Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë

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President Begaj returns among the Albanians in Calabria: I wanted to keep my promise

Albanian President Bajram Begaj began his second tour of the Calabria region in Civita, a town in the province of Cosenza, built over 500 years ago by an Arbëresh couple.

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To honor the Albanian Head of State, the Arbëresh community in Civita organized an official reception at the Communal Council, where discussions were held about identity, nation, and future, as well as solving problems and strengthening relations between Albania and Calabria.

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On behalf of the Arbëresh residents of Civita, the parish priest of the church welcomed the Head of State to the Civita basket, addressing President Begaj in Arbëresh, saying, “When you have entered this church, you have entered the heart of the Arbëresh faith.” The community’s history is carved in the bas-reliefs of this church, built in 1510.

The Mayor of Civita praised President Begaj for his visit to Calabria.

President Begaj responded by saying that he was merely keeping a promise to visit: “We Albanians have an old proverb that says keeping a promise is very important. Some time ago, I made my first visit here to the Calabria region, and all the commune mayors wanted me to visit them.

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I promised I would come again because it’s impossible to see all the Arbëresh communes and municipalities in Italy in one visit. And today I am very happy to have fulfilled the mayor’s wish, and of course, for the emotions I gained today from the generosity of Civita’s citizens, their hospitality, the songs sung in Albanian, and their attire. This is very important to me”.

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President Begaj also thanked neighboring Italy, which not only opened its doors to the Arbëresh but also showed the same approach to Albanians by helping during the difficult years after the ’90s, by welcoming immigrants from isolation, and later by integrating the new Albanian Diaspora.

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During his stay in Civita, President Begaj also visited the ethnographic museum, where through clothing, paintings, and documents, the history of this community was displayed. Civita, with its authentic architecture, has inspired the painter Ibrahim Kodra, who internationalized the Arbëresh identity through his depiction of the houses in this community.

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This living historical evidence, according to President Begaj, should be passed on to the younger generations.

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President Begaj acknowledged the contributions that the Arbëresh have made to the nation and promised that he would always support them to continue with concrete steps that serve the preservation of the Arbëresh language.

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“The Arbëresh are an important part of our nation’s memory.

You are a rare example of preserving identity, history, language, culture, and rites”, expressed President Begaj.

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