It is our (Romanian) diplomacy behind of the western and central European diplomacy?

I will ask because only this question can bring answers after so many dots scattered by politicians, “braves men of state” which are grieving because of the world who “don’t see us/put us as where we deserve”.

dan-dimaI saw last night at TV how an former Romanian prime minister makes desperate signs to the Polish diplomacy suspected that it sprinted selfish, leaving us behind in dust, in uncertainty and lack of azimuth. The same guy, obviously, now if he would be in a position to have bread in one hand and knife in the other, maybe he would not be rushed to underline the subject and he would be the same impermeable person to the new, in terms of the diplomatic practice. Fatality, all this persons which are at one moment in the top of the system, for their comfort, they try to please the system, indulging in a lethargic dance of habit or making connivance pacts with the system which naturally rejects any form of change of substance.

In principle, I’m agree with this idea… that we need the new techniques in our diplomacy, but I’m not rush to approach that issue from the perspective of the “genius minister” who pass through the FM office. I’ll propose an approach more substantial – Who keep us locked?

We hear from a while, if it happen to be heard, that Romanian diplomacy, I would add even Eastern European diplomacy, need pragmatism, mobility and versatility. Even here, in principle, I would agree, but I always wondered what binds our feet, what blinds us and how we can become more open minded in the diplomatic practice.

Like any declared and deeply passionate about diplomacy (public diplomacy, in my case) I could not resist to scroll thirsty “the doctrinal source ” of the science of Romania’s foreign relations management – “Diplomacy, Schools and Institutions”, work signed by Mircea Malita. If somebody will ask any Romanian diplomat today, maybe with very few exceptions, from the oldest and to youngest ones, they will tell you that “Diplomacy – Schools and Institutions” is the bedside book for a career diplomat. I lived this experience and I would like to hold your attention for a few observations:

First of all, I think it is important to note that the volume appeared in 1970 and will be voluntarily ignored the political biography of the author.

What caught my attention, in particular, were two things – first, that the Romanian diplomacy of the 1970s was strongly focused on the goals regarding the material contours of the frontiers, and the second, that the Romania’s diplomacy ‘70 , and through this book, many years after, was heavily centered on statehood and diplomatic negotiation skills for the benefit and interest of the national state.

Without an too big abuse of the indulgence’s of “career diplomats” , as it can be clear seen, the realities of the moment make almost useless the diplomatic approach of 1970. First of all, the globalization, the key phenomenon of our days and the projection’s of the following decades, send the material border in a marginal zone – the monolithic character of the states and nations, now is a consequence of what today we call in public diplomacy “competitive identity”

The best and the most harsh examples comes from our proximity – Ukraine lose today an strategic territory and the territoriality aspect seems to be perceived by the international community in an area of marginal relevance (although heavily relied by international media) compared with trauma provoked by the aggression that Ukraine suffer in terms of national consequences and its status of identity.

The best argument that supports what I said earlier is that at the last visit of an U.S. high level rep in Ukraine (Joe Biden) the Crimean issue was almost ignored (although Crimea was torn from the body of Ukraine with little time ago and in a manner at least questionable) and the current concern have shifted on another potential danger area – Eastern Ukraine. The aggressor, in this case Russia, strikes Ukraine as an international statement.

Russian Federation , however, goes further – it’s actions didn’t lead to restore an eventually territorial equilibrium ( into the exclusive benefit of Russia) but it invoke the protection of a certain part of the population of Ukraine, which has a certain identity (Russian), which requires a certain desire to position themselves under an umbrella with a similar identity (this time the Russian Federation). So, who is realistic speaking, interested in map contour of the states today? Most likely, only Ukraine remains directly affected of this tragedy, it suffered both material damage and especially damage to the external perception.

We could determine in the last ten years or why not, in the last five years even, a gesture of interest from Kiev to defend and to reinforce it’s identity? Not really – I saw instead that the civilized citizens in Kiev speaking Russian and Ukrainians that “wearing the chest two hearts – one Ukrainian and the other Russian”.

Today the borders matter less and realistically saying, does not matter at all. We often see us lamenting that the biggest part, if not entirely, Romanian banking system belongs to foreigners. What has this reality in common with the meaning of the borders described and interpreted by Mircea Malita in 1970? Nothing!

The things did not stop there – although the globalization and contemporary political system allowed European states to keep their sovereignty somewhat intact, as is the case in Switzerland, we see how the transnational decisions patter freely across the borders of states with regime of borders substantially different from internal communitarian borders. Once the decision to eliminate the bank secrecy in Europe was taken , Switzerland was forced to take this decision although, in pragmatic terms, the banking secrecy remained almost the last their bastion – the country’s last asset in external perception.

Today, in an indisputable reality of dissolution of borders (at least in the EU internal borders) Switzerland is forced to look for a new fundamental lode for developing a credible and competitive identity.

Ukraine, however, will have to wait until the conflict goes off somehow and then, if is appropriate, may try to weave an identity which will offer on the one hand the realistic developing premises and on other hand, a certain security guarantees (including national security).

Romania is a EU country, but it remain in a preliminary zone of taking the decision to enhance the competitive identity, and if this period in which the decision field will accumulate the courage will be too long, I’m afraid that both the developing but even our security will slip into a regrettable and disputable area.

We return to Malita’s bedside book to notice that the diplomacy of negotiation, government’s diplomacy and the diplomacy of exaggerated formalism, ostensibly “the diplomacy of national interest” remain somewhere in a distant past – it’s place will be taken by the diplomacy of pragmatic management of external perceptions, the diplomacy of the specific point objectives of the free world and that bring measurable benefits for the society.

As you very well know, in public is assumed that the states ( European ones at least) have set up their partnerships, the basis treaties , even strategic partnerships , the relationship between states and and the relationship between governments are pretty good and fully regulated , both bilateral multilateral . In these circumstances, someone to claim in 2014 that through ” the art of diplomatic negotiation ” we will be able to persuade Putin to withdraw his troops in barracks , or that we can decrease the trillion Euros difference of GDP between German GDP and any another European country GDP is a disrespectful joke . Moreover it is an obvious proof of foolish to lament today because Romanians and Romania are perceived and placed in an undeserved area and finally to hope that things can straighten through conventional diplomacy and conventional diplomatic practice.

Maybe would not be bad to remind that this is the diplomacy of our days – the proactive management of relationship between your government, your nation and foreign audience from the area in which follow to express certain interests. If you seek to expand a market then you have to win the hearts of your prospective customers, if you want to borrow from another market, then you have to do yourself reliably and attractive for that market, if you want to join a community, then what you have to do is to make that community to need you there and if you want to stay out of the way of danger then you have to turn your aggressor in one illegitimate in front of his own supporters. Which of these mechanisms have been activated by our conventional diplomacy, by Malita’s diplomacy? Certainly nothing!

The changing of diplomatic means the upgrading and a realistic approach for new – with a bold approach and if we got here, with the risk to upsetting my few Poles friends I’ll tell that the Polish conventional diplomacy isn’t better than Romanian conventional diplomacy . An old system, an exaggerate formality diplomatic corps grafted in typology of Malita’s diplomacy as is described in that book appeared in 1970. Which makes Polish diplomacy different is the acceptance of additional diplomacy ( the new diplomacy practice, public diplomacy ) since the 90s when Poland made the first steps along the road of public diplomacy and on responsible management of foreign perception. In addition, the Polish diplomacy has Sikorsky – a foreign minister which comes from outside of the diplomatic corps, dynamic and resourceful man (former journalist) and last but not least a enjoyable unconventional partner for discussions . From this point of view, the comparison with our diplomacy is useless.

So it does not seem pivotal that the Romanian diplomacy was at one time or another shepherded by a particular minister or by strings provided a specific political scheme, does not seem very devastating the fact that in a relatively short time we had many foreign ministers, too many names – the important element is the opening at new which is now overdue.

Today the foreign public is one of the most important players in international affairs and in front of this player we cannot bring with a tightly kept secret counterpart , an conventional diplomat only because the conventional diplomatic speaker suffer from the perspective of credibility at the contact with civil public . So maybe is vital to add that I don’t want to minimize Mircea Malita, his position or his work just because that man was a member of the Central Committee of Communist Party from 1972 until in 1980 or because he was in the top of Romania’s foreign affairs during a period in which here it crystallized an regime antagonistic with democratic regime ( deputy foreign minister between 1962-1970 ) . I’m just describing that Malita in his conventional diplomacy book ” Diplomacy – Schools and Institutions ” – provides diplomatic solutions for past times.

The system must be open and to adopt the new tools that are appropriate for the new types of problems in the management of international relations. Yesterday we were obsessed with border integrity, now we must cultivate our credibility – yesterday we had projected an image of an centralist powerful political state, today we have to design the performance and the identity. With our credibility we shall open our doors whose threshold we intend to pass. Finally, this is the progress.

Dan Dima

CDP – April 2014






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