We publish the last chapter of the thesis “From the Ottoman Empire to the present day: in search of the identity of a people". The author, Dr. Elena Pagani, has dedicated the final work of her academic career in Human Rights and Ethics of International Cooperation to Contemporary Albania and its contradictions as a modern country (hence the definition 2.0).
The thesis is the result of both a theoretical study and a stay in Albania starting from the 2008.
5. ALBANIA 2.0: THE COUNTRY OF PARADOXES - By Elena Pagani
5.1 IMPORTANT STEPS TO THE FUTURE
Albania entered the 21st century on tiptoe. "Koha and kaluar s'kthehet më","The past time never comes back"Says an Albanian proverb, meaningful for the country's future, which entered the new millennium in the wake of a difficult past. The moment finally arrived for the Albanian people to take their destiny into their own hands, that of a nation always affected by conflicting interests, due to its strategic geographical position, its territories, the wealth of raw materials and the continuous internal instability and fragmentation.
Five centuries of Ottoman domination have left profound influences, both from the religious point of view (about 70% of the population is Muslim, the 20% of which belongs to the Bektashi school, while the remaining 50% to the Sunni school), and linguistic and social: many words of the Albanian language, which according to the most accredited positions, derives from the evolution of the ancient Illyrian idiom, with Greek, Latin, Turkish and Slavic contaminations, are clearly of Turkish origin.
As many influences can also be found in the kitchen, in the characteristic use of spices and in typical dishes such as shishqebap, qofte, byrek, bakllava and llokume, a dessert similar to a large candy, based on starch, sugar and nuts, a must in Albanian homes , which in addition to being the typical dessert offered to guests, is also the one donated by families to new apprentices, according to an ancient tradition.
However, the Turkish component represents only a part of the schipetar cultural and historical heritage, also characterized by a notable presence of influences from the Mediterranean and Italic and Balkan civilizations. Eastern, Mediterranean, Balkan, Albania has always been a transit area between East and West, poised between struggles and dominations, whose fate and fortunes were decided by Ottomans, Italians, Balkans, but hardly by the Albanians themselves, until the advent of Enver Hoxha and his regime.
"Albania 2.0: the country of paradoxes"Is the last chapter of the thesis"From the Ottoman Empire to the present day: in search of the identity of a people”Of the author, Elena Pagani
Not even this period can truly be considered the result of the choices of the Albanians, but rather it was an authoritarian seizure of power and a submission of the people themselves, up to the faint democratic turning point, the collapse of the financial institutions in the 1997, which led to the so-called "Albanian anarchy" period , to indicate the total situation of chaos, and the refugee emergency caused by the Kosovo war, during which the Albanian houses spontaneously opened up to welcome thousands of fleeing people and share with them what little they possessed.
Thus ended the complex century that saw the independence of Albania, the strengthening of ties with Italy, which imposed itself as elder brother, the enverista regime defined by Amnesty International in the 1984, as one of the most repressive in the world and a a further downward fall, from which a gradual but prodigious ascent would have begun.
The 2000 began with many challenges and goals to achieve, in a political situation still characterized by strong democratic shortcomings. In October of the same year the administrative elections were held which should have led to new and important reforms. They were the first to take turns, based on the electoral law that came into force a few months earlier, thanks to a compromise between the two rival parties: the socialist and the democratic parties of Sali Berisha.
Monitored by the ODIHR, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OECD, they represented a proof of the European and democratic orientation taken by the country. The 2000 local elections and the 2001 political elections confirmed the victory of the Socialist Party, which remained in the government until the 2005, when its democratic rival won by a large majority, entrusting the task of forming the new government to Sali Berisha. Also in October of the 2000, the socialist Edi Rama, the current Prime Minister of the country, was elected mayor of Tirana, maintaining this office until the 2011 and carrying out important works in the capital that helped give it its present appearance.
From the economic point of view, during the first years of the 2000, the country was perhaps still the only one, among those in transition, in which the 50% of GDP was still represented by the agricultural sector. The challenge was to be able to deal with the dual phenomenon of Westernization and globalization, defined by the OECD as the process by which the interdependence of markets and production is outlined in different countries, by virtue of the exchange of goods and services , capital movements and technology. Relations with European partners, Italy, Greece and Germany, the main ones, and trade with the other countries of the Balkan area were fundamental.
It must be said that the Albanian economy continues to benefit considerably from the remittances of the numerous emigrants, although due to the economic crisis that has hit Europe starting from the 2009, these have decreased considerably (it is estimated that in the 2009 remittances were equal to € 748 million, against the 800 million of the previous year). However, Albanian citizens residing abroad continue to represent an important resource for their country. Italy once again came into play in the life of the Land of Eagles, this time in a very different way from the now distant 1939, no longer as an imposing elder brother, but as a close cousin and main economic partner. The relationships between the two are now constantly growing.
For some years now our country has been the protagonist of that phenomenon, typical of the process of the new globalization, called delocalization, with respect to which Albania has established itself as an excellent place, thanks to the low prices, geographical proximity, but above all to an environment work at low cost and high quality and motivation, with high levels of language skills, in a dynamic and constantly progressing system.
In the space of a few years, Albania has become an area rich in opportunities for many foreign investors, thanks also to the reference regulatory framework: the Foreign Investment Law, amended in the 2010, came into force precisely to create a favorable climate and facilitate the entry of foreigners, natural or legal persons, wishing to start a business in Albania or undertake any investment in the territory.
In this regard, the sectors most interested and fruitful are, according to Albinvest, in addition to the agricultural and agri-food sectors, that of textile and clothing production, thanks also to the strong post-war tradition in the production of garments. The main advantages for those who choose to invest in this sector are the availability of skilled labor, the exemption from VAT or customs duties for the 100% of fashion industry producers under the re-export regime, and of course from the reduced transport costs due to the geographical position.
Furthermore, Albania is today one of the leading footwear and leather producers in the world and also in this sector Italian investors are continuously increasing and have enabled the country to become the largest exporter of footwear in Italy. Some of the major Italian companies present today in these sectors are: Berttoni Shpk, Contatto Shpk, Doniana Calzature, Ital Style Shpk, Shirt & Company, Tod's.
The opposite phenomenon is taking place in what the Albanians saw as protagonists in the 1990-2000 decade. Today it is the Italians who emigrate to the Land of Eagles, bringing their business know-how, technical experience and offering new job opportunities. The impact of foreign investors, but also of the Albanian citizens residing abroad, who decide to return and open a business in their country of origin, is very strong and important for the present and economic future of Albania, provided it takes place according to European directives in the context of sustainable development. The ties between Italy and Albania today have changed with respect to the past, assuming a positive connotation and showing excellent relational stability.
Another important and developing sector is undoubtedly that of tourism. The country intends, in fact, to establish itself as a tourist destination, thanks to the 450 kilometers of bathing coast, to the mountains where nature and spaces are still uncontaminated, and to the millennial history. However, due to the long isolation and the recent opening to the world, as well as to a bad reputation due to corruption, illegality, and to the image of a country marked by a difficult past, tourism demand and interest are still reduced.
An important goal was reached when the Lonely Planet tourist guide, in the 2011, put Albania in first place in the ranking of the best destinations. There are still many steps to take, especially in the area of infrastructure and waste management, but the country, with its traditions, the hospitality and hospitality of the people and the folklore that characterizes it, really offers many opportunities to all those who wish to approach. Albania does not aspire to become a destination for mass tourism, but the strategy adopted by the current Rama government, rather focuses on agritourism, hiking and cultural trips, thanks also to the presence of three places registered in the world heritage of 'UNESCO: the historical centers of Agirocastro and Berat and the archaeological site of Butrinti.
As you can see, the small country is changing its appearance and, although many steps still need to be taken and many errors corrected, especially those related to the building boom of the last few years, which unfortunately contributed to disfigure many cities, including Tirana itself, having devastating effects on the environment due to the unlikely concessions for the construction of real eco-monsters, many stages have already been completed.
Some of the most significant goals were: in the 2006 the signing of the Association and Stabilization Agreement with the European Union, in 2009, when Albania became a member of NATO, since 15 December 2010 the liberalization of Schengen visas, accepted by all with enthusiasm and interpreted as a further approach to Europe, as well as the overcoming of the previous isolation, the strengthening of the fight against corruption and crime and the coveted granting of the status of candidate country to the European Union, promoted above all by Italy , with its 400 between companies and joint ventures present in Albania, which took place in June of this year, and from the point of view of infrastructures, the completion of the projects of the European Union and the Development Fund in the construction of Scutari roads -Hani Hotit, Tirana-Scutari and Durres-Kukes.
Our country continues to support the growth of Albania, favored by intense cooperation and ties that cover a wide range of sectors and are the result of a long collaboration and bilateral meetings. Italy is aware of the great potential of the country to the point of representing one of the major supporters of the transition and of the current European path. The difficulties to be overcome are still many, especially in the political and economic fields, but the country is undertaking the process of European integration with excellent results and with the awareness that it is necessary to look ahead, without forgetting the mistakes made, protecting the cultural heritage , artistic and environmental present, focusing on reforms, on the development of resources and on the education of young people, undisputed protagonists of change, at the center of new and important opportunities.
5.2 THE ALBANIANS AND THE ALBANISM TODAY
The verses of the Scutarian Catholic poet Pashko Vasa, belonging to the Albanian Risorgimento, could not be more up to date than in his attempt to mobilize his people he wrote: "Wake up Albanians, wake up from sleep; and all as brothers in a promise unite; and do not look at churches and mosques; the religion of the Albanians is Albanism!".
Today they represent a living message, a strong incitement towards the rebirth of the country, still in progress. The concept of Albanism born during the Albanian Risorgimento, referring to the words of the poet Vasa, today take on a very important meaning in schipetara culture. Also used by Hoxha during his regime, albanism or shqiptaria, in the Albanian language, represents a sui generis nationalism, different from the one that spread in the other countries of the Balkan peninsula. Strictly intertwined with the clan spirit and therefore with the ancient traditions, this form of nationalism cannot be identified with the set of ideas and doctrines designed to exalt the nation or homeland, but it is a concept that exceeds this definition.
Pashko Vasa"Wake up Albanians, wake up from sleep; and all as brothers in a promise unite; and do not look at churches and mosques; the religion of the Albanians is Albanism!"
Malsorë, katunare, qytetar, katolike, musliman, ortodokse, fragmentation in Albania is still a reality in fact. The malsorës are those who come from the mountains and continue to be called this way even though they have lived in cities for a couple of generations or even live abroad; the katunare are those who come from the villages, basically from peasant families and finally the citizens, the inhabitants of the major centers, in turn divided according to the city of origin. These differences and subdivisions are still very much felt in Albania and contribute to creating social classes.
From a religious point of view, the historic tripartition has never been overcome and today Albania is divided into Muslims who represent the majority, Catholics, especially in the north, around 11% and Orthodox, the 7% Moschee, minarets and churches share very close and close spaces, since religion in the country takes on a very particular connotation. There are frequent marriages between individuals belonging to different religions, precisely because of the way in which the people consider belonging to various creeds: the Albanian nationality is multi-religious, and the atmosphere is one of tolerance and maturity, to such an extent that the State is considered as a real example in this field.
The explanation is undoubtedly linked to the concept of Albanism, to which faith, whatever it may be, is subordinate. The true creed of the people is its profoundly schipetarian, and despite the differences, indissolubly linked by an ancient bond. Wherever they are in the world, the Albanians do not forget this strong sense of belonging, the common brotherhood, which is different from love for the homeland, but could be defined as love for one's own people. Whether they are in America, Europe or other nations, the Albanians remain tied to their origins, but above all to their being schipetari, willing therefore to help and support each other.
The family, the blood bond, the hospitality, the respect for values and ancient traditions, still alive, are the pillars on which the life of the Albanians at home and abroad is based. Many of these aspects are found in the ancient code of the Kanun, "the table of values" of this people, which has proved itself capable of resisting any change, ideology, domination, and religion, respecting two fundamental values: considering oneself all brothers and protect the weakest, perhaps the most beautiful example of faith, whatever the religion that represents it. The fragmentation of Albania is therefore an apparent reality, the people have an identity that distinguishes them today as in the past and is contained in the concept of Albanism.
The 21 September 2014 Pope Francis visited Albania. It is the second Pope, after John Paul II in the 1993, to visit the country. He presided at a solemn mass in the square dedicated to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, which followed the journey to Shkodra made twenty years ago by John Paul II. All enthusiastically, they prepared for the arrival of the pontiff, who said that the main reason that led him to decide to make this trip is that Albania, succeeding in forming a government of national unity, with an interreligious council balanced, showed how it is possible for a people to work together. It was a very important event for the country and for its people, a symbol of current religious freedom, lived in a peaceful climate and with a common national identity.
5.3 2008-2014 MY EXPERIENCE IN THE COUNTRY OF EAGLES
In this last paragraph, which also wants to be a sort of concluding paragraph, I describe my personal experience in Albania that started in 2008. These are obviously subjective impressions and expositions, even though they are characterized by a critical and ever more conscious spirit. I have always spent my time in Albania as a tourist, with the eyes of those who travel and visit a country, expecting everything from it, without having the presumption of investigating it or being somehow biased.
I had the opportunity to visit places and learn about things very closely, accompanied by Albanian citizens who have never left Albania and others who return after spending many years abroad and have a perspective very similar to mine towards that which was and has returned to be their country. Albania today is totally different from the one told in the history books, and only by visiting it and living it for some periods is it possible to understand what intricate mechanisms have made it what it is.
It is not only the fruit of a difficult past, of wrong choices, of a tired people that reacted impulsively; it is also influenced, if not above all, by the history of neighboring countries, by that imposing West that at times seemed far away and today, instead, it is closer than ever, by the Albanians themselves, still so different and fragmented, many with residence or foreign passports, but which continue to return and build in their country of origin, from the Italians, Germans, Austrians, Turks who have made Albania their work destination, new ground for large investments, and albanism, that spirit of unity and community so rooted in this land, which infects everyone, even those of Albanian has nothing. It is not a country that leaves you indifferent: from Albania you return with much more awareness, enjoy yourself, often amazed, incredulous.
I have defined it several times "the country of paradoxes ", where tradition and modernity collide and marry, where the past enters all realities, in the public and private, where there are still rules on moral relations, but those relating to the public good are eluded, where marriages last three days and they represent the most important and heartfelt feast in all families, but often the spouses have only visited each other virtually, where, as an Albanian proverb says, "Mali me mal s'piqet, njeriu me njerine piqet"," The mountains do not meet, but people do. "
My first trip to Albania dates back to the 30 September 2008. It was a short trip, lasting four days, during which I visited Scutari and some rural villages in the northern Malay and Madhe district: Koplik, Pjetroshan, Bajza.
I knew almost nothing about the country I was going to, the only thing I knew were some Albanian citizens who had emigrated to Italy for several years and the fact that there had been a long and difficult communist dictatorship. Since then my travels in Albania have been very frequent, with longer stays, with an average of one visit a month. I visited several cities and towns: the north on the border with Montenegro, the south and the coastal cities and tourist destinations Vlora and Saranda, the sites, Unesco heritage, Butrinti and Argirocastro and the border with Macedonia, Lake Pogradec or Ohrid, about whom Voltaire stated: "Those who say that the lakes of Switzerland are the most beautiful in Europe, have not yet visited Lake Ohrid".
During these years I have found many changes, I have learned to know this country with its incredible paradoxes and in a certain sense I have established a special bond with it, since with a country like Albania it cannot be otherwise. The initial impact was that of a construction site, many unfinished buildings, as many incomplete houses, with iron rods to form what should have been a roof, waiting to be able to build another floor, which often depends on availability of emigrants abroad, who, with their remittances, allow relatives left in the country to build new homes.
From the beginning one of the things that impressed me the most were buildings and homes: some green, yellow, blue or purple. Most seem to be the result of a child's drawing, rather than an architect, a figure that I discovered, being new in many countries, where the inhabitants themselves design their homes, in most cases influenced by what have seen abroad. The regulatory plans have been totally evaded, each since the end of the regime has built where and how it wanted, without the environmental impact being taken into consideration.
In this regard, foreign influence is surprising, as is the desire to demonstrate that today there is the possibility of building a huge house, with at least three floors available, inhabited during the year by one or two people at most. Emigrants, wherever they are in the world, almost always decide to build a home in their native country, although many times this helps to give small villages a grotesque appearance.
Instead of recovering the style of the old stone dwellings, now unfortunately almost disappeared, they try to build a residence that recalls the foreign host country. Here is the first and significant paradox. Often these enormous villas are inhabited by old people anchored to tradition, who still wear traditional costumes, different according to their origin, and who do not feel at ease in living spaces, showing embarrassment and clumsiness and often regretting the old dwellings in which they have spent most of their life. However they are extremely proud of their new residences, as they represent the testimony of the success that their children have made abroad.
Another surprising aspect, which I suppose is quite unknown to those who have never visited the land of eagles, is that almost all Albanians speak or understand the Italian language, some perfectly. The Italian, which many have learned by watching television since childhood, is now being studied in many schools, as a second language, starting from elementary.
The schipetar people know many things about Italy, they are informed both from a cultural and political point of view, they look at our TV channels and we can see how strong this bond is, even through the names of shops, malls, restaurants: “Casa Italia "," Venice "," Colosseum ", are just a few examples. Over the years, the number of direct flights to Tirana has increased considerably, like the Italians I meet during the various routes. Furthermore, it is common, walking through the center of the capital, to come across people who speak Italian.
Another significant phenomenon is the increase in foreign groups that visit the main cities, which is totally new. The paradoxes continue to be many: the streets are full of Mercedes and expensive cars, mostly SUVs, yet there is widespread and obvious poverty. On the Tirana-Scutari route you come across dilapidated houses and it is not uncommon to see carts pulled by donkeys or horses. In secondary roads, it is still common to observe cows, pigs or other animals crossing the road or children trying to sell rabbits, turkeys, chickens, eggs, and more generally the agricultural products of the day.
In some areas this phenomenon of road sales of agricultural and livestock products is particularly widespread and changes according to the seasons. It is inevitable to think that this form of individualistic activity, which brings minimal gains, just necessary for the sustenance of the family, could be conveyed and therefore replaced by the introduction of agricultural cooperatives that collect the various farmers and breeders of the area.
From the 2008 to today most public works have been dedicated to the construction of the main road arteries, indispensable for sustaining a future increase in tourism, but in the first instance, to improve internal roads. The Scutari - Hani Hotit tract, created with funds from the Italian Development Cooperation, which connects the city with the Montenegrin border, giving development to the entire area, ended just under two years ago.
Cities differ greatly from small villages and this is a sign of internal fragmentation, although in the last twenty years many inhabitants of mountainous or more remote areas have moved to the main centers and the capital. However, the districts are maintained, divided according to religious affiliation or origin. Despite this, I was able to find out how Albania is a symbol of religious tolerance. The sound of bells merges with the call to Islamic prayer, the festivities are celebrated with the same respect and the same consideration and there are many couples whose members are one Catholic, the other Muslim. I have rarely met women who wear hijabs, while I have noticed a solemn respect for the various cults, an intimate feeling and an influx to sacred places greater than ours, a profound respect for the faith, for God, whatever the his name.
The huge Piazza Skanderbeg, once a place of exhibitionism of the enveristic power, little sister of the most famous Red Square, located in the center of Tirana, is the symbol of the city, and is emblematic from a religious and architectural point of view. In the center stands the statue of the national hero, known as the athlete of Christ and the defender of Christianity, behind him the Ethem Bey mosque, completed at the beginning of the 1820s, the clock tower, dating back at the 1830, the government buildings, built by the fascists in the 30 years, and a short distance away, one of the last skyscrapers under construction in the capital, a building of extremely modern architecture, representative of a city in continuous evolution.
In the western part of the square there is the Tirana hotel, the palace of culture with the Opera House whose architectural style is clearly of Soviet inspiration, and the National Historical Museum, the largest in the country, characterized on the outside by a huge mosaic that, in addition to having become another symbol of the capital, depicts the history of the Albanian people from Illyrian origins to the nationalist movement that led to independence. A fragment of Turkey, one of Russia, another of Italy merge in this impressive space, which I find to be particularly representative and equally beautiful.
The Albanian capital is the place where I most frequently go. Tirana is now a cosmopolitan, lively city, where, more than in any other center of the country, modernity and tradition live side by side. Those who visited Tirana and Albania a decade ago and the visit today, spending a few days there, cannot but believe the meaning of the word progress. Skyscrapers, hotels, restaurants, trendy places, embassies, coexist with dilapidated buildings, arisen during the dictatorship, and with the thousand threads of the current that run through the city, connecting the various buildings together, until they get lost in an endless tangle . The project is to bury them, but for now the "thousand threads" remain stable.
One of the major problems and challenges of Albania, of the government, but above all of all citizens, is to include the value and importance of the public good. I realized how highly undervalued this is. In the cities as in the countries and above all I was surprised by the resignation of many young students whose only goal is still to succeed, through a student visa or some family bond, to escape from their own reality. On the contrary, I found in those returning to the country, after having spent several years abroad, the desire, the ambition and the determination to build something, to be bearers of change, to transmit energy and a wave of trust and positivity .
A striking example is that of a friend, Altin Prenga, originally from Fishte, a village in the district of the city of Lezha, who after having spent a period in Italy, carrying out various tasks such as dishwasher in a starred restaurant, collaborator in gastronomic companies, and finally he was the manager of an agriturismo, he returned to his country and to his small village, famous for having given birth to the Franciscan Gjergj Fishta, an Albanian poet, politician and translator, to open a restaurant in the 2010, which became poiagriturismo. Within a few years, successes and satisfactions have multiplied.
Mrizi i Zanave , this is the name chosen by Altin which is the title of one of the poems of Gjergj Fishta, co-founder with his brother and father, is the first restaurant in Albania to have obtained the slow food presidium. The articles published in national and foreign magazines and newspapers, on this pleasant reality, are varied. Altin was also invited to the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Cuneo, where he prepared a dinner with typical Albanian products, becoming the bearer of this revolution in the field of schipetarian cuisine and gastronomic scene. In addition to the beauty of the place, simple but at the same time sought after, unique of its kind in the whole country, to the goodness and genuineness of the dishes, Mrizi i Zanave allowed the development of the whole area, offering job opportunities to its inhabitants.
Linked to tradition, Altin has chosen to offer the typical schipetarian dishes and products, those of poor and simple cuisine, making them rediscover the same Albanians. Frequented by both ambassadors and politicians and by unhealthy and katunar, this farm, in my opinion, represents what many migrants are able to do: returning to their own country as subjects actively promoting development initiatives, exploiting tourism as a driving force for economic and sustainable growth, and being "bridge citizens", outside and inside Albania. Altin Prenga was also one of the protagonists of the video presented by the CELIM project "Shqiperia Nesër", Albania tomorrow.
Albania tomorrow is Albania today, projected towards the future, Albania of changes and enhancements, one able to look at the same time inside and outside. It is a country that grows, that makes itself known, that opens up to the West and to Europe, showing the countless points in common, but also the diversities that make it an interesting place to be discovered. Albania today is a country where the baptists of Inverters become ladybugs, which have the desire to visit more than once, bringing with them friends and relatives, where tradition must leave the right space for modernity, and vice versa.
This is the country that I have known and what it has transmitted to me, it is a place of encounter and confrontation and precisely in this versatility lies its wealth. Like Altin there are many examples of migrants who return and become a resource in their country, becoming a sort of "bridge citizens" between different realities, but which are part of them and of what they are going to create: in the restaurant, in the construction, in the textile, metallurgical, hydroelectric industry, and in as many realities these presences can be noticed. Getting to know Albania and some of its inhabitants allowed me to get to know my country better, seeing it from a different perspective. Italy and Albania are really closer than one might think, two shores of the same sea, two countries that have always met, continue and will continue to do so, thanks to cooperation, thanks to citizens and governments, but above all thanks to a profound and ancient connection.
This thesis represents an overview of Albanian history, starting from the domination of the Ottoman Empire which profoundly marked its destiny. Albania today is the fruit of a long past of domination and external interference, which constitute the incredible versatility that characterizes the country. What is striking when visiting it is the mixture of stories, realities, people so different from each other, but united by the bond to the territory, by the often mentioned albanism, the exaltation of the soil and the "blood", which recalls the concepts also present in the Kanun code rules.
Fernand Braudel: "Albania is a nation at the intersection of East and West, a region linking the Balkans and Italy"
The goal set is to succeed, through the excursus historical, to illustrate the various motivations that have led the country to be what it is today: a rich territory, with a troubled past, with some wounds still open, but with a strong push towards the European future. Albania is considered one of the peripheral nations of Europe, and has just as many suburbs, which show the most truthful and representative side of the country. Progress must start from Tirana and from the major centers to spread in a widespread manner, thanks also to technological development, education and the link of co-development and cooperation with Italy. As the French historian Fernand Braudel stated: "Albania is a nation at the intersection of East and West, a region linking the Balkans and Italy”, Threatened for centuries to be absorbed by neighboring peoples, characterized by inextricable situations, national and international interests, diplomats, migrations and paradoxes.
Incomparable with any other country in the Balkan and European area, uniqueness is the main characteristic of this people and its territory, increasingly projected towards Europe. At the Mass presided over by Pope Francis the 21 in September 2014 in Tirana, an event that brought together all citizens, Catholics, Muslims and Orthodox, the pontiff wished the country one of the youngest in Europe, recalling that the eagle, the symbol of Albania, it never leaves the nest, but at the same time it flies high. "Don't be afraid to fly high", This must be a slogan for the Albanian people and especially for its young people, who must become protagonists of the ongoing development and change process. The Pope also stated that "Albania today shows that religious coexistence is not only desirable, but concretely possible and practicableand "and quoting John Paul II,"religious freedom is a bulwark against totalitarianism and eschews the temptations of intolerance"
Cooperation, sustainability, compliance with rules, education and the fight against corruption and the idolatry of money, the ideology that has dominated the country for years, bringing it to total isolation and reducing its potential, are the watchwords for rebirth, the one that the new Premier Edi Rama has set himself and that must be pursued by every single citizen. A new Riljndia that brings Albania to be at the center of Europe, an active and integral part, that welcomes foreign investors and tourists, that reveals itself to the West and becomes a basin of experiences and stories, those of its people, at home and abroad.
Today's Albania is the country of return, of the reversal of flows, of novelties and of progress, it is a place of peace and religious coexistence, of brotherhood, community and spirit of initiative, where the extreme individualism that has prevailed , especially in politics, it must be replaced by sharing and a common project: to build one Shqiperia Nesër, an Albania of tomorrow, whose foundations have undoubtedly already been laid.
Elena Pagani is the author of two books on Albania
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