Mission London: A Mini Handbook of Diplomatic Practice

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INTRODUCTION

 

Among many ways to learn diplomacy studying novels that

deal with diplomacy comes out as an useful example and practice.

Hence we present, analyze and comment in this paper one

of the recently most popular European novels from this area,

namely Alek Popov’s Mission London. Additionally, we compare

diplomatic approach, experiences and lessons learned from that

book with some of the classical handbook on diplomacy, like

Berridge’s Diplomacy (2015), Feltham’s Diplomatic Handbook

(1994), Nicolson’s Diplomacy (1998) and Satow’s Guide to Diplomatic

Practice (1994). This means that we would try to understand

Mission London as a mini handbook of diplomatic practice

and will try to prove that point of view during the course of this

paper. For this reason and since the author of this contribution

is also a career diplomat, we rely extensively on the method of

observing with one’s own participation, especially when commenting

issues from his three decades long diplomatic practice.

One should also mention that this paper is not an extended book

review but presents a diplomatic analysis of the novel that deals

with diplomacy.

With this in mind we add in this journal to a series of articles

that deal with broadly known books on international relations

and that significantly influence this field. In the case of the

Popov’s book it also goes well along with the main mission of this

journal, namely to present and promote topics connected with

the European perspective of the Balkan countries in general as

well as with an aim to present and promote authors from this region.

 

MISSION LONDON AND ITS DIPLOMATIC UNDERSTANDING

General observations

 

Diplomacy, “the most important institution of our society

of states” (Berridge, 2015, 1), but also “that funny old trade”

(Roberts, 2014, ix) is portrayed in Popov’s book exactly between

these two opposite, nevertheless complementary understandings,

though the author includes in his novel many its additional nuances

as well.

Since diplomatic frame is defined by pursuing relations among

states (also between states and international organizations) diplomats

deal with elites and are also part of elites by themselves. At

the same time, exercising protection of bodies of private and corporate

law, what would mean dealing with consular protection of

their citizens and their companies,3 diplomats also keep in touch

with everyday lives of ordinary citizens, to say so. One could continue

presenting the extension of diplomatic frame, what would

only add to the complexity of diplomatic life and work. They,

diplomats of all sorts (ambassadors, political diplomats, special

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