Monthly Archives: September 2014

A Visit to Our Earliest Diaspora Settlements

Mrs. Edita Tahiri from the government of Kosovo and official representatives from the Albanian government are visiting the communities of Arbëresh people in Southern Italy. The visit has been a response to the invitation by the Arbëresh Church of Calabria and the pan-Albanian library of “Antonio Belushi”.

The Arbëresh  people are a community settled mainly in Southern Italy and Argentina. The earliest records note the fist waves of migration between 15th and 18th century resulted  as a response to the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans. The Arbëresh are known in the region for cultural perseverance, from language to gastronomy, the Arbëresh still maintain their Albanian roots.

Piana degli Albanesi (Albanian: Hora e Arbëreshëvet) is a comune with 6,218 inhabitants in the Province of Palermo, Sicily. The town is the most important and populous Albanian (Arbëreshë) settlement in Sicily and it is the episcopal see of the Italo-Albanian Byzantine Church that, after five centuries from its foundation, wholly preserves its ethnic-linguistic identity - Source Wikipedia

Piana degli Albanesi (Albanian: Hora e Arbëreshëvet) is a comune with 6,218 inhabitants in the Province of Palermo, Sicily. The town is the most important and populous Albanian (Arbëreshë) settlement in Sicily and it is the episcopal see of the Italo-Albanian Byzantine Church that, after five centuries from its foundation, wholly preserves its ethnic-linguistic identity – Source Wikipedia

Mr. Tahiri held a speech upon which she congratulated the Arbëresh for their courage and perseverance through the time. “The Arberesh of Italy are without a doubt the strongest part of the Albanian nation. Despite five centuries and hardships, you have still kept the language and tradition alive!”.

The Arbëresh have over the years given great contribution ranging from arts to science, most notably, the Arbëresh have given the Albanian literature the great Jeronim De Rada. The works of De Rada are considered as gems of the romantic movement and national awakening initiative within the Albanian culture.



For more, have a look at an annual ritual of the Arbëresh paying tribute to Scanderbeg.


Open Data Kosovo

Last week, UNDP Kosovo organized a series of events in Prishtina, Prizren, and Gjakova relating to innovation in Kosovo. As a co-founder of Open Data Kosovo, I was invited to speak at their panel on open data and to present the concept of open data at a workshop. Since yesterday was  the International Right to Know Day, I will take this opportunity to elaborate a bit on Open Data and how Open Data Kosovo works.

Open Data is defined as “data that can be freely used, share, and built-on by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose.” (source)

Many governments around the world have already joined the open data movement by opening their data. In the UK, volunteers are “working with Environment Agency water data to inform visitors about water quality,” and an online guide has been created that “uses government data to help parents find and research local schools in England.” But open data is not only for governments to embrace; in New York City, the transportation authority has opened its data as well and, as a result, citizens now benefit from the development of a healthy ecosystem of apps that drastically improves their public transportation experience (e.g. bus schedule apps).

The idea behind opening data is to promote good governance by enabling data-driven transparency and accountability. Open data has been a concern in Kosovo for quite some time already. On July of last year, the government “officially commenced the [Open Government Partnership] membership process” (source) which, unfortunately, was not followed up by comprehensible strategy to make government data available.

This is where Open Data Kosovo comes in.

Open Data Kosovo channels the digital capacity of young software engineers and computer scientists in Kosovo into implementing and maintaining an online platform that collects, hosts, and distributes open data. This platform is backed by a community of people concerned about government transparency and see the potential of Kosovo taking a lead position in the open data movement.

More than just a data catalog, this initiative operates as a lab where students can use and request open data to experiment with in order to implement innovative digital solutions that address local problems. Furthermore, digital actors who interact with Open Data Kosovo will be exposed to enabling technologies in a manner that will strengthen their skills and increase their value in the digital market. We mean to provide a space where students can develop the required motivation and inspiration needed to challenge themselves and acquire strong communication and problem-solving skills all while contributing towards good governance.

NGOs have been the most receptive in collaborating with us to open data and we have already opened up data collected by Democracy in Action, Democracy for Development, and GAP Institute. A few weeks ago we reached a major milestone when the Kosovo Environmental Protection Agency (KEPA) became the first to government institution to join the open data movement by having some of its data hosted in our data catalog.

Check out some of the neat prototypes our team of students have developed in the past month:


Median Asset Declarations of Major Parties.


Asset Declarations of Daut Haradinaj (AAK).


Water Surface Quality Map.

No matter the advocacy and pressure generated by Open Data Kosovo, it is ultimately up to civil society to keep their governments accountable. Activists and watchdogs can help, but popular will is the best and only approach to keep governments in line. With this in mind, we will soon announce an advocacy program to help organize citizens into demanding that government data be opened. Stay tuned!


Museum of The History of Albanian Migration

While still a proposal, Mr. Migjen Kajtazi can already see the footsteps of the museum. Currently employed at the De Vaud Canton Office of integration, Mr. Kajtazi has been working on a project seeking the creation of an Albanian Migration Museum.

His proposal starts beautifully by quoting Milan Kundera “Culture, is a people’s memory,a collective historical narrative,worldview and form of life”. Museums are the very source of a people’s culture. It is the past meets present; historical objects are given future narratives. All in all, museums are what give meaning to a nation of people. Like no other building, a museum can grasp its visitor and shift them into a different time, shift them into an era that no longer exists but is still very relevant.

The museum of  The History of Albanian Migration will intertwine  time and space. The central figure within the museum shall be the migrant. The story of the migrant is closely related to the story of Kosovo; the personal journey each and every member of the diaspora had undergone to living their current lives. The migrant shares the collective political, economic and social story of many from Kosovo.  The Overall Objectives of the museum shall be :

– Historical Narrative

– Document Archive

– Population census

– Cultural heritage of the migrants.

Furthermore, the museum is foreseen to screen movies and documentaries, contain a library of diaspora related books, become an information resource. The museum shall be the much needed connective bridge between the diaspora, its past and its homeland, Kosovo.



German TV Show Hanseblick Went to Kosovo

Hanseblick is a German travel show, the crew of which portrays the  daily lives of different German families through  glimpses of the reality of each place they visit. This time, Hanseblick chose Kosovo,  a country with as many inhabitants as Hamburg, Germany.

The show follows the story of Insa, a German-Kosovar, who visits her future parents in law during the month of Ramadan in Kosovo. Insa travels to Kosovo to celebrate Eid (known as Bajram in KOsovo) with her fiance’s family. She says Bajram is like Christmas; families get together, enjoy food and exchange gifts.

Have a look at the documentary and tell us what you think of Kosovo. What places in Kosovo would you take the Hanseblick crew to?

Reception Dinner in New York with the President of Albania

It is a long tradition of  “Vatra” – the Pan-Albanian Federation in the US – which was established in 1912 from our well respected Albanians, Faik Konica and Fan Noli, to gather the Albanian community of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and beyond to welcome in the US prominent political Albanian figures from all over the Balkans.

This year too, the Pan-Albanian Federation in cooperation with the Albanian community in New York  have organized a reception dinner due to the visit of the President of Albania Mr. Bujar Nishani.

The Pan-Albanian Federation and the Albanian community encourage all organizations and the Albanian community to participate in this event organized to celebrate the Albanian delegation led by Mr. Bujar Nishani.

The dinner will take place on Saturday (September 27th, 2014) at 7:00pm in the Maestro’s restaurant in Bronx, New York. Please find the details below.

1703 Bronxdale Avenue, Bronx, NY 10 462
Tel : (718) 792 – 8844

Kosovo’s First Oscar Candidate

“Three Windows and a Hanging” is Kosovo’s first appearance on the grand Oscar stage. Directed by Isa Qosja, the movie portrays the scars left behind from war torn Kosovo. While fictional, the movie does indeed touch upon the daily reality of many in Kosovo and beyond. A drama, with warmth and humor of a typical Balkan scenery. The gloomy reality depicted does not keep the movie from receiving great reviews.

The Hollywoodreporter has best described its plot as “not directed at war or even rape, but at the poisonous effects of victim-blaming and unchecked patriarchal power.”

Fatos Berisha, the former head of Kosovo Cinematography Center explained for that they initially “received the answer that Kosovo was not eligible, as it was not a member of the United Nations.However, I did some research and found out that there is no such regulation in the Academy’s rules, and that five non-UN countries had submitted films in previous years.”

The news on Kosovo making its first debut in the Oscars is quickly becoming a trend among explains how  “For the first time, Kosovo is eligible to submit a film to the Oscars in the foreign-language film category, and will be proposing “Three Windows and a Hanging.”


Watch the trailer here and let us know your first impressions.






B. Bix Aliu representing the United States in Montenegro

The American-Albanian diplomat B. Bix Aliu (Begzat Azem Aliu) involved in peace agreements, crisis management and democracy development, aspires to be the first Albanian ambassador representing the United States of America abroad.

Bix Aliu is the first and only Albanian given the highest diplomatic position in the United States of America. He was recently chosen to represent the States as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Podgorica, Montenegro. Born and raised in Chicago Illinois, Aliu is the son of two Albanians from the region of Zajasi – Kërçovë, Macedonia, who have migrated to the United States during the beginning of the sixties.

Before being nominated as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Montenegro, Aliu has served as Cultural Diplomacy Course Coordinator at the Department of State’s National Foreign Affairs Training Center. In 2009, Aliu served as a Special Advisor and worked on domestic policy for Virgina’s Second Congressional District.

Aliu served as the Deputy to the Public Affairs Officer and later as the special assistant to the Ambassador in Skopje, Macedonia. Aliu was involved in the Rambouillet Peace Accords and later worked with the U.S. Special Envoy during the crisis in Macedonia.

Bix Aliu has received numerous U.S. State Department Awards including Superior Honor Award and Meritorious Honor Award. Amongst other recognitions by the Albanian community, Bix was chosen as the “Person of the Year” in 2008 by the Albanian-American community of Chicago.

Girls Coding Kosova at Prishtina Hackerspace

Prishtina Hackerspace

It’s been almost two months now that the digital community in Prishtina has been enjoying their very own hackerspace. Launched in July by the guys over at FLOSSK, Prishtina Hackerspace places Kosovo in a worldwide community of digital actors who gather in workspaces around the globe to exchange ideas and engage in digital experiments.

We caught up with Altin Ukshini, one of the co-founders of the Prishtina Hackerspace, to get the run down on what’s been brewing these past two months:

Configured and set up a SmartCitizen Kit: Created using Arduino, an open-source hardware board, the SmartCitizien Kit crowdsources environment monitoring. Kosovo Innovations Lab has brought the kits to Kosovo and initiated their use. By assembling their own kit, the guys at Prishtina Hackerspace are actively contributing to real-time localized monitoring of Kosovo’s environment. Data collected includes  levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, long with the temperature, sound levels, and humidity. Check out all of the environment data collected in Kosovo, in real time, over here.

Wiki Loves Monuments Shqipëri dhe Kosovë: This is one of the latest projects crafted at the hackerspace. It’s an international photographic competition for monuments that will serve to contribute towards documenting Kosovo’s cultural heritage. The project is implemented in collaboration with Wikimedia, FLOSSK and Open Labs.

Meeting space: The hackerspace provides a space for digital actors to get together and hold meetups. The upcoming Software Freedom Kosova Conference is being developed in the hackerspace. There are also a few students from the University from Business and Technology (UBT) who find the hackerspace to be a much more appealing  alternative study room to that of crowded university libraries. Community groups around software development such as Java User Group and Girls Coding Kosova have also found a home at Prishtina Hackerspace.

The hackerspace is open to everyone, you don’t have to be a member to join in, work or meet at the hackerspace. There is also a membership plan​ that will soon be launched for those who want to further contribute to the development of the space.

Doors are always open for visitors so do pay a visit to the space and you’ll see how things work.

You can support Prishtina Hackerspace by going to the following link and donating:

You can also donate equipment:

Keep up to date with Prishtina HackerSpace’s activities by visiting their website and through social media.





Kosovo Wants to Play – A Campaign to Break Country’s Isolation In Sports

Have you ever been left out of a game? If so, chances are that you did not feel very good about it. Today, Kosovo might be one of the few countries that is not allowed to compete on a world arena. This means that no matter how good you are, how hard you try, you are still not allowed to test your skills professionally on a world stage. Kosovowantstoplay is a Crowdfunding campaign initiated by Kosovotwopoitzero Magazine with the intent of changing this.

So whats the problem you may ask? A number of international sporting federations are still hesitant of recognizing Kosovo as an official country, thus making it almost impossible for sportsmen to compete internationally. This is why we get to watch Majlinda Kelmendi  compete under the International Judo Federation flag. Furthermore, the campaign aims at adressing some issues closer to home, such as the lack of investment in infrastructure, an issue that only adds to the pile of problems each aspiring athlete in Kosovo faces on a daily.

The campaign aims at creating a global brand through which awareness is raised on the question of why can’t these talented athletes compete abroad?  If you would like to know more on the campaign and learn how you could help, please go here.

The initiative has brought global support, ranging from Kosovars living abroad to international athletes.



There has been extensive cover from local media, including the Ora 7 news at Klan Kosova Station.


This basketball player from Argentina wants Kosovo to play! Do you? Tell the world. #kosovowantstoplay


Balon Mundial SUPPORTS FROM ITALY #kosovowantstoplay


Liburn Jupolli is supporting #kosovowantstoplay

From Mechanic to King of the Kickboxing Ring

Its Kreshnik Rrustemi, the Peja born Kosovar now fighting in world rings under the Belgian Flag. Kreshnik was born in 1984 and moved to Belgium in 1998. His initial passion for skiing had quickly moved to kickboxing and Mauy Thai when he  met his future trainers Peter Lamberts and Omar Bel Hadi who invited him to start training in the art of fighting. Before you ask, yes, the meeting had occurred while Kreshnik was working as a bouncer at a late night club, thus making him a familiar face to trouble.

Kreshnik had been working as a mechanic and supplementing his income as a bouncer when this opportunity occurred. The decision to start training proved fruitful with Kreshnik  fighting professionally since 2003 thus making him a confident fighter in the ring.

Watch here his latest fight against Alexander Volobuev.