BY RAFAELA PRIFTI/
On February 16 2019, the celebration of Kosova’s eleventh year of independence was hosted by a number of Albanian American Community Organizations at the Hilton Westchester. Vatra the Pan-Albanian Federation of America proudly joined all the associations that made the event possible. Vatra’s President Dritan Mishto, Vice President Agim Rexhaj, Secretary Nazo Veliu, Treasurer Marjan Cubi. Dielli’s Editor Dalip Greca, from the Executive Council Zef Balaj, from the Board, Leke Perlleshi, Medi Hoxha, Pashko Camaj and Asllan Bushati, Veiz Belliu, Mehill Gjuraj and Pashke Maksuti joined the celebration alongside representatives of Royalists’ Party. The proceeds from the fund raiser would go to support the Bytyqi Brothers Foundation. The family members of the late Bytyqi brothers were present at the event.The main speaker and one of the sponsors of the celebration, New York City Councilman Mark Gjonaj delivered the main remarks of the evening. He thanked twenty five organizations of the Albanian American community that hosted the celebration (the full list is posted at the end of the article). In commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of Kosova’s liberation, the evening honored the Bytyqi Brothers, whose Foundation is committed to bringing justice to the deceased and missing persons. The main speaker provided an overview of the devastation caused by the war: over 100,000 structures destroyed and damaged, over 800,000 people expelled or displaced, over 20,000 girls and women raped and assaulted, over 13, 950 people killed and over 1, 620 still missing. Council Member noticed that on account of the divisive politics of the Albanian leadership and the heavy lobbing of the Serbs in Congress, the aggressor is trying to play the victim. “We are the victims!” he stated firmly. In the next part of the speech, he criticized the current positions of the politicians in relation to the borders of Kosova and the issue of tariffs which he referred to as “a public relations war’. The final criticism in Mark Gjonaj’s remarks for the evening was formulated in a form of a question” Where is the unified national agenda?” Speaking after him, Ambassador Teuta Sahatqija of the General Consulate of Kosova in New York, stated that “Victory requires sacrifices”. The freedom fighters and the families who lost their members in the war paid the ultimate price. She said that the actions and dedication of the diaspora are equally valuable in giving voice to the suffering in Kosova and providing a platform for the sacrifices of its people. The last speaker, Gani Shehu, Chairman of the Atlantic Association, said that Kosova’s army is the second biggest achievement after its independence. On December 14th the Kosova Assembly adopted the legislature to turn the Security Force into Kosova’s Army. Mr. Shehu pointed at the flags of US, Albania, Kosova and to a new black-colored flag designed to honor the missing. The Masters of the Ceremony were Besa and Shpend Xani. The national anthems were performed by tenor Riad Ymeri. The Marching Guard of the NYPD Illyrian Society of Law Enforcement Officers greeted the opening of the event. The list of entertainers included Arben Kransniqi, Artan Kola, Besim Muriqi, Donika Ukshini, Entela Ilirjani, Haxhi Zeneli, Hajro Ceka, Ida Tili-Trebicka, Kino Gara, Mirsad Ceka, Nik Carku, Sebahete Berlajolli.
Looking back a year ago, the February 2018 issue of Dielli brought to the reader messages and telegrams of congratulations for the 10th anniversary of Kosova’s independence from President Trump, former president Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, General Wesley Clark, Junior Senator of Iowa Joni Ernst, former US Ambassador to the UN Mrs Nicki Haley, NY Congressman Elliot Engel, the speech of Kosova’s Ambassador to the US Ms. Vlora Citaku at the diplomatic reception, reflections from Enver Krasniqi. University of Prishtina PhD Professor of Economics, Anna Di Lellio, Sociologist and Policy Analyst. In the same issue, Dielli covered the meeting of Vatra’s Executive Council Members and a delegation of Kosova’s Ministry’s of Diaspora and Strategic Investments at its headquarters, the opening of the photo exhibition “Breathing New Life” of photographers Shkelzen Rexha and Arben Llapashtica co-sponsored by Vatra at the offices of Kosova’s General Consulate in New York, the homage to Bytyci brothers at the cemetery by a joint group of Kosova’s officials documented and sponsored by Vatra’s Media Coordinator Dritan Haxhia, whereas Dielli’s editor, Dalip Greca provided a detailed account of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of Kosova’s independence at Marina del Ray, where fifteen community organizations came together for the festivities and Vatra’s Chairman Dritan Mishto delivered the main note of the evening. Such events have been part of our community’s life and Dielli has been documenting and recording them for 110 years.
*Albanian American Association Ana e Malit, Albanian American Community Association, Albanian American Cultural Foundation, Albanian American National Council, Albanian American Educators Association, Albanian American National Organization, Albanian American Open Hands Organization, Albanian American Puka Community Association, AAWO Motrat Qiriazi, Albanian Roots, Association Malesia e Madhe Ny, Atlantic Association, Dibra Community Association, Dom Simon Filipaj Foundation, Illyrian Society of Law Enforcement Officers, Kosova Lindore Association, Kraja Association, “Marigona” Albanian Woman Organization, MAASBESA, Peja Association, Plave Guci Foundation, Rugova Association, Shoqata Skenderbej, The Women’s Organization Hope and Peace, VATRA the Pan-Albanian Federation of America