Kosovar singer Mentor Haziri submitted a song to Festivali i Këngës 60 and, like so many other hopefuls, didn’t make the cut. But unlike other artists who have licked their wounds and perhaps looked to the future, Mr. Haziri has instead issued a long statement questioning why “Qëndro” was rejected.
In his statement he criticizes the Albanian National Broadcaster, RTSH, for being immersed in what he claims is corruption and anti-Kosovar sentiment. Despite Albania’s very rich history of sending Kosovar singers to Eurovision (see Lindita Halimi and Rona Nishliu), he claims RTSH doesn’t want Kosovar singers to create competition for Albanians in the festival. He said:
“My new song written by me and orchestrated by music professionals from Ireland was not accepted at Festivali I Këngës without giving any single reason! In the past I have been told that it is a dirty and corrupt festival where the song is sold in the corridors — I never believed it because I grew up watching that Festival with singers and icons of that time.”
“Today, unfortunately, I confirmed this evil, and I also confirmed that that Festival does not like Albanians from Kosovo there because they make competition. No one from Kosovo is a competitor there this year, and this is where I want to connect.”
We should point out that Mirud, who is competing this year, is a Kosovar living in the United States. Alban Ramosaj, also a FiK 60 act, is a Kosovar living in Albania.
Mentor went on to say that the commission “was so scared of a Kosovo Albanian that you did not even give him the opportunity to compete.” He alleged they “are used to playback orgy festivals”, which don’t turn him on. He also promised that his song “will be coming soon with a video clip, and you will see the reason why these people did not accept it — because they are afraid of ‘original music'”. He went all to call the committee “amateurs.”
RTSH hasn’t responded. But his statement has made a major impression on the local media both in Albania and Kosovo, leading plenty of public figures to chime in. One of the first artists to react was one of this year’s Kosovar competitors — Alban Ramosaj.
“Mentor, in fact, I am from Kosovo, specifically from the lower Llapashtica of Podujeva, and I am a competitor this year in FIK. [Your comments are] inciting division, poison, and hatred between the ‘two nations’ that are in fact one and your comments are out of place.”
“I feel obliged to give my opinion since it is not in vain that I enjoy the name ‘Alban’ — I am proud of the blood I have and the history we carry in our veins, and I am ashamed to read these words from you. And second, regarding the fact that you have not been accepted, there must have been a reason. As far as I know (I have no contact with anyone inside, but with chatter and listening) contributions from foreign composers, orchestrators, etc. are not allowed. I’m not sure about the latter, but anyway the only amateur thing here is your reaction. I’m sorry you are sharing this side of yourself with the public and setting this example for those followers and fans you have.”
Cast as a bad Mentor, Mr Haziri responded to Alban by saying he was told it was OK for his song to be orchestrated by people in Ireland.
“The song must be written by Albanian artists — the lyrics and music. It was confirmed to me from the staff at RTSH when I made the introduction that I was OK — that the lyrics and music are from me and can be orchestrated in Africa if I wanted. But when the selection was made it was better to eliminate Mentor — competition from the beginning…
“Secondly, you have been living in Tirana for many, many years and you have an Albanian passport. You are now an Albanian with letters….This deception does not escape me as they thought it would.”
Alban has not replied. We should remind you that this year Festivali i Këngës includes two Kosovar artists — Alban and MIRUD. Throughout the 60-year history of Festivali i Këngës, there have been many winning singers and composers from Kosovo. Rona Nishliu achieved Albania’s best-ever result in the country’s history at Eurovision. Lindita, you’ll remember, holds the record for the longest-note ever at Eurovision.
Mentor Haziri is doing his best to capitalize on the drama. He’s released his rejected song for Festivali i Këngës, which is called ‘Qëndro’ (Stay). It’s received mixed feedback from fans.
What do you think about his song? Would you have liked to see it at Festivali i Këngës 60? Do you think he was done wrong…or is this a case of behaving like a sore loser? Let us know in the comments box below.