The first thing of note is a higher level of international and interstate contacts. Critical decisions in the area of global politics or economics are increasingly often taken by national leaders at their meetings, rather than in the wake of protracted talks between foreign ministry delegations. Summits consistently supplant conferences, meetings and all other classical forms of diplomatic intercourse. USSR Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko used to say that “it is better to have ten years of talks than one day of war.” Let us turn this famous maxim around: Ten minutes of talks between two presidents is more eficient in terms of conlict settlement than several meetings at the level of foreign ministers or meetings of ad hoc commissions.
This circumstance entails a change in the role of the standard diplomatic institutions. Embassies and other foreign missions have come to perform not only as analytical centers and participants in negotiations but also as “travel agencies” at the service of top public oficials. Their most important mission today is to render protocol support to top-level events. As a consequence, diplomatic staff focus not so much on analysis, information and awareness-raising as on administrative and technical matters. The Foreign Ministry’s central staff and its foreign missions are less often involved in drafting briefs, memoranda, or remarks for representatives of the host state. The focus is shifting to organising top- and high-level visits, arranging accommodation and transfers, meeting visit schedules, enforcing safety precautions, and the like.