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Iliana Iotova in Tirana: The Bulgarian National Minority in Albania is the Natural Bridge for the Development of the Relations Between the Two Countries

2017-11-15 10:07:00

“I am happy that the most pleasant meeting of this so important day is to take place and now it is with you, my compatriots.” This is what Vice-president Iliana Iotova said late last night in the Bulgarian Embassy in Tirana at a meeting with representatives of the Bulgarian community in the Republic of Albania, where she is on a working visit. Representatives of the local Bulgarian associations, teachers, medical doctors, culture activists, tens of our compatriots from all parts of Albania took part in the meeting.

The Vice-president thanked our compatriots, who filled to capacity the hall in the Bulgarian Embassy in Tirana, for the fact that many of them had travelled long distances to attend the meeting with her and with representatives of the Bulgarian Embassy. She said that her work with the Bulgarian communities abroad is a priority in her activity as Vice-president.

In her speech delivered to our compatriots, Iliana Iotova summarized and presented the results from the meetings she held earlier with Albanian President Ilir Meta, with Parliament Speaker Gramoz Ruci, and also with Prime Minister Edi Rama. The Vice-president’s words that all representatives of Albanian institutions had assured her that the recently adopted Law on the protection of national minorities will be observed and will not be simply formal, were warmly applauded. “Your rights will be guaranteed because the law allows the right of self-identification of the Bulgarian national minority also,” Iliana Iotova said.

The Vice-president was adamant that the next six months will be extremely important. “They will be important for us in Bulgaria, they will also be important for you, the members of the Bulgarian community in Albania, because in this period all secondary legislation will be drafted which will allow the law to be implemented and henceforth the children from the Bulgarian minority will have the opportunity to study their mother tongue in secondary school, Iliana Iotova told the representatives of the Bulgarian diaspora and said that during her meetings she raised the question of establishing cultural and information hubs on an exchange basis in the two countries.

The Vice-president further said that the newly-adopted law gives one representative of the Bulgarian minority the right to be member of the established committee of national minorities.  

In her speech Iliana Iotova assured our compatriots that the Bulgarian state will do its best to protect their interests and initiatives. “It depends on us how the projects we outlined will be implemented and therefore at the meetings I said above all that the Bulgarian national minority in Albania is a natural bridge for the development of the relations between the two countries,” the Vice-president said and added that if there is goodwill and followers, ultimately good results will be produced.

In the course of the talks our compatriots told Vice-president Iotova that they are convinced that the adopted law will help them preserve their identity, culture and traditions. The representatives of the Bulgarian diaspora voiced their hope that the Bulgarian institutions will help in further ensuring the necessary equipment of the Bulgarian schools in terms of computers and school literature. “It is important that the ties in the sphere of education and economy be strengthened and if an opportunity arises the Bulgarian state should send priests because there are three churches in the district I live in, but there is no one to hold religious services,” Ervis Taluri, deputy chair of the Bulgarian-Albanian Friendship Society said. He was adamant that a large-scale information campaign should be conducted among our compatriots from all parts of Albania on topics related to their rights. “We thank the Albanian state for the law adopted,” which, in his words “will support the education and development of our community.”

“More than 3,000 people signed a petition for having their children study Bulgarian and no one was against it,” Fisnik Hoxha, chair of the Nasha Gora society, said, for his part.  

Before the meeting with our compatriots, Iliana Iotova held talks with representatives of the leadership of the Bulgarian societies in the regions of Korce, Golo Brdo and Gora.

Earlier the Vice-president held a meeting with Albanian Assembly deputies who have contributed to the adoption of the Law on the protection of national minorities and also with Selim Hodzai, Bulgaria’s Honorary Consul in the Republic of Albania, whom she awarded the honorary plaquette of the Bulgarian Vice-president.

Within her visit, the Vice-president will visit the town of Kukus and the villages Orgyost and Shishtavec, where she will meet our compatriots living in Albania.   

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