The hard work of the digital diplomats and the Digital Diplomacy ofÂ Kosovo is showing results and it’s going beyond the level of what traditional diplomacy does. It’s putting Kosovo on the world map and it’s getting it into the country lists of internet giants like Google and Facebook.
After being recognised by more than 106 UN Members, Kosovo is still facing challenges in international recognition. As Foreign Policy puts it out the country is being ignored by the likes of Amazon, eBay, Google, Skype, and Yahoo, which do not recognize Kosovo as independent on their sites. Thousands of other, less-known international websites, portals, and social media platforms also have not included Kosovo as a country in their drop-down menus used, among other things, to allow users to identify their locations and enter valid mailing addresses.
The Digital Diplomacy of Kosovo leading the Balkan flock
Thanks to the work of hundreds of digital diplomats, Foreign Policy featured a story talking about the digital recognition and how Kosovo is leading and setting an example to other countries struggling for digital recognition. Kushtrim Xhakli, known as the Chief Digital Diplomat of Kosovo by Foreign Policy, has championed the new Digital Kosovo platform, working on the concept, code and design, which then has been developed and is run within the framework of the Pristina-based IPKO Foundation, an independent NGO of which Xhakli is a board member.
Digital Kosovo initiative aims to enable Kosovars to utilize online services just like other Internet users across the world. Its website, up and running since September, contains ready-to-use templates based on scenarios where Kosovo is either absent or is listed as part of Serbia or Albania by a company or institution. Anyone can then personalize the template and send it directly to high-level decision-makers at the entity in question — all within just a few seconds.
FP continues the story on how Xhakli and his large army of online volunteers are already bombarding Google Maps with templated messages demanding that the system recognize Kosovo. Messages are also being sent to London and Sydney airports — which have yet to add Kosovo to their websites — and to the Brussels airport, where Pristina is still listed as being in Serbia, even though the map of Kosovo is demarcated from Serbia on the airport’s information boards. The backers of the Digital Kosovo platform — which is funded by the Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the British Council, and the Norwegian Embassy — view this sort of digital diplomacy as cutting-edge.
Kosovo’s burgeoning success in the digital sphere, continues the FP article, could be a useful model for other nations seeking international recognition, be it South Sudan or Palestine — which, unlike Kosovo, already has a top-level domain (.ps). That said, there are limits to digital diplomacy’s reach. For instance, it can’t solve Kosovo’s problem of widespread corruption; the country is ranked 111 out of 177 states in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. It also can’t remove deep-rooted divisions between ethnic Albanian and Serbian communities. Some observers consider both of these issues impediments to Kosovo’s situating itself within the family of European states.