Category Archives: Society

Kosovar in Germany: “I gave [the President] a little glass-statue of Mother Theresa…because we are of the same origin”

The fact that former German president invited Kadri Bekteshi to Schloss Bellevue in January 2010 gives him a very positive feedback and encouragement to continue with his voluntary work. Kadri remembers this event: “I gave him a little glass-statue of Mother Theresa. And the President asked me why I did that. I answered, because we are of the same origin”. I was a bit puzzled so I asked Kadri to elaborate more on the same-origin issue. “Well, it has always been very important to me to dedicate everything I do to my people. It’s about improving the image and reputation of us Albanians and Kosovo. There are too many bad news about us out there and too few good news.

Kadri Bekteshi born in 1964 is a German citizen of Kosovar origin. He studied tourism and economics in Sarajevo (Bosnia) and in 1992, like many other Kosovars, Kadri had to leave Kosovo due to political reasons. Today, he lives in Bielefeld together with his wife and two kids. Besides working at the municipality of Bielefeld, Kadri voluntarily runs the project “Migrant-Integration and Violence-Prevention through Sports”.

“In 1999, I was called to become a season controller for amateur soccer at the Westfalen association”, Kadri continues to explain that the task of a so-called season controller is to give game reports and evaluate the course of the soccer game. Kadri continues to explain that through his positive attitude, he won the attention of former chairman Horst-Dieter Knüppel. Bekteshi remembers: “I worked on this job from 1999 to 2003. In the same year (2003) I completed a mediation training. For a short time I did not do much after I completed the training but then I thought why not present my idea to one of Bielefeld’s schools?”.

Kadri gives part of the credit to Mr Knüppel, for it was he who helped Kadri with the idea and encouraged him to go and present his project. Therefore, Kadri decided to go to the so-called “Hauptschule” in Bielefeld because this is the High-school type with the largest numbers of students with an immigration background. “It took me until 2006 until I was granted to spend two hours a week with students of the Bordhagen Hish-school. Up until this day I run the project ‘Migrant-Integration and violence-prevention through Sports’ at this school”.

The Project:
Once a week Kadri Bekteshi meets with the kids of Brodhagen High-school in Bielefeld to play soccer. The kids know that it is not only about playing soccer, but about learning to work together in groups. Kadri Bekteshi referees the games and teaches the kids to control their temper and to peacefully discuss their disagreements. Working in teams and sticking together is not always easy for the kids in Bordhagen High-school. The schools hosts students of about 35 different nationalities.

Kadri Bekteshi decided to focus on students with an immigration background because he finds that there is an increasing tendency of conflict among kids who are not of the same origin. The students’ different background may not be the reason for conflict but rather a lack of communication among those kids. That is why, during the games, Kadri invites the students to have discussions with each other and share their thoughts and feelings, which proved to be an effective way to strengthen the kids’ social competences.

The students feel comfortable with Kadri Bekteshi because they see him as one of  them. The principal of Bordhaben High-school confirms that the kids at his school argue less since Kadri started his project. Kadri himself found it easier to integrate into the German society by playing soccer for the TuS Jöllenbeck association. Therefore, he felt encouraged to share his positive experience with sports and integration with others, especially with young immigrants.

The fact that former German president invited Kadri Bekteshi to Schloss Bellevue in January 2010 gives him a very positive feedback and encouragement to continue with his voluntary work. Kadri remembers this event: “I gave him a little glass-statues of Mother Theresa. And the President asked me why I did that. I answered, because we are of the same origin”. I was a bit puzzled so I asked Kadri to elaborate more on the same-origin issue. “Well, it has always been very important to me to dedicate everything I do to my people. It’s about improving the image and reputation of us Albanians and Kosovo. There are too many bad news about us out there and too few good news. My project is not a personal enrichment but, but a dedication to my people”. With these words, Kadri Bekteshi closed the interview.

Albina Makolli. Interview with Kadri Bekteshi (2012). 6 Oktober in Bielefeld.

Radio Bielefeld. Projekt “Integration durch Sport”,

Zieger, Volker (2009/2010). Lokales Bielefeld. “Vorbildlicher Streitschlichter”. Westfalen Blatt

President of Kosovo hosts the International Women’s Summit, the first of its kind in the Balkans

The President of Kosovo and the youngest women leader in the world, Atifete Jahjaga is hosting this week the International Women’s Summit: Partnership for Change – Empowering Women which is taking place in Kosovo.

The summit has brought together over 200 women leaders  from from the region, Europe, Americas, Middle East, Asia and Africa. They represent public, private and civil society sector, academia, international organizations and professional associations. Among the guests are Madeleine Albright – Former US Secretary of StateMaitha Salem Al Shamsi – Minister of State, Government of the United Arab Emirates , Clarice Alpha Jah – Senator of Liberia,  Ulrike Lunacek – Member of the European Parliament,  Jane Harman – Former U.S. Congresswoman, Director, President and CEO of Woodrow Wilson Center, and Afshan Khan – CEO of Women for Women International.

The summit is the first of its kind in the Balkans, addressing economic development, political participation and the security of women as well as the factors that affect the position of women in the society, their economic empowerment and the constitutional and electoral barriers to full participation of women in politics and decision-making. The International Women’s Summit aims to build bridges of cooperation, communication and partnership between public offices and private enterprises, between academia and policy-makers not only within the borders of a country but also between nations, neighboring countries and beyond.

More about the Summit, can be found at the website:

Study on Albanian Diaspora Activism For Kosovo Independence in the US and the UK

A new study on the Albanian Diaspora has been published by the Foreign Policy Analysis.  The study was written by Maria Koinova.
The study could be accessed through the Wiley Online Library.

Below you can read the Abstract of the study:

This comparative study explores the conditions and causal pathways through which conflict-generated diasporas become moderate or radical actors when linked to homelands experiencing limited sovereignty. Situated at the nexus of scholarship on diasporas and conflict, ethnic lobbying in foreign policy, and transnationalism this article develops four types of diaspora political mobilization—radical (strong and weak) and moderate (strong and weak)—and unpacks the causal pathways that lead to these four types in different political contexts. I argue that dynamics in the original homeland drive the overall trend towards radicalism or moderation of diaspora mobilization in a host-land: high levels of violence are associated with radicalism, and low levels with moderation. Nevertheless, how diaspora mobilization takes place is a result of the conjuncture of the level of violence with another variable, the linkages of the main secessionist elites to the diaspora. The article uses observations from eight cases of Albanian diaspora mobilization in the US and the UK from 1989 until the proclamation of Kosovo’s independence in 2008.

Source: Koinova, M. (2012), Four Types of Diaspora Mobilization: Albanian Diaspora Activism For Kosovo Independence in the US and the UK. Foreign Policy Analysis. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-8594.2012.00194.x

Mark Gjonaj wins the 80th Assembly District primary in Bronx, NY

The Albanian-New Yorker, Mark Gjonaj wins the 80th Assembly District primary in Bronx, NY. He defeated Assembly woman Naomi Rivera to go to the November 6 Elections. The Bronx based businessman has been active in his community and has generated a great support from the Albanian community in the Bronx. If he wins the November 6, 2012 elections, which he is expected to, he will be the first person of Albanian origin to hold office in the United States currently.

Taken from Norwood News

In the Bronx’s most heated and intriguing political race this fall, challenger Mark Gjonaj defeated embattled Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera in the 80th Assembly District primary by a comfortable margin, according to results released by the Associated Press. In this heavily Democratic district, which includes parts of Norwood, Allerton, Morris Park and Pelham Gardens, Gjonaj will almost certainly be elected to office when voting for the general election happens on Nov. 6.

While putting together a relentless, almost omnipresent campaign — his army of yellow-clad Gjonaj CARES workers were a fixture in the district — Gjonaj became the beneficiary of a series of articles in the New York Post detailing allegations that Rivera used her position and taxpayer money to enrich two recent boyfriends. Several authorities have launched investigations into Rivera’s hiring of a Brooklyn gym teacher as an expensive part-time community liaison and her allegedly inappropriate dealings with a nonprofit that she funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to over the past several years.

The articles and subsequent investigations placed a dark cloud over Rivera’s re-election bid. In the weeks leading up to yesterday’s primary, Rivera refused to speak with the media about the allegations or the campaign, instead opting to bombard voters with mailers painting Gjonaj as a ruthless landlord (he owns a real estate brokerage firm) and closet Republican (he has contributed to GOP coffers in the past and identified himself as an Independent until recently).

But while Rivera, aside from a few appearances at events, has been largely absent from the public eye, Gjonaj has been everywhere. He scored votes, and fought the landlord depiction, by helping advocate for tenants at two large housing complexes — the Allerton Coops and Tracey Towers — in the final weeks before the primary.

According to preliminary numbers reported by the Daily News, Gjonaj took in 2,407 votes (52 percent), while Rivera could only muster 1,894 votes(41 percent). The other two challengers on the ballot were Adam Bermudez, who received 222 votes (5 percent)and Irene Estrada-Rukaj who took in 134 votes (3 percent).

In other local races in the northwest Bronx, incumbent Gustavo Rivera (33rd Senate District) soundly defeated challenger Manny Tavarez and in the 78th Assembly District, Jose Rivera easily held off Ricardo “Ricky” Martinez.

Source: Alex Kratz. “Embattled Assemblywoman Rivera defeated in Primary.” Norwood News. September 14, 2012.

A patriotic duty of pilot from Kosovo – by the Egyptian Gazette

A solo flight round the world may be a dream for many people. Perhaps some of them are looking for danger or pleasure, while others want to be famous and others still are simply inquisitive. But for 40-year-old commercial pilot James Berisha from Kosovo, it is a patriotic duty.

Berisha set off nearly four years ago in his single-engine plane from El Paso, Texas to rally support for the, at the time, newly independent Kosovo, which officially became an independent country in February 2008.

Berisha, who visited Egypt last week, has already been to 97 countries, including the whole continent of Africa, as he forges ahead with his mission.

“I would like to thank those countries who have already recognised us, while I will tell the others how important it is for Kosovo to be recognised worldwide,” said Berisha, in answering a question about the nature of his mission.

Kosovo’s predominantly ethnic Albanian leadership declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, with strong backing from the United States and major EU nations.

But the Serbian government, strongly supported by Russia, insists that Kosovo is still legally bound by the Security Council resolution, and the UN – at Moscow’s insistence – still retains overall authority in Kosovo.


Now, according to Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, Kosovo is a state recognised by nearly half of the UN’s 193 members and its territorial integrity “will never be questioned”.

However, the Islamic Arab countries of North Africa have yet to recognise Kosovo, something that still astonishes Berisha.

“I really don’t know the reason for this. Maybe they think that Tito is still alive or even that Yugoslavia still exists.

“But I think today, with the changes in this region, things will change and many Islamic countries are going to recognise us soon,” he added.

Berisha also said that he carried a formal letter to the Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamel Amr, asking him to recognise his country, as Egypt is one of the countries that has yet to recognise the independence of this new state, most of whose citizens are Muslim.

“During my tour, I have been dealing with both public and formal diplomacy, but public diplomacy is far easier, because formal diplomacy is very slow,” he commented, stressing that the all people in the countries he has visited are very positive and supportive, while it’s been a different story with some governments.

But his difficulties are not limited to convincing people or governments, as he has also to convince his Cessna 172 to keep on flying with him.

This self-financing campaigner bought his kite at his own expense. However, the 1967 model has become cantankerous in its old age, misbehaving on every landing. Berisha’s most recent hair-raising episode happened in the Sudan, where he crashed in the desert. Amazingly, he has lived to tell the tale.

On his plane, he has painted the flag of his country and written, ‘Please recognise the independence of Kosovo’.

Every crash landing diminishes Berisha’s hopes of donating his ‘metal bird’ to a museum in his country at the end of his tour.

For this self-financing campaigner, who has been without work and therefore without a salary for the past four years, the high cost of fuel and parking in some countries, including Egypt, has been another big hurdle.

When you meet this enthusiastic, man of resolve, who abandoned a good job and comfortable life in the US for this tour, to tell the world about his country, you cannot help but admire him.

Berisha insists on telling everyone about his country and the vital need for it to have relations with every other country.

Thousands of his countrymen, many of them are his own relatives, died in the Balkan wars in the 1990s.


More about Berisha’s solo flying and solo lobbying around the world.

Source: Ihab Shaarawy. “A patriotic duty.” The Egyptian Gazette. September 4, 2012.

A refugee from Kosovo: selected for the UK Government’s competitive internship programme

Endrita Salihu – another story of success of a young lady from Kosovo, who fled the country with her family during the war of  1999. She was one of the sixty among the thousand applicants to be selected to intern at the United Kingdom government and shadow the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State.
Endrita Salihu of Kosovo origin, was one of the 60 students in the UK to be selected to participate in the competitive Whitehall Internship program organized by the Social Mobility Foundation. Thousands of students across the country have applied. The aim of the program is to increase diversity within the UK Civil Service. An objective that is supported by Lady Warsi, something she expressed during her speech at the opening ceremony held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Endrita Salihu said: “Being chosen to be one of the 60 interns was prodigious and overwhelming! I was allocated to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) where I worked in the office of Peter Schofield, Director General for Neighbourhoods.  During my time at DCLG I was also given the chance to shadow Andrew Stunnell OBE MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, at a meeting about housing plans and then attend an extremely informative question and answer session where I was able to find out about the work of a minister and how to become a minister. As a young person who moved to the UK as a refugee fleeing the horrific war of Kosovo in 1999, I felt privileged to meet the decision makers who have helped me so much. Being from Kosovo, my parents have always taught me about the history of Kosovo and it’s fight for independence, something, which I believe, has inspired me to want to study International Politics at university.  As it is a small country in the Balkans, it felt great to be able to represent my country and put Kosovo back on the map!”
Below you can read an article that the Guardian has published:

Whitehall intern gets a taste of the service

Whitehall intern, Endrita Salihu, on escaping the Kosovo war, meeting Sir Bob Kerslake and being inspired to join the civil service fast stream

Coming to this country as a refugee after escaping the Kosovo war in 1999, I never believed that I would be given the chance to meet those who made the decisions that have, in essence, changed my life.

From a young age, through learning about the history of Kosovo and it’s fight for independence, I’ve been taught how important it is to have positive relations between countries. This is what has fuelled my desire to study international relations at university and embark on a career in politics – an area that has interested me since the age of 12.

I’m currently studying A Levels in government and politics, modern history, English language and law at Cardinal Newman College, in Preston.

Having embraced my passion for politics, and my desire to enter the political work field, my politics teacher informed me about the Whitehall internship, which he believed would help my future prospects. When I found out about it my initial reaction was to find out more and apply.

The aim of the internship, set up by the Social Mobility Foundation, is to promote social mobility and increase civil service diversity by targeting under-represented groups. It’s an aim which is supported by Baroness Warsi, minister without portfolio, who showed her enthusiasm for the internship at our opening ceremony. Head of the civil service Sir Bob Kerslake, who fully supports this scheme and who I got to meet, has also spoken up about how important it is for the civil service to be diverse.

From numerous applicants, 60 year 12 students were chosen to participate in the scheme. All of us were split across the different government departments in Whitehall. I was allocated to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) where I worked in the office of Peter Schofield, director general of neighbourhoods. The department has had heavy focus in the media in recent weeks due to the Portas pilot scheme, tackling council tax fraud as well as looking how economic growth can be increased via the regeneration of cities.

During my time at DCLG I went to a variety of meetings, shadowing both directors and director generals who were discussing how to tackle the issue of economic growth. I was also given the chance to shadow Andrew Stunnell, parliamentary under secretary of state, at a meeting and then attend a question and answer session where I was able to find out more about minister’s workloads and the type of jobs they have to complete day to day.

Having attended these meetings and met such influential people, I gained an insiders knowledge of what it was like to work for the civil service and the pressures placed upon civil servants. Furthermore, I was also able to shadow members of DCLG’s legal team and also meet litigation lawyers at the Treasury’s solicitors department as well visit the supreme court. The people that I communicated with have stimulated me to widen my horizons and aim high. They were all immensely encouraging and helpful, and were always willing to answer any questions that I had.

Being in the environment that, in the future, I would like to work in was astounding. I was able to learn more about the civil service and the different career options within it. All the information that I obtained was enormously beneficial and helped me come to the decision that I would like to become a fast streamer in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office once I have graduated.

The experience has been overwhelming, inspiring and definitely enriching and I would recommend everyone, especially those interested in politics, to apply.

Endrita Salihu is 17 and studying for her A Levels at Cardinal Newman College in Preston. You can find her on Twitter: @EndritaSalihu

This article was published by Guardian Professional. Join theGuardian Public Leaders Network free to receive regular emails on the issues at the top of the professional agenda.

Mark Gjonaj: Making History… Running for NY Assembly

By: Ermira Babamusta, Ph.D., New York for Gazeta

Mark Gjonaj is the Bronx commissioner of the New York City Taxi &Limousine Commission, serving since 2011 and is potentially the first electedAlbanian-American official for the New York Assembly. It is crucial that allvoters, especially the Albanian-Americans registered in the 80thdistrict (Pelham Parkway, Pelham Gardens, Allerton and part of Bedford Park) comeout and vote on September 13th 2012 to decide this historic moment.

“I have a successful business; I don’t need this job. I got involvedbecause of what I saw as the inaction of our present elected officials and theunderutilized resources that we have in the Bronx. You get out of a communitywhat you put into it. I need the support of every Albanian-American voter onSeptember 13th, and this will be a significant achievement for our community,but this is about the entire 80th Assembly District. My only promise is to workas hard as the people of our district do every day, because that is what the peopleof this community deserve,” said Mark Gjonaj for Prishtina Press.

As the Democratic Primary is getting closer, it is important for the NYvoters to know what choices they have to represent their voices at the stateAssembly and make an educated vote. Incumbent Naomi Rivera is currently facing allegationsof corruption and use of taxpayer money for personal expenses. The othercandidates including Adam Bermudez and Irene Estrada-Rukaj are calling for thewithdrawal of Rivera from the political race. Mark Gjonaj’s victory in theelection would be a triumph for the Albanian-Americans living in Bronx.

The Gjonaj Plan is designed to increase opportunities for both young peoplefor higher education opportunities and elderly senior citizens, promoting theirneeds. His plan also promises to expand affordable housing incentive programsproviding stabilized rent and affordable housing. His commitment to protectingthe Medicaid and Medicare reveals his care and interest for advancing thehealth, safety and wellbeing of the local communities in New York.

Mr. Gjonaj is running this year with the promise to improve the economy inthe Bronx community, to help create and improve community education programsand intends to make health care available for all families.

“The support for Mark Gjonaj during the campaign has been extremelystrong, and it continues to build. His message of creating good jobs,supporting local businesses and keeping the neighborhood safe is resonating. Itis imperative that every one of Mark’s supporters come out to vote on September13th, as we believe it will be a very close race. Call your family and friendsand remind them because every vote will make a difference,” said EmmettHare, Campaign Manager. Mark Gjonaj has extended himself out of concern for the local community toprotect each resident living in the Bronxborough. As co-founder of the Albanian-American Community Association Mr. Gjonaj has organized several historical events for theAlbanian-American community, enriching the cultural diversity environment inNew York. As Bronx commissioner of the New York City Taxi &Limousine Commission Mark Gjonaj has established himself as an influentialleader regarding public safety concerns. The 80th district in NewYork can surely trust and depend on Mark Gjonaj to protect the people of thedistrict.


Source: Ermira Babamusta. Mark Gjonaj Making History: The Political Race for the NY Assembly. Sept 6, 2012.

Ken Biberaj: candidate for New York City Council seat featured on Tomorrow’s Leaders

Ken Biberaj featured on Tomorrow’s Leaders on Capture the Flag, Blip TV. Biberaj speaks about his candidacy for the New York City Council.  The interview digs deeper into his potential as a leader and his upbringing; it brings out to light his origins from Kosovo and his visions for the city.  His interview consists of 21 edited chapters.
More information about Ken Biberaj’s candidacy and biography can be found on

Who is Ken Beiberaj?

Ken Biberaj is a Democratic candidate running for the 6th District City Council seat in 2013.

Ken is a young, hardworking New York native with a head for business and heart for the Upper West Side.

He lives with his wife, Valerie, on the Upper West Side and works for a small, family-run business based on the West Side of Manhattan. Ken works to help small businesses find new retail space and helped reopen the iconic Russian Tea Room, which his family purchased and restored in 2006. He also sits on the board of a one-branch community bank, witnessing first hand the issues facing those affected by the financial crisis.

Ken was born in the Bronx, his family having immigrated to New York City in 1968 from Albania. His father learned English while working multiple jobs to support his family. Eventually, he earned a PhD from Columbia University, going on to work at Voice of America.

Inspired by his father’s commitment to public service, Ken pursued an undergraduate degree from American University and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard. Upon graduating, he worked for Senator John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Ken then returned to NYC, joined the family business, and went to New York Law School at night, earning his JD in 2008.

Ken’s life is not all business; he is also closely involved with several non-profits, including President Clinton’s Millennium Network, the Culinary Council for the Food Bank for New York City, the Restaurant Committee for NYC & Company and serves as a mentor for New York Needs You.

With years of hard work and community service under his belt, Ken believes it is time for new ideas in city government.

This election is about the future of our neighborhood—and about new ideas. Ken Biberaj embodies the bold, energetic, vibrant leadership that is the signature of the Upper West Side.

Source: Capture the Flag, Blip TV at

Capture Your Flag interviews tomorrow’s leaders today to provide a more approachable way early- to mid-career professionals can build aspirational careers. Interviews are edited into short segments by question and categorized by 100 common themes shaping leadership as well as by industry. Find more at

Kosovo’s Diaspora, the main support for country’s recovery

Kosovo’s Diaspora has been the main support of political and economic processes in Kosovo. This was the evaluation made in the conference organized by the Ministry of Diaspora, “Diaspora’s Youth, a chance for Kosovo’s economic development”, where Kosovo’s immigrants contribution was praised highly for the freedom and construction of the Kosovo State.

“Our Diaspora has always been serving the country’s developmental processes and in some cases has been leading the processes. The role and contribution of our Diaspora is extraordinary in all the phases our country went through. The role of our Diaspora, especially the one that had the opportunity to be educated in Western countries and take up experiences is not only necessary, but vital for a safe future for out country. Especially in a special field that we as a new state have the biggest needs and that is Kosovo’s European integration, where our Diaspora can play an important role,” says Ibrahim Makolli, Minister of Diaspora.

The immigrants’ contribution is still big even in the independent Kosovo. A considerable part of Kosovo families live with the help of immigrants that work in European states.
Only in 2011, immigrants’ remittances were nearly 585 million Euros, according to Kosovo’s Central Bank, more than direct foreign investments that were 414 million Euros.

This Article written by Bul Salihu, Albanian Screen TV.

Source: Bul Salihu, Albanian Screen TV.

Study about Kosovars in Switzerland: Swiss Federal Office for Migration

“This study published by the Swiss Federal Office for Migration in 2010, gives an overview about the life of Kosovars in Switzerland.

The study summarizes the role of Kosovar-Swiss cultural, social and political networks in Switzerland and the development of integration of Kosovars in the country.

Download the study here: “