Published on: 17 November 2017

Speech of minister Bushati at the opening of the proceedings of the “Meeting with ambassadors” event

 

17 Nëntor 2017

Tirana Business Park

 

Ladies and gentlemen

Dear colleagues Mimi, Klotilda and Vasilika

Today’s meeting comes at an important moment of democratic transformation and economic development of the country.

It would not be excessive if I remind you that Albanians have given us a solid mandate for an active foreign policy, which demonstrate continuity and at the same time adapting to the needs of the country.

We live in an era where security, development and welfare of our citizens, is inextricably linked to developments beyond us.

We are all interconnected and interdependent in terms of an international order in mutation, where the unpredictability, instability and lack of a strategy to face the challenges of the Forth Industrial Revolution prevail. This will create not only new opportunities, but also great challenges.

This rapid development of communication technology is quickly sweeping the boundary between internal and external issues.

This implies that the orientation of our foreign policy, in addition to the traditional objectives of exploring classical diplomacy, should be focused on the economic and developmental aspect.

If the goal of traditional diplomacy is peace, then the goal of economic diplomacy is peace through development and prosperity. The best example of this is the European Union, where welfare and cooperation between countries in the function of economic development, has provided the greatest longevity of peace and security in the history of our continent.

Actually, almost every political issue carries an economic dimension. Many political disagreements can be solved by interwining politics with economy. It is this dimension that should remind us of external service, that we cannot be only consumers, but primarily contributors to the economic development of the country.

There is often a wrong contravention between values and interests, as if they were exclusive of each other. Consequently, a diplomacy based on values and an economy based on interest should not be should not be mixed.

I think that interests should derive from values. Albania has many values for which, it needs to be recognized by others through our promotion. The “Marubi: exhibition, the “Colours of Albania” competition, are a promising start, but we will still make progress in transmitting our values to other people.

This promotion is not done in vain or in an improvised manner.  It requires a whole new approach by implementing schemes and formula to efficiently promote Albania where they do not know us. Or even worse, promote it to people who have a bad image of Albania.

We have to overcome ourselves and what we can do best, so, verbal notes, telegrams, and diplomatic and consular communication among the similar. We have to acquire skills that respond to the needs and reality we live in, interconnected and dependent on developments outside us.

Out of curiosity, before I came here I flipped through materials, statements which come as a result of reports that you, dear colleagues, bring from where you work. In fact, I can say that I was sad to learn that from an important country in Asia only in October we had only a report on consular matters.

From another important country in Asia, which is quite aggressive with the economic policy with which Albania has a traditional relationship, we had only six consular reports, three of which were consular, and the other three were administrative. Not to mention here the Persian Gulf countries, which I have mentioned several times in my analysis.

It is indispensable that we learn from the best experiences of similarly sized countries, but with a more progressive vision and greater sensitivity to the consequences that our daily work, treaties, agreements and diplomatic ceremonies have in the lives of people and communities.

Here, we can empower existing diplomatic instruments such as: bilateral economic commissions, regional and international initiatives such as the Berlin Process and the initiative of cooperation between China and Central and Eastern Europe (16 + 1).

This is just the abc of our diplomatic work: we must integrate organically into our daily work, a new vision for the mission that we have been assigned.

How can this be translated into concrete steps?

First, turn our diplomatic missions into valuable information centers. Turn them into one-stop-shops that serve to people and promote the business opportunities in Albania.

Second, improve radically the quality of human resources. It is essential to adapt it to the needs of the country where we are represented. I mean a modern diplomatic service needs skills and not just CV or rank.

Third, we must strengthen the networks of honorary consuls of the Republic of Albania. A good part of the occasions are considered as a favour.

Fourth, we need to combine our human resources and knowledge of external service with innovative and modern communication methods.

Social media are the most meaningful example of new high quality and low cost communication methods in a world of interconnected human relations. Within a few years we managed to turn from an inexistent actor to a point of reference for many other networks of individuals and organizations by being active in FB, Twitter and Instagram. We are also the first country in the region which has an application devoted to both consular services and travelers abroad.

However, technology cannot replace man. Therefore, the fifth, and this is directly related to the idea of our need for better networking and communication: our missions must create and nourish relationships with the world, with the societies where they work. This includes structured communication with the media, universities, the world of thought, and individuals who shape public opinion in their own countries.

Sixth, it is crucial to know the sensitivities, what is of interest to us, and which country Albania would take economic advantages of and benefit from. For example, there must be one reason why our neighbor Montenegro imports citrus from Latin America and not from Saranda, why some of our agricultural and fishing products fail to penetrate or promote the EU market.

I have the impression that the list of questions  I ask myself every day such as what can I do better in Denmark, what can I do better in the Netherlands, what can we do better in some of the capitals of EU member states where we want to cultivate closer political and economic relations, might be much longer.

So I expect each of you to think, propose, initiate, and conceive how to improve cooperation with a number of countries that are strongly tied to our interests and political views, but we know little or have no knowledge about the economic and developmental aspects. 

This also means having an analysis on what is produced and exported from Albania in order to create synergies that work. We need to engage in establishing contacts with companies whose profiles fit the advantages of the Albanian economy, organize meetings and visits, and bring as many investors to Albania.

Seven, let’s consider the cross-border areas and Albanians who live in the region, as economic, human and development potential. Personally, I think often about this when I travel all over Albania: how can I promote better Albania abroad, how can I promote better a unique product, a local product or a talent in our universities who does not see himself in Shkodra, Gjirokastra or Elbasan. What can we learn, in this regard from the places near us, whose sources are compared to ours, but their income from tourism surpasses our incomes. Only today, together with a part of our colleagues, we had the trilateral Adriatic platform and had the opportunity to listen to the experience of the two countries with which we share the common interests in the Adriatic in this field. What can we learn from the history and the successful experience of Albanians who study in neighboring countries.

Eight, Albanians outside the homeland make up our most precious asset, as the natural ambassadors of Albania in the world. Their assistance in access and information as well as in investment opportunities, requires only structuring and a reliable partner at our service based on the foundations of the First Summit of Diaspora.

Even in this regard, the US, Canada, success stories in some of the European countries are not missing, but we are still far from a truly structured approach to communication and cooperation with our diaspora.

Last but not least, I would like to ask a question: how do our diplomats know their country? The country where they live? How much do we know Albania outside our offices? These three days, I strongly hope, will help you be more informed about key projects, key policies, local legislation related to the economy, trade, transportation, and intellectual authorship and cultural heritage as well.

That is why we need to get out, as soon as possible, from what I have started to call "the administrative isolation" keeping information according to the employee’s model of "Dream Palace".

This event should bring us closer to the contemporary formats of the A2B (ambassador to business) format: of consultations between diplomats and economic actors, both public and private. After this event, for each mission, for each mission leader, we will build a priority list of a work plan on how we will be able to measure the performance of each mission leader. We will do this by setting the promotion of talented diplomats in function of further promoting the country's resources in one of the key external service work priorities.

We believe we have started a process that will enlighten us all to turn our service from a customer service, currently of the economy and the state budget into a contributor service.

Thank you!

 

 

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