KFOS hosts discussion on sports diplomacy
November 24, 2022
The Kosovo Foundation for Open Society (KFOS) held a panel discussion on Thursday with the topic "Sports Diplomacy: Can Kosovo Strengthen Its International Position Through Sports?"
According to KFOS, after two decades of isolation, Kosovo has succeeded in becoming a full member of most international sports governing bodies in the last six years, including the Olympic family (accepted in 2014) and FIFA (accepted in 2016). KFOS says that these memberships have helped normalize the perception of Kosovo citizenship for many audiences who have not heard anything positive about the country for years.
Lura Limani, Program Director at KFOS, believes that the achievement of sports sovereignty has given Europe's youngest state the opportunity to act as a state, despite facing obstacles in terms of membership in international organizations in other spheres.
Adnan Ahmeti, a Senior Diplomacy Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, stated that the Government of Kosovo has initiated the practice of sports diplomacy. He mentioned judo as the most successful sport in Kosovo, having brought the country medals.
Adnan Ahmeti stated, "Ping pong is the first federation to move forward, paving the way for integration. Kosovo is now exploring the realm of sports diplomacy. The government has started to adopt best practices from other countries, such as a sports strategy. Sports, art, and music are the most powerful ambassadors. We all know the importance of judo. It can be a national sport, and we thank Toni Kuka and Majlinda for winning 18 medals. We can promote Kosovo and not forget its talents."
Silvija Mitevska, a sports director and consultant for sports diplomacy, spoke about the challenges that Kosovo continues to face in sports diplomacy despite the achievements of its torchbearers in competing at the international level. Mitevska said, "Sports diplomacy is a complex landscape, and there is ongoing research in the field. Sports diplomacy can be utilized at the grassroots level by empowering athletes. The transmission of values through sport is positive. It is happening at the grassroots level, which is under the radar of states and nations. Coordination is essential. Each country may have slightly different external objectives, and the EU should adopt centralized diplomacy. Many states are advancing in different policies."
Dr. George Kyris and Juan Manuel Montoro presented their analysis, titled "Sports Diplomacy of Kosovo: Accessing the International; Building the National Team," on how sports diplomacy has allowed Kosovo to expand international recognition and articulate a national identity. Manuel Montoro, a co-author of the research, said, "Kosovo's journey to become part of the European sports community has been a long one. Starting with membership in the Olympic
Committee, then FIFA and UEFA. Five years before the declaration of independence, there were international goals, and Kosovo had to be accepted in five sports federations by the Olympic Committee to be recognized in the sports community. After Kosovo was admitted to the Olympic Committee, FIFA admission marked the end of the road, and Kosovo achieved sovereignty."
George Kyris also had positive words about Kosovo's success in the international arena, despite challenges in official matches. Kyris said, "In our research, we tried to see how Kosovo participates in international sports. Most people view it as political in terms of recognition, neglecting Kosovo's efforts to join international relations and FIFA. Every time we watch parades of nations, we see which countries are in the world, and we often think about the diplomacy aspect."