(29 Total References)
The allegations of bribery have not ...
The allegations of bribery have not been proven, but the episode "has renewed this debate … about the type of justice that international organizations can deliver" in Kosovo, says Besa Shahini, a senior analyst for the European Stability Initiative in Pristina.
Yet the scandal's effect could extend further, says Ms. Shahini
, to the special tribunal to be established next year.
It will try alleged war crimes committed by Kosovo's guerrilla forces during the Kosovo War in the late 1990s.
"It has set the specialized court up for failure, before it has even been set up," she
Besa Shahini, Senior ...
Besa Shahini, Senior Analyst, European Stability Initiative (ESI), Pristina
Portraits - Return to Europe - ESI
is part of an increasing number of well-educated and widely-travelled young Kosovo women.
is one of a relatively few of them who return home to live permanently in Kosovo.
has co-founded a new think tank in Kosovo, IKS: the Kosovar Stability Initiative, or in Albanian, Iniciativa Kosovare per Stabilitet.
It is an independent, not-for-profit research centre doing empirical research and analysis of the social and economic situation in Kosovo: "I was convinced that in a place where no reliable data can be found, the only way to really change policy and have an impact was through detailed empirical research."
Like hundreds of thousands of Kosovars, Besa
had to flee Kosovo during the 1999 war.
was then 16.
found permanent refuge with cousins living in Canada.
studied there and graduated in Political Science and Public Administration at the York University
in Toronto, in 2004.
, growing up in Kosovo, during the Milosevic era, was a period of great change:
From 1990, for the next nine years, a parallel system of schooling was organized by Kosovo Albanians, using a different curriculum to that of Serbia.
Classes were organized in private houses for high school and university students.
Most primary school children were allowed back to their schools, which were assigned separately to Albanian and Serb school students.
says"In 1993, I was now 11, history lessons changed drastically: Partisan 'heroes' from WWII turned into Serb enemies, and Albanian 'traitors' who cooperated with the Germans in WWII turned into heroes for enabling the first Albanian schools to be founded in Kosovo since it fell under the rule of what became Yugoslavia in 1913.
In 1997, at the age of 15, Besa
was listening, like many teenagers, to Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana and the like, and she
was reading Herman Hesse in Serbian translation, because the Albanian versions had been removed from the National Library
and destroyed by the Serb authorities.
tried to live a normal teenage life, while trying to avoid the Serb checkpoints that kept springing up around town.
was also a regular at demonstrations organized by Albin Kurti,(LINK) against the discrimination of Albanian students.
, the situation worsened, Besa
remembers: in 1998, when I was 16, I was woken up in the morning by the Serb bombings of the villages around Pristina
I was rebelling against my parents and against anything that went on in Kosovo.
I dreamed of joining the Kosovo Liberation Army
and peeling potatoes for them, thinking that fighting for human rights in Kosovo was the only way I could give some meaning to my teenage life."
Even after having studied and lived in Canada for many years Besa dreamed of coming back: "I always planned to go back to Kosovo.
I felt constantly guilty for having had the opportunity to live a better life abroad compared to the rest of the people of my age who remained in Kosovo."
In 2003, Besa joined as a researcher, working on in the municipalities of Viti and Gjilan, as well as assisting in the making of ESI's documentary about Mitrovica.
In 2004 Besa set up IKS with two colleagues; "I wanted to set up Kosovar equivalent of ESI
, as an organization that will use sources in Kosovo to come to information which will strengthen the arguments that we were presenting to start policy debates".
IKS has focused on the problems of urban planning and development in Pristina
says:"Through IKS I learned a lot about Kosovo.
Finding out that despite popular belief, the city of Pristina did not have more than 250,000 inhabitants was a shocking discovery.
The official figures ranged from 300,000 to 650,000.
After months of detailed research, looking at all indicators of data we could find, from school enrolments, to old and new municipal household surveys, to voting lists, we kept coming back to 250,000 people.
What this meant was that the municipal policy directed toward accommodating up to 650,000 people was based on wrong data!
It was a battle to get the conclusions accepted, Besa
says; "in 2006, I attended a conference on 'good governance and urban planning' with over 150 participants working on urban and spatial planning in Kosovo, both internationals and Kosovars.
I gave a short presentation ...
The then Director of Urban Planning of Pristina Municipality
, furious that I was criticising the planning process in the city, and even more furious about the positive responses I was getting from the audience, got up and accused me with falsifying data, being paid by the UN
Habitat Office (which is a sworn enemy of his
Planning Department), and saying that he
would take me to court for disrupting the urban planning process in Pristina
I knew then that our report on Pristina
had had some impact!"
So did it matter then that she
, a young foreign-educated woman, was challenging authorities in Kosovo, nearly all of whom were men?
says: "This did matter , it made my job both harder and easier at the same time.
At first I would not be taken seriously by any government official I had to work with or interview, but this was mostly because of my age.
I had to prepare well for meetings for people to see me as being on the same level as they.
Later, when I had to present some of our findings which opened up quite uncomfortable debates (on population numbers in the capital, municipal budget expenditures, mismanagements in municipal governments etc) it actually proved beneficial to be a young woman.
I have been told that I did not look too threatening for officials whom I would debate on television ,
also started to encourage IKS researchers to look at the position of women across Kosovo: "Women cannot be empowered in a society that is poor and where they have to cling to traditional patriarchal structures in order to survive economic difficulties.
From our research in villages in Kosovo, a common answer we came across to the question on why not all girls are sent to high school was that 'educating children costs money and girls, when they grow up, marry into another family, which makes them a dead investment; their education which could lead to future employment, will only bring benefits to the family into which they marry'.
When financial resourses are scarce, the family decides to educate the boy".
What this calls for, Besa
says, is publicly funded education , not only tuition, as it is now, but also material resources;"books and the provision of transport, which are not affordable for poor families."
is in Berlin studying at the Hertie School of Governance
Besa Shahini, Pristina
Portreti - Povratak u Evropu - ESI
...Besa Shahini, Pristina
Portreti - Povratak u Evropu - ESI
Besa Shahini, Pristina