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In the beginning of this
essay, we should mention diplomacy as concept which has role in the world
development. Nowadays, one of the famous definitions is made by Hedley Bull. He
argues that diplomacy can be defined as “the conduct of relations between
states and other entities with standing in world politics by official agents
and by peaceful means” Bull. 1997:156. On the other hand we have Watson’s
concept of diplomacy as process of negotiation between political entities which
acknowledge each of other’s independence Watson. 1984:33. However, through
those two concepts we can understand that the main role of diplomacy is to
maintain international order and to maintain the change of the society. With
the widening of the studies, different types of diplomacy have appeared such as
public diplomacy, economic diplomacy, commercial diplomacy, etc.  Furthermore, in the recent years in the
public sphere can be noticed the appearance of another type of diplomacy- the
so- called “digital diplomacy”.  This
approach to the society is still new and its concepts are not widely developed
yet, but it is considered as revolution in the practice of diplomacy. This way
of conduction the international relations changes the way of how different
issues, strategies or negotiations will be pursued in future. There is strong
opinion that digital diplomacy should be understood as extension of the soft
power and public diplomacy concepts. However, Marcus Holmes defines digital
diplomacy as a “strategy of managing change through digital tools and virtual
collaborations” Bjola,C. & Holmes, M. 2015:15. On the other hand digital
diplomacy has been used interchangeably with other terms that include
e-diplomacy, cyber diplomacy or twiplomacy, which target its exclusive online
dimension and nature. Digital diplomacy has been presented also as the use
of the Internet and information communications technology in order to carry out
diplomatic objectives Hanson 2010, or to solve foreign policy problems
(Foreign Commonwealth Office 2012) Bjola,C. & Holmes, M. 2015:35.
This approach of today’s interaction between institutions already started to
have its supporters and its skeptics. As Sabrina Sotiriu summarize, “the main
debate around digital diplomacy has boiled down to issues of change versus
continuity with respect to the traditional forms of conducting diplomatic
relations, whether bilateral, trilateral, or multilateral” Bjola,C. &
Holmes, M. 2015:37. On the one hand of the barricade is Alec Ross, who accepts
that digital diplomacy should, and is meant to, complement, not replace, the
traditional practices of diplomacy. His vision is that twenty-first century is
an era for using the technologies, the networks and the demographics to advance
foreign policy goals and that digital diplomacy is the main statecraft of this
time1.
Another point of his view towards digital diplomacy is that the nature of how
diplomacy can be performed with changed power structures and new technological
tools. It won’t replace traditional diplomacy, but will give new set of tool.  Furthermore, Ross argues that in future
digital diplomacy will be considered just as diplomacy and nothing more and
that the shift towards digital tools will prevail and the whole government
communication and international relations will be based on them. On the other
hand we have one of the loudest skeptics of digital diplomacy- Evgheni Morozov.
He argues that technological developments cannot and would not be able to
succeed in opening up the world where off line/traditional efforts fail. His
concerns have also stressed that diplomacy is, or should be, one element of
statecraft that “should not be subject to the demands of ‘open government’
Bjola,C. & Holmes, M. 2015:40. Alongside, Morozov argues that digital
diplomacy cannot be considered as solution to every problem in the world and
furthermore, points out that “aligning themselves with Internet companies and
organizations, Clinton’s digital diplomats have convinced their enemies abroad
that Internet freedom is another Trojan horse for American imperialism” Barton
2012: 19.

However, digital diplomacy
is strategy that most states take into serious account. After the 9/11 attack
the first Taskforce on eDiplomacy was established in 2002 under Secretary Colin
Powell. In 2003, the task force was reorganized into the Office of eDiplomacy.
The main programs of the
State Department are Dilopedia, Communities @ State, State’s OpenNet network,
The Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) program and other, which work for
the digital development of the state institutions. Another important role into
the implementation of this diplomacy into the government is UK. The country
established Office of Digital Diplomacy in its Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Since then the office has developed different digital strategies which are used
as an example. More and more countries start to use different digital tool to
develop their international relations. One of the most developed policies
towards this tendency is Kosovo.

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In the beginning of 2008,
Republic of Kosovo declared its political independence from Serbia after the
Kosovo War of 1998 and 1999. Since then it has gained diplomatic recognition as
a sovereign state by 114 states including most of the EU countries Canada and
USA.

However, Russia, China and
India, Spain, and almost all of the South American State refuse to accept
Kosovo’s new status. Moreover, Serbia still claims the region as one of its autonomous
provinces. After the proclamation of independence, the country started its own
development. One of the steps was to gain online independence. However, the
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) refuses to grant
Kosovo its own country code top-level domain (ccTLD). This refusal emphasize
the notion that Kosovo is not fully recognized as independent country, and it
forces Kosovo to run its Internet traffic either under “foreign flags” or
routed through third countries. However, a ccTLD is not just a symbolic indicator
of independence. Through the existence of private ccTLDs, Kosovo would control
an essential part of their information and technological infrastructure that
can affect telecommunications, power grids, banking, and electronic
surveillance. National governments recognize the internet domain as a component
of their sovereignty and a vital national interest. Furthermore, through its
domain, Kosovo can emphasize its independence and to create stronger connection
within its neighbors around the world and therefore to pursued them to
recognized the country. Today, despite its lack of online independence, Kosovo
has broken most technological ties with Serbia, mainly with the support from US
government. Furthermore, Kosovo started to create different campaigns
popularizing Kosovo as sovereign country and nation through its history and
culture in the online sphere. The country made its first steps towards using
online activities for the purpose of nation branding.

There are several important actors focused on
the worldwide popularization of Kosovo’s history, culture and desire for
recognized independence. One of them is the IPKO foundation. In 1999 the organization wanted
to bring the country online by September after the war. Soon this project
achieved popularity, and with the help of UN soon managed to deliver the
first free online
connection. The
organization established connection with Cisco Systems, with organizations in Sweden, England and Norway.
Today, the foundation is cornerstone of the Kosovo economy and it works for campaign like “Wiki Academy”, “App
camp” and others.
There are several important actors focused on the worldwide popularization of
Kosovo’s history, culture and desire for recognized independence. One of them
is The IPKO foundation. In 1999 the organization wanted to bring the country
online by September after the war. Soon this project achieved popularity, and
with the help of UN soon managed to deliver the first free online connection.  The service increased in several departments
at the main hospital, libraries, other university departments, and local and
national civic organizations.  Since 2000
the IPKO foundation remains an independent nongovernmental organization,
governed by Akan Ismaili. Furthermore, the founders continued working or the
digital development. They found the institute’s first partner in Cisco Systems,
whose internationally recognized Cisco Networking Academy trains people to
install and maintain computer networks of all types. Thereby, the IPKO
Institute became the first private educational institution in Kosovo.
Alongside, the foundation increased its contacts to Sweden and England. Today,
the foundation is cornerstone of the Kosovo economy and it works for campaign
like “Wiki Academi”, “App camp”, etc.
Other very active participant in the country’s popularization is the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It works hard
for the digital development of the country as the main goal is international
recognition. The Ministry works and supports IPKO’s projects and works closely
with foreign institutions for achieving its goals.  Kosovo MFA has teamed up with Norwegian
Embassy, British Embassy, British Council, USAID and Kosovo internet
organizations and activists in presenting and implementation of the new
National Strategy on Digital Diplomacy. This is one more step towards the
political progress in the process of Kosovo’s integration into the European
Union. MFA Kosovo has cooperated with communication experts from the English Foreign &
Commonwealth Office (FCO) in planning a very in-depth strategic framework that
seeks both recognition of Kosovo in online infrastructure, as well as improving
content originating from Kosovo. Furthermore, the Norwegian MFA is supporting
the implementation of various activities with additional financial assistance.
USAID has also confirmed support for implementing of some of the sections of
the Digital Diplomacy Strategy. To achieve its fully independence MFA Kosovo is
still struggling with the dispute with Serbia. During the years, Kosovo, with
the help of European countries and institutions, tried to start negotiations
for normalization of relations between the two countries. Big step towards that
are the signed on 19 April 2013 landmark EU-brokered agreements – usually
referred to as the Brussels Agreements. These agreements guarantee that Serbs
living in northern Kosovo will have their own police and appeals court; on the
other side, none of the two countries will block the other’s aspiration in
seeking EU membership. However, the Brussels Agreements do not recognize Kosovo
as an independent State. The region is still claimed by Serbia as part of its
territory. In spite of that, the agreements open the door for further
negotiations. It’s no secret that Serbia is a candidate to becoming the 29th
Member State of the EU, and this Agreement has been a propeller for accession
negotiations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also started online campaigns
which are launched with the idea to secure and promote peace within the country
between religious communities. This initiative, called “Interfaith Kosovo” is
based on Instagram competitions, sponsored by the Norwegian government, and
Wikipedia training camps for children. It is basis for in-depth discussion and
development of “cutting- edge tools in promoting interfaith dialogue to resolve
religious differences that in recent years evolved into violent extremism” Schwartz.
2015. The importance of digital diplomacy is strongly emphasized by the Ministry.
The former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Kosovo participated actively
in the campaigns either with financial or structural support. For him these
initiatives mean connection- not only reconnecting with relatives around the
world, but boosting the economy and bringing innovation and prosperity,
something that can be defined as part of the nation-building process.

Kosovo’s people also have key role in the digital diplomacy. Through
civil society fuelled diplomacy, Kosovo has seen extraordinary progress in opening
communication channels of interaction and influence across five EU
countries—Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain—that still hesitate to
recognize Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state. Their advocacy has been
so successful that members of parliament (MPs) and Kosovo’s Minister of the
Environment and Spatial Planning have taken up their causes.

Thereby, the digital diplomacy was expressed by different projects like
Digital Kosovo Initiative, Kosovo Diaspora Agency, Wiki Academy, App Camp,
#InstaKosovo. I will briefly describe those initiatives with connection to the
nation- building process of Kosovo and the fight for recognized independence.
 Digital Kosovo is a new initiative
powered by IPKO Foundation, with the support of the Republic of Kosovo Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, British Council and the Norwegian Embassy. The Digital
Kosovo platform helps us integrate Kosovo into the digital landscape. It is
working to improve Kosovo’s inclusion in the global internet infrastructure, as
well as using online communication channels to improve perceptions of Kosovo in
support of the country’s economic, cultural and political developments. The
interesting part is that the platform gives also possibility for individuals to
give their share of ideas and support. Everyone can send a request to websites
and institutions using templates from the website. These templates include
concrete information and details needed for the particular institution to take
the request into consideration. Some of the successes are that Microsoft added
Kosovo to its list of supported countries. Now, Microsoft product users can
correctly identify themselves as users from Kosovo; the website AliExpress have
added Kosovo to their list of countries and now support shipping for the
majority of their products to Kosovo after Digital Kosovo platform made some
efforts to contact them. The results can be seen on their website: 86
Institutions have added Kosovo to their list of countries, and not only
commercial websites, but also universities, airports and connection platforms.
One of the significant achievements of Kosovo’s digital policy is the Facebook
recognition from 2013. According to the social media the disputed territory of
Kosovo is a “country”.  While Facebook’s
recognition might not be the same as the UN’s, Kosovo officials are still
pleased at the status update. Kosovo’s Deputy Foreign Minister Petrit Selimi
told the New York Times that “being recognized on the soccer pitch and online
has far greater resonance than some back room in Brussels.” Additional to these
efforts, Digital Kosovo is trying to persuade Google to include Kosovo on
Google Maps, but for now this goal is not achieved.
Gradually, other initiatives also work for the international position of
Kosovo. –  Kosovo Diaspora Agency (KD) is
a crowdsourcing digital engagement and diplomacy platform that connects
Kosovars to the world, and makes links between Kosovo and its diaspora
community. KD uses social and online media to highlight and celebrate
achievements of individuals, groups, and organizations related to Kosovo.
As well as twitter, Kosovo is using also Instagram platform to promote its
story. The government created “#InstaKosovo “competition which is a way to
support Kosovo’s digital diplomats around the world in promotion of the young
republic as New Europe.

Another platform is Wiki Academy. This Academy exists in order to
improve the quality and quantity of online content on Kosovo to better represent
Kosovo to the world. The Academy will bring together active online citizens and
content experts and help them develop into skilled editors and mentors to write
high quality articles and source high quality photos regarding Kosovo in
categories such as culture, heritage, social issues, geography, institutions,
economy and tourism. The participants would learn the basics of researching and
writing articles while creating novel contributions about Kosovar arts,
culture, or sports- subjects slightly more removed from the third rail of
politics and recent history.
Alongside with that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo,
along with its partners, the British Council, IPKO Foundation, and Norwegian
Embassy opened the competition for developers of applications for Android and
iOS platform, intended for the global market and aiming to promote the Republic
of Kosovo in new technology platforms. According to the former Minister of
Foreign Affairs, Petrit Selimi this is one of the first steps in implementing
the Digital Diplomacy National Strategy, which is supported by numerous donors.

Additional to Facebook recognition, some diplomats expressed their feelings
towards different diplomatic events through Twitter. Kosovo Minister Enver
Hoxhaj said on twitter- “The oldest state in the world, Egypt, has officially
recognized now the youngest state in Europe – Kosovo,” in 2013, when Egypt has
become the 100th country to recognize Serbia’s former province of Kosovo as
independent.  Also the US Ambassador to
Kosovo Greg Delawie congratulates Kosovo and its Prime Minister for the
achieved recognition. As well as posting comments, the former Prime Minister of
Kosovo is one of the active World leaders in Facebook.  Furthermore, Twitter is used as promoter of
the online campaigns and is considered as the main place for governmental
institutions and politics to express their policy or opinion. In
Burson-Marsteller’s 2017 Twiplomacy study, Kosovo is 31th place in the rating
for “The best connected world leaders for 2017”. Considering Kosovo’s
complicated case, this is one of the factors which show Kosovo’s Digital
Diplomacy Strategy success. Furthermore, the strategy is one best in the world and it was recently ranked
fourth in the world for its digital diplomacy efforts by the Turkish diplomatic
publication Yeni Diplomasi, following the United States, the United Kingdom and
Israel.

Digital diplomacy is a vital tool of diplomacy if Kosovo wants to build
its international position and to persuade non recognizing countries to change
their current stance, to improve the overall perception of Kosovo and to
promote Kosovo’s economic, human and cultural potential. Emphasize on the
establishment of Digital Diplomacy Strategy helps the country to go out of the
boundaries put by the regional conflicts in the region. The campaign Saatchi
& Saatchi2
conducted various surveys to examine the image of Kosovo abroad. Two outcomes
were significant: on the one hand, Kosovo was scarcely known as a country, and
on the other it had negative connotations (e. g. war, criminal, poor, corrupt).
However, the efforts from the government might change that view. This type of
diplomacy, whatever definition is used to describe it, is one of the newest and
helpful ways to change the global prejudices and opinions. The digital
diplomacy will enhance the opportunities for development and will provide close
connection between politicians and people. Furthermore, will stimulate the
cooperation between institutions and therefore will act as global platform for
creating new ideas, ideologies and movements. Different, from public diplomacy,
digital diplomacy enhance the two way communication, dialogue relationships,
collaboration, interaction and contribution around the world. Even dough it
still does not replace policy, content, or the traditional media, digital
diplomacy soon might become the norm in the international relations.

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