President Thaçi’s address at the reception in honour of the Arbëresh of Italy

Honourable sisters, honourable Arbëresh brothers,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a particular pleasure to have this Arbëresh delegation today among us, in free and independent Kosovo, which will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary of the liberation.

For this reason, I feel especially honoured and privileged to address the sisters and brother in blood and in our language.

To those who became beacons of preservation and development of all Albanian cultural values for longer than 6 centuries.

Albanians of all time and of all the generations, wherever they might be, feel proud with you and have a lot to learn from your life, your work and your activity, because you are our original, proper roots, our genesis.

Arbëresh are the image and the model of the Albanians, without the influence of the 500 year long occupation by the ottomans.

You are the untorn and genuine thread of the Albanian civilisation.

You have preserved the language of our forefathers, the traditions, the faith, autochthonous culture and above all, the pearls of the folklore: rhapsodies and dances.

The Arbëresh rhapsodies and dances remain the unique pearls of the Albanian culture.

They have transcended the borders of the southern Italy and are sung everywhere where there are Albanians, at their weddings and celebrations.

By preserving your church of the byzantine rite, you never stopped using the Arbëresh language.

This helped you not to assimilate.

As in the past, also today, your churches bear Albanian markings.

Out of you came the great personalities which became the inspiration of the nation and beyond.

The Arbëresh have always been a positive factor in Italy.

You have contributed to the political and cultural life of Italy.

Let us mention Francesco Crispi, who played a great role in the movement for the unification of Italy.

He became the Prime Minister of the country and was a close collaborator of Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Antonio Gramsci is another example of the participation of the Arbëresh in the political life of Italy, to mention but a few.

But the Arbëresh, above all, became the cradle of the preservation of the Albanian values.

With the breast milk you also nurtured them with the love for the land of their great grandparents.

The very land which your forefathers left with tears and pain.

I have seen this presented in the artworks of the Arbëresh churches.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Three things were holy to the Arbëresh, and they became a cult:

1.    The figure of our national hero, Gjergj Kastrioti, which was reborn at the Arbëresh

2.    The Flag, and

3.    The Albanian language


Ladies and gentlemen,

Within their colonies, within a nation of great culture, which gave the Renaissance to humanity, the Arbëresh preserved and developed their national identity.

You, with your work, your dedication and your studies, made the national values, the Albanian language and culture, not only to be preserved but also to be further developed when the nation under the Ottoman Empire was suffering the cultural darkness and economic and social regression.

You have given meaning to the most important political and cultural Albanian movement, the National Renaissance, led by the literary colossus Jeronim De Rada, who is also the ideator of the modern Albanian literature.

Jeronim De Rada is our greatest man of the Renaissance, with a fully developed national profile and nurtured with the occidental values.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today, we are proud of the contribution you continue to provide to your second homeland, Italy.

The indisputable intellectual and cultural values of the Arbëresh have been an important factor in positioning of Italy on the side of the countries which support the democratic values and the freedom of the nations, thus making Italy one of the first countries to recognise the Independence of Kosovo.

On this occasion, please allow me to express my deepest gratitude for your contribution to this process.

The Albanian nation will be eternally grateful to your work and your activities.

Thank you.