Wednesday, April 21, 2010
ALBANIAN-AMERICAN DELEGATION MEETS WITH STATE DEPARTMENT
ALBANIAN-AMERICAN DELEGATION MEETS WITH STATE DEPARTMENT TO DISCUSS THE MUNICIPALITY OF MALËSIA IN MONTENEGRO
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 16, 2010 - A delegation representing the Council for the Formation of the Municipality of Malёsia–Tuz officially met with the U.S. State Department today and presented a Feasibility Report validating the favorable socio-economic and political conditions for the formation of a Malёsia Municipality. The delegation was led by the chairman of the Council, and president of the Albanian-American Association “Malёsia e Madhe,” Gjergj Ivezaj. The team of legal, political and economic experts included the president of Homeland Unites Us and international law expert, Dr. Palokё Camaj; human rights advocate and attorney Sabri Gjoni; international relations scholar and former political advisor to Kosova’s Prime Minister, Viktor Ula; Professor of Political Science and Executive Director for the Commission for Human Rights and National Minorities, Viktor N. Ivezaj; and from Malёsia, Human Rights Legal Researcher for the Commission for Human Rights and National Minorities and expert on European legal doctrine, Dr. Angjell Gojcaj.
The delegation met with Deputy Director John R. Buzbee from the Office of South Central European Affairs and discussed the continued systematic discrimination plaguing Albanians in the Malёsia region of Montenegro. The delegation presented Deputy Director Buzbee with a statistically valid study that was carried out in 2009 illustrating the deterioration of the Malёsia region in all realms of social, political, and economic junctures primarily the result of Montenegro’s refusal to form a local government in the Malёsia region to remedy the ongoing crisis. Professor Ivezaj provided a lucid introduction that included a chronological order of repeated attempts by Malёsia’s political representatives to re-institute a Municipality that was callously revoked in 1957. Dr. Camaj reminded the State Department that the continued alienation of Albanians from the political process threatened to uproot Montenegro’s accession to Euro-Atlantic institutions given that international law affecting ethnic minorities is being blatantly ignored. Mr. Ula followed the assessment by elaborating on the current economic crisis conceived after the creation of the puppet urban Municipality, which included a compelling argument that Malёsia is financially more secure and capable of self-sufficiency than at least seven other municipalities. This conclusion challenged Montenegro’s assertion that establishing a Malёsia Municipality was premature at this time.
The delegation was accompanied by senior congressional staff member Jeremy Steslicki, who presented Mr. Buzbee with a letter signed by three congressional representatives supporting the delegation’s petition. Senator Carl Levin and congressmen Sander Levin and Gary Peters joined together and firmly requested that the State Department “ensure the equitable treatment of Albanians in Montenegro,” while at the same time expressing support in “granting a full municipality status of the Tuzi district of Podgorica,” which would alleviate the continuing problems associated with “the rights of Albanians who are subject to discrimination in their native lands” and serious underrepresentation in their public and private lives.
After the meeting, Dr. Camaj commented, “We were pleased to learn that the U.S. State Department is deeply concerned with resolving the status of the Municipality of Malёsia and the need for Montenegro to comply with the rule of law and international human rights.”
The delegation also met with the Ambassador of Montenegro to the U.S., Miodrag Vlahović, to whom they also presented with the 2009 Feasibility Report and accompanying documents to be forwarded to Podgorica. Mr. Vlahović was the author of an April 1993 feasibility report of his own, in which he concluded that the abolishment of the Malёsia Municipality in 1957 set in motion the negative political and socio-economic consequences beleaguering the region today.
Although it was promising to hear that the Ambassador continues to stand by his own conclusions of 1993, it was at the same time discouraging to learn that the “official position” of the Government of Montenegro remains unchanged – that a time-line for the realization of a full Malёsia Municipality has not been determined. Moreover, the ambassador provided no time-line for recognizing the municipality, and when he was pressed to do so, he refused to provide any details or status report on its fulfillment. On separate occasions during the meeting, the delegation voiced its objections on several points the ambassador falsely assumed to be fact. His comments that the municipality petition has turned into an attempt to radicalize the process was challenged by members of the delegation who questioned whether Montenegro was holding back municipal recognition based on the recent fervor stemming from the Diaspora and their voluble demands for equal representation. In the same vein, Vlahović carelessly asserted that “ethnicity” should not be a subject of contention in future dialogue between Albanians and Montenegrins, maintaining that cultural differences should be diminished as much as possible and not stand in the way of Montenegro’s progress. Professor Ivezaj and Mr. Ula warned that ignoring cultural differences and other characteristics between Albanians and the Slav majority ushers in a dangerous precedence that could lead to assimilation, a volatile policy advanced by Podgorica and discussed earlier that day with the State Department. The delegation reminded Vlahović that they will continue to petition the U.S government and other international institutions responsible for monitoring Montenegro’s progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration, which, according to Mr. Gjoni, includes a wider investigation into the government-led corruption surrounding the coastal municipality of Ulqin.
The delegation later met with the ambassadors from Albania and Kosova, where they informed them of the legal and economic basis for the restoration of the Municipality of Malёsia. Both embassies expressed their concern over the treatment of the Albanians living in Malёsia and vowed to study the feasibility report and provide constructive feedback in a timely fashion. The Albanian Ambassador also suggested numerous institutions and political figures willing to aid Malёsia’s petition for municipal recognition. He ensured the delegation that Tirana would be forwarded all correspondences related to these objectives.
At the conclusion of the day’s events, Dr. Gojcaj expressed his deep appreciation for the continued interest of the Diaspora in supporting Malёsia’s legitimate requests and remarked, “We need the Albanian-American Diaspora to continue to support our cause for the survival of their brethren in Malёsia.” He also expressed deep gratitude to Members of Congress for their unyielding support and invited them to visit Malёsia and witness the inequalities first hand.
Posted by Conference Organizer at 8:52 AM