You don’t have to be Adnan Januzaj to make Kosovo known
By: Kosovo Diaspora October 10, 2013
Have you ever felt that we are part of a secondary country? I have. Have you ever felt that we are a real country, but people don’t treat us like that? I have. Yes, we are an independent state, and yes the majority of the West backs us, but still …
By Stefan van Dijk
A concrete example of this is the fact that many big websites (social media, airports, banks, universities) act like they have never heard about Kosovo. The good news is that the initiative Digital Kosovo creates the opportunity for every Kosovar to act against this misunderstanding. You just send an email, tweet or write a handwritten letter (how romantic!), and advocate for Kosovo. We all know the success stories: the big fishes Google and LinkedIn have changed their policy due to individual’s requests to do so. They have recognized Kosovo – power to the people!
Kuwait yes, Kosovo no!
Recently I have tried to open a new bank account at my favorite Dutch bank. I go to their website and fill in the online form. I have to answer if I am living in the Netherlands or abroad. Because I live in Kosovo I click on ‘abroad’. A big drop-down menu shows up with hundreds of countries. I browse to the ‘K’ but I only find Kuwait and Korea. What the…?
I decide not to accept this administrative detail, and immediately contact the bank. For two weeks I speak with them via e-mail, twitter and telephone (thank God, they call me, otherwise I will go bankrupt). Every time they come up with different arguments why Kosovo is not in their drop-down menu. Meanwhile, I decide to contact the other big banks in Holland, and asks them to add ‘Kosovo’ to their lists. These banks seem to be more willing and promised to fix the mistake as soon as possible.
My own bank in Holland is still refusing to recognize Kosovo as a country. Frustrating, but I know for sure that several of their employees are irritated because a Dutch Kosovo-fan keeps complaining. Besides that, the Dutch national radio station Radio 1 interviews me a day later about the failing bank.
Even though one bank is refusing to change their website, their two competing banks did change it. And only for one reason: a normal guy has sent a simple email. Well, maybe more than an email. And I think that this is the power that individuals can play in terms of helping Kosovo be known. Not only Adnan Januzaj and Rita Ora are able to change the face of Kosovo in the world. Each one of us can. You only need an internet connection or – for all you romantic Kosovars out there – a pencil and paper.
As a Dutch friend of Kosovo, I did my part. I believe each Kosovar can do that. The tools are there – just visit DigitalKosovo.org, or take the phone and make a call.
Stefan van Dijk has visited Kosovo on and off since 2004. Because he has a crush on the country, he has decided to live there since for the past two years. Stefan combines his work as a journalist, communication adviser, and NGO-worker. You can reach him @stefanspreekt
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect Kosovo Diaspora’s editorial policy.