Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë

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Statement from the President of the Republic, H.E.MR. Bajram Begaj, at Collegio Sant’ Adriano

Distinguished governmental and regional authorities present,

Distinguished representatives and delegates from the Arbëresh municipalities,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I appreciate your kind hospitality, which demonstrates the strong and sincere bond between the people of Arbëresh and Albania.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Commissioner Madeo for the beautiful work she has been doing, especially considering how recently she has taken over the Foundation’s leadership.

For us, Calabria is more than just a region in Italy, our friend and neighbouring country.

Calabria is also the home of our Arbëresh brothers and sisters, who have remained steadfastly rooted in their ancestral home country despite the flow of centuries.

Not only have you preserved your ancestors’ magnificent traditions, language, and culture here in Calabria throughout history, but you’ve also been a light of hope and strength in the fight for Albanian independence.

Sant’ Adriano College, founded upon Pope Clement XII’s request, has historically contributed significantly to the education, cultural development, and preservation of the Arbëresh language. This College has fostered discussions on major historical subjects ranging from the need for national freedoms to contemporary issues such as the need for cultural coexistence.

Notably, this College has given rise to renowned figures throughout the centuries in the Arbëresh literary, academic, and intellectual spheres, as well as activists who have elevated the values of the Albanian country and the traditions and culture of the Arbëresh people, just as they have done for Italian society.

This institution is among the most significant cultural and educational centres throughout Italian Arbëria. The activities of the International Institute of San Demetrio for Albania flourished here, shaping young students from my country and still today, promoting the study of the Albanian language.

From Jeronim De Rada, who taught the Albanian language, to Anselmo Lorecchio, who assisted many Albanian students in getting admitted to this College, you are an inspiring example of the cause for preserving identity values.

In a world where, unfortunately, we often witness tragic events driven by ideological, cultural, or religious divides, places like Sant’ Adriano College should and must promote respect for human rights and coexistence among peoples and cultures.

The contribution of the Arbëresh people to Italy has been recognised and appreciated for centuries. This contribution, however, has been possible thanks to the support and solidarity found on this land 600 years ago, when the Arbëresh people were accepted and respected for their culture, traditions, and identity.

This solidarity was also extended to those Albanians who, following communism, chose the country of Italy to build their lives. The Arbëresh community and recent Albanian immigrants to Italy represent a long-standing close connection that Albania and Italy have shared. 

These deep historical, cultural, and human ties should be translated into more extensive bilateral cooperation, emphasising economic cooperation, trading high-quality agri-food products, and unquestionably expanding cultural, educational, social, and other exchanges.

Due to the guarantees it provides on multiple levels, from security to infrastructure improvement and developmental pace, Albania should become a focal point for the region of Calabria.

Albania now possesses all the necessary conditions to establish and promote mutual relations and create a partnership supporting your entrepreneurs’ investments there.

Recognising the essential significance that your ancestors have played throughout centuries in preserving traditions, culture, and identity, it is equally important that we coordinate our efforts and strengthen our partnership at all levels.

I can guarantee that Sant’Adriano College and all other important educational institutions for the Arbëresh people in Calabria will have unwavering support at the Institution of the President of the Republic of Albania.

Thank you again for your hospitality!