Translation of Igor Besermenji’s interview for “Danas”

Translation of Igor Besermenji’s interview for Danas.rs in Serbian language.

Igor Besermenji is a young Serbian political prodigy and journalist currently residing in Doha, Qatar.

Source: Danas Newspapers

Journalist: Jovana Stankovic

Translation: Mina Stojkovic

“IN ORDER FOR POSITIVE CHANGE TO HAPPEN, IT IS NECESSARY THAT THE CITIZENS FREE THEMSELVES OF THE SERBIAN PROGRESSIVE PARTY’S OPPRESSION”

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Foto: Igor Besermenji, Instagram

Igor Besermenji has visited more than 40 countries on five continents during the past few years, but as he points out, his departure from his native city of Novi Sad was never planned in advance.

The opportunity to leave Serbia presented itself after completing his undergraduate studies, when he received a scholarship from the British government to continue his studies at the University of Birmingham.

“Over the last four years, I spent more time abroad, than in Serbia. It was never due to the decision to leave and never return. I never wanted that nor is it my plan, but because abroad, I was presented with opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible in Serbia. It all started in 2016, when I received a Chevening scholarship from the British government for a master’s degree in public administration. I lived and obtained my master’s degree at the University of Birmingham in Great Britain and subsequently, new opportunities and the decision to financially support myself, as well as my parents, took me in unimaginable directions. During the following years, I lived in Croatia, in Umag, then in Qatar, in Doha, where I live today “, Igor begins his story.

Upon completing his master studies, Igor returned to his hometown of Novi Sad for a short period of time, but there were no suitable opportunities in Serbia, when it came to his further growth, improvement or finding an adequate job within his vocation, at the time. Therefore, he packed his bags and set out on a journey into the world.

“I always knew that long-term plans would eventually bring me back to Novi Sad, to Vojvodina, but also realized that, in the meantime, both my parents and I would benefit from me just occasionaly visiting my hometown. When I first came to England for my master’s studies, I thought that immediately upon finishing my studies I would return to Serbia permanently, find a suitable job opportunity and try to do as much as possible in the existing circumstances. However, this idea remained in the “it didn’t happen” section. I did return to Novi Sad, but there were no suitable opportunities for me at the time, not even in terms of further developing my knowledge and skills in public administration, the field that I studied. Therefore, the possibility that such a job, even if I was able to find it, would also bring appropriate financial opportunities that would allow me to do something that would, more or less, improve our financial situation, did not exist. This touch with reality after my graduation actually made me step out of my comfort zone and after that, nothing was the same – I realized that my life would change forever, that from then on, I would do whatever it takes, work anywhere, live where I never thought I would and that it was okay, that it was all just part of the journey “, Igor explains.

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Foto: Igor Besermenji, Instagram

Before the life-changing year of 2016 and traveling to Birmingham for his master’s studies, he rarely traveled, but today, travelling is Igor’s lifestyle.

“Until 2016, that is, until I was 26 years old, I never really traveled, except on two occasions, when I visited the seaside, for a few days. I haven’t traveled abroad for more than seven years, due to lack of possibilities and then, I suddenly went form one extreme to the other – departures and travelling became my only constant, but also a need. I have lived in different countries, experienced different cultures, met people from all over the world, had many different jobs, from being a journalist and a teaching associate at a University, to working as a hotel dishwasher, steward and now, a personal trainer, always packed into two suitcases and ready for anything that comes along, as a new experience”, Igor adds.

As he explains, he was drawn into the world by numerous possibilities, as well as the desire to provide a better life for himself, as well as his family.

“My primary motive has always been the desire to finally be able to provide at least some of the possibilities for my parents and myself, that I have never been able to before, in Serbia – at least make things just a little bit better for all of us, for a start. Also, I did not want to conform to the existing dominant standards in Serbia, I wanted more freedom and individuality, because I am more of an individual myself, by nature, “Igor points out.

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Foto: Igor Besermenji, Instagram

Although he is several thousand kilometers away, he regularly keeps track of the situation in Serbia and is of the opinion that due to the ruling party, institutions in Serbia are destroyed and civil servants humiliated.

“I keep up with the situation regularly. I share the opinion of the majority of the citizens, who believe that, in order for any positive change to happen in Serbia, it would be necessary for the citizens to stop living under the Serbian Progressive Party’s heel and oppression. It does that using the reluctance of the prosecution, the terribly destroyed institutions, the extremely shameful composition of both the National Assembly as well as the future government, nepotism and party endorced employment, collapsed cultural institutions and the obscure media scene. When I am presented with the opportunity to influence events, I will first turn to people from the world of culture and education, for cooperation.It is terrible witnessing how these people are being humiliated, just because the ruling parties have not only the need, but also a clear intention to constantly adhere to the populistic taste of the majority in every sphere of society, even those where that should not be the case, with culture, art and education being one of them. Anyone who doesn’t understand this, does not only dislike his or her country and its citizens, but despises them from the depths of his soul. However, my focus is on Vojvodina, where nothing has been happening for a longtime and which is, by collective inaction, along with the tacit approval of the entire government and the opposition, obviously sinking into oblivion, of course, with the intention of erasing its unique history that differs from the one of Serbia, leaving its autonomy to natural extinction, until the demands for clarification of its status disappear forever. Well, that will not be the case, as far as I am concerned “, Igor emphasizes.

He particularly referred to the political situation that affects Vojvodina and as he points out, he is sure that one day,despite everything, his journey will end in the city he has the most beautiful memories of – Novi Sad.

“I will return to Novi Sad, my love for Vojvodina will make me come back. I think that Vojvodina has been unjustifiably eliminated from the political map of Europe and that Novi Sad no longer looks like it used to. It is now dominated by the interests and habits of certain people, who should never have been allowed to do so and who do not truly love Novi Sad and Vojvodina. In their opinion, they only exist on their own ground, in the imaginary „Great Serbia“, whose other parts they have lost, which is why the fear in their eyes is great at the very mention of opening the issue of the status of Vojvodina. Novi Sad, Sremski Karlovci, Subotica, Vojvodina as a whole, have too much of a big and turbulent history, for them to be so small in the 21st century and in the relentless service of some essentially small and irrelevant leaders from Belgrade and Republika Srpska,” he points out.

From the time he separated from his family for the first time, to this day, Igor’s life has changed radically and he has been given opportunities that he could once only imagine.

“With moving to Qatar a year and a half ago, travel came first – an opportunity for someone who hadn’t traveled almost anywhere, during the first 26 years of his life, to actually travel the world. And that is precisely what happened. As a flight attendant, I visited more than 40 countries on five different continents, during the period of only one year. It is a magnificent feeling whenever I return to my apartment in Doha and, although exhausted, make myself a cup of coffee and have a short retrospective of the last 24 hours that I spent on 3 different continents – Europe, Africa and Asia. When you are young, you enjoy this adrenaline rush and even though it is difficult to explain, somehow, you always need more. Also, living in an international environment is something I am used to now and it would definitely be strange leaving the building and hearing only one language or seeing people of the same complexion”, explains Igor.

 

 

 

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Foto: Igor Besermenji, Instagram

Following Novi Sad, Doha is the city that influenced the shaping and development of his personality and attitudes the most, according to Igor.

“Doha is a cosmopolitan city, with people from all over the world. In addition to that, Doha is probably the most important of all the cities I have lived in so far, except for Novi Sad, of course. It is a place of re-examination, discovery and release. A place for continuing the transformation, living outside the comfort zone, giving up the need for complete control or even self-control. Simple joys, grandiose trips. Short-term pleasures, lifelong lessons. Countless new people, daily changes, life neither in heaven nor on earth, forever packed in two suitcases, as if on a treadmill, where stopping is not an option. Everything I ever thought existed, without being sure of it, I witnessed and experienced here.A journey into the unknown. Here, I was given the opportunity of not having to give up certain normal, everyday needs of a young man, for whom there were often no such opportunities in Serbia. Needless to say, the opportunity to help my mother a little, when it comes to everything. We are aware of the fact that life in our country is difficult and I am sure everyone will understand what I am talking about “, Igor describes his current life.

People he meets around the world have different opinions and attitudes about Serbia, and, as he says, there are those who have never even heard of Serbia.

“The reactions I get are not much different from those encountered by other people from Serbia, who travel anywhere else in the world. Some are well acquainted with Yugoslavia, some with Novak Djokovic, and some do not even know that Serbia exists. However, in the company I worked for, for a long time, there were a lot of people from the Balkans, so Serbia was well heard of, at least in our circles of stewards and stewardesses. Of course, it is in the description of our job that we are, more or less, well aquinted with geography. Ever since I started spending more time in Doha itself, on the ground, I have more meetings with people who work in other professions, so I came to the conclusion that knowledge about Serbia and the Balkans in general, is rather scarce,” he explains.

 

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Foto: Igor Besermenji, Instagram

In Doha, Igor made friends with people from different parts of the world, but he mostly shares his perspective on the events happening in Serbia with his compatriots.

“When it comes to my environment, my friends come from all parts of the world, so our topics for discussion are usually quite diverse and concern sports, fitness, nutrition, travel, language learning, going out, falling in love… Sometimes I do talk about Serbia, but tend to keep my opinion and point of view for myself and my compatriots, who would probably understand what I am talking about better. They keep up with certain events, but my experience taught me that young people who leave Serbia, for the most part, no longer want to be burdened by the situation in their country. Life simply takes them in other, new directions”, adds Igor.

Although he is connected to other Serbian people by language and a similar past, Igor tries to make use of all the opportunities that life in a multinational society has to offer him.

“There are Serbian people among my circle of friends and my closest friend here is from Belgrade. Normally, it is easier to get along with someone who speaks the same language as you do, who has shared a similar fate in the same country and understands your motives behind why you are where you are, at the moment. I was the happiest person on the planet when I found a man who makes Bosnian khebabs in a bun, here in Doha. But, my friends also come from countries around Serbia, as well as from Morocco, India, Tunisia, Lebanon, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, Thailand, Qatar… I like to discover new things about other countries, get closer to people from around the world and learn something new from everyone who is close to me at some point in my life. I am currently learning Portuguese and preparing for Lebanese cuisine, ”he explains.

 

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Foto: Igor Besermenji, Instagram

Before leaving Novi Sad, Igor lived in his comfort zone, which he replaced with travelling and constant changes, but after all, as he points out, the thought of his beloved Vojvodina awaiting is always in the back of his mind.

“Certainly, my life has changed a lot. Ever since I stepped out of my comfort zone and out of Novi Sad, I got my master’s degree at the University of Great Britain, solely thanks to a scholarship from the British government that provided me with the opportunity, and after that I practically just let myself out into the world. I have learned that there is never an end to improvement of one’s skills, abilities and knowledge, as well as that experiences, as many of them as possible, are something that, personally, provides me with the most optimal level of happiness. Change is really my only constant. Changing countries, cities, jobs, sources of income, hobbies, people, environment… I had to adapt and search for innovative ways to survive and continue my journey and I consider my self particularly skilled in this ability to adapt, survive and then change all over again. Sometimes, I jokingly say that my only official occupation is being an „experience collector“. In some new reality and within the next change, when the fast paced part of my life across the globe comes to an end, I know that, of course, Vojvodina will be waiting for me and that is a big and important project, worth all the effort “, he added.

 (Source: Danas Newspapers)

Belgrade/Doha, October 2020.

 

2020-10-19T13:50:36+00:0019. 10. 2020.|

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