Thursday, February 05, 2009
Rochester Hills and Tuz Wrongly Served by Montenegro and U.S. Embassy
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.
Posted by Conference Organizer at 7:46 PM