You owe us Europe!
Illyria, Illyrian Empire! From Epirus to Trieste! Same language Albanians speak today was spoken then. Autochthonous, Indo-European. A language protected by blood and quill in hand! The remnants of such a mighty empire, but which today is reduced to less than 50,000 2km . And not because of us!
Three times did Romans launch into assault, with multiple accusations and excuses; today they are our neighbors; today we do the most back-breaking works for them, the works which they don’t want to do themselves. And we are so good at these kinds of works, that they look forward to having us at every construction site we work, but only where we work and do nothing else. 5-6 centuries later, the southern Slavs from Urals stormed in. Like it or not, this is the story. This is the truth! And they took as much as they could. Whereas Illyria had an empire run by a very successful female emperor, they were still in the metamorphosis of barbarian conceptions – it is to no avail to talk about this, because they were not the only ones – we are referring to 2000 years ago. When we had castles, ships, cavalry, Vikings lived still in the caves.
But can anyone tell what Spain and Holland were 2000 years ago? This is not a proud boast about our past, but it is history’s obligation to deal with it, and it is history’s language the states speak. We are who we are not by mere chance. When it comes to the integrity of many European countries, it is not unknown or without interest, that they hold out their hands of cooperation and persistently ask us to take their side, but once it comes to offering us even a “walking cane” which would suffice to rise a little bit, it seems everything falls to pieces.
This does not mean we are portraying ourselves as the victim or are pleading for mercy! But you must recognize our sacrifice for centuries, as a nation that survived the best it could, as an embankment in the junction of mountainous waves coming from both sides of the world.
It is not our fault that we are here; we have not conquered or pushed – not even 1 cm – anyone from their country; it is not our fault that an Ottoman empire of 500 years took root and sometimes was lost in these lands; it is not our fault that we have a national hero who you appreciate, whose personal belongings are protected by you, and who you awarded the prize “difensore impavido della civiltà occidentale”, “Brave defender of western civilization.” For
25 years he and our great-great grandfathers bravely defended this door of west. Along with 20000 men he withstood hundreds of thousands of men of the two sultans, where he was sometimes betrayed by Venice and sometimes by the King of Serbia, Durad, who flirted with the Ottomans; but despite this, we did not surrender.
I say we, because we are of the same blood, and today we are not asking you to defend us in
the same way, not to give us 25 years from your efforts and sacrifices to return the favor, but to not make it difficult for us because of 10 traffickers and some governments arising out of transition and absolute poverty, where we were dragged into, because of the endless wars and geographical position. We are still poor because we live in mountains and we are isolated from any kind of common market, but so far there is nothing to be surprised about. We are poor because whenever given the opportunity, it was taken from us again, just like this time.
You gave us to the Soviet Union, by burying whatever ideal, left or right or progressive, because it was to your advantage – better to have us under a dictatorship and have contacts with only one person for 50 years, rather than deal with any democratic government that would take office every 4 years.
We are not asking for expiation, but don’t shrug your shoulders and pretend you are faultless, “looking for the splinter inside përpeq”, as we say in Shkorda, (përpeq is a traditional dessert which is prepared for Easter, made only with eggs, and which is served especially to Muslim friends and relatives when they come for visit.)
We are not asking you to make us rich, nor to give us what you have, we are asking the opportunity we lost 1000 times, and it is inexcusable for the governments of the most developed countries in Europe to continue to use hate speech. We are not asking you to take us to your homes, even though you open immigration quotas every day, and your enterprises which yearn for such a strong power like Albanians’, so much that Albania is left empty because of your huge demand for labor. We are asking you to leave the excuses aside, those which mention crime and corruption,
because they look more like a background of a geopolitical mise en scène rather than truths emerging from a context which is diametrically contrary to what you claim. All logic understands that the opening of negotiations and the improvement on the basis of some set standards and procedures would annoy the criminals and the corrupt. We are not asking you to make us part of Europe tomorrow, because we know we are not ready yet.
We are asking an opportunity we have missed a million times, because we want to become better than we are because of our fault and because of your frequent involvement. We think it is time to put the cards on the table.
You should know that besides your governments, there are also 500 Albanian traffickers and 1,000 corrupt high officials and former high officials who do not want to open the negotiations, despite the claims. The crime is self-evident.
Yet, here we are: we who want Europe; we, the overwhelming majority who dream about and trust in Europe; and there is no reason to turn the back on us and leave us in darkness for some other decades. This is why we cry as much as we can: Stop it, because you owe us Europe! And many thanks to Germans and Lady Merkel!
By Keti Bazhdari