Rudina Hajdari – A Fresh Start

Rudina Hajdari is currently serving as a member of the Assembly of the Republic of Albania. She joined the Democrat Party in 2017 after her return from studying in the United States, where she moved in 1998 after the assassination of her father, Azem Hajdari, himself a member of the Assembly and a flag bearer for the student movement of the time. She attended Fordham University in NY and graduated with a bachelor degree in Political Science, followed by a Masters in Geopolitics, Territory and Security at King’s College London. She later pursued a second Masters at Columbia University. Following her studies she served as Staff Associate of then Congressman Eliot L. Engel of NY.

Rudina would leave her friends and life in the USA in 2017 to return to Albania and pursue her dream of helping her country come out of the dark political cloud it was currently under and help it embrace a new dawn, a new era led by young intellectuals; much like eras gone by of pre-communism days, where the movements which would propel Albania toward her biggest struggle of fighting communism were led by young intellectuals, educated individuals from all factions of Albanian life. Her dream was to help revive her father’s party, the Democrat Party and restore it to its former glory of the early days of democracy in Albania.

The years following her indoctrination into the Party must have shed new light on her vision that all was not as it seemed. The politics of 30 years within the party did not change much, as a matter of fact they worsened. The oligarchs in charge 30 years ago were still roaring loudly while the people still suffered; the infrastructure needed for the villages around the country suffered; jobs were scarce; the majority of Albanians want to emigrate and a large portion of them did, leaving behind the older generation to fend for themselves. Albania was on the brink.

Students in the country led a massive protest against the government for three months in 2018-2019, opposing high tuition rates in addition to the already high university fees, which failed to improve public education. During this protest the DP took it upon itself to make it political and after days of protests the head of the DP Luzlim Basha decided to burn his mandate and resign as head of the DP, a move which would be a turning point for the party. Rudina decided against burning her mandate, but rather stay in the assembly along with a handful of other members and continue the fight from within.

She has ever since been a voice for change and decided to start a new party NISMA THURJE, break free from the old and forge ahead with the new. A list of young, energetic, educated individuals from all regions of the country.

Her platform is straightforward.

  • Nationalization of natural resources.
  • Revitalizing the economy.
  • Empowerment of the people.
  • Decentralization of power by strengthening of check-and-balance mechanisms and empowering constitutional control.
  • Democratization of political parties
  • Guaranteeing free and fair elections.
  • Reviving the jury duty tradition.
  • Uniting the Albanian people

Ms. Hajdari has been consistent if nothing else. She has not wavered from her resolution. Yes, she’s younger, but so were all the current leaders of other parties when they began their political career. Yes, she might come from a family whose family members are often criticized in the media, but so are all other politicians and to a much larger extent. She’s trying to turn a new page in Albania’s future by including everyone and excluding corrupted individuals. She’s not beholden to anyone. Yes, if she wins a few seats in the Assembly she will have no choice but to ally herself to the DP, but she will have a stronger voice and she will have to be reckoned with. Everyone has to start somewhere, and maintaining the status quo with the current individuals who have been running the country for the last 30 years is not the solution I am willing to bet on.

Having said all that, I would like to see as part of her platform a reference to the issue of: private property, compensation for the persecuted and reconciliation for crimes committed during communism.

I believe the resolution of these three issues are detrimental to any society which wants to move forward in a healthy manner. You cannot create a strong, healthy society without first reconciling your past. You cannot move forward when a large portion of your society is still reeling from the effects of their suffering under communism, as are their families. You cannot justify democracy when a large portion of your citizens have been deprived of their land and are still waiting for restitution 30 years later. You cannot speak about humanity when the past has yet to be reckoned with.

By not addressing these issues the party is disenfranchising a large portion of people who suffered under communism. Even though this might be seen as an ‘old’ issue, it is still very much relevant, it is still very much current. These individuals are still here now and unless it’s addressed and someone speaks out for them with honesty, vulnerability, sensitivity, it’s never going to be resolved.

The current government has basically forgotten about them. Their compensation is trickling in every 8-10 years. They are still waiting for their property to be restituted. They are still waiting for an acknowledgment and apology for their suffering during 50 years of communist atrocities. Every election period they promise this and that but nothing ever materializes. Nothing changes.

Your party has the potential to be a strong force in Parliament, more vocal, more energized and if these issues were included it will most likely get further traction and votes, it certainly wouldn’t be detrimental.

It could be a good opportunity for people to see that even though most of the candidates are younger, they have not forgotten their country’s history and the generation before, which is still very much alive and suffering.

I believe if these issues were added to the platform it would complete it, it would come full circle, as it will show that the party truly is including everyone.

Bianca Gjomarkaj

BASHKISE MIRDITE KAN 200 HA TOKE PA UJITJE, SHKAK MOS REHABILITIMI I KANALIT EKZISTUES

FSHATRAT NDERFANE, NDERFUSHAS DHE SHTERE TE BASHKISE MIRDITE KAN 200 HA TOKE PA UJITJE, SHKAK MOS REHABILITIMI I KANALIT EKZISTUES

Fshatrat Ndërfushas, Ndërfanë dhe Shterë jan fshatrat më të mëdha të teritorit të Bashkisë Mirditë. Këto fshatra disponojnë një fond prej rreth 200 ha tokë por ka rreth tri dekada që nuk ujiten, ndonse ka mbi 200 vjet që ka kanalin ujitës.

Banorët e këtyre fshatrave jetesën e tyre e kan të mbështetur kryesisht tek bujqësia dhe blegtoria, por mungesa e ujit ka bërë që pjesa e më e madhe e tokave të mbeten djerr. Shumë nga këta banorë bëjnë shpenzime duke e punuar dhe mbjellë tokë vetëm me shpresën e shirave por kjo nuk mjafton pasi vera në atë zonë është e thatë dhe të gjitha shpenzimet groposen bashkë me farën, fadanët dhe plehrat.

Banorët e këtyre fshatrave për arsye se kan shumë tokë në pronsi nuk i regjistron njeri si punëkërkues në zyrën e punës, ndaj jetesën e tyre e kan të varur vetëm tek pronat e tyre që jan tokat. Tokat e këtyre fshatrave pjesa dërmuese e tyre jan djerr për arsye se nuk kan ujë për ujitje.

Banorët e këtyre fshatrave për çdo vit ankohen tek Bashkia por ende nuk ka dritë në fund të tunelit.

Banorët për mikrofonin e “Fax New” ankohen se fonde jan dhënë disa herë kryesisht nga Bashkia Mirditë, madje miliona por këto para kan humbur rrugës pasi edhe sot e kësaj dite nuk shkon uji në arat e tyre.

SINKRON: Flasin banorët e fshatrave Ndërfushas, Ndërfanë dhe Shterë të Bashkisë Mirditë.

Banorët e fshatrave Ndërfushas, Ndërfanë dhe Shterë nëse pushteti qëndrorë apo Bashkia Mirditë nuk do të alokojnë fonde për rehabilitimin e kanalit ujitës që ta kenë të disponueshëm që këtë verë kërcënojnë me përshkallzimin e protestave deri në bllokimin e rrugës së Kombit pa afat e cila kalon përbri këtyre fshatrave.


NDERFUSHA, NDERFANE AND SHTERE VILLAGES WITHIN THE MIRDITE MUNICIPALITY HAVE 200 HECTARS OF LAND WITHOUT IRRIGATION, DUE TO LACK OR MAINTENANCE OF THE EXISTING CANAL

The villages of Ndërfushas, ​​Ndërfanë and Shterë are the largest villages in the territory of the Municipality of Mirditë. These villages have a area of about 200 ha of land which have not been irrigated for about three decades, although it has had an irrigation canal for over 200 years.

The inhabitants of these villages rely mainly on agriculture and livestock, but the lack of water has left most of the land barren. Many of these residents make a living by cultivating and planting the land relying on their hope for rain but this is not enough as the summer in that area is dry and all their savings are buried along with seed, seedlings and fertilizers.

Because the inhabitants of these villages are considered self-employed, since they own and work their land, they are not registered as unemployed in the employment office, therefore their livelihood is solely dependent on their land. However, the lands of these villages are mostly barren because they do not have water for irrigation.

Residents of these villages complain to the Municipality every year but there is still no light at the end of the tunnel.

The landowners held a joint interview with “Fax News” and spoke about funds that have been given, several times, to the Municipality of Mirdita, upwards of millions ((lek), but this money has been misappropriated and not one cent ever went to maintain the canal which is detrimental to the irrigation of the area in order for the farmers to produce their crop, and as of today there is no water in their fields.

SINKRON: The inhabitants of the villages Ndërfushas, ​​Ndërfanë and Shterë of Mirditë Municipality speak.

Residents of the villages Ndërfushas, ​​Ndërfanë and Shterë are the responsibility of the central government and if the Municipality of Mirditë will not allocate funds for the rehabilitation of the irrigation canal, so that it is available this summer, they threaten to escalate the protests indefinitely by block the main highway (Kombit highway) leading to Kosova, which runs trough these villages.

Studio Qeramike Vasili – Zadrime

Vasil Kukaj’s love of his craft stems from childhood when, at only 5 years old,  he used to steal the wiring from his electrician uncle to create baskets. From there his artistic mind and industrious will evolved into what is now “Studio Qeramike Vasili“; the only successful pottery art studio, exporter and supplier to Albanian restaurants, shops and businesses in all of Albania .

Vasil studied art at the University in Perugia, Italy followed by his masters at the Universita Belle Arti, Rome. The love of art and history, combined with his desire to return to his homeland and create something far more reaching than just pottery, brought him back to his town of Krajne in the Zadrima valley. This is where Vasil grew up and this is where he wanted to establish his own roots.

We visited the studio today with much anticipation, because of my love for hand-painted pottery and I was not disappointed. We were met by Vasil and had an immediate likeness for him. He is very unassuming and humble. He welcomed us into his studio, which is on his property, and showed us not only the finished pieces in his exhibit room but also the entire operation. He created the studio in 2000 and was later joined by his two brothers who were living in Greece. Together with their wives they set up a very successful business.

You see Vasil is a history buff and he commits himself to research every small aspect of the old Albanian life, culture and tradition and pass that onto his art. There is not one piece of pottery that he can’t tell you about. Every piece is historically detailed; the colors, the costumes, the designs, are all historically related to a certain area of  Albania or a certain subject. Vasil does all his research in libraries in order to find the most accurate details and then passes the images on to his wife and sisters-in-law, who paint them onto his pieces. Vasil creates the pottery, his wife and two sisters-in-law paint the designs and voila! While his brothers handle the commercial side of the enterprise.

Some of the portrait plates are historical figures, like the Princess of Zadrime, or Skanderbeg’s Wife. All immaculately detailed and as historically close as possible. The plates, amphoras, bowls, etc. all have designs which reflect Albania’s traditions of different regions, except for some which are painted in the traditional Italian designs. It truly is an inspiration to hear his story and see the results.

The studio is truly a gem and I am glad to have found it while driving around the countryside. Of course I couldn’t leave without making a small contribution and putting in an order to have my Albanian grandparents’ portrait, in their national costumes, painted on a plate!

Ernest Koliqi – A Loyal Nationalist To The End

Ernest Koliqi, born in Shkoder, Albania in 1903 was a a poet, writer, teacher, journalist, politician, historian, but above all he was a true patriot. He is considered as the founder of the Albanian prose. As Minister of Education from 1939-1941 he was able to send 200 teachers to Kosovo to establish Albanian schools. He translated numerous literary works from Italian to Albanian. He wrote numerous poems and books. He is considered a cultural hero in Albania. A school is named after him in Tirana, his books are studied and revered worldwide. His resume is lengthy and his contribution to the Albanian culture is endless. In 1943 he went back to Rome to continue his work at the University there and was appointed Ambassador to the Vatican. In this tumultuous time he also found himself not able to return to Albania and remained in Italy. In 1945 and soon after he was joined by other exiled nationalists; Gjon Markagjoni, Ndue Gjon Marku, his brother Lem Koliqi and others.

On November 6, 1946 the Bloku Independent Kombetar (National Independent Bloc) was founded in Rome by Kapidan Gjon Markagjoni, Kapidan Ndue Gjon MarkuDr. Ismail Verlaci and Prof. Ernest Koliqi. Subsequently, in 1947, he founded the gazette L’Albanie Libre, an organ of the BKI, with the intent of publishing and dispersing information to the world and Albania about the atrocities of the communist regime and as a tool to keep his compatriots informed of the progresses being made in the west to win the fight against communism. Koliqi would continue his work at the University of Rome and maintain his involvement with the BKI until his death in 1975.

Today, in this climate of hate and discontent, an era where it’s in fashion to destroy a country’s heroes, a time of pure hatred toward anyone who has contributed historically, morally and culturally toward their own country, comes yet another blow; this time targeted against a man who not only helped to preserve and further the Albanian culture, not only in Albania but worldwide, but is revered and honored through his legacy. The piece that is circulating around the internet as of 2 days ago was written with such contempt for a man who is cherished by Albania and all Albanians. The writer accuses Ernest Koliqi of being a spy, a ‘possible’ sub-agent of the UDB and Russia in the 1950’s. I am not even going to deign to say his name or give him the space time, here is a link so you can read the garbage that has been written. Anyone can google the internet and FB and find other writings as well. The paper was based on suppositions and not facts as he purports.

What I am going to say is this, and I say it as someone who knew him briefly personally and knew of him through my granfather and father: Gjon Markagjoni and Ndue Gjon Marku, who were his ‘brothers’, compatriots, friends, confidante and more, until the end. I will leave the scholar debate to the scholars.

Ernest Koliqi was and is a shining light in Albania’s history. There was not one ounce of impropriety in his blood. What was there was his absolute love for his country and his ardent wish to rid it of the communist yoke that was destroying the very soul of it. He lived his life in exile fighting along his companions in the BKI, who were deemed by all secret service agencies, one of the strongest if not the strongest, opposition group.

The question to ask is then, why? Why would someone be so interested in bringing accusations against such a notable personality? Why dig around secret documents for suppositions and not ‘facts’ as he calls them? Instead of focusing on trying to find out dirt on someone who contributed so much to the Albanian culture and history, why doesn’t he focus on exposing the real criminals running the country today: the narcos, the traffickers, the old time communists who are still in government positions.

Instead of writing garbage and accusations against nationalists, if he feels the urge to ‘write’, he should be exposing the cancer that is growing deep inside Albania today and leave the angels of the past, the true liberators of the mind and soul, where they belong, in heaven and not on the filthy pages of a so called book!

Bianca Gjomarkaj

Happy Independence Day America!

Today marks America’s 244th birthday. This day recognizes all the suffering, fighting and personal sacrifices made by our founding fathers and thousands of believers in freedom and independence. Independence from the British Crown and a chance for America to build on that freedom and independence. We have done an amazing job in the 244 years of our life, even so there is still so much more room for improvement. We underwent many obstacles and overcame many tragedies and difficulties in these years, yet we stand united with a common goal ‘freedom’.

As an Albanian-American I feel a strong tie to America. I grew up in America from the age of 13, completed my education there, married there, and lived there until 2012, at which time I moved to Albania, land of my father; to my ancestral home. My love for America has not waned, as a matter of fact being away from her has made me appreciate her qualities more. No other country in the world (and I have traveled around the world and lived in a few) comes close to what we have in America. The freedoms so many are taking for granted these days are non-existent in the rest of the world. I have not been to a country yet where one can do or say what he/she pleases without government intervention. Our freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom to build, freedom to own property, freedom to criticize politicians, right to bear arms, freedom of religion, freedom to love whomever you choose, these are all precious and only found in America. Yes, you have first rate countries who also claim to have these freedoms, but they don’t, not really, not the way America does, they all have some restrictions one way or the other.

My point is that Americans should not be taking America for granted. They should revere her, fight for her and what she stands for and above all respect her and her history.

I am living in Albania now and have come to love this country as well. I have come to know my father’s land and see now the beauty he saw, appreciate the culture he grew up in. Although Albania is still struggling with freedoms which are being denied on so many levels; struggling with their communist past; struggling with many economical and political issues, I hope that one day she will look to that beacon of light shining in the west and realize that without respect for its people, without good, solid and fair laws which respect humanity and without an honest, deep love for her and the well being of her people she will never earn the faith and respect of the people who so much want to give it to her.

As the Eagle is a symbol for both my countries, I hope and pray that one day Albania will soar as high in the sky as her counterpart and together work to better the countries which unite many of us Albanian-Americans!

Happy Independence Day America! Gezuar Diten e Pavaresise Amerikë!