APRIL 22, 2014
ALBANIAN-AMERICANS PROTEST IN FRONT OF THE WHITE HOUSE & MONTENEGRIN EMBASSY AGAINST THE DISCRIMINATION OFTHE ALBANIAN NATIONAL MINORITY IN MONTENEGRO
WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday April 8, 2014 Albanian-Americans from around the United States gathered in Washington DC and protested before the White House and the Montenegrin Embassy against Montenegro’s systemic discriminatory policies towards its Albanian national minorities. This peaceful demonstration followed similar rallies throughout Montenegro where ethnic Albanians vehemently objected the continued sociopolitical disparities that have plagued them for decades, particularly refusal by the Montenegrin Government to fully comply with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, including the Charter of Local Self-Government in granting the region of Malësia a full and comprehensive municipality with all the legitimate and administrative authority of a decentralized self-government.
This rally was purposely arranged to coincide with the arrival of Montenegro's Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic, and his attempt to lobby the U.S. Government for support of Montenegro's aspirations to join the EU and NATO. The strong showing of protesters objected to any such support and appealed to the White House.
Following the peaceful demonstrations, Djukanovic met with elected officials and Albanians to discuss various issues confronting Albanian communities in Montenegro, specifically a “promise” he made to the U.S. Congress in 2005 – where he vowed to grant the region of Malësia a full and independent municipality within four years (2009). During this meeting, Djukanovic “promised” that his government will support the “will” of Albanians in Malësia, and all they had to do was formally request their desire for the establishment of an independent municipality.
Prime Minister Djukanovic’s repeated “promises” on the matter of an independent municipality have no bearing in past or current negotiations between his government and the Albanian minority. For the past 15 years the Albanian Community in Malësia has expressed its “will” by repeatedly requesting an independent municipality given this administrative region meets and exceeds all the economic, territorial and organizational requirements for a full and independent commune. In the same vein, Djukanovic has made similar “promises” in the past while campaigning for re-election, and like the past has failed to honor each and every one.
Until these “promises” are kept, the Albanian Diaspora cannot support Montenegro’s bid for EU/NATO membership. It is not in our best interest to support a government who repeatedly violates the most basic forms of minority rights to join a family of democratic institutions of Western Europe. Furthermore, until such time that Albanians in Montenegro are afforded these rights, the Albanian Diaspora will continue lobbying members of U.S. Congress to review Montenegro’s minority rights policies and continue to communicate via protests our previous demands that the Montenegrin Government fully comply with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, including the Charter of Local Self-Government by means of granting the region of Malësia a full and comprehensive municipality with all the legitimate and administrative authority of a decentralized self-government.
Wherefore, we urge Prime Minister Djukanovic to recognize our following demands:
- Initiate equal rights and prohibit discrimination with programs that incorporate all people regardless of social, economic, political, linguistic, religious, and/or ethnic background;
- Implement policies and programs aimed at leveling the playing field for Albanians in pursuit of jobs, admission to universities, and even government contracts;
- Encourage public institutions such as universities, hospitals and police forces to be more representative of the population. Employ Albanians as judges, police chiefs, and medical directors in areas where Albanians constitute a majority. This will ensure public trust, public confidence and equal representation.
- Establish a Commune in Malësia and create policies to provide employment and long term welfare to Albanians at the municipal level. This would no doubt encourage social, economic, and political development, bring government closer to the people and embolden a minority group that has been disenfranchised for so many years.
- Redistribute a fair proportion of the national wealth in areas where Albanians comprise a majority, such as 85% in Ulqin and 92% in Malësia. Reinvestment in these regions guarantees increased wealth, growth, development and public consumption. The returns on these investments can be invaluable.
- Stop illegal state privatization of industries and businesses in the municipality of Ulqin, including renunciation of the Maritime Laws that allow for the unlawful seizure of land in Ulqin, which is grossly disproportionate other coastal regions in Montenegro.
- Forfeit plans to confiscate private property in the town of Martinaj where the state plans to build an orthodox church amongst a population of 100% Muslim Albanians (Martinaj’s).
- Encourage equity ownership, representation at both employee and management level, procurement to initiate Albanian-owned businesses and social investment programs, amongst others.
- Create government-sponsored programs to educate the majority about the important contributions that Albanians bring to the country, including diversity, rich history, aptitude, and an unsurpassed work ethic – characteristics that can build a country and not break it apart.
- Tear down state monopolies and encourage private ownership. Give back to Albanians those enterprises that were wrongfully taken away and given to corrupt government elites driven by personal gain instead of public service.
In lieu of these aforementioned rights, propagated by international human rights laws and organizations, Montenegro has opted to isolate the Albanian communities of Montenegro and discourage their growth and protection.
The Albanian-American Diaspora will not tolerate this behavior and vows to aggressively exploit Montenegro’s oppression and abusive tactics to all international institutions and policy makers in an effort to prove that Montenegro has no place in a democratic Europe until it affords its Albanian citizens basic human rights and stops its campaign of abuse, discrimination, intimidation and expulsion.
For more information, please contact the Albanian-American Association (“Shoqata Malësia e Madhe”) at (586) 530-0373.
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