Member of the Assembly of Kosovo, she married at the age of 17, gave birth to children and studied, received her master’s degree and doctorate. She recently founded her own party. He is agile in building a political career and does not deviate from his views in representing the interests of Kosovo Bosniaks. She has two adults, one minor child, and a somewhat jealous husband. She cooks and cleans the house every day and enjoys it. Only the mother-in-law had the support of the doctoral study. He teaches children to believe in God and to fear sin. She also reveals what her wedding looked like. He believes that there is no woman who is not beautiful. “I never change my attitude at any cost! I was criticized, characterized as extreme, but that made me even more steely “, says Duda Balje
Duda Balje has a huge human capital. She is the mother of three children. The eldest son Berin is 22 years old and is studying at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Austria, his daughter Zejna is 20 years old and studying medicine in Skopje, and the youngest 12-year-old Alek is also accompanied by his wife Šaban. Duda Balje is a doctor of economics. In her fourth term, she is a member of the Assembly of Kosovo. Until recently, she was a member of the Vakat Coalition and is now the president of the Social Democratic Union. She left Vakat and formed her own party. She is the chairwoman of the Kosovo Parliament’s Human Rights Commission and a member of the Bosniak community.
– Happy wife, even happier daughter, stable daughter-in-law – he adds at the beginning, when asked to introduce himself to us.
Duda Balje, one of the most famous, but also the most beautiful politicians in our region, answered all the questions in an exclusive life confession for “Azra”.
In BiH, we could see an agile and beautiful Kosovo parliamentarian last year. She was in Sarajevo and visited the Association of Albanians in BiH, which also brings together Kosovo Bosniaks. They discussed their suffering caused by the fact that there are no diplomatic relations between Kosovo and BiH, since due to the opposition of the Republika Srpska, our state did not recognize Kosovo’s statehood.
– It was beautiful in Sarajevo, just how a man feels in his own. Everything is beautiful for me in Bosnia. However, due to the very complicated visa procedure, our visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina will be very limited. Unfortunately, according to the principle of reciprocity, after Bosnia and Kosovo introduced a visa regime for free entry of Bosnian residents in our country. This is a situation caused by complicated relations with RS and their blocking of all roads leading to Kosovo. I would like us Bosniaks to know much more about each other, to communicate more and exchange opinions. We need it, it is the basis for our strength more for emotional than any other reasons. There is practically no cooperation between us, which does not mean that we are not working on building it, and absolutely you and I should work much more seriously on that – says the Kosovo parliamentarian.
Her decisive positions in the defense of the Bosniak identity and the Bosnian language are well known: “We do not negotiate education! Bosnian language: it is ours! We will not give that! ”These are the words of Dude Balje, but also a lesson from which Bosniak political leaders in BiH could learn a lot, where the Bosnian language is still denied in half of the state that belonged to the entity with a majority Serb population.
What it is like to be a woman politician and so resolutely defend the views of your community. Have you ever had problems with the majority Albanian population or the minority Serb population in Kosovo?
– I never change my attitude, at any cost! I was criticized, characterized as extreme. It made me even more steely, I always went to respect theirs, but to have them respect mine as well. One on one, without compromise. Over time, everyone began to appreciate it. I think that the political sector of Kosovo knows me well and their attitude towards me is now based on that relation. My work so far is a living example of the popular one: “He who does not value himself, will not be appreciated by others.” It is not easy, the fight is every day, but the results are the ones that make me happy.
You are a Bosniak, where are you from? Where does the name Duda come from?
– I am originally from Gora, Dragash municipality. My grandparents moved to Prizren, where I was born. I got my name from my great-grandmother, which I am especially proud of, my grandfather called me “girls” at birth for three years, I took his mother’s name and had special privileges in the family.
You are the mother of three children, two of whom are adults. You got married very young?
– Yes, the older son is in Austria studying for a master’s degree, the daughter, thank God, has the condition to enroll in the third year of medical school. And my 12-year-old son is home with me. I got married at 17 years old. I lived in Novi Sad with my parents who were in fear, that is, the desire to take someone “of their own” for a husband, and we moved to Prizren, where I quickly met my husband.
I wanted to study, which my parents and I talked about with my father-in-law and mother-in-law, from whom I got the green light to get married so that my daughter-in-law could enroll in college, and then what God says. That’s how it was, some of them believed that I would finish high school, most of them didn’t, but I finished them. The birth of our children was combined with books and exams, I traveled to Novi Sad all the time, it was painful, but the support of my husband, his and my parents were always there.
I finished college with my first child, master with my daughter, and got my Ph.D. with my third child. In the meantime, I got a job and so on until today. For my doctoral studies, I had the support of only my father-in-law. I bored everyone in the house, my mother was already starting to worry that I would go blind from constant reading, my husband thought I had had enough, but my father-in-law Daut said: “Go if you think you can finish, you have my izin (permission, op. ed.). ” I graduated and I owe him a lot for my doctor’s degree. Of course, what mom and dad survived with me is good that they are good. I left my third child to my mom when she was only four days old and went to the exam. Success requires sacrifice and tolerance from people who love you!
How do children view your career?
– Like when. They are most proud, but there are moments when they say: “Enough! This is a lot, you always have obligations, how can you always laugh and talk to people? ” But I know they like me to be happy and when they see that my job fulfills me, I know they are happy.
And the husband. What does he do?
– My husband Shaban is in private business. He has a family restaurant and is very successful at it.
How did you meet and what did your wedding look like?
– We met at my aunt’s brother with whom he was a friend. We had a traditional wedding, a home celebration in three days with folk costumes, homemade food, cauldrons, all worth remembering.
The media wrote that the husband was jealous? Is that correct?
– If he wasn’t jealous, it wouldn’t work, it’s all within normal limits, I think it’s the same with most couples, some days he is very tolerant, and some days the widest trainers I wear for him are tight and challenging, for no reason , but we have known each other for a long time, we know each other’s facial expressions, the way sentences are formed when we are angry, when we are not, the way we walk. That’s the beauty of it!
How do you connect private and business?
– I found a formula that turned out to be positive. In my job, it’s not easy to make a cut between those two things. The job of representing the people has no working hours and my job has become my life over time. I see my Bosniaks as a family, and so does my husband. Given that he is constantly on the field and at the party with me, it was not difficult to make a combination.
How would you describe the position of women in politics in Kosovo?
– Relatively inferior, constantly some struggle to improve the position, constant stories on the subject but constantly tapped in the same place. We all agree that our position is not good, we have the support of the men’s side, but from year to year, we do not have any progress worthy of attention. It still remains for a woman to fight for herself in the environment that surrounds her, depending on her attitude, her presentation of herself, and the strength of resistance on the other side. There will also be cases when a woman is not supported by another woman, a defect of the incredible size that I see every day in my environment, but politics is that. It is an interesting sphere that pushes the boundaries of the normal and the just, who can fight, who can’t retreat. I decided to fight and I have been here for thirteen years, more and more stable, aware, and stronger.
Do you see this inequality of women in relation to men everywhere in our Balkans?
– We are still a generation that feels the strength of tradition in male-female relationships. Traces of patriarchy can be seen everywhere, starting from home and in all spheres. We change that, slowly.
Yes, and you are obvious evidence of change. With your posts on social networks, you jump out of the cliché of women in the political life of the Balkans. Your Instagram is full of photos where it’s hard to rate just one – where you’re prettier. You must have read the headlines about yourself: “the most handsome, the most beautiful, the most attractive politician…” They look at you more as a phenomenon. Do you attach importance to that and do you like that kind of publicity?
– I don’t bother much with people’s perception of me and my personality. I use Facebook to promote my business and my party, presenting activities, ideas and opinions. I use Instagram as a way to show how a woman can be a mother, a wife, an MP, and at the same time be happy with her looks without fear of showing it. The photos are mostly the ones that show my face and the emotion I have at that moment.
I want to show that I am not a slave to my job, I don’t always wear jackets and skirts (except at work), I like jeans and sneakers, I like everything I feel good in, I like to run, exercise, ride a motorcycle, if I get out of the cliché, then I admit yes it is. I remember, when I published a picture with a scarf during Ramadan, I was news in Kosovo and Albania, because, in our country, public figures who are not covered do not do it, or when I published a picture of helping masters to set up dice (dice that fit on the ground). one into the other) on the way.
But what we would emphasize is that you are, above all, an intelligent woman. In your opinion, which is more important: to be beautiful or smart?
– The most important thing for a woman is to be happy and satisfied with herself. There is no woman who is not beautiful and who does not possess special qualities that are only hers, specific only to her. Women are magic and anyone who knows how to recognize it gives themselves the opportunity to enjoy it. I give special preference to abilities as a trait in women. I know women who are not highly educated, even those from rural areas who have not had the opportunity to be educated and are capable of doing great things.
And does a beautiful woman have to work harder to succeed than those who do not carry that epithet in public?
– To be honest, a woman with an eye-catching look makes it easier to schedule an appointment and open the door she needs, but when you open that door, especially in politics, beauty ends its function, it takes skill and the ability to negotiate and negotiate, interest is not easy !!
How do you deal with all the prejudices against successful women?
– You know the one – people will forgive you everything except success. So it is, but a man gets used to it over time. A woman who does public work is very easy to criticize, for ability or incapacity, low energy, morals, family and everything that goes with it. You usually get that from people who don’t know you well enough, we are all witnesses to that and that is one of the reasons why young girls in our country have a partial aversion to public affairs. A successful woman who has drawn her path clearly has a large number of stones on it, she needs to adapt, she has to master, the power of ignoring is very important, and she just needs to move forward.
What else do you think about social media?
– We should use social networks in the amount we determine that we need, and not allow them to use us. I am scared by the fact that people are increasingly dependent on social networks, which endangers privacy, peace, emotions. It’s getting harder with modern challenges!
Do you manage to do all the chores of a housewife and who is Duda Balje in his four walls?
– My home is my empire. Cooking and cleaning calm me down. I do all the work myself. I cook from today to tomorrow, mostly it is a “spoon” that is easier to heat and serve. We eat the same for two days sometimes but be homemade and away from fast and dry food. Making cakes and pies is my specialty because both my grandfather and father were confectioners. I enjoy the preparation, and I also enjoy watching my housemates eat everything lightning fast. I like clean, I like everything to be in its place. I use the weekend for bigger preparations and organizing. We love guests and no matter how tired I am, when I come home and put on those comfortable slippers of mine, everything somehow passes.
You then have some recipe of your own how to be a good mom, wife, daughter, highly educated, successful businesswoman, politician and all that to arrive?
– There is no recipe, it simply depends on you, what you want from life, from marriage, from motherhood, how much you are ready to sacrifice, how much you are ready to give yourself to all that. It is important what is most important to you, to define and determine it and not stop after falls. Life serves various miracles and I am absolutely sure that everything lies in moderation. Be moderate in everything, it always gives me good results and so far moderation has not betrayed me.
What do you teach your children? What kind of people do you want them to become tomorrow?
– I taught them and I continue to teach them that faith in God is most important, fear of sins and punishment, too. When a man loses God, he has lost himself. Our children grew up with prayer, Ramadan, constant giving to those who don’t. They grew up with examples of how to and how not to. After all, the most important thing is to be human!
She amazed in folk costumes at the promotion of Kosovo’s diversity
Duda Balje has amazed thousands of followers on social networks these days by posting photos in all folk costumes of Kosovo. She explained to us that in Prizren she participated in the promotion of her country, its heritage and diversity.
– Folk costume is a way of expressing identity, belonging, and in the way of decorating it shows the understanding of the beautiful. In order to be at least briefly the guardians of the tradition and cultural heritage of our country, we show the diversity in the cultural contacts of different peoples who lived and still live in Kosovo. A wealth of imagination and a mix of colors, cuts, ways of dressing and wearing, ways of expressing yourself and your traditions. We did what you have a chance to see. This is how we show and keep a document of a way of life that happened a long time ago – Balje announced on social networks.
The high mortality rate from Corona
We also took the opportunity to raise the current issue of the situation in Kosovo with the Coronavirus pandemic.
– As in all countries of the world, COVID-19 has left and left very serious consequences. We, as a young country with constant political problems, are financially very “skinny”, we fight in our own ways successfully or less successfully, our mortality rate is very high, discipline is not at the level it should be – said Balje for our magazine.