Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Montenegro Proclaims, "No Municipality for Malësia"

Earlier today the Montenegrin Parliament adopted the Law on Territorial Organization, but no concessions were made to opposition parties and minority groups who were awaiting the formation of new municipalities in Montenegro.

Proposals of the opposition parties, which included pleas from ethnic Albanians to grant a municipal status to Tuzi, was turned away when it did not receive the necessary majority in the Montenegrin parliament.

The ruling coalition, which ironically includes the DPS and its appointed mayor of Tuzi, Nikollë Gegaj, argued that the initiative for the establishment of new municipalities was “unjustified and irrational at this time.”

The Law on Territorial Organization stipulates that the Government of Montenegro has the final say in the formation of new municipalities.

As one of the main obstacles to the independence of some municipalities, the Montenegrin government insists that those areas seeking independent municipalities must strengthen their economic capacity.

The Government of Montenegro considers that territorial changes cannot jeopardize economic development in a region, or the capacity of the existing municipalities to successfully perform its function.

The news came as a blow to the Albanian community in Malësia and the Diaspora. Back in 2005, then Prime Minister Milo Dukanovic assured a visiting Albanian delegation (who was accompanied by U.S. Congressman Elliot Engel) that “Tuzi would be granted a full and legal municipality in four years.” That would have been 2008.

With a population in steady decline, ethnic Albanians in Malësia are running out of time.

In 2003, the late Congressman from California, Tom Lantos, declared that what was happening to Albanians in Montenegro could be labeled as “quiet ethnic cleansing.” What Lantos might not have known is that this has been progressively happening since 1957, when Malësia was stripped of her legal municipality. And 55 years later, the aftermaths has been horrific.

There are less Albanians in Montenegro today than ever before in history.

When you ask a young adult what his dreams are, he responds, “to leave this place and go to America.”

There are no jobs, no opportunities, and no efforts for integrating Albanians, but instead a policy of assimilation and forced emigration.

What is happening with Albanians in Montenegro?

It should be no surprise why the population in Malësia has been steadily declining; over 55 years without democratic institutions (Municipality) have led to virtually no resources to: (1) identify administrative borders, (2) combat sluggish cultural development, (3) fill libraries that do not have books in the mother tongue, (4) support public fairs/festivals, (5) setting national holidays and/or street names, (6) contest the dissipating infrastructure – no adequate and safe water supply / sewage disposal / waste treatment facilities, no facilities for primary health care, public transportation is nonexistent, and maintenance of parks is absent, (7) reverse weak political participation – that has led to no municipal offices to handle the most basic needs of the local population, election offices /Register of Deeds centered in Podgorica, language barriers hindering development, government is centralized and very intimidating.

What has been the result?

The 2011 Montenegrin National Census reports the lowest Albanian population in the history of the region at 4.9%;

Assimilation & Emigration at unprecedented rates;

Albanians alienated from political process;

Latest election turnout the lowest ever, thus allowing opposition parties to take power;

All decision-making authority rests in the capital city – Podgorica;

More Albanians in Michigan & NY than ever before;

More Albanians in Detroit than in Montenegro;

Diaspora Albanians reluctant to return;

Widening cleavages between ethnic groups in Montenegro;

While 93% of the citizens in Tuz voted in favor of Montenegro’s independence in 2006, today less than 1% of Albanians are employed in the public sphere.

Democracy is an idea in Montenegro, Assimilation is their domestic policy.

The battle from abroad

A call for Municipality was recently forwarded to the U.S. Government by the distribution of a comprehensive Feasibility Study performed by a group of socio-political and economic experts from Montenegro and the U.S.

The study compared the sociopolitical and economic elements in the region of Malësia with those of the other established (21) municipalities. The results were well-defined: Malësia is much richer (via natural resources, business enterprises and investment from abroad) and more economically sustainable than seven existing municipalities in Montenegro today. In other words, one-third of Montenegro’s municipalities are in worse economic shape than Malësia.

And what has been Montenegro’s position on Malesia’s municipal status? There are insufficient financial resources and poor economic capacity to grant her a sovereign commune. The 2009 feasibility study unambiguously proves otherwise.

Decentralization has been a key component in appeasing ethnic minorities in Kosova and Macedonia; minorities now have increased power in areas they occupy as a majority, much like Malësia. The Diaspora has followed these trends closely, and has maintained that, in Malësia, Albanians should be allowed to manage their own affairs at the local level.

The United States Congress has agrees with this position.

In 2003, a Congressional Hearing on the “Repression of Albanians in Montenegro”, chaired by Rep Tom Lantos, discussed that the solution to the continued discrimination against Albanians was the creation of a municipality.

In 2005, Lantos petitioned (on several occasions) former Montenegrin PM Dukanovic to establish a municipality for Malësia.

In 2006, members of “Citizens Initiative” from Tuz joined the Albanian-American Association “Malësia e Madhe” from Detroit and appealed to the State Department, and Senator Carl Levin’s office in Washington, on the growing ethnic bigotry in Malësia. In turn, Levin petitioned the State Department to pay close attention to these issues abroad.

The Albanian-American community has also been restless.

In 2008, Students for Tolerance and Albanian Rights (S.T.A.R.) petitioned Congressman Engel at the campus of Oakland University for the recognition of a Malësia Municipality.

Since early 2005, eight demonstrations from Detroit to Washington to NY have taken place to object to the ill-treatment of Albanians in Montenegro

In 2010, the Albanian-American Diaspora (four Albanian NGOs) joined together to petition the State Department, Albanian Embassy, Kosova Embassy, and Montenegrin Embassy.

In a letter forwarded to Secretary Hillary Clinton, Senator Levin and congressmen Peters and Sandy Levin 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 in 2011, from Tuz, the desk officer of the “Commission for Human Rights and the Protection of National Minorities” requested a meeting with Members of Congress to discuss the threats to the entire Albanian ethnic minority in Montenegro.

So many pleas, petitions, and demands, but yet so little productivity.

What will it take?

What will it take for Montenegro to realize that it is violating international laws, treaties, charters, statutes, and its very own constitution by holding back an entire ethnic minority? What will it take for the European Union to realize that membership into the EU bloc requires respect, recognition and protection of your national minorities first, and thereafter Montenegro can scramble to fix her criminal empire called “Parliament”? What will it take for the United States to realize that continued aid and support to Montenegro should be contingent upon its observance of equal rights and defense of its Albanian minorities? And what will it take for Albanians in Montenegro to realize that they are becoming extinct, and for those that will somehow survive, what will it take for them to realize they are turning into Slavs?


Anonymous said...

Gosh, I never realized the Diaspora has tried this hard. Because the results have been so empty.

Anonymous said...

I love the fact that the Diaspora has been so active, but what the hell has Malësia done so far? Where are their NGOs?

Simon said...

Where are their NGOs? Don't be surprised; there is not enough misery in Montenegro (i.e., Malesia) that would prompt Albanians pulling together and standing up against the discrimination taking place.

How else can you explain their passive approach to things?

Next week Shoqata "Malesia e Madhe" is throwing an annual fundraiser in Detroit to collect money for the poor in Malesia.

They will raise anywhere between $10K-$20K that night, but they cannot raise one single penny to creat a fund that will fight agianst the hypocracy in Podgorica!

We can't go around blaming Malesor in Montenegro, we have to look at the Diaspora as well. They have failed us too. The supposed four NGOs in Detroit and NY have all but crumbled, they exist in name and not substance.

Levizja consists of one person only, Shoqata is split along several factions (due primarily to the disruptive acts of a few individuals), Fondi has been hijacked by uneducated and ignorant leadership, and Ded Gjo' Luli just hangs around at festivals and other local functions in NY without inititaing and real political activity to fight Montenegro!

What's left?


Mark said...

The Albanian deputy of Montenegro's parliament, Vasel Sinishtaj, stated that "if Malesia does not aquire a full municipality status, then I will seriously think about my resignation from the seat of a deputy in the Montenegrin parliament."

Sinishtaj went on to say ...

"Maybe we should boycott the parliament and only participate in those meetings when the agenda includes topics that may be of interest to us [Albanians], such as the ratio of the Fund for Minorities, the Law on communal activities and regional water supply to the coast."

Anonymous said...

" What's left?"
The Albanian Diaspora needs to form a new organizational approach, reform itself with young educated individuals, aiming at the discriminatory policies of Podgorica.We need to lobby for our rights; Podgorica will never give us anything!

Anonymous said...

What will it take?


Toma said...

I will sound like a broken record, BUT why don't the Albanians in Mont do something about this? Why is it always you all from Detroit / NY?

Aren't they affected by this more than you all?

When I read that Mr. Sinistaj is threatening a boycott of Parliament, that means nothing unless ALL Albanians in Mont PArliament do the same. He will look like a fool if the others continue to show up for work.

What needs to happen is something radical!

And I believe that Albanians in Malesia need to determine what that is, and if they do not, then they are dummer than I thought.

But then again, they will only go as far as the people's wishes. What I mean is ... if the people a Malesia (Albanians) don't give a damn about their political status (i.e., they don't stand up and fight for their rights), then why should their "elected" leaders push the issue?

Toma said...

Sooner than later this website will have six Bosniak kids posing on the front page because Albanians are really becoming extinct there.

More and more land will be lost to ethnic groups that have no business belonging in Malesia.

Why can't they see between the political fault lines, Podgorica's grand strategy is to dillute Malesia with "others" so Albanians stand no chance is claiming territorial rights and so on.

Anonymous said...

Lum te goja Tom. E vërteta do të na çlirojë!!!!

Anonymous said...

O Tom, a mund të shpjegoj diçka, ku është Dr. Palok Camaj? Pse nuk kemi dëgjuar apo lexuar prej tij?

Anonymous said...

Paloka esthe ne NY.

Anonymous said...

Mali i Zi deshiron dhe punon me njerz te vete qe nuk ka pak, te kritikohen dhe te shahen Dr.Palok Camaj, Dr.Angjell Gojcaj, Studenti Anton Lullgjuraj e shume e shume individ tjere dhe organizata tjera qe mundohen te punojne per te mire te Malesise.
Cdo shtet kishte me deshirue qe te kete kesi lloje Doktorash te drejtave nderkombtare e jo ma Malesi.
Te shkrete na qe nuk po lame ka pa sha, dikush prej pa dijet, dikush prej inatit, e dikush te shtime prej Malit te Zi.
Te mjert na cna ka gjiet.

Anonymous said...

I dashur mik, mos ke frikë sepse unë nuk jam tu me kritikua këta burra. Pyeta ishte, ku janë?

Anonymous said...

Simon sound very bright, but:

Move your ass and get involved in Malesia e Madhe; thus, they will achieve political momentum.

Move your ass and get involved in Levizja; it will make her at least two.

Move your ass and become leader in Fondi; it will make Fondi lightning torch.

Move your ass and celebrate with Dede Gjo' Luli; it will make all of us very happy.

Move your ass SIMON!

Simon said...

Excuse me Mr. Anonymous? Sure use the youth's asses to fulfill what you older generations failed at!

This is happening in malesia too where older washed up Albanians are using young intellectuals to do their dirty work. Just watch what happens to the FDI.

You left us with nothing to build upon. You tore up the fabric of any future activity!

Anonymous said...


Get on, not like a passenger, but as an active leader. You are welcomed in any of FOUR associations.

Or, you can build your own front, otherwise through the BLOGS you are not able to achieve much.

Give an outcry of unity to all your partisans and show to the world and to them, to the old scums, what you can do.