27th April 2012: "FIRST Wiener Ball in Pristina"

 

Austria has exported its tradition of the „Wiener Ball“ to many of the big cities in the world and now also to the youngest State in Europe, to Kosovo. On Friday, 27 April 2012, some 300 guests witnessed the successful launch of the first Wiener Ball in Pristina. It was organized by the recently founded Austrian-Kosovan-Association (OeKG) under the presidency of Mrs. Roswitha Brieger. The Ball was under the patronage of Mr. Michael Häupl, Mayor of the City of Vienna and the Austrian Ambassador to Kosovo, H.E. Mr. Johann Brieger.

Following the style of the famous Opera ball in Vienna, young debutants (ladies in long white ball gowns and crowns, courtesy of the City of Vienna, men in tails) opened the evening with a beautiful choreography to the tunes of a Polonaise, the Radetzkymarsch and the Viennese Waltz, Wiener Blut.

That this Wiener Ball has been something still extraordinary for Kosovo is best reflected in the presence of the President of the Republic of Kosovo, H.E. Mrs. Atifete JAHJAGA, as guest of honor and who was accompanied by her brother, Mr. Astrit JAHJAGA until well after midnight. As further special guests the Austrian Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Johann Brieger and his wife welcomed the Foreign Minister, Mr. Enver HOXHAJ and his wife Remzie as well as the former Minister for Agriculture and EU-Commissioner, Mr. Franz FISCHLER from Austria, who visited Kosovo in his capacity as the President of the Forum Alpbach. Mrs. Marcela CERNO represented the City of Vienna. Further guests were COMKFOR MG E. DREWS and DCOMKFOR BG J. Luif, the well known Kosovan sculptor Luan MULLIQI and many representatives from business and the media.

With this important cultural event, it was possible to strengthen the image of Austria as friend of Kosovo and as a global player in cultural terms in a very positive manner. The enormous interest shown by the media underlines the significance of this evening. One of the main TV-stations in Kosovo (Klan Kosova) presented a 70-minute live coverage starting at 11:10 pm (and airing it twice again in full length the next day). Also the regional TV-channel TV-Dukagjini aired a reportage on Sunday and Monday to the Wiener Ball. H.E. President Atifete JAHJAGA shared her very positive impressions about the event in the live interview from the Ball room and expressed her hope, that the Wiener Ball will soon become a tradition in Kosovo and Kosovo a regional hub for cultural activities.

Kosovo, mostly populated by Albanians, declared its independence (after the war in 1998/99 and years of UNMIK-administration) in 2008. Vienna was one of the first capitals to recognize Kosovo’s independence. Today Kosovo is still facing many challenges. Ambassador Brieger sees the organization of the 1st Wiener Ball in an interview with the APA as a testimony of “really excellent bilateral relations” and positive developments and progress achieved by Kosovo: “It is wonderful to see that a big event like a Wiener Ball can also be organized and celebrated in Pristina.”

The Wiener Ball, moderated by Peter Rapp and Xhenet Syka, was organized by the Austrian-Kosovan-Association (OeKG) and especially the three ladies from the ball committee, Mrs. Roswitha Brieger (President of OeKG), Mrs. Gwyneth Letherbarrow (Director at LIK, Language Institute in Kosovo) and Beate Dastel (UNICEF).

As “Damenspende” (nice little packages the ladies received at the entrance of the Ball in a red pouch) there were two wonderful gifts, one courtesy from the City of Vienna, which is actually a replica of one of Empress Sisi’s Diamond stars (hair pins) based on the design of the former imperial and Royal Jeweler Rozet & Fischmeister, handmade and decorated with Swarovski crystals. One can still admire them on the painting from F.X.Winterthaler 1864 (Hofburg,Vienna). The second gift (special soaps in a nice packaging) has been purchased and contributed by OeKG and come from a project from “The Ideas Partnership NGO”, a charity project that has been supported by us.

These are produced by 5 women of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian community of Fushe Kosovo. Those women are mothers of children who we supported to register at school. Thanks to the profits made by the sale of soaps, the family is not dependent on their children working in garbage collection or begging in the streets to earn money for the family so that there will be a higher chance that these children will stay in school. This income generating project is also funded by ADA (Austrian Development Agency).The soaps are made from olive oil and scented with essential oil. They come in cute handmade drawstring cotton bags with a label in recycled paper explaining that they are produced as part of an income generating project:

http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/blog/duaje-tenden-love-what-s-yours

If you also want to support this project “The Ideas Partnership NGO”, please kindly contact: Tel.No. : +377.44.584.215 Mrs. Aurélie Viard, Executive Director.

The Combo of the Military Music Burgenland provided the Viennese tunes during the evening. John I. Apelgren enchanted the audience with wonderful interpretations of songs from Frank Sinatra and after midnight, the Kosovo’s own Coco Latino Band heated up the dance floor with Latin rhythms until the early morning hours. At midnight the audience was entertained by several show acts. Krenare Rugova presented a very nice fashion show before two couples from the dance sport club Prima Danza performed a spectacular show dance in all 10 different Standard and Latin dance styles. As midnight surprise guests were drawn to win two tickets each for Austrian Airlines flights to Vienna and another city in Europe, a KFOR-VIP package and a weekend with the newest model of the Volkswagen TIGUAN. All proceeds of the 1st Wiener Ball will be donated to the Pediatric Clinic in Pristina. A first check was presented at midnight by the President of the Austrian-Kosovan-Association, Mrs. Roswitha Brieger, together with the President of the Republic of Kosova, H.E. Mrs. Atifete Jahjaga and Mr. Robert Wright, CEO of Raiffeisen Kosova and the main Sponsor of the event. If anybody is interested to further contribute to the good cause, please contact the Pediatric Clinic directly. Contact: Dr. Murat Zejnullahu (044 174 582).The official part closed with the final Charleston show act by the dancers from Prima Danza! After that it was dancing until the early morning hours.To conclude, I would like to express my enormous gratitude to all our sponsors (Raiffeisen Kosova, City of Vienna, Austrian Embassy, KFOR, Austrian Airlines, VAMED, Porsche Kosova, KELKOS, Meridian, CETA, KAG, Haribo, Agrocoop, Rrota as well as SIEMENS, Plazidus, LIK and OeSD. Let me also thank all our guests on the 1st Wiener Ball. Without all of you, this charity event would not have been possible.

If anyone is interested in impressions from the 1st Wiener Ball, you can look it up at http://www.oekg-ks.org/?cid=2,8

Roswitha Brieger

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