News archive - Interview with Prof. Nexhat Daci: “The Academies from the region will find a way to participate jointly in the projects and contribute to changes in the region.”

*Interview with Prof. Nexhat Daci, member of the Academy of Sciences of Kosovo* for over twenty five years and former president of the Academy. This Interview was conducted by on the occasion of the 2nd Joint Science Conference of the Western Balkans Process which was hosted by the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in Vienna on May 22-24, 2016.

Prof. Daci, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us today. Let us start with some first impressions. The 2nd Joint Science Conference of the Western Balkans Process has just ended. In few words – how would you describe your first impression?

Briefly, I think it is an excellent continuation of the Berlin process. And I would like to congratulate the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina for the successful organisation of the conference. The conference was structured and organised precisely how we need this conference to be organised. It is an important conference for all of our countries because it is organised completely at the scientific level while fostering mutual understanding and respect for each other.

Can you tell us something about the results of the 2nd Joint Science Conference and how satisfied you are with the results and recommendations prepared?

Being involved for the second time as participant of the Western Balkans Joint Science Conference, I am very satisfied with the organisation of the conference and its results and conclusions. I am particularly very satisfied with the pleasant working atmosphere and the country’s representatives’ simply being professional and respecting each other. The Austrian and German Academies did an excellent job during the conference, not rushing but waiting for everybody to express their thoughts and opinions. Some assume that if we see no kind of results, then the process will stop. This morning, someone pressured the group to hurry up with results and changes but from my point of view and having in mind the history of the Balkans, which is very painful, it is important not to hurry but to be patient and work very hard. The Academies from the region will find a way to participate jointly in the projects and contribute to changes in the region.

From your point of view, what is the most relevant development when it comes to research and innovation policy in Kosovo? What are the bottlenecks?

We have a good law on the Academy of Sciences; however the political will to invest more in science in general is maybe not that strong – the budget for science is too low and demands are maybe too high. On one side, it is understandable that, in the past 16 years, the priority in Kosovo was on political stability and governments have been putting their focus on funding other priorities instead of science. The pressure is too high for the governments since other problems are much more pressing, such as pensions, health care, social insurance, etc. Thus, people are not satisfied, the society is confronted with many challenges, and it is difficult to push forward the relevance of science policy and increase the budget for science. If you are scientist, you can understand that dissatisfaction is very high within the society.

The main purpose of joining this conference is to cooperate with neighbouring countries and to show the world that we have common ideas and common projects together. Also, the available resources are very similar in the Balkans. Kosovo has the best human resources in the Balkans, maybe in Europe. They have a very well educated youth population (more than 60% is under 35). So we have to use that potential to reverse brain drain and do what is good for the society and the country.

We can stop the migration to Europe only by creating good educational institutions and good research institutions and simply enabling the youth to have a nice life in their own country. Many students (medical e.g.) learn German, English, or other languages just to escape for education and then do not come back. We have to create conditions to change that and for them to go and gain experiences in Germany or Austria – but then come back. One of the results of the conference is that we all share a joint understanding related to youth and brain drain and share the opinion that measures are needed to successfully cope with those challenges. So, we are very happy and grateful to have this international support as well.

Can you please tell us something about the most relevant achievements within the Academy of Sciences? What are the challenges the Academy is currently facing?

The Academy is a small institution that was established 45 years ago. Our main activities are related to publications and implementation of small research projects funded by the government.  The Academy has no institutions and the members come from the universities. The Academy is supported by the government, e.g. we have a new building and support for any kind of networking and knowledge exchange with European peers. So structurally, the Academy is doing fine, with a small budget which I do understand and about which I do not complain. There is also no political influence on the members of the Academy. One of the challenges we face is related to financial support to buy equipment, which is very expensive. That is why we would like to run scientific projects together with other Balkan countries and thus get some financial support from institutions in Brussels.

When speaking about the RTI cooperation on a national and regional level in Western Balkans, it can be said that a lot has been done in recent years, but there is still room for improvement. For example Western Balkan countries improved the regional cooperation in R&D by committing themselves to “Western Balkans Regional R&D Strategy for Innovation,” or Smart Growth pillar of the “South East European 2020 Strategy (SEE 2020),” or the activities related to Western Balkans Process and Joint Science Conferences, or the Steering Platform on Research for Western Balkan countries.  Can you please tell us something about recent developments related to cooperation between the Academy and other relevant national stakeholders (such as HE institutions, relevant Ministries, etc.)? Are there obstacles to cooperation on a national level?

Institutional cooperation (with research institutes, Ministries, universities, etc.) is non-existent in this sense in Kosovo. The cooperation is more expressed at the membership level. For example, our Minister of Education is a member of the Academy; our Prime Minister is also a member of the Academy. So the cooperation among the members of the Academy is very good.

All countries from the region are also associated with Horizon 2020 (except Kosovo, however Kosovo can participate as a third country as well); at first, the preliminary results show some success stories, however overall participation rate is still quite low. In your opinion, what is the most important thing that needs to be done on the national level in order to improve the participation and success rate in Horizon 2020?

It is important that Kosovo is included in different projects with different countries. It is also very important that we from the region understand each other and that we jointly run projects. Kosovo succeeded in being an equal partner in those two conferences and, hopefully, we can jointly prepare some projects together with other Academies from the region.

Prof. Daci, thank you very much for this interview!

*This interview was conducted by Ines Marinkovic, project coordinator.

Geographical focus
  • Kosovo*
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary

Entry created by Ines Marinkovic on July 14, 2016
Modified on July 14, 2016