Visions of the Future: Prizren
The historic city in futures near and far.
The year is 2101. DokuFest is celebrating its 100th anniversary, volunteers are partying until dawn and are fresh-faced as ever the next day, and Kosovo is helping the Nordic countries with their film production. Or so proclaimed the time-travelling visitor who at the opening ceremony of the 16th DokuFest in 2017 gave us a glimpse of a brighter future. But what do the people who populate today’s Prizren hope and fear for the future? Is a better world coming?
For the third part of our series, K2.0 wanted to talk to some of Prizren’s more permanent residents, to discover how they imagine DokuFest’s beloved host city will be deep into the future. How will the historic, diverse city evolve? What needs to happen in the near future to improve the distant one? How can today’s children be educated to best adapt for the future?
To find out these things and more, K2.0 spoke to: Arianit Thaci, who plays in the band “Zhaba” and owns a private library, Enisa Karaibo, who has lived in the city her whole life and owns a trinket shop in the city center, Faik Miftari, a publisher with a deep interest in religious heritage, Anita Musaj, a hairdresser and salon owner, architecture student Zana Sezallari and economist Arta Tuli.
Publisher Faik Miftari believes that Prizren will always retain its character and authenticity regardless of whatever other developments take place. Photo: Agan Kosumi / K2.0.
K2.0: How do you see Prizren in the year 2101?
Enisa: “I see it as a future Dubrovnik, because Prizren has a strong tradition, and people of all cultures within.”
Faik: “With the latest technological developments which are moving very fast, it is hard to predict what Prizren will be like in that time. But if you consider the cultural tradition of the city, and how its cultural heritage and physiognomy was preserved since the Ottoman Empire, I believe that Prizren will preserve its authenticity, that rich cultural heritage in addition to any new developments it makes in either technological or urban terms.”
Zana: “We should preserve as much as we can the historic center of Prizren, because this city deserves it. It should be a city where people of all ages can live.”
Arta: “First I would like to see a cable car so we could go to the Prizren Castle! Also for things to become cleaner, hopefully by then we will be part of UNESCO.”
K2.0: Will religion still be a big part of life in the future?
Arianit: “Religion is a topic that will exist for as long as humanity exists. But here in Prizren we have that religious harmony. Other states envy this part of our culture.”
Zana: “I don’t know if we will be religious in the future, but I hope not. I think nations will change overall in terms of religion. Humanity will start to believe in its own strength, without requiring divinal aid.”
Anita: “I think that by then religion will be the same for everyone. I’m kind of seeing that happening now already. It is okay to believe in God, but religion I don’t think can survive. Maybe those who are closely attached to it will transmit it generation after generation, but in general I think religion will be very different.”
Arta: “I do not believe that religion will be shaken. Nothing can beat it, not technological developments nor anything else, for at least as long as a human remains a human.”
Economist Arta Tuli believes in a future without borders. Photo: Halim Kafexholli / K2.0.
K2.0: What about languages and nationhood? Prizren has been part of many states and empires. Will it change again in the future?
Arianit: “With deep conviction I say that the Albanian language will be spoken — the past tells us this about the future. In the past, many foreign powers have invaded this country, occupied it, and influenced its culture and other things, but still the language has been preserved with a fanaticism.
Arta: “Prizren will be like the rest of the world. There will be no borders, because borders are a nuisance.”
Zana: “I don’t think we will talk any other language except Albanian. In 2101 Prizren will be here, where it is, I do not believe that there will be a national unity with Kosovo and Albania, or anything else. Just that it will be the city with one of the largest tourism sectors in Europe.”
Enisa Karaibo whose family have lived in Prizren for generations is upset by how upward construction has altered the city’s landscape. Photo Agan Kosumi / K2.0.
K2.0: 2101 may seem like a long way off, how do you feel about the more immediate future?
Enisa: “To tell you the truth I’m very disappointed. I do not see a good future, but I hope things will start to improve. Right now Prizren has been degraded, many multilayered buildings have sprung up, and the city is suffocated by them. They are so tall and I think it will be almost impossible to remove them.”
Arta: “Look, we are an optimistic nation, and I’m part of this dance as well. So I am hoping that the future will be better, and lately I feel that people are going in a new direction, a better one. The good will win anyway.”
Zana: “I think the future will be much better! I don’t know, maybe I just want it to be better, so I’m saying it. But I also want to give a political reason for my answer. It will be better because this government will be changed, and the country will be in the hands of more clear headed people. I really would like it to get better from tomorrow, but what can you do? Good things need time to come.”
Arianit Thaci believes Prizren’s links to other major cities of the region can help transform its future. Photo: Agan Kosumi / K2.0.
K2.0: What do you think should change in the near future for Prizren to grow as a city?
Arianit: “The city of Prizren has the second largest population in Kosovo, and has the highest number of tourists. What needs to be changed is the position that it has. I know that there used to be a long term plan to make an exit in Macedonia through a tunnel. If that investment happens and can be connected with Macedonia through a highway, then it would become a key point on the map. Just like the theory we used to learn, which says that the capital is placed where other countries have interests. That would make a change, but of course it’s important to also invest in infrastructure, architecture, workplaces, factories and other similar things.”
Anita: “First I think that the city is not functioning as it should, the infrastructure should be better because we have a lot of tourists, and we have to make a good impression. Also we should advertise it much more, to tell people what a beautiful city we have.”
K2.0: What about the city’s future citizens? What should we be teaching them to ensure a better future?
Enisa: “I think that there is a lack of culture. Every parent should remove the burden of nationalism from their children because I see that it is following them in everything they do. I’m not saying that patriotism should be eradicated, but nationalism: yes!”
Faik: “We should teach our children to follow and tune in to the technological developments that are happening in the world. They should especially learn the English language, and learn to keep in step with modern time, but also to preserve language, cultural and religious aspects.”
Valmir Mehmetaj & Halim Kafexholli
This article was produced by Kosovo 2.0, DokuFest’s official media partner. For features, Q&As, blogs and much more from across the festival, follow K2.0 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.