Mr. Vllahiu, how long have been an ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo in the Czech Republic?
I was appointed the Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo in the Czech Republic in April 2018 and I have a little more than a year in office. It's the first year and it is one of the most beautiful years, although in diplomacy I am for the first time. Prague and the Czech Republic are generally one of the most beautiful places, with a history and rich heritage and tradition and with a remarkable development. A European country, very open and very warm.
Could you please provide with an overview of your career before becoming an ambassador?
My whole life experience relates to journalism. Over 27 years I have been faithful to a very noble and remarkable profession. I used to work for many years with international media. Initially with Swedish Radio and Television in Swedish, Albanian and Serbo-Croatian programs. Then with Deutsche Welle Radio, where I spent the most difficult part of Kosovo's history, the war period. Immediately after the war, I started working with the BBC World Service. I spent 11 years with BBC WS of which nearly 3 years in London at the BBC World Service Albanian Section. I spent a year with Radio Free Europe, head of Kosovo Unit and about two months in Prague at the RFE/RL headquarters. But journalism and politics sometimes clash together. I spent 5 years in the Cabinet of the former President of the Republic of Kosovo as her chief of staff and spokesman. I have been for months in the cabinet of the incumbent Prime Minister of Kosovo, as his adviser and spokesman for the Kosovo Government.
Would you highlight some moments of your career, maybe related to the declaration of independence of the Republic of Kosovo?
In my journalistic career I covered important events for Kosovo. I reported from the first lines of the wars and the crisis in Kosovo and then also in Northern Macedonia and in the Presevo Valley, in the southern part of Serbia. All these countries that have been involved in the war and armed conflicts. I was a participant in many important events for Kosovo before and after the war, and I have reported about them. Even at the time of talks on Kosovo's status, between Kosovo and Serbia in Vienna, under the auspices of former President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari, as the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General. I co-directed the program at BBC World Today on the day of Kosovo's declaration of independence on February 17, 2008, and I ran a part of this program from Pristina. Moreover, I have reported from The Hague when the International Court of Justice has taken the decision on the legality of the declaration of Kosovo's independence in July 2010. All have had an important moment; reporting on the history that happens. So a new Kosovo’s history and one of the most important historical moments for the people of Kosovo. Reporting from The International Court of Justice in The Hague has been one of the most impressive moments after the Declaration of Independence Day. The right of peoples to self-determination, and in this case the right of the people of Kosovo to decide for their future, is a major story and few people have had the chance to be witnesses or to report about this history.
Could you tell us what the work of the ambassador entails on a daily basis?
A highly responsible work that requires a lot of dedication, knowledge and ability to communicate. Indeed Ambassadors represent their state in another state. And that is the important part of the job. Creating, cultivating and maintaining links between the two countries is of special importance. Diplomatic meetings with host country institutions, political, diplomatic, economic and cultural rapprochement are at the core of the work. The Diplomatic Corps in Prague is extremely cooperative and our meetings, meetings, exchange of ideas and views and information are regular. One day an Ambassador is a committed and busy day with many meetings and more efforts to build bridges. And in the end is the part that probably resembles journalistic work. Reporting to the country's institutions. Of events and meetings, current developments in the host country and valuable information. The ambassador is state representation in another state, so is the face and voice of the state in the host country.
How long have you been in Prague? What is the main difference between life in Prague and in the Republic of Kosovo?
I'm in Prague for more than a year. I'm here since April 16, 2018, with my spouse, who is engaged with the Diplomatic Spouses Association and with my daughter studying at one of Prague's Universities. I have two daughters and the older one is in Pristina. Finally, I am also the grandfather of a nephew who has changed our lives.
When you ask me about the main difference between Prague and my state, let me tell you: I actually like to see what's common; nature beauties and the affinity of human warmth that both countries have. Their history, and their development. The Republic of Kosovo has its peculiarities as much as the Czech Republic. Both have their stories, their inheritances and their natural beauties, but above all have the spiritual beauties of their peoples. Kosovo is a new country, with an extraordinary youth as much as the Czech Republic. Kosovo has a painful and difficult history and is now on its path of development. The Czech Republic has also had its difficulties but today it is a developed country within the European family. We want to be part of this family we belong to. And so with the Czech Republic we are building bridges of cooperation, the ties between our peoples because of the present and tomorrow we share.
So far, do you have some favorite places in Prague?
I prefer to visit historical sites and parts of the cultural heritage of the Czech Republic. I'm impressed by the Prague Castle, its history. The cultural heritage of the Czech Republic is extraordinary. I visited the National Museum and various galleries in the city that carry important parts of the history of the Czech Republic. Czech architecture with a lot of impressions. But let me tell you that the beauty of the Czech Republic lies everywhere. Even in Bohemian Switzerland National Park, in Brno, Karlštejn, in Karlovy Vary and in Český Krumlov, Kutná Hora, Pardubice, Plzen. I have not yet managed to visit most of the Czech Republic but I believe that within the mandate I will have enough time to see and experience the beauties. Over the weekend I prefer walking in Prague. And especially in the parks around Prague. Currently I live near the Petrin Observatory and it makes me feel close to Prague. A wonderful nature. The Czech Republic is a beautiful country, with wise and loving people and with a wonderful youth.
What is your plan for future, would you prefer to stay in Prague on the position of an ambassador or would you rather meet some new career challenges back in the Republic of Kosovo?
The diplomatic mission has its own rules and determines the length of time. I have my mandate for 4 years and I want to finish this period by carrying out my mission with the dedication. I do not know what the future after 4 years brings, but I know that every task that I am trusted by my state I will carry out with full responsibly. Prague is one of my favorite cities and the friendship with the Czech Republic is of importance for us. Everywhere I am after four years, Prague will always be in my mind and heart.
Autor: Oskar Blažek