BY RAFAELA PRIFTI/DIELLI/
Last Thursday, the General Consulate of the Republic of Kosova in New York hosted an evening to recognize the work of several community members involved in media, education, women empowerment and professional networking. The guests were greeted warmly at the entrance by Consul Teuta Sahatqija and staff members. Pianist Elona Muca and flutist Klodina Kabashi Morina set a welcoming tone with the music arrangements of selected works by renowned Albanian composers. As the Ambassador began to deliver her remarks, the attendees gathered quietly in the main hall huddling around the cameras. “The diaspora became our voice at the time when we were not allowed to have a voice,” said the Ambassador referring to the long periods of oppression in Kosova particularly under the Milosevic rule in the 1990s.
She thanked the media outlets operating in the US for their important role in providing information and reporting the news. For the leading role in providing quality journalism, the Head of the Consulate acknowledged the Albanian Language Service at the Voice of America. Speaking on behalf of the service, Laura Konda, a senior journalist, said that VOA will continue to stay focused on the developments in Kosova. The next honoree was Halil Mula, the dedicated Chief Correspondent of Kosova’s RTV 21 since its beginnings. Since Kosova is not a member of the UN, the Consul General acknowledged Halil Mula as the unofficial liaison thanks to his accreditation at the International Organization. The next recipient was Beqir Sina, a well-recognized reporter and contributor with numerous print and online media platforms, ‘who is known for covering the stories with great efficiency’. In his accepting remarks, Beqir Sina noted that the timing of the event coincided rightfully with Kosova’s historic Assembly session concerning the transformation of the Kosovo Security Forces (KSF) into the country’s first military army. The name of TV Director Adem Belliu is synonymous with Televizioni Kultura Shqiptare, established as early as 1997. The station continuous to be a part of the community’s life. Adem Belliu thanked the diplomatic representative and praised the work of the Consulate that is setting an example for the diplomatic corps. The next honoree was the Editor in Chief of Dielli, Dalip Greca. “His role goes beyond the scope of the newspaper” said the General Counselor since he is regarded “as an historian and guardian of tradition”. In his remarks, Dalip Greca acknowledged the work of Dielli’s predecessors and reminded the audience that the oldest newspaper established in 1909 will be commemorating its 110 anniversary in the coming year.
With regards to the area of education, Ambassador Sahatqija provided a brief overview of the restrictions imposed by the Milosevic regime aiming to disrupt education and schooling in Kosova. The outcome was the development of a parallel system of education that went on for years. A decade after Kosova’s proclaiming its independence, the attention on education is ‘a priority’ for the future of the young country. Therefore, Ed Hammel of the Hartsdale Group was recognized for his role with the Kosovo American Education Fund (KAEF) that provides graduate fellowships to students for top level training at select universities in the US. Also Richard Lukaj was credited for his role in setting up the American University Kosova in Prishtina (AUK) that facilitates the integration of its graduates based on the American standards of education.
The third group of recipients were representatives of the organizations that aim to empower women and advocate on their behalf. The President of AAWO Motrat Qiriazi, Beti Beno and the Founder of the Organization Hope and Peace, Mimoza Dajci were recognized for their promotion of women’s activism. The last award of the evening went to APEN, the Albanian Professionals and Entrepreneurs Network. Speaking on behalf of the young Albanian professionals in the US, Leonard Gega said that APEN provides a solid foundation for building personal and professional goals and moving forward as a community.
Ambassador Teuta Sahatqija thanked the hard-working staff of Kosova’s General Consulate and they all joined the event’s honorees in group pictures. The evening continued with the second part of the music program. The contributions of the community members acknowledged by the Consulate serve as a reminder of the current progress and a call to rise up to the challenges ahead.