A marathon of discussions, proposals, and reflections on the commitment of the diaspora by Albanian professionals around the world concluded the first day of the Diaspora Speaks 2020 conference.
The official opening took place with a conversation centered by the former President of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga, and concluded with an interactive debate between the two US Ambassadors to Kosovo and Albania, namely Philip Kosnett and Yuri Kim, respectively.
Reflection on the last 20 years of the Albanian Diaspora engagement, what we have learned from the past, and what the future holds in the next 20 years, and whether we have done enough to systematically build our communities were some of the questions which aroused structured debate in 5 sessions conducted on the topic of advocacy and diplomacy.
Asked about the phenomenon of migration, President Jahjaga said that migration should be a solution and not an obligation influenced by internal factors. She demanded a commitment and a seriousness from the political elite to treat the diaspora as a national asset, finally expressing humility towards the diaspora and its assistance in building Kosovo.
Assessment of the role of the diaspora at different stages was also stressed in the second panel on the topic of diaspora engagement 20 | 20 – Strengthening cooperation. A reflection on the past, a story on the lobbying of Albanians abroad, resistance, and the role of the diaspora were discussed today throughout this panel, where speakers were Avni Mustafaj, Edita Tahiri, Shenasi Rama, Aferdita Rakipi, and Besnik Pula.
Regarding the political representation of the diaspora, it was emphasized that there is a lack of political will to integrate the diaspora in daily and state policy-making.
The draft law on the Diaspora and their voting in diplomatic missions were also mentioned in this panel.
According to former MP Korab Sejdiu, what happened was that the politicians in power decided to hold this bill hostage because they knew that they could not calculate the votes of the diaspora.
Meanwhile, Pandeli Majko said that the relationship with the diaspora is turning from quantitative to qualitative. Liza Gashi, speaker at this panel stressed that political parties should not be present in the diaspora but should include it within their programs. Mark Gjona, New York City Councilor and Chairman of the National Diaspora Council (NCC) said that Albanian states should coordinate the engagement of the diaspora as a global and unique community.
This day also included inspiring speeches and inspired debate on art and diplomacy. Ylfete Fanaj, Shpresa Loshaj, Osman Osmani, Ori Hoxha, Ermal Sulaj, Desar Sylemjani, Ariana Kosova, and Adelajda Matuka, professionals from the diaspora, through their 5-minute messages told their inspiring stories.
Ylefete Fanaj started the speech with the song ‘Moj e bukura More’ and said that she does not live in a divided Swiss world and a divided Albanian world, but in a unique world where she sees the commonalities before the differences.
World-famous artists such as Fadil Berisha, Emina Cunmulaj, and Ermonela Jaho in the panel for art & diplomacy showed their pride and told how proud they are to show Albanian values and constantly work on their promotion.
The world-famous soprano said that through her voice she expresses her feelings, sacrifices, and her journey as an Albanian on the world stage. She confessed how difficult it was to break the barriers, but now she feels proud that she has contributed to enabling the new generations of Albanians to shine on global levels.
Albanian model and philanthropist, Emina Cunmulaj confessed her journey and called on young people, especially young women, to believe in their dreams and never stop in front of any challenge.
“Life is not what others say, life is what the sky offers, a very large space to be explored,” concluded Cunmulaj.
The first day of the conference ended with a debate between the US Ambassadors to Kosovo and Albania, Kosnett and Kim, respectively.
According to the press release, both ambassadors expressed readiness to facilitate initiatives related to the return of professionals abroad or other initiatives. According to them, any administration that is in charge of the state will not have an impact on the relations between Albanians and Americans, because according to them they will always be closely linked.
Ambassador Kosnett said he wanted to assure everyone that America would never give up on Kosovo.
He added that he wants to leave a mark on the commitment of the diaspora through a special program that engages young people abroad.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Kim spoke about the situation in Albania and the role of the Albanian diaspora. The latter, Kim said, should play an important role in the development of democratic institutions, with an emphasis on those of justice.
“The diaspora needs to focus on a few pillars and push them forward,” Kim concluded.