Thursday, May 23, 2024


An evaluation of the book “Pre- diplomacy in the Western Balkans” by the author Rilind Dauti, a work that presents an important harbinger and guide for all those who wish to be part of international relations. 

Author: Xhelal Neziri


Realism and liberalism are two major theories in international relations that compete strongly with each other. Realism says that states, as legitimate factors, should be the only actors in international relations, while liberalism requires that, in addition to states, players in international relations are also sub-state or non-state factors, such as municipalities, regions, entities, non-governmental organizations, economic odes and so on. Between realism and liberalism stands the school of constructivism, which places the idea, ideal and creativity of the actors as the first factor in international relations.

In this context is the work of Rilind Dauti, entitled “Pre- diplomacy in the Western Balkans: An overview of the period after 1991. The book is spread over six chapters, where the author analyzes all forms of pre- diplomacy in the Western Balkans after 1991, with focus on units governed by ethnic Albanians.

Before giving the definition of pre-diplomacy, in the introduction the author quotes the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which recognizes only heads of state or government and ministers of foreign affairs as state representatives in international relations. The Vienna Convention is in the realist spirit, which gives states a sort of monopoly on diplomatic activities. However, the realist spirit in international relations is investigated in the First Chapter, where the author brings the definitions of the world’s most reliable theorists on pre-diplomacy. Consequently, pre-diplomacy is defined as the involvement of constituent units of nation-states in international relations, as is the case with the provinces of Canada, US states, the lands of Germany or oblasts of Russia.

The author’s liberal approach to international relations shows an opposition to the rigid reality of realism, where state interests are placed before every human value and principle. Connecting regions, entities and sub-state units at the regional and international level should be a driving process for regional and world development and understanding, which accelerates the goal of long-term peace. Where does diplomacy differ from pre-diplomacy? Author Rilind Dauti explains that the two notions are different:

  • Issues, i.e. pre-diplomacy aims at the interest of a region or unit of a sector, or a certain cause
  • Participation, in particular the sub-state governments when promoting their interest rely more on the business sector, international unions and non-governmental organizations
  • • Mode of action – pre-diplomacy is more pragmatic in pursuing concrete causes, in contrast to diplomacy, which primarily has state interests
  • The final goal– of pre-diplomacy is not the state, but the concrete interest of the citizen.


In the Second Chapter, the author analyzes the forms of pre-diplomacy since the 18th century, in the framework of two Paschalis within the Ottoman Empire, run by ethnic Albanians: Ioannina and Shkodra. Unlike the European countries, which in this period have shaped their national identities, the author rightly says that the pre-diplomatic activity of these tyrants has not been in the direction of protecting or promoting the interests of the Albanians as a nation, extending mainly to the borders of these units of the empire. The League of Prizren, i.e. the 19th century, is the starting point of the construction of national consciousness among Albanians, says the author, explaining the historical context and the great changes brought about by the French Revolution of 1789, as a warning to nation states and radical change of international relations.

Furthermore, Rilind Dauti sheds light on the forms of pre-diplomacy within the Federation of Yugoslavia, consisting of 6 republics and 2 provinces.

In the Third Chapter, the author analyzes pre-diplomacy in Yugoslavia after 2003, which consisted of Serbia and Montenegro, while the Fourth Chapter is dedicated only to Kosovo and pre-diplomacy. In this recent history, Kosovo, through its elected officials, has developed intensive pre-diplomatic activities, which the author divides into two phases: the first is from 1989, when the country’s autonomy was suppressed, and until 1999, when it was liberated from the occupation of the Serbian regime of that time; and the second – from 1999 until the declaration of independence in 2008, when as a state it began to develop legitimate diplomatic activities in international relations.

In Chapter Five, Rilind Dauti analyzes Bosnia and Herzegovina as a federation consisting of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the ‘’Republika Srpska’’ and the forms of pre-diplomacy developed by these federal units. In the Sixth Chapter, i.e. the last one, he gives examples of pre-diplomacy developed by cities in the Western Balkans, with an emphasis on twinning as a form of connection between these sub-state units.

This book is undoubtedly a major contribution in defining the role of pre-diplomacy in achieving the interests of certain regions within nation states. In the surge of globalization and digitalization, which has been accelerated especially by the appearance of the Internet in 1991, states are gradually losing their monopoly in international relations. Supranational political, economic, military, climate and other cause unions, which also include sub-state and non-state actors, are slowly becoming shapers and key factors in international relations. With this, the role of states in international relations also fades.

This time context and what the future is expected to bring, make the work “Pre- diplomacy in the Western Balkans” an important herald and guide for all those who wish to be part of international relations.

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