Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë

IMG 2492


Speech of President Begaj at the Institute of History on the occasion of the publication of the five-volume work “The History of the Albanians During the 20th Century”

Esteemed professors and researchers,

Dear Afrim,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank you for the opportunity to speak before you on the occasion of the publication of “The History of the Albanians During the 20th Century”. Your work is the result of many years of voluminous and courageous work by a tireless team of researchers.

The work “The History of the Albanians During the 20th Century” has brought many innovations, but I would like to focus on two or three of them, without diminishing the importance of the others:

Firstly, it involves the use of new archival sources, which will help in creating a more comprehensive historical panorama. Without such a variety, history remains not only incomplete in information but also lacking in creating a complete national narrative.

Secondly, it touches on the inclusion of historians not just from Albania, but also from Kosova, Macedonia, and the Diaspora. Their support is vital for scientific research and study today and in the future. History may be influenced by all, but it gains proper significance when written by historians, who ensure not just the application of the scientific method but also objectivity and integrity.

Thirdly, it relates to the interaction with other research institutions. If you allow me an analogy: “History” is like a sculpture, which to know it, you must view it from different perspectives. It indeed can be written by historians, but it requires the contribution of researchers from various fields. As important as political events are in understanding certain situations, they remain as individual threads if not taken as part of the totality of a nation’s development where art, culture, language, and customs play their irreplaceable role.

I say this bearing in mind that history plays a decisive role in forming and preserving our people’s identity, as it is not simply a collection of facts and events from the past, but it is the very essence of what we are as individuals, as a community, and as a nation.

As the largest archive of lessons from the past, history provides us the opportunity not to repeat the mistakes of the past but to build a future based on past successes and positive experiences.

Researching our history should not be limited to assessing historical facts “for their own sake” in a specific period, but also their meaning, as visible history is expression, a sign, and the embodiment of our people’s spirit, of a people who, despite the challenges of history, have managed to preserve their identity, conveying deeply humane values. The house of God and the friend may have been poor, but it has always been generous, proud, and organically connected to its lands.

Our relationship with the past has not been easy, therefore, the accurate and uncomplex writing of history in general, and of the second half of the 20th century in particular, is important:

Because we went through one of the darkest periods, where not just the history but also the spirit of the Albanian was deformed. As At Zef Pllumi once wrote, “Live Only to Tell,” we must not forget what happened and we must not minimize it by relativizing evil. We must ensure that the past is not repeated, hence memory is important.

You cannot have a future without knowing your history. In this context, our journey towards Europe takes on a special meaning. In a way, it is a return to origin, therefore it is important that the accurate narrative of our nation is seen in the light of our historical efforts to build a just society with a European spirit. Of course, we have had obstacles and deviations along the way, but the course is clear, and we are determined in our destination towards democratic Europe.

In conclusion, I want to express my support for your tireless and strategically important work for our nation. I appreciate your contribution in particular, and the science of Albanology in general, and I understand the difficulties you face, especially today, in the time of the market economy, hence the importance of ensuring sufficient funding for projects that extend beyond the present and immediate needs.

A few weeks ago, I visited Calabria for the first time, where I met with the Arbëresh brothers and sisters. I have no words to describe the emotions I felt and the respect for that organic part of Albanianism, which has managed to preserve values and traditions for almost 6 centuries. There, the weight of history was truly understood and how much work is needed to preserve identity and pass it on to the following generations. The Arbëresh, over the centuries, have wisely valued that the past is not a matter of conformity or comfort, but a matter of pride in what you have been and what you are. In this prism, we have a lot to learn from them.

I thank you once again for your extraordinary work, the dedication of each of you, and of the Institute of History, which continues to demonstrate professionalism in fulfilling a mission that transcends the geographical boundaries of our country!

Thank you!