In the beginning of thisessay, we should mention diplomacy as concept which has role in the worlddevelopment. Nowadays, one of the famous definitions is made by Hedley Bull. Heargues that diplomacy can be defined as “the conduct of relations betweenstates and other entities with standing in world politics by official agentsand by peaceful means” Bull.
1997:156. On the other hand we have Watson’sconcept of diplomacy as process of negotiation between political entities whichacknowledge each of other’s independence Watson. 1984:33. However, throughthose two concepts we can understand that the main role of diplomacy is tomaintain international order and to maintain the change of the society. Withthe widening of the studies, different types of diplomacy have appeared such aspublic diplomacy, economic diplomacy, commercial diplomacy, etc.
Furthermore, in the recent years in thepublic sphere can be noticed the appearance of another type of diplomacy- theso- called “digital diplomacy”. Thisapproach to the society is still new and its concepts are not widely developedyet, but it is considered as revolution in the practice of diplomacy. This wayof conduction the international relations changes the way of how differentissues, strategies or negotiations will be pursued in future. There is strongopinion that digital diplomacy should be understood as extension of the softpower and public diplomacy concepts. However, Marcus Holmes defines digitaldiplomacy as a “strategy of managing change through digital tools and virtualcollaborations” Bjola,C. & Holmes, M.
2015:15. On the other hand digitaldiplomacy has been used interchangeably with other terms that includee-diplomacy, cyber diplomacy or twiplomacy, which target its exclusive onlinedimension and nature. Digital diplomacy has been presented also as the useof the Internet and information communications technology in order to carry outdiplomatic objectives Hanson 2010, or to solve foreign policy problems(Foreign Commonwealth Office 2012) Bjola,C. & Holmes, M. 2015:35. This approach of today’s interaction between institutions already started tohave its supporters and its skeptics. As Sabrina Sotiriu summarize, “the maindebate around digital diplomacy has boiled down to issues of change versuscontinuity with respect to the traditional forms of conducting diplomaticrelations, whether bilateral, trilateral, or multilateral” Bjola,C. , M.
2015:37. On the one hand of the barricade is Alec Ross, who acceptsthat digital diplomacy should, and is meant to, complement, not replace, thetraditional practices of diplomacy. His vision is that twenty-first century isan era for using the technologies, the networks and the demographics to advanceforeign policy goals and that digital diplomacy is the main statecraft of thistime1.Another point of his view towards digital diplomacy is that the nature of howdiplomacy can be performed with changed power structures and new technologicaltools.
It won’t replace traditional diplomacy, but will give new set of tool. Furthermore, Ross argues that in futuredigital diplomacy will be considered just as diplomacy and nothing more andthat the shift towards digital tools will prevail and the whole governmentcommunication and international relations will be based on them. On the otherhand we have one of the loudest skeptics of digital diplomacy- Evgheni Morozov.
He argues that technological developments cannot and would not be able tosucceed in opening up the world where off line/traditional efforts fail. Hisconcerns have also stressed that diplomacy is, or should be, one element ofstatecraft that “should not be subject to the demands of ‘open government’Bjola,C. & Holmes, M. 2015:40.
Alongside, Morozov argues that digitaldiplomacy cannot be considered as solution to every problem in the world andfurthermore, points out that “aligning themselves with Internet companies andorganizations, Clinton’s digital diplomats have convinced their enemies abroadthat Internet freedom is another Trojan horse for American imperialism” Barton2012: 19.However, digital diplomacyis strategy that most states take into serious account. After the 9/11 attackthe first Taskforce on eDiplomacy was established in 2002 under Secretary ColinPowell. In 2003, the task force was reorganized into the Office of eDiplomacy.The main programs of theState Department are Dilopedia, Communities @ State, State’s OpenNet network,The Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) program and other, which work forthe digital development of the state institutions. Another important role intothe implementation of this diplomacy into the government is UK. The countryestablished Office of Digital Diplomacy in its Foreign and Commonwealth Office.Since then the office has developed different digital strategies which are usedas an example.
More and more countries start to use different digital tool todevelop their international relations. One of the most developed policiestowards this tendency is Kosovo.In the beginning of 2008,Republic of Kosovo declared its political independence from Serbia after theKosovo War of 1998 and 1999. Since then it has gained diplomatic recognition asa sovereign state by 114 states including most of the EU countries Canada andUSA. However, Russia, China andIndia, Spain, and almost all of the South American State refuse to acceptKosovo’s new status. Moreover, Serbia still claims the region as one of its autonomousprovinces. After the proclamation of independence, the country started its owndevelopment.
One of the steps was to gain online independence. However, theInternet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) refuses to grantKosovo its own country code top-level domain (ccTLD). This refusal emphasizethe notion that Kosovo is not fully recognized as independent country, and itforces Kosovo to run its Internet traffic either under “foreign flags” orrouted through third countries. However, a ccTLD is not just a symbolic indicatorof independence.
Through the existence of private ccTLDs, Kosovo would controlan essential part of their information and technological infrastructure thatcan affect telecommunications, power grids, banking, and electronicsurveillance. National governments recognize the internet domain as a componentof their sovereignty and a vital national interest. Furthermore, through itsdomain, Kosovo can emphasize its independence and to create stronger connectionwithin its neighbors around the world and therefore to pursued them torecognized the country. Today, despite its lack of online independence, Kosovohas broken most technological ties with Serbia, mainly with the support from USgovernment.
Furthermore, Kosovo started to create different campaignspopularizing Kosovo as sovereign country and nation through its history andculture in the online sphere. The country made its first steps towards usingonline activities for the purpose of nation branding. There are several important actors focused onthe worldwide popularization of Kosovo’s history, culture and desire forrecognized independence. One of them is the IPKO foundation. In 1999 the organization wantedto bring the country online by September after the war. Soon this projectachieved popularity, and with the help of UN soon managed to deliver thefirst free onlineconnection. Theorganization established connection with Cisco Systems, with organizations in Sweden, England and Norway.Today, the foundation is cornerstone of the Kosovo economy and it works for campaign like “Wiki Academy”, “Appcamp” and others.
There are several important actors focused on the worldwide popularization ofKosovo’s history, culture and desire for recognized independence. One of themis The IPKO foundation. In 1999 the organization wanted to bring the countryonline by September after the war. Soon this project achieved popularity, andwith the help of UN soon managed to deliver the first free online connection. The service increased in several departmentsat the main hospital, libraries, other university departments, and local andnational civic organizations.
Since 2000the IPKO foundation remains an independent nongovernmental organization,governed by Akan Ismaili. Furthermore, the founders continued working or thedigital development. They found the institute’s first partner in Cisco Systems,whose internationally recognized Cisco Networking Academy trains people toinstall and maintain computer networks of all types. Thereby, the IPKOInstitute became the first private educational institution in Kosovo.Alongside, the foundation increased its contacts to Sweden and England. Today,the foundation is cornerstone of the Kosovo economy and it works for campaignlike “Wiki Academi”, “App camp”, etc. Other very active participant in the country’s popularization is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
It works hardfor the digital development of the country as the main goal is internationalrecognition. The Ministry works and supports IPKO’s projects and works closelywith foreign institutions for achieving its goals. Kosovo MFA has teamed up with NorwegianEmbassy, British Embassy, British Council, USAID and Kosovo internetorganizations and activists in presenting and implementation of the newNational Strategy on Digital Diplomacy. This is one more step towards thepolitical progress in the process of Kosovo’s integration into the EuropeanUnion. MFA Kosovo has cooperated with communication experts from the English Foreign &Commonwealth Office (FCO) in planning a very in-depth strategic framework thatseeks both recognition of Kosovo in online infrastructure, as well as improvingcontent originating from Kosovo. Furthermore, the Norwegian MFA is supportingthe implementation of various activities with additional financial assistance.USAID has also confirmed support for implementing of some of the sections ofthe Digital Diplomacy Strategy. To achieve its fully independence MFA Kosovo isstill struggling with the dispute with Serbia.
During the years, Kosovo, withthe help of European countries and institutions, tried to start negotiationsfor normalization of relations between the two countries. Big step towards thatare the signed on 19 April 2013 landmark EU-brokered agreements – usuallyreferred to as the Brussels Agreements. These agreements guarantee that Serbsliving in northern Kosovo will have their own police and appeals court; on theother side, none of the two countries will block the other’s aspiration inseeking EU membership. However, the Brussels Agreements do not recognize Kosovoas an independent State. The region is still claimed by Serbia as part of itsterritory. In spite of that, the agreements open the door for furthernegotiations. It’s no secret that Serbia is a candidate to becoming the 29thMember State of the EU, and this Agreement has been a propeller for accessionnegotiations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also started online campaignswhich are launched with the idea to secure and promote peace within the countrybetween religious communities.
This initiative, called “Interfaith Kosovo” isbased on Instagram competitions, sponsored by the Norwegian government, andWikipedia training camps for children. It is basis for in-depth discussion anddevelopment of “cutting- edge tools in promoting interfaith dialogue to resolvereligious differences that in recent years evolved into violent extremism” Schwartz.2015.
The importance of digital diplomacy is strongly emphasized by the Ministry.The former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Kosovo participated activelyin the campaigns either with financial or structural support. For him theseinitiatives mean connection- not only reconnecting with relatives around theworld, but boosting the economy and bringing innovation and prosperity,something that can be defined as part of the nation-building process. Kosovo’s people also have key role in the digital diplomacy. Throughcivil society fuelled diplomacy, Kosovo has seen extraordinary progress in openingcommunication channels of interaction and influence across five EUcountries—Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain—that still hesitate torecognize Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state. Their advocacy has beenso successful that members of parliament (MPs) and Kosovo’s Minister of theEnvironment and Spatial Planning have taken up their causes.Thereby, the digital diplomacy was expressed by different projects likeDigital Kosovo Initiative, Kosovo Diaspora Agency, Wiki Academy, App Camp,#InstaKosovo. I will briefly describe those initiatives with connection to thenation- building process of Kosovo and the fight for recognized independence.
Digital Kosovo is a new initiativepowered by IPKO Foundation, with the support of the Republic of Kosovo Ministryof Foreign Affairs, British Council and the Norwegian Embassy. The DigitalKosovo platform helps us integrate Kosovo into the digital landscape. It isworking to improve Kosovo’s inclusion in the global internet infrastructure, aswell as using online communication channels to improve perceptions of Kosovo insupport of the country’s economic, cultural and political developments. Theinteresting part is that the platform gives also possibility for individuals togive their share of ideas and support. Everyone can send a request to websitesand institutions using templates from the website. These templates includeconcrete information and details needed for the particular institution to takethe request into consideration. Some of the successes are that Microsoft addedKosovo to its list of supported countries. Now, Microsoft product users cancorrectly identify themselves as users from Kosovo; the website AliExpress haveadded Kosovo to their list of countries and now support shipping for themajority of their products to Kosovo after Digital Kosovo platform made someefforts to contact them.
The results can be seen on their website: 86Institutions have added Kosovo to their list of countries, and not onlycommercial websites, but also universities, airports and connection platforms.One of the significant achievements of Kosovo’s digital policy is the Facebookrecognition from 2013. According to the social media the disputed territory ofKosovo is a “country”. While Facebook’srecognition might not be the same as the UN’s, Kosovo officials are stillpleased at the status update.
Kosovo’s Deputy Foreign Minister Petrit Selimitold the New York Times that “being recognized on the soccer pitch and onlinehas far greater resonance than some back room in Brussels.” Additional to theseefforts, Digital Kosovo is trying to persuade Google to include Kosovo onGoogle Maps, but for now this goal is not achieved. Gradually, other initiatives also work for the international position ofKosovo. – Kosovo Diaspora Agency (KD) isa crowdsourcing digital engagement and diplomacy platform that connectsKosovars to the world, and makes links between Kosovo and its diasporacommunity. KD uses social and online media to highlight and celebrateachievements of individuals, groups, and organizations related to Kosovo. As well as twitter, Kosovo is using also Instagram platform to promote itsstory. The government created “#InstaKosovo “competition which is a way tosupport Kosovo’s digital diplomats around the world in promotion of the youngrepublic as New Europe.
Another platform is Wiki Academy. This Academy exists in order toimprove the quality and quantity of online content on Kosovo to better representKosovo to the world. The Academy will bring together active online citizens andcontent experts and help them develop into skilled editors and mentors to writehigh quality articles and source high quality photos regarding Kosovo incategories such as culture, heritage, social issues, geography, institutions,economy and tourism. The participants would learn the basics of researching andwriting articles while creating novel contributions about Kosovar arts,culture, or sports- subjects slightly more removed from the third rail ofpolitics and recent history.Alongside with that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo,along with its partners, the British Council, IPKO Foundation, and NorwegianEmbassy opened the competition for developers of applications for Android andiOS platform, intended for the global market and aiming to promote the Republicof Kosovo in new technology platforms. According to the former Minister ofForeign Affairs, Petrit Selimi this is one of the first steps in implementingthe Digital Diplomacy National Strategy, which is supported by numerous donors.Additional to Facebook recognition, some diplomats expressed their feelingstowards different diplomatic events through Twitter.
Kosovo Minister EnverHoxhaj said on twitter- “The oldest state in the world, Egypt, has officiallyrecognized now the youngest state in Europe – Kosovo,” in 2013, when Egypt hasbecome the 100th country to recognize Serbia’s former province of Kosovo asindependent. Also the US Ambassador toKosovo Greg Delawie congratulates Kosovo and its Prime Minister for theachieved recognition. As well as posting comments, the former Prime Minister ofKosovo is one of the active World leaders in Facebook. Furthermore, Twitter is used as promoter ofthe online campaigns and is considered as the main place for governmentalinstitutions and politics to express their policy or opinion.
InBurson-Marsteller’s 2017 Twiplomacy study, Kosovo is 31th place in the ratingfor “The best connected world leaders for 2017”. Considering Kosovo’scomplicated case, this is one of the factors which show Kosovo’s DigitalDiplomacy Strategy success. Furthermore, the strategy is one best in the world and it was recently rankedfourth in the world for its digital diplomacy efforts by the Turkish diplomaticpublication Yeni Diplomasi, following the United States, the United Kingdom andIsrael.
Digital diplomacy is a vital tool of diplomacy if Kosovo wants to buildits international position and to persuade non recognizing countries to changetheir current stance, to improve the overall perception of Kosovo and topromote Kosovo’s economic, human and cultural potential. Emphasize on theestablishment of Digital Diplomacy Strategy helps the country to go out of theboundaries put by the regional conflicts in the region. The campaign Saatchi& Saatchi2conducted various surveys to examine the image of Kosovo abroad.
Two outcomeswere significant: on the one hand, Kosovo was scarcely known as a country, andon the other it had negative connotations (e. g. war, criminal, poor, corrupt).However, the efforts from the government might change that view. This type ofdiplomacy, whatever definition is used to describe it, is one of the newest andhelpful ways to change the global prejudices and opinions.
The digitaldiplomacy will enhance the opportunities for development and will provide closeconnection between politicians and people. Furthermore, will stimulate thecooperation between institutions and therefore will act as global platform forcreating new ideas, ideologies and movements. Different, from public diplomacy,digital diplomacy enhance the two way communication, dialogue relationships,collaboration, interaction and contribution around the world. Even dough itstill does not replace policy, content, or the traditional media, digitaldiplomacy soon might become the norm in the international relations.