At only 29 years of age, Besa Luci developed a unique concept for an interactive, online magazine Kosovo 2.0, which brings together bloggers and activists from around the world to discuss hot social topics related to the country. The magazine is managed and written by young people and was launched in 2010, just two years after Kosovo gained its independence — a new era in a country that is being shaped by a significant youth population.
Besa manages more than 200 bloggers and 100 contributors at Kosovo 2.0, which is complemented by a semi-annual print magazine that features high-profile guest editors, artists, and activists from around the world. Kosovo 2.0 is the only Kosovar magazine sold in Serbia — the cross-border cooperation is its hallmark — and Besa braves threats in Serbia to continue publishing her magazine throughout the region.
Even in her home country Kosovo, Besa challenges the status-quo. The launch of the magazine’s recent issue on gender and sexual orientation attracted not only criticism by conservative and religious groups, but also physical attacks against the editorial staff. An event discussing gay rights and issues was disrupted when Kosovar protestors interrupted the meeting and trashed the venue to prevent the dialogue from continuing. Protesters shouted threats and created a hostile environment, which police officers were unable to control.
Still, Besa believes it’s vital that Kosovo protect its media’s fundamental right to freedom of expression, and strives to build a culture that encourages the discussion of issues relevant to young people. “There is a huge gap in the media landscape in Kosovo,” Besa said. “There is little coverage of the issues and problems that young people are facing.”
“There were a lot of expectations about how Kosovo was going to improve but there was definitely a lack of young people in those discussions,” she said in an interview with YouthActionNet where she was a 2012 fellow.
In order to march forward with the publication’s mission, Besa and her team courageously decided to continue publishing and organizing dialogues despite the threats and pressure.
In addition to her work as editor-in-chief at Kosovo 2.0, Besa is also a committed democracy activist. Two years after the Kosovo’s independence, she co-authored a report titled “State of Constriction,” which examined the quality of the country’s democratic consolidation and offered suggestions to improve the economy and its public sector. The 50-page report was commissioned by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR), an organization founded by fellow 30 Under 30 honoree Andrej Nosov. The report’s findings were presented by Besa and her co-author Alex Anderson at a conference that was nationally televised on Kohavision (KTV).
Robert Hårdh, Executive Director of Civil Rights Defenders, has praised Besa for bravely speaking out about the threats faced by watchdog groups and whistleblowers. “This report,” he said, “must lead to consequences in Kosovo society.”
Besa’s work has helped to radically change that reality, working to build a society that fosters dialogue and protects freedom of expression. Through her work with Kosovo 2.0 and as an activist, she has managed to successfully bring together thousands of active, interested and passionate young people in Kosovo.
The Story Behind KOSOVO 2.0
Besa Luci, Co-founder and Chief Editor