A New Era of Economic Diplomacy?
By Genc Mlloja
Albanian Daily News
Published September 9, 2017
Today's diplomacy is characterized by economic interdependency of different countries as economy has become the decisive element in international relationship. It has, in many cases, become the determining component of the level of relationship among countries, especially of regional ones, and more often it dictates direction, content and intensity of political relationship among them. As a result the economy has got the central role in diplomatic activities. We are witnesses to the fact that the boundary between traditional political and economic diplomatic activities is becoming ever thinner. There is nothing to be surprised that now it has been proved that the economic diplomacy has expanded beyond the conventional limits of its scope and field of activity.
Albania and the region where it is located, the Western Balkans, are a concrete example of these times how diplomacy at the highest levels has been put in motion to make work the initiative known as the 'Berlin Process', the Western Balkans Economic Cooperation (WB6), sponsored by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and launched in 2014, having also the strong support of EU.
In a determined way the highest levels of diplomacy of these countries did not let things in words but the 'Berlin Process' continued on an annual basis in Vienna, Paris, Trieste and lastly in Durres, Albania, in an informal Forum in August organized under the auspices of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.
Are we witnessing a part of what Mr. Rama as Albania's Prime Minister in the second mandate of the Socialist Party government has as ambition in the field of diplomacy and economic diplomacy in particular: the improvement of the role of Albania's diplomacy trying to make it an important tool in the economic relations with other countries, a practice used worldwide?
"The country's economy is an area that the Foreign Ministry can no longer consider beyond its functional responsibilities and obligations," said Mr. Rama at a meeting organized with the ambassadors and consuls of Albania around the world under the motto: "Our Foreign Service's new role in the Economy of our Country".
The government head was harsh last August at that meeting in his expectations about how much had Albania's diplomacy been able to live up to the demands of the country's economic and financial reality in a context of foreign relations with a reality that evolves more and more rapidly and imposes fundamental changes in the way of thinking and action. "I will answer on behalf of all of you: Zero!"
But Mr. Rama was very much aware of the challenges that the service had faced over the years, as well as of the obvious shortcomings that are still present in some aspects of its functioning.
"Times have radically changed. Geopolitics has accelerated and is accelerating every day and everywhere around us. The continent we live in is troubled. Globalization has affected, even broken, early balances, accelerating the establishment of new and often seemingly threatening balances," said Rama among other things warning that the transformation which had started was epochal.
Albanian Daily News has asked some politicians, economic experts and media analysts on how much the 'Rama 2' government will be able to deliver with regard to this sensitive issue of Albania making it particularly an attraction for foreign direct investments.