Former telecommunications entrepreneur and CEO Akan Ismaili was credentialed as the Republic of Kosovo’s second Ambassador to the United States on May 2. He joins the Rumi Fourm in discussing the opportunities and challenges behind nation-building particularly focusing on Kosovo.
Immediately after the NATO bombing ended in 1999, Mr. Ismaili co-founded Internet Project Kosovo (IPKO), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the use of information and communications technology as a tool to foster rebuilding and development in Kosovo. IPKO has been credited with bringing the internet to Kosovo. In 2001, IPKO split into two entities: IPKOnet and IPKO Institute, and Mr. Ismaili served as the CEO of IPKOnet, a company that expanded access to broadband, mobile, fixed telephone and television in Kosovo. Over his 10 year tenure, IPKO became a modern enterprise and is now recognized as one of the fastest growing telecommunications companies in Europe and a fundamental pillar of the new economy in Kosovo.
During the same time, Mr. Ismaili co-founded the American University Foundation in Kosovo, which draws support from Kosovar citizens and its diaspora to establish an American-style higher education institution in Kosovo. To date, the foundation has raised more than 8 million dollars which it has used for numerous programs in conjunction with New York’s Rochester Institute of Technology.
In December 2007, the Economic Chamber of Kosova (ECK) named him “Manager of the Year.”
Nida Gelazis is Senior Associate of the European Studies Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. At the Wilson Center since 2003, she has worked on projects that relate to the European Union, EU enlargement; the legacies of the conflict in the Western Balkans; European Energy Cooperation, and the emerging questions of minority rights and migration in a changing European context. She directed the work of the Working Group on the Western Balkans, which aimed at building cooperative relationships between European and American policy professionals on the European integration of the Western Balkans. Previously, she was Managing Editor of the East European Constitutional Review at the University of Chicago Law School and at the Constitutional and Legislative Policy Institute in Budapest, and was the Research Associate for the East European Programme at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, at the European University Institute in Florence. Nida holds a BA from the University of Chicago and an LLM degree from the European University Institute, where her research focused on the impact of EU conditionality on human rights and minority rights in accession states. She has published a number of articles and book chapters on democratic state-building, constitutionalism, judicial reform, EU enlargement, international migration and minority rights, and co-edited the book Cities after the Fall of Communism: Reshaping Cultural Landscapes and European Identity.