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1-st Conference: "Tako Talentet Shqiptare- Meet Alb Talents"

March 28-29, 2014   Vlore

“Talent is the passion to reach the dream, it makes a person happy and the progress more actual…that is why we have to run without falling and to walk without stopping, with our head high and our mind leading us”.

“The one who wants finds, the one who wants makes, the one who wants reaches”. Inspired by this slogan the Center for Regional and Local Development Studies in collaboration with Ismail Qemali University (Vlore), Regional Development Agency, Albanian Guide, local and central authorities in the region of Vlora as well as other personalities organized the first conference “Tako Talentet Shqiptare- Meet Alb Talents” on March 28-29 in the city of Vlora.

This conference, the first of its kind, is part of our project with the same name: “Tako Talentet Shqiptare- Meet Alb Talents”.

Albania, as a country in transition, with a weak economy and a high level of unemployment could not escape without being affected by the phenomenon of brain drain. In my opinion, this is an urgent topic which should be discussed much more often in our public and institutional debates. It is considered a loss of a part of the highly qualified human resources and a lack of our country`s ability to stimulate brain circulation, so the circulation of the brain from and for Albania, which has incredible benefits for our country, examining the means which would allow the passing from one phase to the other. This conference, with a mission exactly like that based on the previous efforts of our country, institutions and society, initiated this re-discussion and gave a high priority on it in our preoccupations, bringing together different personalities that have the same interest about this topic. The fact that Albania, according to the latest study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development located in Paris (OECD), is one of the most affected countries in Europe by the phenomenon of brain drain, with 26.7 %, is the reason why this discussion is so urgent.

The objective of this conference, unlike the up to the present initiatives was to enable a direct dialogue between the students, scholars, academics, artists, freelancers and the local, central, executive and legislative governing institutions to discuss the chances for legal changes or administrative practices in order to fulfil the dreams of the people who want to come back in our country, but they cannot do that because of objective reasons. It made also possible a discussion about the dream of those who want to contribute to their city, district or country of origin from where they live.

Members of the discussion panel, for two days consecutively, were important personalities of the academic and science world, currently they are living abroad, such as Prof. Laura Mersini Houghton, Dr. Detina Zalli, or personalities that have recently come back to Albania such as Prof. As. Mirela Bogdani, Dr. Sokol Bana, Dr. Elvis Mocka, Dr. Ermal Xhelilaj. Academics who have previously had such experiences: Prof. Albert Qarri, Prof. Kosta Barjaba, Prof. Shezai Rrokaj, Prof. As. Mira Shehu, professionals from the enterprise field or media in emigration such as Vjollca Staro, Eva Habili (journalists, Germany), Gerta Malaj (IMB, USA), emigrants that have already made their choice to come back in their homeland, such as Vangjel Maskaj (Albanian Guide), (EU), Idlir Sinani, Eduart Kola, Desdemona Stefa. They were telling us about the advantages, disadvantages and difficulties they have faced in the enterprise field. Members of the panel were also successful people educated in Albania who have made successful careers in international structures such as Prof. AS. Valbona Karacia, representatives of the business community such as Florenca Nani or Besnik Pepi, representatives of homologous associations such as the Network A@san Blerina Babaliu or young professionals, representatives of the regional institutions such as Ines Stasa or Mariana Cani. An important role played the discussion and the presentation of the experiences of the expert and scholar of emigration living in Switzerland Mr. Luan Bytyqi, the chief of the Reintegration office in the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Republic of Kosovo Mis. Violeta Berisha, the Director of the human resources in this ministry Mis. Vjollca Bruqi, Miss. Bygit Bude, a German expert in reintegration affairs. There were also present student that are studying in Albania and abroad, in the second and third level, pupils who were on the verge of choosing where to study.

Prof. Zamira Cavo, Dr. Perparim Kabo, Miss. Edlira Cepani, Sindi  Halili and dozens of other people have made a great contribution to the welfare of this discussion through their work, comments or letters. The discussions in those panels, be those direct or through video-messages were considered to be a continuation of the discussion that were initiated online since December 02, 2013. In this online discussion have been involved 110 academics, freelancers, scholars and students from every part of the world. They have given important and very rational opinions about the topic of discussion. They offered also their vision about strengthening the lobby for this problem. There were also pupils, students, and entrepreneurs or professionals who have lately come back to Albania. They were interviewed from our staff in the city of Vlora and Tirana. The discussions in the panels, the video-messages, the interviews or the conclusions of the online interviews will be published gradually, day after day, for the readers of our website.

By evaluating the contribution of the qualified professionals to the consolidation of the democracy and to the construction of a modern society, this conference shed light on some aspects of their reintegration in Albania, firstly from the people with whom we shared this idea and then from the broadening network, through communication online.

Our network is broadening. Within a few months it has attracted hundreds of collaborators and it is evolving naturally towards a social group that consists of transforming the proposals and ideas into concrete actions more and more every day. In our center the different skills in this process are present and they were reflected clearly in this conference.

The conference, apart from the proposal for a deep analysis of the causes of the phenomenon of brain drain and the lack of brain circulation examines the instruments which may be in favor of the transition from the first phenomenon to the second. The conference personalized cases of the Albanian excellence and it also offered concrete proposals to start giving a solution to this problem that has been present for many years, which has significant consequences on the current and perspective development of our country.

So which is our challenge about the future?

The challenge that we have to face is double: on the one hand the significant increase in highly qualified human resources who leave our country and go in other countries. Of great importance are the personalities with high qualifications in science or the people with high technological skills because when they leave the country this has bad consequences for the competitiveness in the country. On the other hand the exhaustion of the capacities of our country to attract highly qualified capital from abroad including here even those that their country of origin is Albania. So the loss of the Albanian talents combined with the disability to attract foreign brain is a hard punishment for our country in the context of a globalized world where competition is increasingly developed based on knowledge and innovation.

Therefore a mutual challenge of the state and the Albanian society remains the return of the professionals in the country as well as their reintegration in the social, economic and political environment. This means the process of adaption to their country of origin in order that the knowledge accumulated abroad to serve not only the individual progress but at the same time the progress of our country and society. In this way we will improve the understanding of the phenomenon and we will describe the activities and actions that should be undertaken to support the application of the new regional and national policies that support on the one hand the return of the young people in our country and on the other hand the discouragement of the young people to abandon the country through a process of innovation and through territorial development that can make our young people protagonists.

The policies that the Albanian government has undertaken up to the present including here even those of the Albanian business to attract those capacities turn out to be inadequate. The efforts to encourage this process have had a low profile and have been not well coordinated.

In the current conditions, it is much needed an energetic political intervention to administer those amounts of people as well as a multi-disciplinary approach toward this phenomenon.

Taking well-coordinated steps like these in a large scale and taking into consideration the experiences of advanced countries remains a permanent objective for us. This thing was intended even in our first conference. But while a high representative profile was reached by the academics, the other personalities were not good enough. We intend to actualize this inclusion in the process even from other levels: of the legislative and executive including here the field of enterprise. We will not stop being persistent till the people that have to listen to this and take the appropriate steps, do it. We aim to engage an intervention of the high profile and we will manage to do this with arguments and confidence, by being persistent and by working hard. Therefor the panel that was bound to be the last one in the conference will be conducted through a workshop in Tirana with high representatives of the executive and legislative, completing in this way the first phase of this project. At the end of it we will deliver the recommendations of this conference that were presented by the work groups in the second day of the conference. These recommendations have been elaborated again by the staff of the center.

In this way we intend that together with you, to encourage the initiation of concrete and effective steps in this field. Our discussion continues over time and it goes beyond the walls of the conference because it is a concrete discussion which includes all of us.

To conclude, in order to change direction and to start a systematic change from brain drain into brain circulation, it is needed will, the investment of the institutions, civil society and economic operators. We are going to offer our proposal for this change of direction. All together, we will prove that everything is possible because there is a sense of the necessity, motivation and will to contribute passionately to the administration of a positive change. This conference is really the first step necessary toward a cultural change to which we have to contribute a lot.

Let us coordinate the roles and share the responsibilities together! Thank You!

Luiza Hoxhaj
Executive director