Thursday, September 23, 2010
President of Albania, Bamir Topi celebrates his first visit to Michigan with Albanian Community
President Topi and his wife were accompanied by the Ambassador of Albania, Deputy Speaker of Kosova's Parliament, and the General Consul of Albania in the U.S.
The president's first stop was at the Albanian Islamic Center of Harper Woods, where he was received by the Center's Imam, Shuaip Gerguri. Topi thanked the attendees for their support of Albania's domestic and foreign initiatives along with the hospitality they expressed. There was a brief question and answer session that followed.
The President then visited St. Paul's Albanian Catholic Church and Community Center in Rochester Hills, where he respectfully honored two of Albania's most notable figures, Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeu and Mother Teresa.
As the crowd chanted the president's name, Topi expressed his gratitude by walking over to the crowd and shaking hands while thanking them for their warm welcome.
St. Paul's congressional leader, Father Anton Kqira escorted the president into the center's library for coffee and a short discussion. Father Anton presented the president with a gift and thanked him for his generous visit to our community.
Thereafter, the president was honored in the banquet hall of St. Paul's where guests of honor accompanied him to the stage. Those seated beside the president and his wife included Congressman Gary Peters, Mayor of Rochester Hills Brian Barnett, Ambassador of Albania Aleksander Sallabanda, Honorable Consul of Albania Ekrem Bardha, and Deputy Speaker of Kosova's Parliament Naim Maloku.
The Masters of ceremonies were Viktor Ivezaj and Nevruz Nazarko.
The ceremony commenced before a capacity crown of approximately 700 guests, including visitors from as far as Toronto, New York and Illinois. Numerous media outlets were also present to record this historic visit.
The honored guests gave a brief statement related to the president's visit and shared their gratitude and delight with the opportunity to showcase their state and venue to Albania's head of state. Both Congressman Peters and Mayor Barnett thanked the president for his support of the United States and remarked that the U.S. Congress and the City of Rochester Hills will remain strong advocates for Albania's development and proliferation alongside western Europe.
The president acknowledged those present and marveled at the size and scope of St. Paul's Community Center, referring to it as a "Grand Cathedral." Topi congratulated the Albanian community of Michigan on their success and hospitality, and especially thanked the United States for their steadfast support of Albania. Mr. Topi also honored this day Mother Teresa as we continue to celebrate her 100th anniversary by asserting that, "she is a true icon of the Albanian people and a saint among all of us."
After the ceremony, the president was joined by nearly 150 invited guests for a presidential luncheon at Fortesa Restaurant in downtown Rochester. Topi fielded questions by the guests and enjoyed several laughs as his visit winded down.
The reception of President Topi was without question a successful event by all accounts; the president and his wife were humbled by the reception they received during their first visit to Michigan.
We welcome the president and his family to visit our great community again in the very near future!
Posted by Conference Organizer at 11:06 AM