by Rafaela Prifti-
In these difficult times it is encouraging to uphold the founders’ goals for Vatra as “a national organization” in America that has stepped up to champion national interests and to preserve our cultural heritage,” said Vatra President Elmi Berisha, who recently returned from a short visit to Kosova and Albania. He stated that the best assest for the advancement of our nation are our human resources. To the critics of his meetings with the Chairman of Albania’s Legislatures, Mr. Berisha responded by saying that the Executive Council and Board members of Vatra have been on board with the program he presented at Vatra’s Convention last January. “I continue to follow through the initiatives of the same agenda supported by Vatra leadership. Despite the lockdown restrictions and challenges due to the pandemic, Vatra’s performance during these months has been unparalleled in its activism,” said Mr. Elmi Berisha.
In line with the US and Western diplomacy, Vatra respects the institutions of Kosova and Albania that have been elected by the Albanian people.
Over a century ago, the Pan-Albanian Federation of America Vatra was founded and organized with a focus on the national program to promote the spirit of helping one another and to strengthen the bond of friendship between Americans and Albanians. Vatra is a 108 year-old respected institution in the community that is now well poised to advocate for pan-Albanian interests in the 21th century.
Here is the summary of the conversation:
The round of meetings in Tirana and Prishtina were successful in advancing Vatra’s activism and in promoting Albanian interests in the region and beyond. Representatives across the political spectrum in Kosova and Albania have displayed willingness for future cooperation while being respectful of the program of Pan-Albanian Federation of America Vatra. While the global pandemic has hindered all aspects of life, Vatra has continued its efforts to meet its mission and further the national agenda outlined by the leadership of the Federation aligned with the Albanian-American community. Vatra has answered the call to commit to the national interest. VATRA HAS MET THE MOMENT while being aware of the long road ahead. Vatra’s message is to stand united on the Albanian national issues, to encourage inter-state cooperation and bolster the support from all political sides, institutions and personalities to carry out the reforms that bring Albania and Kosova a step closer to the integration processes.
Our unified stand on national issues is the path to the development of the countries. An across the board cooperation backed by all political factors and institutions is the right national approach. Building a strong economy and standing firmly against corruption and anything that slows down the integration process go hand in hand with a national diplomatic stance on talks with Serbia and the advancement of our European integration. So far the steps to join the Euro-Atlantic structures have been slow paced. It is an area where advocacy in Washington and the Western countries can play a bigger role. One of Vatra’s resources is the expertise and experience of Vatra members, with some well-respected personalities and many who have received their education in the US. It is evident that the authorities in our homelands have their work cut out for them. Vatra is aware of the task at hand and recognizes how important her role is at this time.
When considering Vatra ‘s contribution in diplomacy, I am proud of Vatra’s involvement in advocacy and negotiations in Washington DC in early September. It is advantageous to our nation to be able to assist and contribute to the efforts that present a consolidated Albanian factor to the United States capital and the whole world. Vatra is not just present in Washington DC, it is actively advocating on behalf of Albania and Kosova. Leading up to the signing of the September 4th agreement at the White House, Vatra’s position to the Kosova delegation was to stand as ONE. Vatra stands firmly on the issue of Kosova’s borders and its territorial integrity as non-negotiable items. It is important to understand the round of visits in Prishtina and Tirana in the context of Vatra’s mission for the new century. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Republic of Kosova’s Ministry of Foregin Affairs and Diaspora and Vatra entails a coordinated platform of a pan-Albanian cooperation strategy. As Minister Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla said: “The Memorandum is an expression of our shared willingness to promote the values and legitimate interests of Albanians.”
These are difficult times but it is encouraging to uphold the founders goals for Vatra as “a national organization” in America that has stepped up to champion national interests and preserve our cultural heritage. Our human resources are our greatest asset in the advancement of our nation. The Executive Council and Board of Vatra have been on board with the program I presented at the Convention in January. I continue to follow through the initiatives of the agenda supported by Vatra leadership. Despite the lockdown restrictions and challenges due to the pandemic, Vatra’s performance has been unparalleled. Given the unusual circumstances, I traveled by myself rather than with respectable representatives of Vatra as I would not jeopardize anyone’s health. The message of my visits in Prishtina and Tirana has been in compliance with Vatra’s guidelines and in accordance with its leadership goals.
Over a century ago, the Pan-Albanian Federation of America Vatra was founded and organized with the national program to promote the spirit of helping one another and to strengthen the bond of friendship between Americans and Albanians, through the spread of education. The intention and purpose of my recent round of visits in Kosova and Albania was in line with the national agenda and advocacy that has been laid out in the by-laws of the Federation. I am thankful for the enthusiastic support and pledges of cooperation by the Albanian officials for what promises to be a great national platform that would advance our countries into the future.
From the start of my presidency at Vatra, I have invited, received and visited with officials and elected representatives of the Albanian people. In the course of my recent visit in Prishtina and Tirana, I did respect the institutions of the Albanian people in my official meetings with political party heads, members of the parliament, government representatives, legislatures and dignitaries. The frustration voiced by some Vatra members is directed at the fact that the people of Albania must have more say in the election of their office holders and representatives. Moreover, these are authorities that are acknowledged by the United States government and the Western countries. I have 30 years of experience in diplomacy and communications. I firmly believe that Vatra is a 108 year old respected institution in the community that is now well poised to advocate for Albania’s interests in the 21th century. I am aware of the painful past of our people: communism in Albania and the repression resulting in war in Kosova. Having said that, I am convinced that we need to move forward with our national approach. In line with the US and Western diplomacy, Vatra is respected and respects the institutions of Kosova and Albania that have been elected by the Albanian people. I am particularly proud to have signed on a commissioned five volume publication on the history and contribution of Vatra to the national Albanian movement to be put together by a team of members of Academia led by Professor Doctor Beqir Meta. I am thankful to the donors and friends who raised $20,000 for this unique project many years in the making. The purpose of the recent round of visits is in line with the national agenda and in compliance with the advocacy role that the Vatra Federation has championed in the past and can proudly take on for the future.