Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë



Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to begin with a thank you to the central and local authorities of North Macedonia for facilitating the celebration of a significant day for all Albanians, wherever they may be. This demonstrates that good neighborliness is based on respecting each other’s symbols and symbolic values.

Every nation has unique events in its history that stand out because, over time, they gain more and more significance as part of historical and national heritage. The Congress of Manastir is one such event. It marked the elevation of the Albanian spirit, defined the essence of our identity, and laid the foundations for the formation of national consciousness and unity.

Our 19th-century Renaissance figures understood that every nation needs its own distinctive identity, one that reflects not only values, customs, and history but the core of the Albanian language. Consequently, the unification of the language and alphabet were not mere technicalities to standardize a means of communication but prerequisites for defining a conscious nation capable of a free and independent state.

Following the assemblies during the League of Prizren and the League of Peja, this was the first time Albanians gathered to work, as Mit’hat Frashëri wrote, “not with gunpowder and arms, but with pen and paper.” The Congress of Manastir began as a linguistic meeting but evolved into a national political manifestation.

Even after 115 years, we understand that the Albanian language is the foundation stone of the Albanian identity and the spirit of our people. In a way, it’s like the red of the flag bearing the two-headed eagle (and Kastrioti’s eagle).

So many patriots have sacrificed their lives to protect the Albanian language. Not with weapons, but by speaking and writing Albanian with historical responsibility. This includes not only well-known historical figures but also ordinary Albanians who, in their daily lives, did not forget to cultivate the language of their ancestors and resisted the temptation to assimilate.

Today, we take the existence of the Albanian language for granted. On a historic day like today, we must not forget the struggle and efforts that brought us here. In fact, reading history and all the opposition it faced, it’s a miracle that the Albanian language survived and is spoken today by millions of Albanians around the world.

This brings me to the issue of maintaining the Albanian language.

It is a fact that language is not static and fossilized. It lives, enriches, and evolves. It influences and reflects the flow of our people’s history.

However, it must be well-maintained, so external influences make it more diverse and do not deform or impoverish it. Language is important because it not only sets the boundaries of the world we see but to some extent determines how we see it. The more limited the language, the poorer the world we know and express and understand.

Albanian is rich and effortlessly expresses even complex concepts. The skill lies not in replacing our words with foreign ones to show intellectual superiority but in the hard work of finding words in Albanian and properly cultivating our language.

The issue of preserving and developing the language cannot be the monopoly of linguists. Everyone working in various professions and introducing new words and concepts should contribute to a better, more diverse, and more flexible Albanian language.

Preserving and cultivating the Albanian language is not just a call to preserve a cultural heritage. It is a call to preserve personal and national identity. It is a call for Albanian children to grow up using all their cognitive abilities. Developmental psychology confirms that a strong grasp of the mother tongue is essential for a child’s development and a basis for learning foreign languages.

Today, many Albanian children learn foreign languages from an early age. Each foreign language opens new horizons, but the mother tongue Albanian should not be neglected, as this hinders reaching their full potential.

Distinguished guests,

As part of efforts to preserve our language, I have initiated a campaign to protect the language and develop Albanian literature. I believe it is a contribution that, in its modesty, will support the cultivation of Albanian, especially among the younger generation.

This is very important, especially when I think of my meetings with the Arbanasi of Zadar and the Arbëresh of Abruzzo and Calabria, the United States, and the United Kingdom. I will strive with all my personal strength and institutional capacity to promote and support the promotion of the Arbëresh language. The history of the old Albanian diaspora shows how much effort, culture, and passion are needed to preserve the Albanian identity and how important it is to preserve the Albanian language in all its diversity.

In this context, I believe that the preservation and maintenance of the Museum of the Congress of Manastir should be at the forefront of our governments’ attention. The care for preserving our national symbols, such as the museum building, should be a priority. This is our responsibility towards history and the future.

In conclusion, I would like to mention two interesting facts. The Congress of Manastir was attended by 50 delegates, but in total, there were about 160 participants from Albanian territories, the USA, and Egypt. If we also include the residents of Manastir, the students, and other intellectuals, there were about 400 Albanians who, despite the risks from numerous enemies and despite religious, regional, or ideological differences, managed to unite for a common interest.

Placing public interest above personal interest serves as an example that should guide today’s politicians in addressing issues of national interest.

On the other hand, I want to mention the fact that the Congress decided to use the Latin alphabet. This was not merely a linguistic decision but also a political one. The Albanians felt that their destination was Europe and Western civilization. This has also been the compass of the Albanian people’s orientation, so it is natural for this centuries-old aspiration to be embodied through our journey towards the European Union.

Thank you, and Happy Alphabet Day!