To mark the third anniversary of Kosovo’s independence, the Albanian community in a small town in northwestern Germany held a celebratory event. Even though the invitation said we would start at 2 p.m., it started an hour later. Some sort of minister had not come and normally nothing started without him. Thus, we all waited for almost an hour and some began to lose patience. Suddenly, a commotion broke out. “The minister arrived,” everyone said with great excitement.
We were immediately ordered to leave the hall and wait lined up in a row in front of the door similar to how guests are expected to do at weddings. My friend and I did not want to comply with this order and stayed in the hall, an action that brought us some unpleasant glances from the others who came out.
It has become a tradition in the diaspora to invite political representatives from Kosovo and Albania to such events, which undoubtedly serves to maintain contact with the homeland and obtain information on what is happening there. This connection has become more frequent, especially in recent years. This is because many members of the Kosovo diaspora, in addition to having a strong emotional connection with the country, have directly helped in the development of the state by investing and constantly helping their families there. The connection becomes even stronger given the relationship between Germany and Kosovo which is constantly cultivated.
No matter how essential this exchange is for us, sometimes we overdo it with respect, which turns into servility, into subjugation, especially when I see the approach we have towards authorities, whoever they may be.
Let us return to the fanaticism and excessive respect some people have towards politicians, which goes far beyond reason, that many in Kosovo and the diaspora have. I’ve witnessed very strange, almost comical scenes many times.
The second scene was at a similar celebratory event in Germany, a year after the first. A politician from Kosovo had visited and he was unable to even hold the piece of paper with the prepared speech; his assistants held on to it and even placed it on the podium. He barely read it. Everyone noticed his professional, linguistic, cultural and intellectual incompetence.
After the program ended, the hosts invited us to dinner where each person was expected to serve themselves from a buffet. Our aristocratic politician did not deign to move from his place. Everyone was waiting in line, not only Albanians but also many German guests, some of whom were politicians and well-known social figures. But the assistants of our compatriot, who had managed to become a politician, didn’t have the patience to wait in line and instead pushed the others with their elbows, filled his plate full of food, and placed it in front of him on the table ready to eat.
These scenes are just some of the many that I have witnessed, and at the same time, scenes that make you reflect on the role that politicians play. Of course, despite their frequency, these images do not reflect all politicians from Kosovo. There are some who embrace a different approach, one which brings them closer to citizens and which reflects their real role in society: servants of the people.
Politicians should serve the voters
Kosovo’s politicians receive so much attention that you get the impression that only they are relevant to society. You start thinking of them as celebrities. Every night on numerous television channels, at social events and in bars, the best places are reserved for them.
The same thing happens when they go on “official trips.” We simply cannot avoid them. Some sympathizers even treat them as divine and swear on their name. Thus, politics, especially politicians, have taken on the role of the divine –– miracles are now expected of them.
And besides politicians, even their ardent fans are another story. If anyone dares to criticize their political “prophets,” they fight you on their behalf. You shouldn’t do that. They immediately threaten and harass you.
They do not even hesitate to express the great love they have for them. “I love this politician. He’s my heart!” They weave fiery love verses. Some of them have even adopted their name, take pictures with them, cry, laugh, follow them wherever they go, visit their graves and even kiss their gravestones.
Voters need to be aware that politicians in government positions are their servants and they must behave as such. Thus, the posts should be held for the purpose of service, not for private privileges and benefits. Being a civil servant should not be about privileges, but about responsibilities.
Being raised and educated in a different environment, I cannot stand these things. Even in developed countries like Germany, not everything is perfect, so I do not want to make a naive comparison between Kosovo and Germany. However, I cannot fail to mention a few examples that speak to how German politicians present themselves and their mission.
There is not such a huge distance between politicians and citizens here. In fact, it is the politicians who do not allow exceptions to be made for them. They wait in line, never take advantage, take coffee and bread from home, go to work by bicycle or tram and use official cars only on special occasions.
I often meet the mayor while he buys food at the store. He is there without a bodyguard, without noisy cars that deafen your ears. He doesn’t boast or have expensive clothes, and he doesn’t wear a metaphorical “çallmë,” the hat worn by imams.
This is how I would like to see the politicians of Kosovo. Such behavior does not do anyone any honor, much less the citizens who elect representatives to advance their needs and interests. This should be the sole mission of the elected, not meaningless arrogance.
Feature Image: Arrita Katona / K2.0.