Sunday I blessed the Albanians of Tuzi

BESNIK MUSTAFAJ

The next Sunday, March 3, in Tuz run elections for the management of the municipality. The creation of this commune last autumn marks the crowning of a very long struggle, especially of its Albanian inhabitants and political representatives in general of Albanians of Montenegro, but strongly supported by the diaspora. For the sake of truth, this effort has been strongly supported by Tirana's governments, one after the other. I remember an informal meeting with leaders of all Albanian political parties during the referendum independence campaign. I was a foreign minister and went on a Sunday. I chose Tuzin for this meeting, because Tuzi was the reason why a good part of these parties did not join a large multiethnic coalition in support of Montenegro's independence. Tuzi was part of the Podgorica municipality and Djukanovic's central government was very important for maintaining the capital's government in the hands of sovereign political forces outside the influence of Serbia.

Of all the ethnic communities living in the territory of today's municipality of Tuzi, Albanians were the most insistent to extract Tuzi separately, outside of the commune of Podgorica. Among other things, for the reason that they themselves were in the majority and could thus influence the local government to define non-discriminatory, at least non-discriminatory development policies for Albanians, as it has always been. Their reasoning was entirely fair. Tactically, they understood that the referendum was a moment when it could force Djukanovic to achieve that aspiration. We talked more than three hours open, with brotherly sincerity, no cameras. No news has ever been published for this meeting, although participants are fortunately all alive. My concern was that the Albanians of Malësia would not create the bad misunderstanding that they were supporting the country's pro-Albanian stance with Serbia. That same day I had a meeting without protocol even with President Djukanovic, where I have persistently expressed the view of the Albanian government. Even though it was Sunday, President Djukanovic went to the office to meet with me and cost me a long time. The topic of the conversation was all about the rights of Albanians in Montenegro and with particular emphasis their right to make the municipality of Tuzin separate. With understanding, neither the office of President Djukanovic nor my office disseminated any news or pictures to the media. Because my goal was not to see the public how much I worked on the national issue, even on Sunday, as our leaders generally do today. I was and I am convinced that the litter would only harm the realization of the Albanian aspirations of Malësia to have the municipality of Tuzi separately.

I was very happy last autumn when the law came into force, giving Tuz the full status of the municipality. This joy was added to me in January when I learned about the agreement of the three main Albanian parties, the Albanian Alliance (ASH), the Albanian Democratic League (LDSH) and the Albanian Democratic Union (UDSH), to build together the pre-election coalition "Albanian Forum" with the slogan "Malësi unites us". It was to be greeted with all your heart and mind. The Albanian leaders there understood that union really makes the power. Though Albanians are the majority in this municipality, the split in elections would take away any opportunity to win the direction of the municipality. While the joint list, as presented on March 3, is the only possible way to win the mayor. This is a big step forward, indicating the political maturity of the leaders of the Albanian parties there. But still not all. Victory will only be achieved by a waking and widespread mobilization and enthusiasm of all Albanian voters in this municipality. National and civic conscience should not allow anyone to stay home on Sunday March 3rd. At this closing stage, this is a very difficult challenge that can only be won. The Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro, the ruling Djukanovic party, is doing and will continue to do all the while, using legitimate and unlawful ways and means to grab the victory. Albanians there feel and look at the lures and pressures every day. But I have great hope that they will not be broken by lure or pressure. Tuzi Mountains have always been raised over the provincial and religious differences to join in the name of high national interest. Even Major Gjergj Fishta has hymned their manhood and pride as Albanians.

These days I have exchanged many messages with my Albanian friends in this area, living in the US. I have shared with them my humble concern about their direct involvement in this historic campaign in their hometown. I have noticed with great pleasure that they have their minds and hearts in these days in Tuzi, as never before. This adds up hope for victory. There is no excessive demand in this case that many of them, as much as possible, take the road to Tuz on Sunday. Their individual vote is proof of their honest love for the hometown. Real love for the homeland does not suffice for words. So Ded Gjo Luli taught us. Love should be expressed with works. A few years ago, the Albanians of Kicevo municipality in northern Macedonia made it a new territorial division. Without the diaspora vote, it would not have been possible for Albanians to win the mayor of Kicevo. This is a great example of national awareness that I believe will be followed by highlanders in America and everywhere around the world. Honor and glory are won in battle and not after battle.

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