The European Digital Diplomacy Exchange Western Balkans Road Show has moved to its third and final destination, wonderful Tirana, Albania. The activities of the two-day training will take place at the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs between Wednesday March 20th until the 21st of March. We look forward to the opportunity of engaging with communicators, PR officers and other public servants through discussions on the topic of digital diplomacy.

The event was officially opened by project manager Ms Ingrid Omahna, who has been at the core of the EDDE project from the very beginning. Participants of the event were also addressed by Ms Lucija Straley, who is currently working as an Assistant Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tirana. Ms Straley underlined the digital environment that facilitates the debate of this generation. It is up to governments to engage and communicate with their citizens, with digital innovation as only one of the fast evolving tools that can represent a bridge for the fulfilment of the gap between institutions and the people they represent.

The environment in which communication takes place today is devised as a mosaic of multiple media outlets, among them traditional and digital, that have complemented the public discussion into a more democratic network than ever. The participants in today’s training, who are facing the challenges of their institutions representation, had expressed the challenges such an environment entails, and how they are working on fostering the highest level of engagement with their audience, the citizens they represent.

Mr Matt Jacobs, who gained his expertise through his work within the U.S. Department of State, also sees the challenges and opportunities todays public debate yields. Today’s environment should be another opportunity to engage and empower communities through dialogues, not monologues as in the past with traditional media and communication hierarchies. The citizen of today needs to be informed, included in the debate and facilitated towards engagement, to bolster a democratic and transparent discussion, that will in the end effect in more fruitful policies and embrace a more prosperous future for the whole community. State institutions can and should use digital innovation, to make good on their promise towards their citizens as public officers have been entrusted the privilege of representing their constituents, and ensure the interest and wellbeing of the lather. Communicating through social media and other platforms therefore presents an opportunity, to step up to the plate and engage their communities. It´s an opportunity state institutions cannot miss if they wish to not only provide leadership, but strive for a progressive environment in the interest of their communities.

Technological advances have contributed to new opportunities, but also threats. The fully democratized communication flows have also contributed to the rise of deception, disinformation and societal threats, that need to be addressed. Disinformation, as a form of deliberate transmission of false information and data is present in our everyday lifestyle, as U.S. Department of States analytic Darjan Vujica expressed. It is therefore essential that governments who are already aware of this threats, reach out to their audiences and provide them with information and effort, to secure a trustworthy communication flow among everyone.

The training will continue with many more discussions tomorrow, and build on the challenges all public services and their respectful institutions face, to find solutions that will pave the road to an engaging, transparent and democratic future.

Activities in Tirana follow a series of multiple events that focus on  European Digital Diplomacy Exchange. All of the trainings serve as a fruitful cooperation between The Centre for European Perspectives, the U.S. Department of state and U.S. Embassy in Ljubljana. It is the common goal of all the organising parties, to further expand the network and strengthen it, so that it may be best equipped for the digital challenges future has in store.

European Digital Diplomacy Exchange Western Balkans_Tirana