72 hours, 400+ participants, 74 speakers, 13 sessions, 21 partner organizations and institutions
On May 18, 19, and 20, 2023, GERMIN organized the third edition of the largest Albanian Diaspora Conference, “Diaspora Flet”, in Prishtina. Themed “How can we co-create?” – the conference aimed to explore and foster cooperation in various fields, positively affecting the diaspora communities and making significant changes in the countries of origin. During the three days of the conference, hundreds of professionals and policymakers came together to discuss, present and exchange information, experiences, and ideas for co-creation. Below you can find the highlights of the conference.
18 MAY 2023 | DAY I
President Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu opened the conference
During the introductory speech of the conference, President Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu assessed that our diaspora is a very valuable asset and the most beautiful part of us as a nation. She emphasized the socio-economic and political support of the diaspora in different historical stages.
Mike Bailey, International Expert from Israel, Keynote Speaker
The opening day keynote speaker, Mike Bailey, in his speech presented Israel’s example of co-creation with the diaspora as one of the most practical models for any state and any diaspora. He emphasized that the relationship with the diaspora is two-way and that the benefits are enjoyed by all parties.
Joshua Mike from USAID in Kosovo greeted the participants
The head of USAID’s office for economic growth in Kosovo greeted the attendees, giving the highest evaluations to the citizens of Kosovo and the diaspora. He said he feels extremely happy when he hears about the diaspora coming back to invest and bring their talent to Kosovo.
Welcoming speeches by the Co-GERMIN Board Co-Chairs, Anila Hyka-Smøgrav, and Avni Mustafaj
Anila Hyka, in her speech, said that our nation and the diaspora are united by love, determination, and belief. Hyka-Smøgrav encouraged the audience to plant new seeds of cooperation and interaction.
Meanwhile, Avni Mustafaj began the speech by emphasizing that the Independence of Kosova is a miracle and that Kosova is the most democratic country in the region, making all Albanians in the Diaspora proud and enjoying this success.
19 MAY 2023 | DAY II
Prime Minister of Kosova, Albin Kurti, keynote speaker on the 2nd day
The Prime Minister of Kosovo also emphasized that platforms like “Diaspora Flet” enable us to strengthen the partnership with and between the diaspora to further develop our country while improving and developing diaspora communities wherever they are.
The session included an interactive presentation of the new Diaspora Engagement Framework by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Liza Gashi. Deputy Minister Gashi presented the new approach of the Kosovo government for the engagement of the diaspora, with special emphasis on the new Diaspora Impact Fund, the new diaspora strategy, and the new law on the diaspora, all three initiatives which are expected to be finalized in the months of next within the year 2023.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Kurti visited the business fair organized by Germin as part of the conference. Thirty local and diaspora companies and organizations led by or managed by women entrepreneurs and activists exhibited at this fair.
Eight thematic sessions with 56 panelists/presenters/moderators
2. Integration of a gender perspective in the Diaspora Debate
3. Know-how and skills exchanges: opportunities and challenges
4. Youth emigration and brain drain: what can we do to tackle this phenomenon?
5. Roundtable Workshop: From Diaspora Philanthropy to Sustainable Development
6. Engaging Diaspora for the Development of Our Cities
7. Diaspora Voting Rights and Representation: What’s going on?
8. Identity and Cultural Life among Diaspora Communities
Virtual Connection of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz, joined the conference virtually from Germany. She briefly presented her diaspora journey, the challenges she has gone through during her over 20 years of living abroad, and her return to Kosova in 2021 to serve as Minister. Ms. Gërvalla-Schwarz said that she understands diaspora life very well and the desire to connect with the homeland. In this regard, she added, the government is doing a great deal of work to channel and transfer human and financial capital from the diaspora to Kosova.
Lightning Talks: Inspirational stories from diaspora personalities
During this session, we enjoyed listening to the speeches of the outstanding diaspora personalities. The first was the entrepreneur Mirela Sula, who, through her speech, made us understand that everything is possible in life, from her personal example – from emigration as a young woman from Albania to the UK to the success with Global Woman Club & Magazine.
We have heard his performances but not his speeches. The well-known guitarist Petrit Çeku, in this “Diaspora Flet” session, showed another talent of his, humour. He revealed a very interesting part of his journey, from his first guitar lessons in Prizren to the biggest world stages and prizes.
Meanwhile, the well-known journalist from the diaspora, Bahri Cani, talked about the years when he reported on the war in Kosova – a period that shaped his career. He then talked about how he had to make a radical change in reporting – prompted by his son to report during COVID-19.
Very few people had heard of Rita Kastrati before, a 24 years old who came to “Diaspora Flet” from London to share her story of being appointed as the UN Women delegate of the United Kingdom, as well as the entrepreneurship career in the field of technology.
Bujar Nushi, engineer and researcher, Ambassador of the Nation – announced by the Republic of Albania, spoke about his engagement from the Netherlands with the Salih & Isa Nushi Foundation to develop/support education, science, and culture in the city and region of Mitrovica.
Meanwhile, Teuta Vodo, lecturer at Sciences Po – Paris, revealed pieces from her professional life, the vicissitudes of academic and professional development as a young woman in the diaspora, and her will and experience of contributing to Albania in governance and civil society.
Gëzim Qadraku, another young man in the diaspora, talked about the identity crisis while growing up in Italy as an immigrant from Kosova. A crisis that made him discover a new talent – writing, through which he became one of the most read authors of the magazine Kosovo 2.0.
Ermal Sadiku, a former diaspora member, spoke about his decision to return from Germany to open and develop a successful ICT company in Kosovo. He highlighted the strong desire to return – before greater opportunities abroad – as the main factor for return.
Last but not least was Arbëresha Dula, who talked about life and challenges in Norway in the 90s. Her experience with the mobilization of aid for Kosovaa during that time influenced her professional formation as an expert in the field of migration at the IOM.
20 MAY 2023 | DAY III
Diaspora Speaks in the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo
A unique session of the Assembly of Kosova was held on May 20, the last day of “Diaspora Flet’. The Speaker of the Assembly of Kosovo, Glauk Konjufca opened the session, pointing out that the Albanian diaspora has contributed to every achievement of Kosovo and Albania. In his speech, he emphasized the importance that the homeland countries should give to preserving and protecting Albanian identity, language, and culture – prerequisites before any engagement and contribution afterwards.
The head of the Parliamentary Group of “Vetevendosje”, Mimoza Kusari-Lila, greeted the attendees and thanked the diaspora for the work done in the past and the present. Diaspora representatives from different countries hold speeches, highlighting the current state of relations with the homeland and the dynamics of diaspora communities. Rosario Petta, Mayor of the Piana Degli Albanesi in Italy – the oldest Albanian diaspora community forwarded the greetings of the Arbëresh community to Kosova, and their desire to obtain Kosova’s passports; He was followed by the speeches of Bora Zukali from the Albanian Community “Vatra” in Istanbul, Turkey; Hilmi Gashi, Germin Board Member and Diaspora Activist from Switzerland; Vjollca Robelli-Mripa, singer/songwriter from the United Kingdom; Anita Gjidoda, Experienced IT and e-services professional at Atlassian from the Netherlands; Muhamet Idrizi from Germany, Activist, a teacher in Hamburg, and President of the ODA association; Nestor Dede, chairman of the network of Albanian Diaspora Businesses in Greece.
Two site visits were carried out
After the visit to the Assembly of Kosovo, the conference participants had the opportunity to visit the offices of the company SPEEEX, founded and led by Fikret Murati, a diaspora returnee in Kosova.
SPEEEX is the largest process outsourcing company in the Republic of Kosovo, with over 1,500 employees in their four multilingual centres.
The conference participants had the opportunity to visit the Albanian Developers conference held on Saturday (May 20) at the Palace of Youth and Sports in Pristina. The purpose of this visit and the conference was to meet individuals and professionals in the field of ICT and exchange information about the latest technological advances and opportunities for collaboration.
Closing ceremony at the premises of the Museum of Kosova
After 72 hours from the beginning, the “Diaspora Flet” Conference – was concluded on the afternoon of Saturday, May 20, at the Lapidarium (premises) of the Kosova’s Museum, in a reception hosted by the Municipality of Prishtina. The Deputy Mayor of the Municipality of Prishtina, Alban Zogaj, greeted all those present, adding that such events with a focus on the diaspora are very important in intensifying exchanges between people here and abroad, for the development of the home countries and diaspora communities.
Two participants of the three-day “Diaspora Flet” Conference, Asllan Krasniqi from Belgium and Rina Zeneli from Germany, expressed their gratitude for the organization of “Diaspora Flet”, emphasizing, above all, the opportunity that this conference has given them for networking, recognition and setting the foundations for partnerships in different fields.