Thursday, February 05, 2009

Rochester Hills and Tuz Wrongly Served by Montenegro and U.S. Embassy


http://podgorica.usembassy.gov/two_for_tuzi.html

On Feb. 4, U.S. Embassy representative Alexandra Bonura donated school supplies valued at $10,000 to several schools in Tuzi on behalf of the people of Rochester Hills, MI, their Mayor Bryan K. Barnett, and his wife Corrin as part of the project “Two for Tuzi.” Mayor Barnet visited Tuzi last year, and upon his return he energized his community to help in providing school supplies for children in Tuzi. Families in Rochester Hills bought two sets of school supplies, and one set was donated to the students in Tuzi.

This donation shows that the U.S.-Montenegro relationship goes beyond traditional diplomacy to include people to people exchanges, said Alexandra Bonura.
_______________________________________________________________________________

There were several assertions made in this report that are misleading. Let us examine the real facts:

1. U.S. Embassy Rep Bonura did not donate the school suppliers, not even on behalf of Rochester Hills. This initiative was thought through, presented, purchased, collected, packaged, and delivered by the City of RH and the Albanian-American Community of Greater Detroit, an important fact that the embassy fails to point out. What else should be pointed out is that the U.S. embassy ensured that the supplies would reach its destination without delay once they arrive. Conversely, the opposite happened (read the concluding statement).

2. The phrase “Two for Tuzi” is incorrect. The project, initiated by Corrin Barnett, was coined “Two for Tuz”, which is the Albanian spelling for a city overwhelmingly populated by Albanians. Although Mrs. Barnett knew very well the official Montenegrin spelling, she and her husband opted to use the Albanian in respect to the local population.

3. The families in RH who purchased supplies for Tuz largely centered on the Albanian-American community of St. Paul’s Albanian Catholic Church & Community Center, who raised several thousand dollars to support Mrs. Barnett’s endeavors. These members share a deep-rooted affinity given they all have family members and personal-owned land in Tuz and the surrounding Malesia region.

4. The “people-to-people exchanges” that the embassy representative refers to here is also misleading. The relationship is a direct and innate result of the sister city relationship between RH and Tuz. If it were not for the exposure Mayor and Mrs. Barnett provided to his own constituency, many of his citizenry would not know where Montenegro is on the map. Furthermore, this relationship was conceived by the collected efforts of Albanian community leaders in Michigan who witnessed first hand the neglect and deterioration of the infrastructure and school system in Tuz, where students were denied basic school supplies enjoyed in other regions of Montenegro.

What is most disconcerting about this whole story was the struggle to get the supplies to Tuz. The supplies and transportation was paid entirely by the City of RH, and involved an objective to get the supplies over to the Malesia region in time for the holidays. This goal was achieved and the supplies arrive at the port of Bar on Christmas Day. However, due to politicizing and unnecessary red tape, the port authorities delayed delivery of the supplies and they sat idle for another 40 days with no real cause or reason.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Its interesting that the embassy does not mention the sister city alliance as the real force behind this.

I wonder why?

And its not that they forgot, because if you read their release it sounds as if they put a lot of effort into making this happen.

Not!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should forward this piece to the US embassy.

Its an interesting observation.

Anonymous said...

What I want to know is how the embassy got involved in the first place.

I was under the impression that the simple task was to ship the container over to Montenegro, have it picked up by Nikol Camaj and Maliq Cunmulaj -- our "pride and joy" from kamuna -- and deliver to Tuz.

What's so difficult about that? Containers arrive in Montenegro every day, do they all sit "idle" for months?

For God's sake, these are schoool supplies, its not like they were transporting suspicious substances.

But I should bite my tongue, DRUGS have a higher success rate in entering Montenegro than worthy goods.

Shameful!

Anonymous said...

You listen to the reps speech (on YouTube) and you would think that Montenegro and America have signed a remarkable international treaty of some kind (and it only takes 2-3 words).

This has nothing to do with diplomacy, this has everything to do with an alliance between a community trying to help (save) another from the shitty and polluted school system they have in Montenegro.

It was a disgrace to walk through the high school last month and see the gym floor ripped to pieces, no nets on the rims, holes in the walls, broken desks, no chalk to write with, broken windows, land scaping that resembles a dump yard, and asbestos all over the place.

This is not diplomacy, this is highlighting a major problem and then assembling a small community in Michigan to help out in any way they can. And they deserve the credit, not the freakin' embassy who is just jumping on the bandwagon to add another script to their website.

Tom said...

I don't quite understand the outrage here. Donations between two sister cities is considered a diplomatic gesture, so the U.S embassy would of course want to get involved. Why not? The article states that citizens of Rochester Hills participated in the effort, which is true.

A donation was made, the embassy used this benevolent act to strengthen its relationship with Montenegro overall, and everyone's happy.

You're really grasping for straws by playing the victim card here.

Anonymous said...

“Two for?”

Yes, it is no surprise to any rational Albanians, that the Montenegrin custom agency in Tivar, Montenegro, delayed orderly arrival of the container “Two for Tuz.” They delayed it for over a month. They also boycotted and rejected the whole concept of Sister City between Rochester Hills and Tuz; which is not a surprise to us. The officials in Podgorica, deliberately disregard any realistic idea for the advancement of Albanians in Montenegro. Any constructive initiative by the Albanians in Montenegro, routinely Montenegrin respond with their contaminated destructive apparatus to corrupt the project. Yes, again, their custom officials have tried to maneuver and enforce every single policy and custom statute possible to derail and delay the arrival of this gift for the students of Malesia. Consequently, minimizing the importance of this project, and finally, discouraging Mayor Barnett from doing anything for Malesia in the future.

Not by accident, but well-planned, during his summer visit in Malesia, he was verbally harassed, accused with foolish accusations, questioning his affiliation with his local Albanians- by the Montenegrin Government officials and their secret operative. For Albanians, there is no new revelation from the Montenegrin side: Albanians are accustomed to this kind of maltreatment! Some Albanians have anticipated these customs pointless barriers and tribulations. We know that there is not a single project that originates in Malesia, or in Diaspora, that is fruitful for Albanians, that the Montenegrin Government does not interferes and tries to obliterate it: that is a fact!

Astonishingly, Montenegrins claim themselves as “law-obeying citizens”- nonsense! Through the same seaport, ethnic Montenegrins, and their officials, have managed without any impediment to import illegal tobacco, weapons that were used to butcher innocent civilians in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosova; smuggled petroleum and other unlawful criminal materials. Their “legal stuff” went through this seaport unchecked and unnoticed; of course, the custom agents did not “notice” these sort of forged activities.

Nonetheless, their corruption starts with their top officials. As we all know, the international community is aware of their Prime Minster Gjukanoviq, who was indicted by the Italian Supreme Court with illegal criminal export/import dealings, who was directly involved with illicit contraband. This of course, goes unobserved; but, a charitable activity to help Malesia’s schoolchildren with basic school supplies, it is a snag for them! How interesting and ridiculous is this! This is a miniature dogmatic example, but it proves again a pattern of their inequitable behavior, it really shows their bogus primitive attitude toward Albanians.

I think freemalesia and malesiaemadhe.org have successfully brought to the surface many Montenegrin discriminatory policies, political, educational, social, and civic ill-treatment regarding Albanians in Montenegro. Albanians in Montenegro are being discriminated through their institutions- institutionalized discrimination. Nevertheless, these two websites extensively have published many incalculable documents that provide evidence and data, publishing only facts that support of how Albanians are treated as second-class citizens in their ancestral land. Many people in Montenegro, including their governmental officials, monitor these two websites carefully. I believe that published documents on these two websites are well researched, have academic substance, and are profoundly and professionally written -this is the reason why these two websites have become so well read by many people in Montenegro. Keep up the good work!

However, I respectfully disagree with the comments that freemalesia made about the U S Embassy representative, Alexanda Bonura. First, I believe that American officials are very careful of what and how they say things; the author of this article on freemalesia does not know if the two mayors (Cunmulaj and Barnett) have met with Mrs. Bonura prior to her public appearance? It is a speculative commentary by freemalesia; if you have evidence than please show it to your readers. If not, you have to be careful with making doubtful assumptions. I am admirer and regular reader of the above-mentioned websites, so please keep writing and publishing responsibly, scholastically examined, produce factual quality-work as always, and avoid publishing commentaries and articles that do not have hard concrete evidence. Montenegro is ready to seize any opportunity against us, including your writing: we all know how opportunist and corrupted they are!

Anonymous said...

" Two for !"

I agree

Anonymous said...

Two for ...

One set of supplies for those deserving them ...

and the other set conficated by customs and sold at the famous piaz black market

Anonymous said...

Two for ...

One set of supplies for those deserving them ...

and the other set conficated by customs and sold at the famous piaz black market

Anonymous said...

What is not speculative is this:

Mayor Barnette sent word to Amb Moore explaining this project in detail.

Moore in return, via a letter from his desk, congratulated the Mayor on his interest and work, and requested that he follow some basic guidelines when the containers arrive. He recommended that he contact and work with a particular authority at the port and insited that if his directions are followed, all will go as planned (i.e., no hassles, red tape, etc.).

All was followed as directed, however nothing fell through as promised.

I don't think its the embassy's fault, its those jack-asses that work at those ports along with those administrators at the ministry that play along with them.

Its just another point to the argument about the continued disrespect and harassment Albanians receive at the expense of the majority -- even for a cause that is intended to help those innocent faces we call children.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, they were not allowed to touch it! Instead, nowadays, in their piazza squares, you can see: drug trafficking, prostitutions from Moldavia, and money laundering and counterfeiting, which according to the Montenegrin officials has increased significantly.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget pirated CDs, DVDs, software, brand clothing ....

a custom's agent worst nightmare

Tom said...

Proof?

You guys do realize that you have absolutely zero proof that these supplies were intentionally kept out of the school for so long, right?

Also, why all the hate towards the embassies? If the main goal was to supply these schools with DONATED supplies then it was ultimately a success. Who cares if the U.S embassy is going to take credit. The end-result was achieved. Leave it at that. After all, what's the point of donating anything if all you're aiming for is recognition?

Anonymous said...

You want proof wise guy?

The supplier arrived in Mont on 25 December. On that very same day, they were supposed to be released to Cunmulaj/Camaj and driven to Tuz where they would be held until a cereminy took place two days later (Saturday) -- you know, the same ceremony that just happened 45 days too late (it was supposed to coincide with the holidays == THAT IS WHAT ALL THE FUSS IS ABOUT!)

Instead, they were turned away and told they would be contacted when they get authorization from the Ministry of Education.

In the mean time, the supplies sat at the port with absolutely no activity ocurring except the unneccesary delays which this article reported here.

Camaj called the port authorities every day, insisted on the release of the containers, but was vehemently turned away and scolded for not waiting for him to be contacted. Camaj went further and called the Ministry of Education to inquire about the delay, but they refused to give any information citing that the process has to be honored. When asked to see objective evidence that communication was sent to them from the port authority, they told him he had no right to that information.

The Mayor of RH was informed, he called the Ambassador, and they interefered only to finally get them some 40 + days later to relsease to Tuz, AND TO THIS DAY, NO INFORMATION WAS PROVIDED AS TO WHY THE DELAY TOOK PLACE.

How do I know this? Nikolle Camaj told me himself.

If your sense of Slavic-sympathy still prevents you from believeing this, call him yourself:

Nikolle Camaj
Kryetar
Kuvendi i Komunes Urbane
+382-81-875-044

Tom said...

Ah, red tape. I don't know much about import regulations in Montenegro (and I doubt you do either) to form a judgement on whether or not the delay was necessary or unecessary. Of course, playing victim and claiming it was due to discrimination or part of some grand scheme to deny Albanians anything positive is much easier I guess.

By the way, the delays weren't mentioned in the article, but rather was a footnote posted by a blog author.

P.S: I love how I'm labeled for my "Slavic-sympathy" just for asking a question, and not automatically assuming the world is out to get me and other Albanians.

Anonymous said...

“Two for ?”
Hey, “Two for Tuz” project is one example of their vicious policy toward Albanians….just a friendly advice: that one who sits between two chairs may easily fall down. Definitely, I will not condemn people for what they have done in the past, if they do it right today. I think, the time has come for Albanians to push our cause forward.

Anonymous said...

“Two for!”
Yes, and I would insert: the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Anonymous said...

As Tina once said in our IR class, "the biggest risk is not taking one," ... stand up in what you believe in, even if it makes you the most unpopular cat in the class ...

Does anyone know when Pearson's mid-term is?

Nikky G

Anonymous said...

Ahahaha ... nice to have you back Nik, where the hell have you been?

MT = 03/05

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to read this thread. I am a resident of Detroit suburb, close to Rochester Hills. I ran into this thread while searching information on Montenegro as a friend of mine from Russia is interested in moving in the country. I remembered my another friend from RH mentioned Montenegrin officials' visit to RH a year or so ago.

Anonymous said...

Tom:

This reminds me of an article I read in Illyria, where it came to light that an Albanian activist from Ulqin claimed that medical supplies shipped from the United States through his organization were blocked from being taken from the dock.

As it turns out, the shipping container held medical supplies and an SUV. When the container came in, nothing was blocked from entering, but only the SUV was picked up from Tivar!!!

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