Shifting to the right priorities in foreign policy

TTimes
By TTimes September 20, 2017 12:08

Shifting to the right priorities in foreign policy

Story Highlights

  • Morina cannot be the headline of Albania’s diplomacy, as there are currently a number of very important issues that need attention. These include relations between Greece and Albania -- relations that are stuck into patriotic and populist gear.

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By ALBERT RAKIPI

Albania’s parliamentary commission on foreign relations had its first meeting in the new legislature, and according to media reports, the head of the commission said that the current priority issue is football stadium drone flyer Ballist Morina’s potential extradition from Croatia to Serbia. It is, of course, an issue that can feed the appetites of populist local politicians as a part of the Albanian public is sensitive to it. However, the clear solution is to implement European and international laws on the matter.

It is very legitimate to ask whether the system of justice in Serbia can meet international standards in protecting the rights — even the very life — of Morina. This newspaper believes it would not be a smart move for a trial to take place in Belgrade as there aren’t sufficient guarantees Morina will escape nationalist, populist, even extremist tendencies he is likely to face in Serbia. His very life would be in danger in a Serb prison, an even more important reason not to extradite him there.

On the political side, an extradition would negatively affect bilateral relations between Albania and both Serbia and Croatia — and even between Serbia and Croatia themselves. Already there are conspiracy theories out there that Croatia is trying to worsen Albania – Serbia relations with the prospect of extradition. As such Albanian diplomacy needs to do its job to help Morina return to Albania while protecting its international relations with both two countries involved.

That said, Morina cannot be the headline of Albania’s diplomacy, as there are currently a number of very important issues that need attention. These include relations between Greece and Albania — relations that are stuck into patriotic and populist gear.

Current issues to be solved include seeting the maritime border between the two countries following the collapse of previous agreement as well as the paradox of the ‘law of war’ between the two countries. Then there are issues relating to Albanian migrants in Greece — their pensions in particular. There is of course the Cham issue too, often dealt with a populist approach by Albanian politicians. On the Greek side, there is the recent problem with property rights for ethnic Greeks in Albania, an issue recently raised by Athens.

These are concrete issues, and just a few examples of what’s on the plate. European solutions to these issues should be a priority of Albanian foreign policy. They need substantial solutions — not facades — to be solved in order to to ensure a European future for Albania and the region.

Economic relations with Serbia are almost nonexistent. And while the Government of Albania preaches the spirit of economic diplomacy, it should stop thinking and acting as a representative of Kosovo too, an independent state that cannot be represented by Tirana.

Relations with Kosovo have also fallen in a populist and nationalist propaganda trap. Since its independence, economic relations lack substance and are at a lower level than relations between Kosovo with Serbia. There are plenty of meetings, but very little has been accomplished.

Relations with Macedonia must also be a high priority for Albanian diplomacy as are those with Montenegro.

Meanwhile, it is also important to reflect on relations with Turkey as a return of geopolitics to the Balkan requires a full understanding and potential action from Albania.

The entire Balkan region with its numerous problems must be a priority of the Albanian diplomacy. It cannot be Ballist Morina.

Based on Prime Minister Edi Rama’s recent speech to Albanian ambassadors abroad, economic diplomacy will be the priority. But one could not help but remember the highly critical and humiliating way in which he described the job done so far. As such the foreign policy committee should set as a priority to reform the services and human capacities of the Albanian foreign service, which are currently based on patronage, clans and in everything else but laws and procedures.

 

TTimes
By TTimes September 20, 2017 12:08