Engaging with Diaspora for Glorious Return

Hall Stuart in his book ‘Cultural Identity and Diaspora’ says: There are two kinds of identity, identity as being (which offers a sense of unity and commonality) and identity as becoming (or a process of identification, which shows the discontinuity in our identity formation.)

Diaspora

Diaspora could be considered as an asset or responsibility for governments of the countries of origin – and in some cases both. However, the attention has already moved in a positive context and in the last years governments increasingly see their Diasporas as an asset. Having in mind, the huge contribution of Diaspora both through remittances (at least in my country where remittances account for 14% of the state’s GDP) and in some cases political contribution, governments now consider that Diaspora could contribute even in other forms, and influence in country’s development. These include direct investments in business, philanthropic contribution, development of international trade and business networks and transfer of knowledge and experiences gained abroad.

Apart from the contribution in socio-economic development, Diasporas through stronger ties with the country of origin could also influence in improvement of culture and other fields of life. Some of these, likewise a stronger recognition of gender role or lower tolerance of corruption are essential for development. Overall, the ties with groups of ‘transnational’ citizens enable the developing countries to enjoy the benefits of globalization. Basically, the awareness on the potential of engaging Diasporas does not merely imply the benefit. For this reason many governments understood the need to follow a more active role in relation to Diasporas in order to engage this part of citizens in development.

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Nevertheless, some elements have to be considered in cases when countries attempt to develop ties with their Diaspora. Initially, should be considered the effects that governments expect from the engagement of Diaspora. Countries of origin are mainly focused in similar issues and that in preservation of culture and language, addressing concerns of Diaspora members, engagement in country’s development, etc. An important issue to consider is having information on Diaspora (I don’t know about your country but mine has none). For governments will be more difficult to create policies in Diaspora without knowing the location, composition, capacity, income level and other characteristics important to the Diaspora.

On the other hand, the main problem of institutions for Diaspora is communication. Regardless of institutional organization dealing exclusively with Diaspora issues and creation of efficient relation with emigrant communities, the channels through which the Diaspora of these countries is informed on recent developments in their countries are nearly the same: TV, radio, newspapers, internet portals, etc. Information technology social networks have an important role in information of Diaspora and keeping the relation with homeland.

Communicating and informing them is key if we want to have benefit from them, and by benefit I don’t think only financial. Members of Diaspora should have a platform of receiving information from the homeland and display their ideas, needs and priorities. In this context there is need for better coordination of institutional efforts for Diaspora. Not coordinated efforts, may lead to overlapping and controversy initiatives, moreover Diaspora may be confused from the competitive efforts for their attention or uncertain in cases when they need services or aspire to contribute. Many governments have come to the conclusion that there must be a unique gateway for interaction with Diaspora. And finally institutions should have something concrete to offer for engagement of Diaspora. In Kosovo and all other Balkan countries, government don’t offer anything more for their Diaspora compared to foreign investor. During the month of summer, when the diaspora flux is on peak, all our government do is organize some ‘boring, un-successful B2B meetings’ and some pop-folk concerts.

On the other hand, most of the developed countries have developed appropriate policies in relation to their Diaspora, including the legislation through which are defined forms of communication with Diaspora. Countries of origin have established their relations with Diaspora through government institutions, especially dedicated for Diaspora matters. The main purpose of establishing communication lines between the country of origin and Diaspora is construction of a partnership and increasing trust with the Diaspora. With the purpose of strengthening the ties with Diaspora, some countries have extended the right to vote and the right to run in national elections. Some countries have also reserved a certain number of seats in parliament.

One may also conclude that in order to build sustainable relation with Diaspora, with emphasis on ensuring the trust and confidence of Diaspora in cases when governments establish institutions, should take into account putting in place a better institutional coordination in relation to Diaspora. Another aspect that should be considered is that governments should have something concrete to offer when attempting to establish institutions for engaging the Diaspora.

No lies, un-kept promises, or corruption is how our diaspora imagines their homeland, because to them homeland is one of the magical fantasy words they want to see and invest at. So instead of thinking how to grab their monies and receive more remittances, we should be more focused on improving our country, both politically and economically, so our Diaspora will be proud of, and they themselves will be willing to invest in or somehow engage with.

tony blair

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