temple of world democracy.

The question "What happened" requires endless analysis, programs and explanations. In the meantime it is required a comprehensive in-depth by the 46th Presidency for the US to remain at the helm of democracies and world leadership. As for Trump: "Never, never again"!

2. “As a diplomatic sandwich” This is how Albania finds itself between Greece and Turkey; they have been for long involved in a “ political “ tug of war”. The reception of Prime Minister Rama with all honours and glamour in Ankara and in his private residence by the Greek counterpart Mitsotakis cannot hide this reality. Needless to mention the well - known advantages and and achievements in the relations with them, let us say that with its neo-otomanism Turkey intends to expand on a wider scale, especially in the Balkans, thanks to its privileged positions there; in face of Greece that has publically announced that it intends to refrain these trends and protect the counties with a moslem manjority! Ankara promises aids and investments, but it wants from us to hand over the gylenists, as an example for others to follow; whereas with Athens we have a heap of burning dossiers to deal with - law of the state of war, ethnic greek minorities, properties, not to mention the Çami issue. Meanwhile, Athens has in its own hands the keys to Brussels for the accession negotiations. Then there are the Greek-Turkish loggerheads in the Mediterranean fot the sea and Hydrocarbours, while they are opponents in the Middle East also with NATO allies.

Meanwhile, Ankara does not want the issue of Ionanian Sea be filed to the Hague; hence, it is to be expected that all stones would be moved to delay the Hague and even cancel it througgh procedures. Whereas Athens wants the opposite; it presses on for the Hague, so that in thee Hague it would catch up or compensate what it lost in 2009 in Tirana, after the principle “ strike the iron while it is hot” As it was also seen during the visit in Athens and Ankara, in exchange they do also offer “ bets” and electoral bonuses “in kind”.

Therefore, to avoid being pressed in - between like a sandwhich and negative reactions at home, PM Rama is trying to keep the balance by tightrope walking now that 25 April is less than 100 days away.

3. The tale of mediation: Actually, the mediation role was coined to shut up “ bad mouths” regarding the “ hot potatoes” with these two states at home, to pacify Brussels, to overshadow the Hague, the delay negotiations, the Mini-Schengen and such alike. Let us openly say that this mediation is a” fairy tale”; since there are big powers and outstanding international statesmen that have not succeeded. Because this is not an issue of “ reconciling two leaders or states that are not on speaking terms”; neither are they short of conference rooms and capitals to meet in Tirana. Not in the least! In fact, we are talking about major geo-political problems, crises and interests of two actors/factors carrying big weight; we are not only much smaller in size, but in the last 30 years we were and remain first class beggars! With the least reliability; not only due to the lack of experience, but mainly because of the mess we have in our own house! Thus, for insance, in the last 7 years, despite glamour and fuss, nothing substantial was achieved with Belgrade; as to Mini - Schengen, it became a “ bone of contention” even among ourselves.

Most importantly, in the last 15 years, were and remain in a “ conflict of interest” with Greece on the Sea, which does also affect Turkey. Thus, a Prime Minister as mediator may jeopardize our domestic interests, produce negative public perceptions for alleged detrimental concessions just for the sake of the mediation success!

Yes, we could hold such a position when and if the UN, EU, OSCE or the Council of Europe agrees; however, due to the above-mentioned facts, this is a mission impossible for us. All international mediators are former foreign ministers, premiers, presidents and ambassadors coming from large states - Carter, Bild, Holbrooke, Kisinger, Ahtisaari; the latter comes indeed from a small country as Finland, however, Helsinki is widely known as the “ world capital “ for the most important negotiations. He was also UN Deputy Secretary General and career top diplomat. True, there are also mediators from a couple of other smaller states; yet, they are members of the EU, on whose doors we have been knocking for many years just to open the negotiations! Look, we cannot even mediate between Sofia and Skopje, again due to this “ conflict of interest” related to the said negotiations.

Finally, yes we can be a sort of diplomatic messanger, to give and take through demarches what someone else is saying or even to take some chestnuts from the diplomatic charcoal. But that is all! Therefore, Rama is wise in not mentioning this role, although he has not denied it. Because such an imaginary mediation sounds nice music to his ears.

4. 3 diplomatic contraventions were the accusations that PM Rama recently without any ethics and with a sharp tongue against Russia, the EU and France. Well, the Russian offer “Sputnik” could be refused, but in a fine way and at least with a diplomatic “ No”; just as the Rusian Embassy reacted with courtesy and regret for our side. Or the practical lecture on the “ABC” on diplomatic communication delivered by Putin and Merkel in their phone call on 6 January; Merkel accepted in principle with her characteristic ethics the Russian vaccine and urged bilateral cooperation in manufacturing and distributing the vaccine. Unfortunately, instead of learning from these cases, PM Rama used surprisingly enough even a bitter language against the EU and France, although they do not owe us even a pence. Now, however right we may have and whatever faults from the EU and its member states, issues like this one are dealt with effectively through the several diplomatic channels in Tirana, Brussels, Paris and elsewhere; but, never turn them into repeated “ public loggerheads” Even less when we claim to be first - class beggars!


© Argumentum

*Dr.Jorgji Kote is a graduate for English language and Economy from Tirana University. He was also trained in the USA, Austria, Greece and Egypt for international relations, economy and media. Besides teaching and interpreting, he has served for 15 years as expert and Director in the former Ministry of Foreign Trade.
During the period 1997 - 2017 Dr. Kote was Counselor and Minister Counselor in the Mission to the EU in in Brussels and Berlin; Chief of Section in the Foreign Ministry and then in the Embassy in Belgium/Luxembourg until his retirement.
In the last 15 years, he has written many books in Albanian, among them “Berlin without walls” “ Diplomacy for all” and in English “ True Stories from Red Albania” besides over 400 articles on major diplomatic issues in the daily press.  He is also Member of the Council of Albanian Ambassadors.