International Diplomacy in Action: Ciné- ONU Screening of 'The Agreement'
"History is always made in the middle of the night. And when it happens, you are so damned tired, that you couldn't care less". These words belong to EU Chief Peace Negotiator, Robert Cooper, after concluding the negotiations for a peaceful co-existence agreement between Kosovo and Serbia in March 2011.
'The Agreement' documentary filmed by Karen Stokkendal Poulsen brings the audience into the heart of the EU negotiation process in Brussels, showing all the misunderstandings, misinterpretations, difference of opinions but also the joint efforts by the Serbian side represented by Borko Stefanovic and by Kosovo represented by Edita Tahiri. The success of these negotiations is also important to the European Union in terms of its influence. Serbia has been promised the start of future EU accession negotiations and Kosovo - the chance of getting closer to the EU if the agreement is reached.
"'The Agreement' is a fascinating insight into diplomacy at work," said Martin Nesirky, the Acting Director of United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna. This documentary not only shows the long, exhaustive and 'dry' political negotiation process, it also entertains us with the human side of top diplomats' work, like the huge tie collection of Mr Cooper and his belief that the choice of tie will influence your day, and that the Serb negotiator Borko Stefanovic was a rock star, and the importance Edita Tahiri puts on her daily visit to the hairdressers.
'The Agreement' shows the audience what it takes to reach an agreement at the international level, to be able to compromise, to have the long-term goals and people of your country in mind, rather than targeting immediate political results.
During the panel discussion which followed, moderated by the Acting Director of UNIS Vienna, Martin Nesirky, the audience had an unique chance to hear the valuable insights from real negotiating experiences from the high-level guests - Wolfgang Petritsch, former EU Special Envoy for Kosovo (1998-1999) and Annika Weidemann, Counsellor, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Section, EU Delegation to the International Organizations in Vienna.
"Diplomacy is a very messy business," said Wolfgang Petritsch in response to a question from the audience on whether there are limits on who you would negotiate with, and added that the international community always has to do its best to prevent an escalation of a conflict: "It's all about values, rule of law, democratic change which has to be established."
Annika Weidemann shared her personal professional experience of working with OSCE Mission in Kosovo and mentioned that the whole negotiation process is not yet over, and it continues on a technical level. Annika also gave the audience insights into how the negotiators are chosen for highly important agreements saying "you never negotiate with your friends", and there would always be disputes or differences that will bring people to the negotiating table.
"It works when there is a political will and politicians decided to do the right thing. The first steps you take - put the conflict on the right path," summarized Mr Petritsch.
By screening 'The Agreement' as part of the Ciné-ONU initiative, UNIS Vienna together with this human world (THW) film festival and Topkino, has raised awareness of the importance of negotiating for peace and commemorated International Day of Peace.