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The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) conducted a poll from April 27 to May 6, 2021 that showed Kosovo citizens were more optimistic than in the fall about the direction of the country. Economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination against the virus joined longstanding concerns related to unemployment and corruption. Concern about the safety of the vaccine was high, and belief in false COVID-19 narratives remained, just before Kosovo began its broader national vaccination campaign. Poll respondents continued to prioritize unemployment and corruption as key issues of concern. Few believed that the dearth of women in leadership positions is related to their leadership abilities or toughness; more believed they are held back by men, or discrimination. Robert Benjamin, NDI senior associate and the regional director of Central and Eastern Europe programs, Brooklyn Richards, NDI program associate for Central and Eastern Europe Programs, and Elizabeth Saam, NDI senior program manager for Central and Eastern Europe will present the comprehensive findings of the poll. The panel is joined by Agon Maliqi, a policy analyst and co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Skunker, a Democracy NGO based in Pristina. Tanya Domi will moderate the discussion.
Robert Benjamin is a senior associate and the regional director of Central and Eastern Europe programs at the National Democratic Institute. In this latter role, he oversees in-country and regional programs in legislative strengthening, political party development, civil society development, election processes, and women, youth, and ethnic minority political participation. He has also contributed to democracy programs in Asia, Latin America, North Africa and West Africa. Mr. Benjamin has worked at NDI since 1993. He holds a B.A. from Princeton University and an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
Agon Maliqi is a policy analyst and civil society activist from Kosovo with a track record of working on topics related to democratization, development and ethnic reconciliation in his home country and the broader Western Balkans. He is the co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Sbunker, an NGO based in Pristina that advocates for democratic values and reforms by engaging in the ideas space—namely, through its blog, policy analysis unit, and critical thinking program for young activists. Maliqi was recently a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington D.C. He holds an MA in International Development from Duke University and a BA in Political Science from the American University in Bulgaria.
Brooklyn Richards is a program associate for Central and Eastern Europe Programs at the National Democratic Institute. See supports in-country programs in Kosovo, as well as regional programs in the Western Balkans on religious freedom and democratic resilience. Richards graduated from the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs with a degree in International Relations, concentrating on Conflict Resolution. She has a background working for mission-driven nonprofit organizations and community organizing.
Elizabeth Saam is a senior program manager for Central and Eastern Europe programs at the National Democratic Institute. She oversees in-country programs in Kosovo and regional political party integrity programs. Her specialties include Southeastern Europe politics, information disorders in the western Balkans, and political party and parliamentary programming. Saam has worked at NDI since 2016. She is a Georgetown Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) graduate and former Fulbright grantee (serving in southern Kosovo).