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A half-true Kosovar story and five million euros in between

by Jeton Neziraj
Literature

At the end of March, the former Government of Kosovo decided to allocate a fund of five million euros for athletes and artists from the independent cultural scene. The “emergency package,” as it was called, aimed to help artists and athletes at a time when, due to the pandemic, all cultural and sports activities were completely cancelled. There was room for enthusiasm. Damn it, I said, something normal is happening in this country at last! When I told my colleagues and international friends about this, in the various zoom-discussions we had at the time, everyone was amazed. I mean, a similar fund had been allocated in Germany, Switzerland… and perhaps in other western countries. But in Kosovo?!! A Romanian colleague of mine jokingly told me that she envied us and that after the pandemic she would be moving to Kosovo.

The promised five million euros have still not been distributed to artists and athletes. And will most likely never be. We have to conclude that we were deceived. But we must also admit that the deception was part of a conspiracy of Euro-Atlantic proportions. Just like it happens in Hollywood movies!

The former government that had allocated the funds was overthrown in a no-confidence vote, after only around fifty days in power. It was dismissed – or so people speculate – because of its “non-cooperation” with the Trump administration, which is said to be in a rush for a quick peace deal between Kosovo and Serbia because it wants an international diplomacy victory, ahead of the autumn elections there.

When the five-million-euro fund was promised, I made a quick calculation and estimated that I would get about 2,000 euros, if not more. I went to the shops nearby and I bought not only the essentials, but also alcohol and expensive pork prosciutto! I showed the newspaper headlines to the shopkeepers who hesitated to give me things on credit. And that convinced them. I also ran up a debt at various pharmacies, I ordered new furniture for the living room, I bought a new computer, and so on. So, I spent the 2,000 euros, that I believed were mine, like a drunk sailor on shore leave.

I think you can imagine how this story ends.

I’m now thinking of erecting a tent in front of the Government building and sleeping there, as an act of protest. I am sure that I’ll be joined by dozens of other Kosovar artists and athletes, who like me, spent their money like drunk sailors. I’m even thinking of asking for a two thousand euros cheque directly from Donald Trump himself. It might work, you never know!

Translation: Alexandra Channer
Original version on the website of LCB diplomatique

 

Jeton Neziraj is a playwright and the director of Qendra Multimedia in Pristina, Ksosovo. He has written over twenty-five plays that have been staged, translated, and published widely in Europe and the USA. The German theatre magazine Theater der Zeit and the German radio station Deutschlandfunk Kultur described him as “Kafka of the Balkans,” while the Los Angeles Times called him “a world-class playwright who challenges our complacency at every twist and turn.“

 

“Das Verborgene aufspüren – Politik im Alltag begegnen“
A forum for exploring topical social issues from a literary perspective: LCB diplomatiquethe Literary Colloquium Berlin’s alternative news portal is a platform where authors chronicle the political dimensions of their everyday lives. Every Monday there is a new article with images and text in its original language, as well as in German and English. Since its launch in 2019, thirty-five correspondents have reported from a wide variety of countries.

As part of POSTWEST \\ guess where, invited artists Jeton Neziraj (June 15, Kosovo) and Florian Hein (June 22, Germany) will share their views on social conditions in their countries. In addition to being published on LCB diplomatique, these articles will also be available to read on the POSTWEST website.

A cooperation between LCB diplomatiquethe Literary Colloquium Berlin’s alternative news portal and the Volksbühne Berlin