Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë

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Statement from the President of the Republic, H.E.MR. Bajram Begaj, at RAI Kalabria

Dear Director Massimo Fedele,

Esteemed Authorities Present,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that, during my first visit as President of the Republic of Albania to Calabria Region, I have the opportunity to visit this significant media institution. We, the Albanians of the Republic of Albania, share profound spiritual connections with Rai.

I speak of spiritual connections because for my generation, especially during the communist isolation period, RAI was a window through which we viewed the democratic world and realized that reality was not as propagated by the communist regime.

I thank you for your hospitality and also wish to express my gratitude for the commitment and contribution of RAI Calabria in promoting the Arbëreshë language, culture, and traditions through various programs.

My pleasure is even greater since this visit coincides with the approval of the resolution by the Oversight Commission of the Italian Public Broadcasting Service, supporting the transmission of programs in the Arbëreshë language by RAI Calabria for 2023-2028.

I am confident that the regular broadcasting in the Arbëreshë language will be a valuable contribution to preserving this centuries-old language, which is at risk of being lost due to global developments. The broadcasting of such programs by RAI Calabria, as part of Italy’s preservation of minority languages, will help ensure that this language is preserved and passed on.

I wholeheartedly welcome this decision and believe it is crucial that in this era of massification of thought and uniformity of habits and life philosophies, we prioritize the protection of all ethno-linguistic minorities. And in particular, the Arbëreshë language, which for us is a heritage that must be preserved and transmitted.

Comparing the Arbëreshë language with today’s Albanian, Çabej expressed that an Albanian , upon hearing an Arbëreshë from San Marzano, would have the same impression as a modern Italian hearing the Italian language from Dante’s time.

In Italy, there is a population of over 100,000 Arbëreshë, with communities mainly concentrated in the south of your country. These communities are largely the colonies established by the first Albanians who arrived in these lands in the 15th century.

They represent the most populous ethno-linguistic minority in Italy today!

Additionally, I greatly appreciate the contribution that RAI has made in the past decades, with documentaries and numerous journalistic services on the linguistic heritage and cultural promotion of the Arbëreshë world of Calabria and its roots connected to Albania.

A significant contribution to preserving the Arbëreshë culture and language has also been the support for the candidacy of including the Arbëreshë heritage known as “Il Tempo Grande” in the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage.

There is a very good and well-coordinated collaboration between Italian and Albanian authorities to enable this initiative to become part of the world heritage.

Naturally, we still have much to do. For instance, when some Albanian researchers began to take an interest in the Arbëreshë culture, they unfortunately found very few resources to start with. In Italy, the only ones were those of the LUCE institute, and although RAI produced some documents, the materials are still very scarce.

Today, in the age of digitization, we have all the tools to bridge geographical and structural distances. The good news is that the UN has included the Arbëreshë language in the list of 3000 out of 7000 rarest languages in the world that are on the verge of extinction. This encourages us to do everything possible to preserve the Arbëreshë language.

Today, there is still little talk about the Arbëreshë, and we all must support them with every means to preserve their tradition. One way is by allowing the teaching of the Arbëreshë language in schools of the communities present in your region, alongside Italian. In fact, Italian law already provides for this condition, but it seems that for various reasons, it is not easy to implement. There are also few teachers who know the language and can teach it.

In closing, I wish once again to express, on behalf of myself and the Republic of Albania, institutional gratitude for the role and contribution that RAI Calabria and the Italian authorities have given and continue to give for the preservation and promotion of the Arbëreshë language, culture, and traditions.

I express this gratitude by awarding this significant media institution of the Calabria Region one of the highest decorations of the Albanian State, linked to the national hero of the Albanians, the hero at the foundation of the Arbëreshë culture and identity, the “Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu” decoration.

I award this decoration in recognition of the work for the cultural promotion of the Arbëreshë world of Calabria and its roots connected to Albania, the values and traditions of the Arbëreshë community, as a noble shield in the defense of linguistic minorities, and the best informative and social tool through television and radio programs.

Thank you!