Kosovo’s diaspora has long played a vital role in supporting the well-being of those back home. From collecting funds and lobbying internationally for the rights of Kosovar Albanians living under an oppressive regime during the ’90s, to subsidising family members and investing in the post-war and post-independence state.
Today, with diaspora remittances making up 16 percent of Kosovo’s GDP, the role of the diaspora in many people’s minds seems to have evolved into being considered almost exclusively a financial resource. In the meantime, aiming to organize its diaspora and reach out to them, Kosovo has established the Ministry of Diaspora and Strategic Investments.
But the profile of the diaspora has changed with the times. After the ‘Gastarbeiters’ of the ’60s and ’70s and those seeking refuge in the ’90s, a new face of the diaspora is now emerging as a considerable number of Kosovar citizens pursue their academic and professional development abroad. And, just like Kosovar citizens at home, many of those who have left have become increasingly frustrated with a lack of progress in developing a fully functioning state.
So often referred to as a simple collective and derogatorily dubbed ‘Schatzis,’ it’s time to look beyond the ‘Is it better here or there?’ And to recognize the complex, multi-layered realities of Kosovars living overseas, and their relationship with Kosovo.
Will members of the diaspora ever be acknowledged as more than a mere financial resource? What can students studying abroad add to Kosovo’s intellectual capital for development? What exactly is the role of the Ministry of Diaspora and Strategic Investments? What are the experiences of members of the diaspora when it comes to dealing with Kosovar institutions? Are the political rights and concerns of members of the diaspora being properly addressed? What have Kosovo’s institutions done to utilize the diaspora’s potential?
On Thursday, July 19, at 18:00 we will discuss all of these issues and more in our latest participative Small Talk, held at Innovation Centre Kosovo (Rexhep Mala Str. 28A Prishtina, Kosovo)
To initiate the discussion, we will be joined by:
- Afrim Bekteshi – Deputy Minister for Diaspora and Strategic Investments
- Liza Gashi – Executive director of Germin (an NGO that uses technology and virtual channels to connect and engage Western Balkan members of the diaspora in advancing the development and democratization of their home countries).
- Osman Osmani – Chairman of the professional association “Prointegra.ch” from Switzerland (an association built by professionals from Kosovo for migration issues)
- Adem Ferizaj – Brought up in Germany, has an MA in International Relations at Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po Paris)
The discussion will be moderated by Eraldin Fazliu. Translation in English will be provided.
Feature image: Atdhe Mulla / K2.0.