A personal reflection on democracy and crises, made the Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti, in a lecture held at Brown University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Describing the United States of America as a place of great progressive movements for freedoms and human rights, which often had their source from American students and universities, Prime Minister Kurti said that his political journey began twenty years ago. "for five years, as a university student from an injustice done to his people in the right to dignified education", it is said in the press release.

He recalled the engagement in the Student Union of the University of Prishtina, the beginning of cooperation with Adem Demaçi, as a representative of the Kosovo Liberation Army, his arrest by the Milosevic regime and the political engagement after his release from prison, again as a need for injustice.

Following his speech, Prime Minister Kurti elaborated on the guiding ideas and actions of the "Vetëvendosje Movement", initially as a civil disobedience to the government overseen by the international community.

"If the feeling of injustice was what initially pushed me towards political activism, what guides me today as Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo is the ideal of a good servant," said Prime Minister Kurti.

He said that over the past year the Government has had to face many difficult challenges immediately, including the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"And yet, despite all this, we managed to have an unprecedented economic growth of 10.53% over the past year, a significant part of which was fueled by the greater trust of the people in our government," said Kurti.

Regarding the crises of democracy in the region, the Prime Minister said that "the more democratic the societies of the Western Balkans become, the greater the chances for long-term peace and cooperation between nations in our part of the world."

"With the democratic slide taking place against the background of such great existential threats as climate change and nuclear war, the risks are too high for us to remain inactive," said Prime Minister Kurti, among others.

After the speech, there was an interactive question and answer session with the students and the audience present in the Brown University auditorium.

Prime Minister Kurti's full speech at Brown University:

Distinguished Members and Guests of the Outstanding Academic Community of Brown,

Ladies and gentleman,

It is an honor and a privilege to speak with you today.

This country has produced some of the most inspiring social movements in modern political history, from 19th-century abolitionism and early feminism to the 20th-century civil rights movement, to the present-day equality and equality movements. dignity.

In addition, your home state of Rhode Island is also known for its tradition of independence and dissent, where its founder was a dissident and free thinker like Roger Williams, who was expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for defending his powerful freedom of conscience.

Even closer to home, elite American universities like yours have often been at the forefront of progressive social change.

As someone who started his political activism as a university student, this is a particularly suitable place for me to say a few words on the topic of democracy and crisis.

I was driven into political engagement about twenty-five years ago by an unbearable sense of injustice.

In the apartheid Kosovo of the 1990s, it was difficult to be a human being and not be overwhelmed by a deep sense of indignation about what was happening.

Although no Kosovar Albanian had many privileges at the time, even a small degree of relative privilege made one feel socially responsible.

As a college student with a middle class background, I felt like I could not stand idly by and still be able to look at myself in the mirror.

And so it began.

.

.

I first joined the Student Union of the University of Prishtina, a student organization that worked to end the horrific discrimination against Albanian students by Slobodan Milosevic's regime.

Shortly afterwards, I was invited by the late Adem Demaçi (or Baci as we would cordially call him in Kosovo) to join him as an assistant in his recent role as political representative of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

I gladly accepted the invitation.

(It is worth noting here that Demaçi was entering this new role after serving three prison sentences, which served a total of 28 years in some of the most horrific Yugoslav prisons).

This first wartime attack on my political activism ended with my arrest by the Milosevic regime on April 27, 1999, a month after the NATO air campaign against Serbia.

After two and a half years as a political prisoner, I was released in December 2001. As soon as he was released from his third prison in 1990, Demaçi said that he had been released from the small Yugoslav prison in the "big prison" called Kosovo.

After my release from prison, I instead found out that I had been released in a "big hospital".

It seemed to me that Demaçi's "big prison" had been replaced by the "big hospital".

Post-war Kosovo was reduced to what Giorgio Agamben theorized as a "state of exclusion," an undefined territory run by an irresponsible international administration that treated Kosovars as a bunch of patients without self-determination.

Once again, a sense of injustice would push me into political action.

Together with a group of friends, some of them former political prisoners like me, in June 2005 we founded the "Vetëvendosje Movement".

When I look back at some of the key features of our political enterprise, two guiding ideas stand out to me as particularly important: (1) action before organization and (2) reflective action directed at the structures to be transformed.

Let me elaborate on each one in turn.

We started getting involved in acts of civil disobedience before we had a proper organization.

Organization was the cumulative result of our actions, not their predecessor.

Our identity as a group was forged into collective action, through which we would place our bodies where our words and beliefs were.

Such actions would sometimes involve symbolic violations of the law;

this is only part of the definition of civil disobedience.

For example, we wrote political slogans on government buildings or on UNMIK vehicles.

Most importantly, we also organized mass peaceful protests, thus declaring that we are not patients in the hospital, but free, self-determined agents.

In doing so, we were claiming the fundamental civil rights (such as the right to peaceful assembly) that the ruling ideology of the time was denying us.

In this respect, we were simply good students of the history of liberation struggles around the world: rights should not be expected as a gift from gentlemen;

rather, they should be taken from below by subordinates.

Freedom must be understood as liberation.

We become free only by choosing to act freely, or as Immanuel Kant said, "we do not mature toward freedom except through our own efforts (which we can only do when we are free)."

By putting action before organization, we were manifesting this fundamental truth of the history of social transformations.

An additional virtue of this way of proceeding is that it protects us from the dangers of bureaucracy.

A strong and rigid organization tends to stifle creative political action by shifting attention to offices and the distribution of power.

As a result, instead of putting yourself in action (characteristic of the political activist profession), you put yourself in possession.

A bureaucrat has to defend the ground and maintain offices.

But as the young Marx already knew, the more you have, the less you are.

Another important aspect of the way we did things was the insistence on reflective action aimed at the structures that would be transformed - something sometimes known as the Greek word praxis.

The emphasis here falls on the "reflective".

Putting action in front of the organization carries the risk of falling into the trap of actionism - that is, acting foolishly, just for the sake of action.

The only way to protect yourself from this habit is to institutionalize a thorough discussion and radical self-criticism.

Thus, from day one, our movement sought to create an atmosphere of collective discussion and inquiry in which there would be no sacred ideas or infallible personalities.

If our action were successful in transforming society, we would do better to make sure it was based on sound reasoning.

And there is no better way to do this than by fostering a ruthless critical spirit, including self-criticism.

So before our actions we would always make storms of ideas for proposals, argue strongly for and against them, and call for a vote only at the end, once the discussion process is completely exhausted.

After our actions on the road, we gathered to reflect on what went wrong and what we can learn from ongoing experience.

We tried to model our cyclical learning process by acting on the research process.

We would treat a new idea as scientists treat a newly proposed explanatory hypothesis - that is, we would first subject it to a thorough critique, after which, and assuming that the idea survived the initial consideration for coherence and reliability. internal, we would test its external validity, experimenting with it there in the public world.

Of course, unlike scientific experiments, our actions had an important moral dimension for them: they aimed to serve as a means for the Kosovar people to gain a critical awareness of their situation.

In this sense, our "experiments" were also exercises in critical pedagogy (à la Freire).

If the feeling of injustice was what initially pushed me towards political activism, what guides me today as Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo is the ideal of a good servant.

The servant concept of leadership is derived from the Latin word we commonly use to refer to a government department - i.e., minister.

Minister in Latin means to serve, which means that a minister is supposed to be a minister.

From this we can conclude that the description of my work as Prime Minister is to be the chief servant of the people of Kosovo.

I must say that I really like what the Latin etymology suggests in this case.

A servant concept of leadership reminds us that democratic representation should not be a contract of alienation.

In a democracy, people should not alienate their right to self-government to their elected leaders, but delegate it.

To be a faithful delegate means to be a good servant.

A service leader is humble and empathetic, listens actively, engages directly with people, and generally aims to lead by example.

While the roots of the various crises facing humanity today are many and varied, it seems to me that narcissistic and authoritarian leadership has to do with our current global situation.

Perhaps, then, our world can use a service leadership.

During my last year in government, I have tried to realize this demanding vision of leadership.

My government has had to face many difficult challenges immediately, including the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And yet, despite all this, we managed to have an unprecedented economic growth of 10.53% over the past year, a significant part of which was fueled by the greater trust of the people in our government.

Such confidence translates into greater investment, higher consumption, and higher tax revenues.

This shows, it seems to me, that service leadership is rewarded even in tangible economic terms.

Our overwhelming electoral victory on February 14, 2021 proved once again the democratic spirit of our people.

I believe that this will contribute to the renewal of confidence in the democratic process not only in Kosovo, but also throughout the region.

The more democratic the societies of the Western Balkans become, the greater the chances for long-term peace and cooperation between nations in our part of the world.

In today's world, many are complaining about the current state of international politics, and rightly so.

It is when cooperation and international solidarity have become so essential to the survival of human civilization that it seems as if we have become less capable of it.

However, by nature the crisis is deceptive.

As the Greek roots of the word crisis reveal, it is a turning point, full of opportunities.

Whether we use this opportunity well or badly depends entirely on us.

Despair is not an option, especially not in this time of democratic backwardness even in parts of the developed West.

Right-wing authoritarian leaders are cooperating closely with each other across international borders.

Not only should we Democrats do the same, but we should do it more often, and much better.

With the democratic slide taking place against the backdrop of such major existential threats as climate change and nuclear war, the risks are too high for us to stand idly by.

International solidarity among all those who are committed to democracy is a must.

Together we face;

while divided we fail.

Thank you for your attention and I look forward to our discussion.

/ Telegraphy /

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