By Rafaela Prifti/
Chairman Dritan Mishto’s address at the 106th anniversary of the Pan-Albanian Federation of America ‘Vatra’ presented the roadmap for the leading organization of the diaspora.
The main speaker began his remarks by thanking the members of the Federation, the clerics, the representatives of the community organizations and Albanians around the world for joining the commemoration of Vatra’s founding. Mishto noted that the longevity of the organization deserves to be celebrated not only in terms of its years but mostly in the context of its meaningful impact for the nation. Indeed the history of the organization is well-deserving of praise. He acknowledged that the legacy of Vatra’s founders has set a strong foundation for the future. The active and influential role of Vatra has gained momentum throughout the Albanian nation. Its past heroic actions are a good guidance for facing the new challenges. Given this point, Chairman Mishto underlined that ‘Vatra has the historical and moral right to be concerned with the issues that face our compatriots wherever they live.’ Drawing attention to the severity of the situation in Albania, the speaker said that it is mired by “the ongoing immigration, the erosion of democracy and the domestic chaos”. Also, the cannabis epidemic, unemployment and rampant corruption, as documented in the recent reports issued by the US State Department, are extremely troubling.
In Chairman Mishto’s speech, particular priority was placed on the strained relations between Albania and USA. He condemned the breaching of the long-established ties with the United States by the Albanian government proclaiming that Vatra is determined to be the leading advocate of the Albanian national interest in the Balkans and the world. The head of Vatra pointed at the danger of the Albanian government’s attempts to weaken the historic ties with our ally while intensifying the relations with non-western countries under autocratic rulers. Expressing gratitude to the United States Government and the President for their commitment and support, Dritan Mishto stated “With regard to its strategy on foreign policy, Vatra is determined to openly advocate and impress upon Albanians all over the world that Albania and Albanians in the Balkans have but only one strategic ally for the ages, the United States of America.”
In his speech, he laid out the vision for the future of the Federation and its significance to the Albanian people. “The Pan-Albanian Federation of America Vatra is well respected by the Albanian community in the US and around the world, today more than ever. Excellent relations with religious institutions, cultural and educational organizations, regional and professional associations are in great standing and will continue to stay strong moving forward. We are helping in strengthening the education of the diaspora’s children, enriching the cultural life of the community and increasing our presence thanks to the wisdom, maturity, experience and influence of Vatra.” In the context of Vatra’s position in the international arena, Chairman Mishto stated “We respect all the structures of the Albanian diaspora around the world, we sympathize with and urge them to increase their authority and prestige, and we do appreciate the respect and admiration of the Albanian community for Vatra.”
As part of Vatra’s roadmap, the speaker referred to the pursuit of revitalizing reforms by tapping into resources and “capacities with national and international recognition’ as well as “entrepreneurs, businessmen and individuals who are keen to revive Vatra economically.” The head of Vatra expressed appreciation for the base as well as the supporters and called upon “the good citizens” to “do great work together.”
Drawing upon Vatra’s history and the commitment of all its members, the leader of Vatra asserted: “Be proud of being a member of VATRA!” He remarked that Vatra stands above the short-sighted politics and self-serving interest of Albanian politicians. “The Pan-Albanian Federation of America Vatra will continue to intensify its efforts and further its initiatives that benefit Albanians”. Its highest calling and mission statement is to “SERVE THE NATION!”
With encouragement and assurance, Chairman Mishto concluded “We will face hardship but we will succeed because time is on our side and time is the greatest power. Time will summon Vatra to tackle the most pressing issues, and Vatra will always be there, at the front and confronting any force that attempts to delay the time for Albanians to march into history.”
Its 106th anniversary has clearly placed Vatra at a respectable place among the Albanian-American organizations in the US and the diaspora. Its historic record and the pursuit of national ideals provide guidance for the future.