Accepted Paper:

"Public" diplomacy and the politics of carrots and sticks: "international community" press conferences in post-conflict Macedonia  


Andrew Graan (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how the regular press conferences held by the embassies of the EU, the USA, NATO and the OSCE affected domestic constructions and contestations of political authority in the Macedonian public sphere.

Paper long abstract:

After the 2001 conflict that had threatened the Republic of Macedonia with civil war, political discourse in the country quickly re-oriented toward the goals of Euro-Atlantic integration with hopes of eventual NATO and EU membership. By 2003, the concern over "Eurointegration" had come to permeate the Macedonian public sphere, and the figure of "Europe" acted as an authorizing center for much political oratory, media commentary, and everyday criticism of politics. However, a relic of conflict-time diplomacy—the bi-weekly, joint press conference of the embassies of the EU, the USA, NATO and the OSCE—institutionalized a very different "European" voice within the Macedonian public sphere. Through these press conferences, the spokespersons of these organizations variously commented on and evaluated current events and political initiatives in Macedonia, espousing such platitudes of Eurointegration as the need for more reform, more transparency, and more accountability, to the frequent chagrin of domestic actors. Indeed, the very salience of the discourse of Eurointegration allowed the spokespersons to engage the publicity of the press conferences as a political tool to send explicit and implicit messages to political factions in Macedonia. Focusing on these complex, multiply-addressed messages and their uptake by Macedonian politicians and media commentators, this paper examines how such regular "international interventions" into the Macedonian public sphere affected domestic constructions and contestations of political authority.

Panel W047
The new Europe: the politics of recognition, inclusion and exclusion