October 6, 2014
My dear fellow Albanian compatriots in Macedonia and Montenegro,
I am a concerned Albanian-American who would like to urge all Albanians everywhere to take recent events under close consideration; As well as urge the leadership of respective countries where ethnic
Albanians to take into consideration these recent events and learn from the examples of our counterparts in other nations and their respective histories since our fates our closely interwoven. While I am not a
politician nor do I claim to be a political figure I am simply a humanitarian of ethnic Albanian origin whose family immigrated to the United States from a small mountainous village in Montenegro in the early 1970’s working as a humble physician caring for my patients in Brooklyn, NY. I hold our culture very close to my heart since it is one of the oldest and most tolerant cultures in Europe and has led to
innumerable contributions to many other cultures as well.
It is true most of my life, education, and existence have been spent on this side of the Atlantic; I can safely say that I am equally as cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and nationalities by living in such a diverse nation as the United States of America. However, I am deeply haunted by the fact that even in the twenty-first century we are still having a discussion on equal rights for ethnic Albanian citizens in both Montenegro and Macedonia.
The incongruence between legislation and the actual treatment of ethnic Albanians of these countries has
been evident over the recent months this year. I will not focus on the demonstrations occurring on July 4, 2014 in Skopje (Shkup), Macedonia nor will I focus on conditions I feel have brought about these demonstrations. However, I will choose to focus on more concrete and indisputable facts- the importance of and contributions towards which a people can provide to their country.
It is very disappointing to me that Albanians residing in the Balkans outside of Albania proper must still experience discrimination and are subject to being unequal in treatment as African-Americans did during the civil rights era in the United States. While they too were subject to brutal police crack-downs in places such as Birmingham, Alabama during their sit-ins, marches, and civil disobedience the United States of America eventually realized the injustice it was perpetuating in the form of injustice despite our ‘laws’. We
have learned from that time period of American history the concepts of ‘difference and sameness made legal’. In other words, sameness made legal is when the majority applies and adheres to the same laws which it compels the minority to follow and difference is as one would expect is the double standard or a majority applying pressures to a minority which otherwise don’t apply to itself.
Albanians cannot wait any longer! With the world becoming smaller and more globalized we realize that as citizens of our countries we are considered valuable resources as well. Gone are the times were ethnic Albanians must tiptoe around situations due to a lack of a voice and shadowed in a veil of ignorance and indifference. Rightly so, since when a people are oppressed to a point of leaving their
homeland to pursue a better life complete with ability to feel comfortable being themselves, feeling valued, and propagating their culture will you understand why it is difficult to accept social injustice in this day and age. While I am not in any way advocating or a proponent of hatred or violence towards anyone I do recognize the need and moral obligation of a people to question authority and leadership in ensuring that everyone is treated equally with dignity and fairness as the all citizens.
I would hope that anyone who is reading this appeal whether they be ethnic Albanian, Macedonian, or Montenegrin would understand that I am urging unity and sameness among ourselves not diversity and animosity. However, this is easier said than done since we must first diagnose a problem in order to prescribe a treatment. I ask the leadership of Macedonia and Montenegro to consider and follow the precedent of more advanced countries who proudly reap the benefits of the contributions of their ethnic Albanian citizens—most notably my beloved United States of America.
Ethnic Albanians who left their homes decades ago in hopes of participating in true democracy since they were disenchanted by the loss of faith in the ‘social contract’ of their native homelands have proven to be invaluable assets to these countries. In the recent Dubrovnik Summit led by German Chancellor Angela Merkell for European Union Integration which aimed to be a strategic meeting for Balkan leaders in their path towards the European Union we saw firsthand the necessity of each country utilizing its resources to meet a higher standard.
Interestingly, a major contribution of an ethnic Albanian soccer player led to the chancellors’ country in securing Germany’s World Cup victory. Another example is the Swiss soccer team which was composed of ethnic Albanians for the most part. There are other examples in many other fields as well other than the soccer field. The contributions of Albanian-Americans have been broad along the spectrum of business, banking, medicine, music—all of which have enriched our great country. This was only as a result of two things: first, the opportunity provided to the individual to succeed and secondly, the ability of the nation to embrace and facilitate that ndividual’s success. An ethnic Albanian in Montenegro is no different than an ethnic Albanian in Macedonia or in the United States for that matter. I urge your country’s’ leaders to consider you as intelligent and very hard working people who if provided with both of
the aforementioned conditions will result on the same amount of success as we as a community achieved in our ‘new’ homes. Moreover, I also underscore the recent trip to Albania by the papacy. In which his Excellency Pope Francis applauded the religious harmony among faiths found in Albania which is testament to our religious tolerance as a people. This undoubtedly proves that we as a people are capable and have a longstanding tradition of religious tolerance. In this, I urge these Balkan countries to embrace and accept its ethnic Albanian citizens as do other countries. I am willing to predict their respective country’s’ will undoubtedly benefit from the contributions and hard work of ethnic Albanians with the same results as their counterparts in Europe and across the Atlantic if only they choose to apply fairness throughout all citizens of their countries.
With the utmost respect and civility I wish to urge all readers both ethnic Albanians and non-Albanians to continue to strive for peace and harmony together. Moreover, I ask all to embrace us as a people who wish and are capable of achieving success and contributing the betterment of our countries.
Ismet Lukolic, MD
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of
mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
-Martin Luther King Jr