Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë

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President Begaj with the Arbëresh people in Crotone: Only a sea separates us, the message of the two church bells casting their look towards Albania.

The President of the Republic of Albania, Mr. Bajram Begaj, began today, the first day of his tour in Calabria. Following Catanxaro, he stopped in Pallagorio, in the province of Crotone, known as Puheri in the Arbëresh language.

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Local authorities and the Arbëresh community welcomed the head of state. The Arbëresh people had also organised a festive and enjoyable ceremony for this occasion.

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 Throughout all meetings with villagers in this region, the head of state was accompanied by Albanian and Italian flags, the national anthem, and Arbëresh dances.

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President Begaj visited the ancient Arbëresh settlements, “San Nicola dell’Alto”, and the village of “Carfizzi” during his stay in the province of Crotone.

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 Citizens greeted the President in “Carfizzi,” where a commemorative plaque honouring this visit was unveiled in the central square.

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 Pallagario, home to the church of the “Speaking Bells”, hosted the ceremony afterwards.

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 President Begaj recognised the cooperation between Albania and Italy in strengthening historical, cultural, and economic ties while speaking from Santa Filomena Square.

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 “This visit is significant for reasons other than its institutional nature. It carries deep emotional significance since seeing these young children waving the Albanian and Italian flags and greeting in the Albanian language ‘Mirëseerdhët!’ (Welcome) is incredibly moving.”

 I officially visited Italy a few months ago and met with President Matarela. The following day, I visited “Vila Badesa”, where I met Albanians who had migrated 400 years ago from Southern Albania. What they brought with them on that visit and today is a part of their spiritual sustenance, which I observed within the church.”

 The head of state recognised the patriotic role of compatriot Anselmo Lorecchio, who led and inspired the intellectual movement of Arbëresh people through the newspaper “Kombi Shqiptar”.

 “I have come to express my gratitude to all the authorities and distinguished figures of the Arbëresh people of Calabria. One of them is Anselmo Lorecchio. For 40 years, he never ceased defending the cause of his homeland.

 This was also confirmed by the two family bells that were present. I told a family member that the message of those two bells casting their look towards Albania is twofold: one symbolises the profound love you hold for your country, Albania and Italy, and the health and prosperity of Italy and Albania. The other relates to preserving unique attributes associated with our homeland, such as language, culture, traditions, customs, and clothing. Today, I would like to express our deepest gratitude to Italy, our friend country. We Albanians have a saying: ‘Hard times will reveal true friends’. And our relationship demonstrates this.”

 “We are only a short distance apart, separated only by a sea, but we have two communities of Albanians—one that came 600 years ago and one that very recently came 32 years ago—both of which have successfully integrated into Italian society. I am grateful to the Italian families and the Italian government for what they have done for Albanians!

 We have enormous opportunities, and we must work together to maximise them for the mutual benefit of both countries. I assure you that this will not be my final visit to this wonderful place. I will travel to every place where there are Albanians and Arbëresh people throughout my term,” stated Begaj.

 The head of state expressed gratitude to local authorities and the Arbëresh community for their hospitality and all they have done to preserve the national identity.

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