Sunday, March 04, 2007

Hills strikes sister-city partnership MONTENEGRO AT A GLANCE

Observer & Eccentric Newspaper

The city of Rochester Hills will welcome a delegation of dignitaries from a small town in Montenegro next month.

The mayor and other leaders from Tuz, a town of 6,000 near the Albanian border, will be in town March 5-9 as part of Rochester Hills' first international sister-city exchange. They hope to learn a lot during their stay about how a city government works in a democracy.

Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett said he was approached by members of the city's Albanian community after the president of Albania visited St. Paul's Albanian Catholic Church last year. Though Tuz is in southeastern Montenegro, its population is 90 percent Albanian.

Tuz is also the home town of some Rochester Hills residents. One of them, Frank Ivezaj, a teacher and consultant with Farmington Schools, prepared the proposal for a sister-city relationship with Tuz.

"Montenegro and all eastern European countries basically were dominated by communism," Barnett said. "The government was all centralized. They don't have any kind of experience so they need a lot of help."

In 2005, the government of Montenegro granted Tuz new autonomy as a municipality to run its own affairs.

Under a four-year pilot program, the city elected its first mayor, Smail- Maliq Cunmulaj, and a city council.

The sister-city partnership "will serve as a great opportunity for these two communities to institute a meaningful, prosperous and a lasting friendship," Cunmulaj wrote in a letter to Barnett.

"It will also open numerous doors for me, as a new mayor, to learn more about your city's administrative structure."

Barnett has already sent Cunmulaj a copy of the city budget and other documents. A new mayor himself, Barnett views the exchange as a humanitarian opportunity.

"Just collecting taxes, they don't have experience in that," he said. "This is huge for the residents of Tuz. This is an opportunity for self-governance. ...

"I'm really excited about the chance to offer a tremendous helping hand, and we'll learn from them as well."

Southeast Michigan is home to an estimated 16,000 ethnic Albanians. Barnett called the visit by Albanian President Albert Moisiu "probably one of the highlights of my time being mayor."

"I didn't realize there were such strong ties between our area and Albania," he said. "This is a really unique opportunity."

Article published Feb 22, 2007


Anonymous said...

what time is the party on Saturday??

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What are we (they) celebrating?

Anonymous said...

We (Albanians from Montenegro) are celebrating the joining of two sister-cities -- Rochester Hills & Tuz -- in a partnership that will allow for excahnges of municpal governance.

Given the large Albanian population residing in Rochester Hills, it is only fitting that this union be conceived; given the newly independent state of Montenegro, ethnic enclaves will need all the help they can to bring government closer to the people since it was centralized throughout the communist era and continues to today given the immature state of the Montenegrin government and its political elites.

We hope that Nikol Camaj and Maliq Cunmulaj will take back with them valuable lessons from their week-long tour/instruction of a wester-styled, democratic network of federalsim.

This is what we are celebrating...

Anonymous said...

PS., there is a dinner planned for this evening (Saturday, March 10th) at St. Paul's Albanian Catholic Community to celebrate this achievemnt.

Mayor of RH and members of his council will be present, as will members of our community, including our guests from Malesia.