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The European Roundtable - Diplomacy in the age of Corona

Online event held on 3rd December 2020 with over 40 participants., to discuss how the global outbreak of the Corona pandemic affects diplomacy.

The European Roundtable - Diplomacy in the age of Corona

Ambassador. Dr. Susanne Wasum-Rainer, German Ambassador to Israel
We must get out of the Corona crises stronger than we entered; the challenge is to be efficient, to have global observation in order to minimize the economical crises as well as the medical one. The German government sees the Corona vaccination s a "global good" and not only as a "national good". Medical help should be given all over the globe. Poverty need to be reduced everywhere. It's time and opportunity to demonstrate solidarity, to cooperate within Europe and with the UN and others. For Corona we will have a vaccination but for other global problems and challenges we won't, and that is why we need an inclusive sight. That is why at the G20 summit, the leaders agreed on actions considering sustainability, climate change, urban design, future food supply chain, future tourism. We all miss the lack of freedom because of the Corona. What was accepted in the past or not, is no longer relevant.

Ambassador Dr. Rodica Radian-Gordon, Israeli Ambassador to Spain
There is a huge difference between Diplomacy and the Diplomacy in the age of the Corona. The Dialog in Zoom enable connections that nobody before could imagine their possibility. There are new talking codes, new challenges, for example: how to create personal connections while we no longer can see people's body language, many times we don't see the audience at all and it's hard to estimate whether our ideas being accepted or not. The Embassy daily life changed dramatically: The embassy was shut down in order to cut off the spreading chains since many of the local as well as the diplomatic staff got Corona virous. We needed to bring The Foreign Ministry headquarters to understand how severe the situation is and on the same time keep us connected to each other as well as to our personal loved one, whom we couldn't see or meet. We needed to think out of the box because plains for emergency situations, including for epidemic, which we were trained by, have been found no relevant. Insights: · Medical cooperation is needed globally · Sharing administrative knowledge on how to run hospitals and Health ministry · Providing consular services by mutual aid. · Creating green corridors for businessmen and other groups. · Handling political dialogs with ambassadors from different states enrich it

Ambassador Barukh Bina, former Israeli Ambassador to Denmark
Most of my service years had been in the USA and North America. Remote activity took part already at the 70's and 80's of the 20th Century since the area is huge. If the remote work concerning Corona is temporary, then we can come over it, but if not, we will need to rearrange. If diplomacy is mostly dealing with public relations, then it provides opportunities and accelerate change. But if we think of diplomacy as part of national security-we have a problem. Yes, Zoom is giving opportunities to share information that so far we shared with a few, or each time with a few, with many people at the same time without a need to invest more man power, money or time and our message will be echoed easily, but the diplomat will be able to talk only about non- classified information. The diplomat will be able to keep and to deepen exist connections but will have hard time to make new personal connections via Zoom. Since there are no physical meetings, most of the Strategic dialog is harmed. A diplomat needs to have between 4-5 intimate connections in order to maximize his job. Also, the organizational memory is getting hurt: the diplomat is no longer preparing the talking points to the head of the state and protocol is no longer written so a follow-up is impossible. Whenever there is a war, problem or pandemic, new opportunities open while new tools take their place. In order to find a solution to the Corona problem in terms of diplomacy, my suggestion is to open more small representations, though in the last couple years, Israel Foreign Ministry closed many representations since it had been ordered by the Economy ministry.

Ambassador Yacov Hadas- Handelsman, Israeli Ambassador to Hungary
Everywhere people wear masks, keep security distance and all states suffer from the same problems. All governments need to dill with 4 components:
· How to keep economy run?
· Health
· Education
· Gain cooperation and attention of the public

As a result, all governments lose power, local authorities ask for freedom to decide how to gain the war against Corona. Another result: sustainability became important. Which state is more important? Diplomacy hierarchy goes by the ability of a state to supply medical equipment and vaccinations, which all states fought on at the first curfew. All over Europe states asked their intelligence services to figure out who have the supply and conceive it. Though the European community is haven since it holds an economical safety net to its members, solidarity wasn't found among them. Each state took care of itself. Politician continue to fight the new problem with old tools. The lack of intimacy, since there is no eye contact, no body language and no atmosphere are hard, and Zoom can be only a partial solution. The is no substitute to human contact. Every state holds different safety measures. That is understandable but the diplomatic work is getting hurt. At the embassy, we are working in two shifts, in capsules and there are things that can't be done now. If Corona thought us something is to be humble.

Dr. Barak Bouks, Senior Research Fellow, The Europa Institute, Bar- Ilan University
The Corona virus characterized the year of 2020. Even terror organizations needed to change their behavior no less than states, and their leadership tried to figure out what it can gain from it. But their behavior is not monolithic and was changed consider their geographical place, the citizens situations in that area and the global situation. Hamas and Hezbullah, two religious Islamic terror groups, that hold a territory and run a state; Hamas at Gaza strip and Hezbullah manage a state within a state in Lebanon. Both, in the age of Corona returned to their original definition as a charitable societies. Hezbullah for example donate its sources for fighting Israel in favor of the Lebanon state; contributed hundreds of its doctors and thousands of its nurses to the Lebanon health system. It also contributed medical supply and deserted hospitals and hotels for that purpose. Some of the global terror groups, which mainly deals with suicide attacks, have changed their behavior too. They kept rational tactic of self-preservation, which means that their religious leaders called their people to avoid staying in places in Europe where Corona virus has spread. Other, decided to take advantage of the situation, like Boko Haram in Nigeria. Knowing that the Nigeria military forces are busy with helping the citizens and have less time and efforts to fight against them, they successfully attack its forces.

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