The National Assembly and Ilir Meta; key actors in Albania’s diplomacy

By Dr. Lisen Bashkurti

For the first time after a twenty-five years long transition period in Albanian National Assembly, contiguous to a highly successful consensus performance on the approval of new justice reform legislation there is also a unique contribution towards Albanian diplomacy.

Encountered with feeble executive branch diplomacy, without a clear vision and a total absence of dynamic international engagements, Albanian National Assembly has emerged as a leading institution of diplomatic strategic initiatives.

Parliamentarian Diplomacy is playing a key role, with a clear vision, equipped with a dynamic agenda that is able to reach wide geopolitical spaces as it is focused on bilateral and multilateral cooperation.  At the helm of Albanian Parliamentarian Diplomacy is Chairman Ilir Meta.

Parliamentarian diplomacy in a democracy

In a democratic system the Parliament (National Assembly) represents the legislative branch with delegates that are directly elected by a suffrage.  As a result the parliament embodies the will of the people. Its power is exerted within a framework of domestic and foreign policies.

Throughout Albania’s democratic transition, the parliamentary legislatures have mainly been focused on domestic legislative agendas, while ignoring their highly important mission in the implementation of foreign affairs.

The actions taken by the previous Albanian legislatures have predominantly been their parliamentarian delegations in the parliamentary assemblies of international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, European Council, United Nations and Inter-Parliamentary Union.

For the first time after 2013, we observe a key contribution by the Albanian legislative branch in International Diplomacy.  Tirana’s Parliamentarian Diplomacy is widely active, highly dynamic, has invited important international partners to Tirana and been enthusiastically engaged to international events in order to defend national interests.

A wealth of international engagements

Chairman Meta’s Parliamentarian Diplomacy has embraced a wide array of international topics.  First, parliamentarian cooperation has always been at the center stage of bilateral working meetings, the creation of friendship groups in foreign parliaments, the encouragement of international actors to defend Albania’s interests, initiation of communication bridges with many political parties that are in opposition or as a majority in executive governments and the exchange of legislative and institutional models.

Second, the agenda of parliamentarian diplomacy has focused its attention towards improving the international reputation of Albania.  Parliamentarian Diplomacy has a greater importance; it encompasses all political parties while exerting an influence on state and non-state actors so that national image is improved at the local, national, regional and global levels.

Third, Albania’s Parliamentarian Diplomacy has bolstered and kept at the center of diplomatic attention the strategic cooperation with Kosovo as well as a special care for Albanians in Macedonia, Montenegro, and the region of Presheva in Serbia.  In this context Parliamentarian Diplomacy has raised the attention bar towards young immigrants and members of the old Diaspora, while doing the impossible to alleviate their hardships and ensure for them a better integration with the motherland.

Fourth, Albania’s Parliamentarian Diplomacy has included in its agenda the current challenges with neighboring countries, in the sub-region of Western Balkans and in the Euro-Mediterranean region. Already presented effective neighborhood policies, focused in cooperation areas of mutual interest, bilateral projects, and encouragement of integration reforms have been some of the priorities and continue to resurface on the Albanian Parliamentarian Diplomacy.

Fifth, Albania’s Parliamentarian Diplomacy has included in its agenda of priorities every tacit challenge in the Euro-Atlantic region and beyond. The war against terrorism, organized crime, illegal drug trafficking, corruption and bad government have been some of the discussion items on every bilateral high level meeting led by Mr. Meta.

Sixth, Economic Diplomacy has attracted the attention of Albanian Parliament.  Especially in Chairman Meta’s bilateral meetings with leaders of friendly developed countries, Parliamentarian Diplomacy has conducted a proactive promotion of Albanian economy, its values, resources and attractive industries in order to increase Foreign Direct Investments.

Prioritizing its partners

Albanian Parliamentarian Diplomacy led by Chairman Ilir Meta within a short time has prioritized Tirana’s important partners.  The selection of Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation centers is done based on a clear strategic and pragmatic vision focused on bilateral and multilateral perspectives.

The United States continues to be at the top of Albanian Parliament’s ranking on strategic bilateral partnerships.  In 2016, Chairman Meta has led a number of high level visits to Washington.  These meetings have empowered the friendship and cooperation between Albania and the United States, especially among Albanian National Assembly and U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate; above all these contacts have reinvigorated lobbying initiatives that benefit Albania’s national image.

Germany, France, Italy and Great Britain have also been considered as partners of a great priority by Tirana’s Parliamentarian Diplomacy.  Chairman Meta has welcomed in Tirana European parliamentarian leaders and visited these countries in order to further deepen the parliamentarian cooperation.  These visits have had a very positive impact in Albania’s Foreign Policy strategy.  Among the allies of Albania’s Parliamentarian Diplomacy have been the Multilateral Organizations of NATO and European Union.

By engaging the leadership of National Assembly with parliamentary commissions and political groups, Chairman Meta has utilized multilateralism so that all domestic political actors are involved, including the role of governing political and opposition parties in international cooperation.

National Assembly Leader as a diplomat

Mr. Meta has earned a special merit for accomplishing such an elevated dynamic role of Albanian Parliamentarian Diplomacy.  It is obvious that the experience of Chairman Meta as a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, among the best diplomatic chiefs in Albania’s democratic period, has played an important role.  The profile of Mr. Meta makes him a genuine diplomat and dear to international community. His quiet personality, his lucid national and international statements, his genuine communication with the public and communications media, his rare negotiations abilities, his protocol and ceremonial culture make Mr. Meta a distinguished diplomat and a highly accomplished Chairman of Albanian National Assembly.

On the other hand, Mr. Meta’s long experience in politics as a prime minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in a few cabinets over time and as the Chairman of one of the three most important national parties, make Mr. Meta a highly knowledgeable public figure in the fields of politics, economics, national fiscal institutions and of international financial matters of our time.

Translated from Albanian by Peter Tase

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Lisen Bashkurti

Dr. Lisen Bashkurti is the President of Albanian Diplomatic Academy in Albania. Prof. Bashkurti has been a Chancellor in a number of Universities in the Balkan Peninsula. He is also the Global Vice President of Sun Moon University in South Korea. As a distinguished scholar of international relations he has received many international awards including: A “Gold Medal” for his research on US-Albanian Partnership,” “Four Silver Medals” for his great contribution during his service as Albania’s Ambassador to Hungary (1992-1993); appointed as “Peace Ambassador” from the International Peace Foundation, United Nations (2009). He is the author of more than 18 books that cover a range of issues including: International Affairs, Negotiations and Conflict Resolution, International Diplomacy, Multilateral Diplomacy and Diplomatic History. He is an honorary professor in many prestigious European Universities and an honorary fellow to a number of prominent International Institutions.

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