Durken prided himself on looking forward and had championed social reforms that he believed were instrumental in leading his people out of the dark ages. A family man, Durken appreciated diplomacy and its nuances. He reviewed and approved a warp drive experiment proposed by his Minister of the Space Bureau, Mirasta Yale, despite the objections of his Minister of Security Krola.
His skills in this area were put to the test in 2367 when the existence of alien life was revealed to the Malcorians. That year, Commander William T. Riker, who was on the planet overseeing the final steps before the Federation would initiate first contact, was injured and treated at the Sikla Medical Facility. The physicians soon discovered his alien nature and alerted Minister Krola, who kept it to himself.
The exposure of Riker's mission necessitated premature first contact, and Captain Jean-Luc Picard met in secret with Durken. The chancellor accepted the situation for the moment and came with Picard on the USS Enterprise-D. Sharing a glass of Chateau Picard with him, he said that, though he had left his home that morning as the leader of the universe he would return as a small voice in a chorus. The chancellor was humbled when he observed, upon seeing the advanced technologies of the Enterprise, that if the Federation were conquerors as opposed to explorers and diplomats, the planet could easily be taken over with no need for peaceful contact. However, he feared that most Malcorians would not understand.
Back on Malcor III, he learned of Riker's existence, and that there were other aliens on the planet for years. He then became caught between Yale's progressiveness and Krola's conservatism. He wanted to interrogate Riker, but ended up giving Picard his location when he found out how critical his situation was. Ultimately, when he found out Krola had tried to kill himself and frame Riker for it, Durken decided they were not ready as a people and asked the Federation to leave. (TNG: "First Contact")