Leader of Chameria – dream and reality

(The political world – Shpëtim Idrizi)

On 29 October 2009, Shpëtim Idrizi swore as a deputy. He was sworn even 4 years before but this time was a special day for him. The deputy Shpëtim Idrizi was already in the hall of Albanian Parliament together with his colleague Dashamir Tahiri, from Vlora, as a representative of a new political force, the Party for Righteousness and Unity or Cham Party as media used to call it. Its abbreviation was PDU and was the forth party in parliament. A political force that had in its axis the resolution of the Albanian issue especially Cham issue.
The day when the new parliamentary legislature started, the juratory as a deputy, the fulfillment of the first constitutional obligation toward the voters, was an important event for Shpëtim Idrizi. He was the deputy of Vlora district and he used to appreciate this as a special honor and privilege that he thought to will turn it in a powerful commitment. He will always be faithful to the voters, firstly starting by the parliament hall, by his pulpit where he will rise often and more often his voice especially about Chameria. He was already in Parliament as the leader of Chameria. This was his dream.
It was exactly the fact that he was a Cham himself, his will to speak openly about Chameria, about the land of his ancestors that encouraged him to leave Socialist Party and to join his Cham compatriots in a new political force. This action, apparently as an abandonment toward the shelter that grew him up as a politician, gave him the opportunity to be the leader of a community without support, to be the strong voice of the martyr Chameria.
The Socialist Party, in opposition, wasn’t in its place in Parliament and the polemics between clans of political spectrum continued by ruining the constructive capacities of Albanian society. In these conditions, Shpëtim Idrizi could not join the opposition boycott. He could not be a piece of its discontents about how the elections were held because he definitely had to represent his ideal, Chameria.
As a friend, various times he suggested to both parties to find out the ways to put on the contacts between position and opposition but politicians, as usually happens in our country these 20 years of transition, found it difficult to come out by the saps of their interests. As it seemed, they felt more satisfied attacking each-other by the pulpit of media.
Various times he proposed to his friend deputies to start contacts even outside the Parliament to negotiate an acceptable solution for all, thus to use with wisdom the old art of policy – negotiate.
The leader Shpëtim Idrizi thought that to negotiate means that nobody has preliminarily the right and that all the parties must tolerate somehow by the fighting positions they have occupied to offer peaceful opportunities. However they didn’t listen to him or better say they pretended not to listen because, in fact nobody moved by the fighting positions.
After some meetings and consultations where Shpëtim Idrizi took the blessings of the Albanian patriots for PDU, this new political initiative, he decided to join the majority of deputies to give it a parliamentary voice, to enter it in the institutional spaces of discussion and resolution of the problems with national features.
And here he was: in the Parliament pulpit, ready to protect the interests of Albanian patriots whom he represented.
The other deputies listened to him with attention. He hoped to wake up even the interest of public opinion. He would explain to Albanian what PDU represent in Parliament and in the public life of the country as well. Why it was created, what it aimed and how it would achieve to realize its constitutional and legal objectives.
In few words but clearly, he was appointing the targets of what he and PDU must do in four years. The force he leaded was announced as a party of national interest, considering the national issue as the priority of the political activity. There was a group of Albanian intellectuals who stand behind the establishing initiative with the conviction that stoned issues by time were not a taboo, were not unchangeable. He and the intellectuals who followed him were of the same opinion that everything is dynamic, that everything move due to thoughts and actions of people who are ready to sacrifice for their national interests. Thus, something will be changed by their force. Their work would always be in function of changing the nation and Albanian population’s position in regional and global plane.
That was how he and the PDU’s group thought. They had integrated in their plans even intellectual forces from Kosovo, Macedonia, Monte Negro, from older and new Albanian refugees, from all the communities in foreign countries and also from Albanian Diaspora.
The politician Shpëtim Idrizi thought that the issues that must be handled were:
– The recognition of Kosovo’s independence and its normal functionality as a sovereign state till in its full integration in UN;
– The progress of Macedonia’s Albanian status, in accordance with the highest international standards in handling populations with such a big demographic weight inside the whole demography of a state;
– The resolution of Cham issue as the most important by emotional view, of the crimes made over Cham population during Second World War and the importance’s weight of this community in our country;
– Of course, together with its resolution in accordance with international acts, also the resolution of Albanian properties’ problem in Greece, resolutions that are predicted by impartial Greek experts;
– The elaboration of a medium and long term resolution about the Albanian refugees abroad which represent about 30 per cent of the whole Albanian population.
This is great, isn’t it? Program with weight, objectives like confinement towers in the fog time.
The novelties of this program, about the resolution of whose were prepared even concrete resolutions certainly they must be done part of flesh and blood of the Albanian patriots wherever they were situated. On the contrary, they would remain just words in paper.
The politician Shpëtim Idrizi thought that PDU was a party of Albanians, a political force of the 21th century. This force definitely must have with it those Albanians that have over all the national interest. They had to knock in the hearts of those patriots that are convinced that the Cham community is the most vital part of the Albanian modern patriotism. Many politicians have discussed about the resolution of Cham issue, but just in paper. Unlike those who promised miracles and didn’t move even a thumb, Shpëtim Idrizi had conceptualized various concrete steps within the spirit of good neighborhood, of international legality, that would set justice for the Cham martyr population. And this was a qualitative difference in the program of PDU. That’s how Shpëtim thought. He and the party he leaded were more clearly, more decided in the resolution of this issue that would go on with those well though steps.
The leader Shpëtim Idrizi had the opinion that Albanian diplomacy must firstly negotiate the amendment of Greek laws in the years ’80 that allowed the repatriation of all Greek citizens removed after Second World War and banned this for those Greek citizen that are not with Greek nationality. These laws are discriminatory and totally contrary with the European Convent of the Human liberties and rights.
This amendment which is imposed by the Convent would allow the repatriation of all Chams that would desire that, in Greece.
So, was required repatriation and recovery of all the lost rights since that which is widely called Greek genocide and by impartial Greek experts as ethnic cleansing. So, he and the intellectuals around him didn’t want just properties compensation.
No! He was decided to work about the elaboration of a feasibility study by an international British studio and to give a juridical resolution for the Cham issue and Albanian properties in Greece.
This resolution must advance along with the diplomatic negotiations with the progressive government of Papandreu in Greece. Shpëtim Idrizi had somehow a conviction that the government of Papandreu would be abide by the sense of equality in the relations with neighbors. About this, Papandreu has often discussed before, in the quality of opposition leader or as the former foreign minister. The politician Shpëtim Idrizi believed too much that Papandreu would respect the best tradition of the Greek left which had practically realized the main normalizing steps into Albanian-Greek relations. Those steps were once started by Papandreu’s father by removing Albania from the list of enemy countries, followed by the ex-Prime Minister Simitis who realized the fellowship tractate with Albania, etc.
So, these arguments mainly compound the vision of the modern politician Shpëtim Idrizi but could anybody believe in older Albanian politicians and even more those Greek politicians to start the work in realizing the dream – Shpëtim Idrizi?!… Maybe not… Their infidelity was expected and the politician Shpëtim Idrizi knew this very well…
And then?!… There was certainly needed a reserve plain… In case they wouldn’t see progress ever these problems, he and his friends wouldn’t stop the needed pressure to intermeddle even international institutions. They would make the impossible to have these issues in international tribunals…
Shpëtim Idrizi was ready to start the battle with Albanian Parliament. As the start they would take the initiative to propose this Parliament the approval of a resolution for Cham issue.
He would not spare even the Government to which publically asked to put a commemorative monolith in the cemetery of the Klogjer’s village – where the lie the bones of 2600 Chams, mainly women, elderly and children. They died by thirst, hunger, fatigue, in the biblical escape to run away by the massacre, they escaped by the genocide of the bands of the notorious General Napolon Zerva for whom, as for a cynical irony, in the other side of the border rises a memorial. Never must be forgotten that those innocent people together with about 2500 others, who were murdered and massacred within a week, during the black June of the year 1944, had not made any fault; they suffered this tragic destiny only because of their ethnicity, so, only because they were Albanians.
He raised the voice and asked by the Government, especially to the Minister of Culture, to allot funds for the museum house of one of the most distinguished scholars with Cham origin, Hasan Tahsini, a house that has remained ruined and adrift since 1997…
The deputy Shpëtim Idrizi proposed a well thought solution also for the problem of refugees. A small place like Albania has not the luxury to ignore the destiny of 30 per cent of its population, something quite unique in the modern history of countries.
He highlighted that only few days before, Kosovo approved the immigration law. So, Albania must approve such a law that provided the establishment of a National Committee for Albanians abroad. This department would handle in an institutional manner the problems for the immigrants integration in the places where they live, would be interested about the values of their culture, about the teaching of Albanian language and about their involvement in the political life of the native country. There was a Committee for minorities and why not to exist such an “ad hoc” structure for Albanians abroad? Perhaps the country had 30 percent minorities as Albanians abroad? No! Be understood, minorities are much more less and surprisingly they are given a Committee under subordinate of the Prime Minister. Think a little bit, what an achievement by minorities that even the most development countries would envy!… What about Albanians immigrants?… Only silence and silence…
The Cham deputy highlighted that to achieve these objectives in the interest of the country the political force he leaded wished to collaborate with all politicians, with the position and opposition. It was not an ideological party and had no scruples to refuse the one or the other part. Its compass was the national interest and on behalf of it would collaborate with all parties. In this moment, in the interest of the population, before of all was the acceleration of European Integration, therefore was needed a big work. He and his colleague, Dashamir Tahiri, would vote pro to those laws that could accelerate the integration. They would support all the lawmaking initiatives that would accelerate the development of the country. Without doubt. Meantime, they were decided to give no blank check to none majority as a guarantee for unconditional support, especially in the cases when could be supposed to harm the national interest.
So, he belonged to a new force which in its work would certainly be distinguished by a policy of new style. It would be the representative voice of all the organisms of the civil society that work for the same scope – the progress in abundance of Albanian society. It would be the representative of Albanian owners’ associations in the country. Could not be asked the solution of properties’ problems of the citizens abroad, without solving first those inside the country.
Shpëtim Idrizi said that many other politicians had talked before about the national issue. Unlike them, his party would set in disposal of this issue all the forces, fame, dignity and the unlimited support of all those who in many meetings had trusted to the new program. Cham and non-Cham, everywhere in Albania would be with them. They would find the right allied for this issue and would make a qualitative pressure to all parliamentary majorities to handle with realism this issue. Nobody had the right to make more complex major issues. Nobody could speculate with the integration card. The integration does not diminish the resolutions, chances of the backward issues but on the contrary, it increases them.
The new politicians of PDU were of the thought that today regional and international situations speak in favor of Albanians. They just had to exploit and not to lose the chance of time.
After this programmatic presentation in Parliament, immediately after his oath as a deputy, the politician Shpëtim Idrizi felt that he would have even a greater support by his colleagues, that’s why his effort to realize the objectives must already be titanic. He was the Leader of Chameria, his old dream has started to become reality…
After he went out by the Parliament hall, the deputy Shpëtim Idrizi thought that he still had not in his hands the situation within Cham community. The existence of PDI, with its leader Tahir Muhedini, as a political Cham party parallel with PDU, was paralyzing a part of power to realize as sooner its program. They must certainly join, but how? Tahir Muhedini and a part of Chams were cons because they still didn’t trust in him due to the fact that he has turned his back to the Socialist Party… They guessed that perhaps would be the human to divide even more Cham community, rather than unite it… So, he needed a hard work to break also that part of the popular opinion that was cons of him. Of course, otherwise where is the sense of the efforts made so far?…
It was said that the Party for Righteousness and Unity was a nationwide party. It was a party that seeks to unify all the Albanians national problems. And with entitled rose the question how he would realize this when he could not join Chams together?!… A hard work…
For Chams, perhaps it would be better that all this odyssey within PDI as an older party. But he together with the other initiators of PDU had done ongoing efforts to find the common language with PDI. They had even made a writing agreement but unfortunately it had been impossible to find the common language to have just one party. Why not, he had continuously thought that the party must be extended, to be a nationwide party, not just a force of Chams. Of course, Chams are more sensible toward the national issue of their story, but up to now the unification was impossible.
Firstly, Tahiri Muhedini made a public appeal immediately after elections where he invited all the other Cham’s deputies, that there are also other deputies with Cham origin in the right spectrum, to join for the big issue. At that time, PDU was not created yet.
Shpëtim Idrizi, at that moment thought to join PDI, to have a common platform in protecting Cham issue in Albanian Parliament. The fact that the Cham from Vlora achieved to have get a mandate, was an essential point for all Cham community. This fact increased the will of Shpëtim Idrizi to leave Socialist Party and to join PDI and Tahir Muhedinin. But there were many debates and misunderstandings which after all deepened even worse the division.
Suddenly, the events took an undesired road, even the deputy Dashamir Tahiri left PDI… Already, it was even more far away the day of joining…
Shpëtim Idrizi had always thought that for big national issues and for difficult issues like Cham issue, was necessary a powerful political force that was lacking in Albanian political spectrum, so, a party with nationalist notion. There was needed a party, which many times must pursue pressure over two big parties. Because, in his judgment, which I share with many other politicians, the two big parties usually find it difficult to take protecting positions for special elements of national issues. For example, majority finds it difficult to take a protecting position for issues like that of Chameria, of Macedonia’s Albanians, etc., because due to integration issues in UN, NATO, etc., it must appear as moderate and to hold attitudes as diplomatic, obligated especially by Greece and Serbia, states that are very sensible toward nationalist politics and become this way a obstructive factor. But even opposition in such conditions, willing to come as soon as possible in power, avoids handling problematic national issues. So, for those reasons, Shpëtim Idrizi thought that Albanian political spectrum had the necessity for a party which would fight for national issue without fear and complexities and would rise the voice even more to the big parties, in Albanian and international opinion.
Except this, he thought that the new electoral system seed that causes problems for small parties but actually, to those parties that have concentrations in certain districts are given great chances. It must not be forgotten that about 50 per cent of Albanian do not vote. They are not satisfied by demagogic politics of two big parties.
So, with reasonable calculations, came out that there was still place for political party which would support national issues. It was time to act. And he together with the deputy Dashamir Tahiri and other intellectuals decided to create PDU as a national party.
And he was not repented for this action, despite the malicious assumptions of a part of clan opinions. He was aware that despite of the good things that PDI had done, it had never been a real political force. It acted more as an association than as a party which had to represent powerfully Cham community and that part of Albanians who aspired for a big Albanian state.
Undoubtedly that he and the intellectuals around him had acted with maturity when they created PDU, a national party prepared to open its offices from Vermosh to Konispol. That party would be extended even in Albanian communities in other countries of the world.
However, a mechanism to encourage the join between PDI and PDU must be found. And he certainly would find it with the help of the patriot Chams. He believed that patriot intellectuals like Servet Mehmeti, Ibrahim D. Hoxha, Idriz Balani, Namik Mane, Namik Sadiku, Shefki Hysa, Mereme Çunge etc., with the respect they had in Cham community and with their capacities as peacemakers, would encourage and accelerate the unification of two parties and would affect for social peace within Cham community.
And so it was. After many subterranean and surface negotiations was decided the unification of two parties. A sensational notice for the press and visual media. All were waiting as in fever.
Finally was organized a great ceremony in one of the halls of hotel “Tirana” and the PDI of Tahir Muhedini and the PDU of Shpëtim Idrizi were joined in a single political force with the name Party for Righteousness, Integration and Unity, with the abbreviation PDIU. It is known that this new political force would be represented in Parliament by two deputies: Dashamir Tahiri dhe Shpëtim Idrizi, and the last one would be at the same time the leader of this party.
Shpëtim Idrizi presented a detailed plan that the new party would follow in the future. He highlighted that the year 2011 would be characterized by an extraordinary work. Would be realized a resolution for Cham issue. They would work for the internationalization of the issue and for the opportunity to approve a resolution in American Congress. They would direct to more prestigious advocates studios over the world. They would follow the way that Greek state used to follow with the issue of German soldiers’ crimes in a Greek village during the Second World War, etc. So, they would never forget and stop seeking justice for the martyr Chameria and for Albanian nation.
Even Dashmir Tahiri spoke with a great trust, the Honorary President of this force. He highlighted that all the intellectuals of PDIU are in a single direction about the resolution of Cham issue and about any other national issue. Not without any scope the ceremony of unification was appointed in 17 February, the day of the anniversary of the announcement of Kosovo’s independence. So, it was unification with a great national symbolic. Thus, the big Cham dream was already converted in a political vision with the undeniable trend to become one day reality…

Shefki Hysa

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