Culture Supplement

What does anger do at an international book fair

Undoubtedly, the arrival of Besnik Mustafaj in Cairo, as the guest of honor of the International Book Fair, was an event for Albanian culture and for his readers in Arabic who were delighted with his signature on the novel "Dêmtuar dër ruştë" that was promoted during the Fair. However, the total absence of the Albanian embassy in Cairo was noticed at the table and in the promotion. Indeed, in recent times, there has been a lot of talk about "cultural diplomacy" and its effect on the affirmation of Albania and Kosovo, namely Albanian culture.

On Tuesday, February 6, the Cairo International Book Fair closed, which turned 55 this year and is considered one of the largest fairs in the Middle East. Indeed, in recent years, we have competition between the fairs of Cairo, Beirut, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, so that each one is declared the largest according to different criteria: the number of visitors, the number of publishers, the number of activities and the value of sales of books. As for Cairo, it comes first with the number of visitors (4.5 million), which is natural for a country with 110 million inhabitants, while it comes second with the number of publishers (700 publishers) and with the number of literary and cultural activities ( 550).

However, for us the Cairo Fair was the first, since for the first time among the activities there was a table dedicated to Albanian literature, namely the writer Besnik Mustafaj, who is now well known in that region after three books were translated into Arabic. . Indeed, our great writer Ismail Kadare had more works published in Arabic, about 10 novels, but he was busy when his Lebanese publisher invited him to be the guest of honor at the Beirut International Book Fair in 2009, on the occasion of new edition of the novel "Castle", this time translated from English, after it was first translated from Albanian and later from French, coming out with three different titles.

Undoubtedly, the arrival of Besnik Mustafaj in Cairo, as the guest of honor of the International Book Fair, was an event for Albanian culture and for his readers in Arabic who were delighted with his signature on the novel "Dêmtuar dër ruştë" that was promoted during the Fair. The table was carried by the Egyptian Arab media, affirming his works and thoughts well.

However, the total absence of the Albanian embassy in Cairo was noticed at the table and in the promotion. Indeed, in recent times, there has been a lot of talk about "cultural diplomacy" and its effect on the affirmation of Albania and Kosovo, respectively of Albanian culture. Some of our ambassadors tried this in several countries, such as in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Abu Dhabi, showing that the best gift for their embassy guests can be a book about Albanian culture in Arabic.

However, as it seems in the case of Cairo, something else is at stake. Besnik Mustafaj was also introduced to the table as the former Foreign Minister of Albania who himself resigned in 2007 to dedicate himself to literature. As such, the Albanian ambassador in Cairo, Eduard Sulo, also received information from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania, telling about the arrival of Besnik Mustafaj and requesting logistical assistance. However, not only did the ambassador not come, but none of the embassy staff appeared at the table, as Albania does not have an embassy in Cairo.

The absence of the ambassador, which can be understood for a reason, as well as the absence of the embassy, ​​show what anger does where it should not. Ambassador Sulo was ambassador in Budapest during the mandate of Besnik Mustafaj as foreign minister 2005-2007. Then there was a scandal in the embassy and the ambassador was called to Tirana for an investigation and remained there. After the Socialist Party returned to power in 2013, he was rehabilitated and sent ambassador to Tanzania, from where he was appointed ambassador to Cairo and Amman (non-resident) in 2015, where he presented his credentials to King Abdulla with my tie which he held for memory.

Although he remained in Cairo for another term, the arrival of former minister Besnik Mustafaj as a guest of honor at the International Book Fair ignited the old anger that has no place in these cases. Perhaps the Ambassador was able to justify himself with some pretext for not appearing at all during Mustafaj's stay, but he was able to allow the embassy staff to follow the table according to the order of the MFA in Tirana. What's more, the decision had already been made in Tirana for the appointment of a new ambassador, so Ambassador Sulo was able to end his mandate in Cairo with a professional gesture that belongs to the diplomatic code, but anger is still taking its toll on us.