POLITICAL CORNER: The power of diplomacy

Photo courtesy of Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

Written by: Nathaniel Tok, Peak Associate

In today’s world, it’s easy to get discouraged by what we see in politics. From extreme partisanship to the destructive, useless rhetoric and empty promises, it sometimes feels like politicians behave more like children than leaders.

For the final Political Corner of the term, I’d like to end on a happier note and point readers towards the southeastern corner of Europe — the Balkans. Exciting news has been coming out that I think would be refreshing to share.

This region is infamous for being involved in Franz Ferdinand’s assassination, which helped spark World War I, and towards the end of the last century and the beginning of the present century, the region had been beset with various conflicts, such as the war in Croatia (1991-1995) and the war in Bosnia (1992-1995). But now it seems the region’s leaders are showing encouraging signs of progress through their use of diplomacy to solve their differences.

The leaders of Macedonia and Greece have formally signed an agreement that could end an almost 30-year-long dispute about the usage of the name “Macedonia,” which both Greece and Macedonia claim as theirs. Meanwhile, in recent years, the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia are holding meetings to try and resolve their differences and to normalize relations.

Readers familiar with the two nations will know that Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 after years of tension, and that Serbia still doesn’t acknowledge this. While there is still a long way to go, and there are still various other issues to resolve, this often-forgotten little region of Europe is displaying the potential for a more diplomatic way of doing things, and giving the world a much-needed lesson on what happens when we choose to talk things out instead of pointing fingers.