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From Writer to Ambassador: The Double Life of Beqë Cufaj

Up to now, the writer living in Stuttgart-Degerloch has written remarkable novels with explosive potential for relations between Kosovo and Germany.

Now he will change position and go as an Ambassador of the small Balkan country to Berlin.

Stefan Kister*


Writers are ambassadors of truth even when the literary truth is subject to the laws of literature.

Thus they can, for example, tell their readers how they feel when they come to Germany from one corner of the world in order to find their piece of luck, and instead, they only face problems.

In his novel "Shkëlqimi i Huaj ", the Albanian writer from Kosovo, Beqë Cufaj, has confessed this: what does it mean to belong to a nation from which one of the heroes of the novel says: "all you can learn from this nation is how to manage not to get away from the difficulties during the whole life".

Beqë Cufaj lives with his family in Degerloch for years now. This morning he cheered on his younger daughter who plays in the SV Hoffeld football field - and maybe this made her team win this match three to zero. But she will probably have to look for a new team soon. Some stories of migration could be started in such a way as to initiate a turning point in the tragic - stories told by Mr Cufaj himself. His own story is different. It is not about deportation, nor the foreign splendour, but about a weird mission. This is because, the writer, who was born in Kosovo in 1970, will be his country's Ambassador to Berlin.

In February, Kosovo marked the tenth anniversary of independence and it is obvious that the newest state of Europe still faces difficulties. Just recently, the EU justice mission, EULEX, which has been for 10 years there, has stopped operating in this country.

This mission, which has faced difficulties due to the lack of executive power and corruption allegations, has faced major criticisms.

Mr Cufaj wrote even for this issue in his novel, getting a lot of attention: 'project@ party' is the book he tells about the social, economic and political misery of a country where a whole army of international community helpers raise and establish a kind of humanitarian regime.

In Kosovo, Germany is the most beloved country
Until now, Beqë Cufaj's family lived next to the house of former German President Theodor Heuss. And now Mr Cufaj is awaiting accreditation to President Frank Walter Steinmeier at Schloss Bellevue. One should not be surprised when a heartfelt and temperamental writer cannot even believe the role he is going to assume. And it seems like this sunny afternoon he is enjoying the last free time left with Jeans and an open shirt drinking coffee, before getting on the lines of diplomacy with the strict rules on public appearances.

On 20 February 2008, the Federal Republic of Germany has accepted Kosovo as a sovereign state, unlike other EU member states such as Slovakia, Romania, Greece, and Cyprus, which have their own unresolved minority problems, and therefore have not recognized the new state. In 2009, in Berlin, Kosovo opened its Embassy with four consulates in it. Their top leader will now be a writer who 22 years ago, during the armed conflict between Serbia and Kosovo, was a journalist accredited in Bonn. In that time, Steinmeier was the chief of the Chancellery.

There was a famous saying at that time “Steinmeier knows everything for the Balkans”, states Beqë Cufaj. He highly appreciates the fact that Steinmeier attended the ceremony for burial of Ibrahim Rugova, the first president of the country, at that time under the administration of UN following liberation from Serbia, thus giving a clear signal.
”A signal from Berlin- this is what people in Kosovo expect”, states Cufaj, who no longer sounds like a writer but more like someone who tries to use a new linguistic register.

“Germany is the most beloved country for Kosovo, only that it seems that no one is aware of this in Berlin. The majority of Kosovo Diaspora in Europe lives in here. These people are not the same as they were twenty years ago. Now they are hardworking masters, gardeners, gourmets, academics and entrepreneurs”.

How does literature get along with regulated official language?

Despite achievement in the field of integration, the issue of communication improvement remains a challenge. Kosovo is considered to be a deeply corrupt country, a black hole of the Balkans. “All countries of the Balkans were enabled visa liberalization but Kosovo, and this is embarrassing.” He suffers more when the Minister President of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, in his last visit conducted to Balkans, stayed in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, but not in Kosovo. „This has to change. Around 100.000 albanians from Kosovo live in Baden-Württemberg“. While listening to the designated Ambassador, one cannot question whether the literature creates the altered and contradictory viewpoint? Or how one can bear the altered service of the language of approved rules? Beqë Cufaj sees no break in concerned missions. “I have always been involved in politics and in my works I have always narrated the need for justice in the life of people and I will do this even in my new function.”

Dragan Velikic, a Serbian writer, is a good friend of him. He served in the diplomatic service as Ambassador of Serbia to Austria. He was instructed, as Beqë Cufaj states, to stay away Kosovar diplomats to Austria. However, before going to Vienna, he greeted his colleagues from the youngest country Kosovo. Maybe for writers apply other rules of understanding, more universal, beyond all protocols.

Beqë Cufaj considers that a new momentum is necessary in his new appointment. Deeply-rooted Suebi family enjoys the berlin air. “It is not always easy to live among artists” states Cufaj rolling eyes and adding “with diplomats will be much easy”.

*Published in Stuttgarter Zeitung dhe Stuttgarter Nachrichten