Opinion / Balkans, former Yugoslavia

History and Diplomacy

My latest piece at DIPLOMAT looks at history: … After you’ve made your weary way around planet earth for some six decades, you start to grasp that beneath the torrent of events, there lie deep trends and rhythms. Take, for example, those YouTube videos of the changing map of Europe. […]

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Darroch and Diplomacy (1)

No sooner is my back turned in deep Jersey meeting putative in-laws than a remarkable diplomatic scandal-drama erupts and Sir Kim Darroch ends up resigning as UK Ambassador to the USA. No-one else has analysed all this sensibly, so I must have a shot. In fact several shots in successive […]

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Junk Management

My latest piece at DIPLOMAT looks at how performance is assessed and rewarded (or not) in the modern public sector. Despite (or maybe to compensate for?) the horror that is the modern British government of sullen bureaucracy and shabby clothes, British diplomats tend to work hard and loyally. They trudge […]

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Diplomatic Protocol Disasters

Time for a handy round-up of some excellent diplomatic protocol shockers. ‘Protocol’ at the highest level of state and in wider international contexts is interesting because it features all sorts of ‘solemnity’, dignity, respect, deference and other lofty virtues that have their place when the time is right. So when […]

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Diplomatic Negotiating (2)

My second piece on diplomatic negotiating is now out, over at AP Insights. The first one was here. Thus: Russia and Poland for centuries have been negotiating through war and peace over their borders and cultures. Wary rivalry between England and France has been carrying on since the Battle of Hastings […]

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Serbia and Kosovo Territory Swap (2)

My previous post rehearsed some of the existential issues about the Serbia/Kosovo problem and mooted the idea of tweaking borders to help achieve a deal. Let’s look at this in more detail. Factors to bear in mind as my mind in-bears them. Where to draw lines? Post-WW2 Yugoslavia had six […]

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Serbia and Kosovo Territory Swap (1)

+++ World Scoop +++ Here’s extended/edited extracts from a long piece I first sent to the FCO from faraway Harvard back in Spring 1998 as the NATO bombing campaign against Serbia concluded. It was revised after Milošević fell. It still reads rather well, if I say so myself. See my […]

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Diplomatic Negotiating

Here’s my new piece for The Ambassador Partnership Insights series. On the strange world of diplomatic negotiating: In other words, for most negotiating purposes we expect and want the negotiating to end. And it does end. A deal is reached in some sort of reasonable time, or it isn’t. The […]

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NATO, Montenegro, Russia, Ukraine

My latest piece for the Telegraph (££) looks at what if anything President Trump might have meant when he was asked on TV about NATO and Montenegro. Here’s the exchange: CARLSON: Membership in NATO obligates the members to defend any other member who has been attacked. So let’s say Montenegro, which joined […]

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Russia: Now What?

Vladimir Putin wins a landslide victory! Six more years! Even Vladimir Zhirinovsky complains that Russia is no longer a democracy, and he should know! Once upon a time there was a Cold War. We all knew where we were amidst ‘East-West (sic) relations’. Responses to policy moves could be fine-tuned. […]

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