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Name: Spahiu, Avni
Current Position: Previous Ambassador

Kosovo’s first ambassador to the U.S., Avni Spahiu took office November 9, 2009. He has publicly acknowledged Kosovo’s debt to the U.S., having said in 2007 that “America saved this nation and we will be forever grateful.” 

Born March 12, 1956, in Mitrovica, Kosovo, Spahiu grew up in Mitrovica, although he graduated high school in Elk Rapids, Michigan, where he was in the class of 1974. He earned a B.A. in Literature from the University of Pristina in Pristina, Kosovo, in 1978, and completed post-graduate studies in Literature at the Faculty of Philology there in 1986. 
Spahiu began his career as a journalist in 1978, at first mainly covering international news, at the “Rilindja,” which at the time was the only Albanian-language daily newspaper published in Kosovo. In 1982, Spahiu returned to the U.S. as Permanent Correspondent to the U.N. and U.S. in New York, a position he retained until 1986, when he went back to Pristina and the position of Foreign Desk Editor at Rilindja. 
As Kosovo entered its crisis period during the 1990s, Spahiu was a busy man. Along with some of the leading intellectuals of Kosovo, he founded Kosovo’s first Human Rights Council, which wrote reports and filed appeals to the UN and democratic European countries regarding human rights violations in Kosovo. In that capacity, he spoke before UN Sessions on Human Rights in Geneva, and attended round table discussions in various capitals on political issues and human rights, such as OSCE Human Dimension Conferences at Copenhagen, in Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, etc. He co-founded the first free news agency in Kosovo, the Kosova Information Center, in 1990, and from 1994 to 1998 worked as Editor in Chief of Rilindja. In 1999, with Kosovo’s autonomy reestablished, Spahiu became Editor in Chief of Radio Television of Kosovo (RTK), then Director of RTK in 2002, and finally Director of the Radio Department of RTK in 2003. 
Spahiu has also translated and published more than twenty books into Albanian, and has written three books, including a collection of feature articles written during his years working in the U.S., a book on the Albanian Diaspora in America, and a biography of Msgr. Fan Stilian Noli, an Albanian-American Orthodox priest who was Prime Minister of Albania in 1924.
Avni Spaniu CV (Kosovo PEN Center)
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