Gerxhaliu: Diaspora does much more for Kosovo than Kosovo does for the diaspora

Safet Grdžaljiu
Source: Kosovo Online

Former president of the Chamber of Commerce of Kosovo, Safet Gerxhaliu, emphasizes to Kosovo Online that the diaspora is one of the key factors for political and social stability in Kosovo and should not be viewed solely from a financial perspective. On the other hand, he adds that much more effort is put into politicizing and dividing the diaspora than allowing it to have its own voice and vision.

He highlights that recently, the greatest benefits for Kosovo have come from the private sector and the diaspora, which, in his opinion, does everything it can to support Kosovo. He believes that one of the biggest injustices is the emphasis on the figure of 1.3 million euros of remittances that arrived in Kosovo during 2023.

"I think that is the biggest injustice when our diaspora is portrayed because the support of the diaspora to Kosovo is much greater than that budget voted in the Kosovo Assembly. There are two ways the diaspora sends this money. First, through financial transactions via banks and other institutions, and second, they spend most when they are in Kosovo. We have made some analyses, a family of four staying in Kosovo for three or four weeks spends between five and 18 thousand euros. Therefore, I believe that the unofficial contribution of the diaspora is far greater than the official one," Gerxhaliu states.

According to him, the diaspora is the main actor in Kosovo's functioning, economy, political, and social stability.

"This is the third generation of Kosovo's diaspora. Only in Switzerland, there are about 400 thousand, according to some data. It is said that there are more than 350 thousand in Germany. So we can say that there are up to 800-900 thousand just in Europe, but the problem is that this is not the classic diaspora from the 1970s, where only those who did physical labor were present. The third generation has made a positive step forward," our interlocutor says.

He says that diaspora members today in Switzerland, Germany, or Austria are doing fine jobs in banks, insurance companies, etc., so the profile of the diaspora is changing, and education becomes a priority, which was not the case earlier.

"The diaspora should not be viewed only from a financial perspective. It has far more value than money: education, work culture, they are ambassadors of Kosovo, and in that sense, I think there should be a package of facilitative measures that would motivate the diaspora to invest in production, new technology, education, to add value to that money, from which citizens, Kosovo, and everyone else would benefit," Gerxhaliu says.

The problem, he adds, is that the diaspora does far more for Kosovo than Kosovo does for the diaspora.

"On the part of Kosovo institutions, much more is done to politicize and divide the diaspora than to allow the diaspora to have its own voice and vision. I think the diaspora also needs to have its voice in the assembly and other institutions, which it currently does not have, but I hope it will," Gerxhaliu believes.

Regarding visa liberalization, he notes that the combination of diaspora experience and the desire of young people to study, learn, see, and analyze Europe from various angles gives a good perspective, but he warns that Europe is no longer what it used to be.

"The fact that the three main countries were in recession, that only in Germany you have around six million social cases... isn't that proof that things are not going as desired and that there will be a new perspective opening up for those who have money to stay there or make a combination to invest in Kosovo? But no one should fear liberalization. Especially since we as a government should not spend time counting how many people come and go, but what we are doing to make them stay," Gerxhaliu concludes.