National Coordinator of Network of Organizations for Rural Development of Kosovo (NORDK) – the leading network for rural development in the country. Member of the Steering Group of the European Rural Parliament (ERP).
One year later, what assessment can you make of the ERP 2019 in Candás?
My personal impression of the ERP is that it was very well organised. The more important for me were Field Visits. In general it was OK. I enjoyed too much meeting new people and rural development activities. I would like to mention the engagement and the commitments of the Asturian Network of Rural Development (READER) because the Network was brilliant.
And what is your assessment of the European Rural Youth Parliament, also held in Candás?
It was the first time we organised. For me the only issue was that not as many countries participated as in the ERP because of budget limitations, as the activity was financed by the Erasmus Project, but for this first experience it was very good and the best decision was the both ERPs should be held in the same place. The idea would be to have more countries involved for the next Youth ERP and too much more youth activities from the different European countries.
Have new projects emerged from the new contacts at Candás?
I personally have contacts with all of them because we participated also in other Rural Parliaments before but my colleagues could make new contacts, especially in Youth Parliament. It’s very good to exchange some practices, knowledge and information in relation with some new projects.
What projects is your organisation working on now in Kosovo?
I’m the manager of two projects. One is about the institutional development of our Network and we are working on several aspects: increasing the participation of women in rural areas, improving women from an economic point of view in these areas for sure and advocating and lobbying for agricultural rural development policies.
Another project is dealing to promote the Green Economy in Kosovo, especially in business located in rural areas.
How many people live in Kosovo and how many live in rural areas?
About two million of people live in Kosovo. About 55% of our territory is rural but not too many people live in these areas because they migrated in the cities. From two millions living in Kosovo, about one million of habitants are youth people under 25 years old. So 50% of population are youth, like me.
How many women live in rural areas?
Last statistics were on 2011 and the next will be on 2021 – we’ll see the data next year. So we don’t know because of the migration, a lot of people from Kosovo are living abroad, in Diaspora, especially in Germany, where nearly half a million people live, and Switzerland, with some 300,000. So about one million of people from Kosovo are abroad, living in Germany, Switzerland and United States. In Kosovo, 95% of the population is Albanian, because we are the same nation in two different states. But in general we can say that it’s 50% are women and 50% men in rural areas. But it is common in Europe for people to migrate from rural to urban areas, and women and youth people are not too much interested in rural activities. Although in Kosovo we established young farmers clubs, there five young farmers clubs, and we are trying to organize the youth rural parliament next year.
What is your main economic activity?
In rural areas for sure agriculture is, in general terms in Kosovo much more is trade, so we don’t produce too much. The main production is vegetables and vineyards, wine, grape. The main sector in Economy is agriculture, livestock, these two kinds of activities.
The First Kosovo Rural Parliament has just taken place, how about the experience
It was a very good experience, the very first time we organize in fact. It was a whole four days and we decided organise it in spite of the pandemic circumstances. So we organize physical presentations. About 50-60 participants attended the rural parliament sessions and above 20-30 attended via Zoom. So it was a very good experience and we had good results from the sessions, activities…
What did you talk about in this gathering?
In general we talked about the implications of the pandemic in rural areas, of Covid 19. Also we talked about the integration of women and youth in rural areas, challenges of the implementation of the agricultural and rural development policies in Kosovo and also the LEADER approach in western Balkans, especially in Kosovo.
What have you learned from organising the National Rural Parliament?
It was the first Rural Parliament that we organize in Kosovo and was interesting because it was held in the context of the pandemic. For sure we were limited to organize in the way that we wanted, but it was good that we achieve the results. My personally impression is good for networking; we gathered many activities and experts and the members of organizations of our network, also from different municipalities in Kosovo. Kosovo has 36 municipalities and several big regions because we are a small country and we have promoted the participations of these regions in the rural parliament. Also the Government and different organizations that they are working in Kosovo. We prepare a Manifesto, which is a declaration of rural parliament, in Albanian language and in English, with 26 main issues topics.
Spain does not have its own Rural Parliament, why would you recommend it?
I would recommend to Spain to organize the first Rural Parliament. Spain is a big country with a lot of traditions and very good rural areas, I personally as a member of the ERP and PREPARE can also provide my personal and voluntary support, and I would be glad if you invite me and other colleagues to attend your Parliament. Covid-19 will pass and the world can become much better than it is. So for sure I recommend to you organize this Rural Parliament. It’s easier for you if you organise your National Parliament because you have experience with the ERP and this is a kind of paradox because you already co-organized the ERP still not your National Parliament. So I think you will not be difficult for you to organize it. For sure a main topic should be LEADER in Spain, because during the ERP I met a lot of people that they know about de programme but they want to know much more about the leader implementation, especially from the EU support.