Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was civis Romanus sum ["I am a Roman citizen"]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is "Ich bin ein Berliner!"... All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words "Ich bin ein Berliner!"
Berlin, June 26, 1963. Cold War is on its peak. Almost a year ago the world had been on the brink of a nuclear apocalypse with what came to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The communist East had started to mount its aggressiveness that culminated with the construction of a dividing wall in Berlin, 22 months before that day. The youngest president in the U.S. history was on a historic visit in the divided Berlin, a symbol of the incompatibility of two antagonistic worlds, enemies to death. He approached the podium slowly and held there an inciting speech in front of 450 thousand exalted people of West Berlin, which he ended with the sentence that kindled the flames in the hearts of the entire world and echoes even today like a cry never to subdue to the dictatorial wills and evil: “Ich bin ein Berliner!”
It was a firm message addressed to the communist heads of government that Berlin belonged to the entire world; that it was the capital of freedom and would be defended at any costs and with any means; it was a monumental call that they acknowledge this fact without further hesitation or doubt.
The Berlin Wall was demolished 21 years ago and the city is now more united than ever. 21 years ago Albanians tore down their high wall of a frightening isolation and ran with open arms to join other European residents. Their slogans were to be like them and with them. But Albanians will be reserved the same fate of a humiliating and inexcusable isolation that had lasted for centuries. The citizens of Berlin, wherever they lived, didn’t want the Albanians to be with them. Another wall would be erected and still continues to this day, this time from the leaders of the free world themselves, whom President Kennedy referred to as the defenders of liberty. 21 years later, Albanians are much farther from those citizens of Berlin, although they have fought and worked tooth and nail to be with them; 21 years later, those who tore down the icy wall of Cold War, stand as supporting columns for a ruthless post-communist dictatorship in Albania and play with the fates and lives of nice and decent Albanians, who very confused, try to make out what is actually going on, and how did we end up right where we started. And under an unbearable pressure from inside and outside they lower their head, about to subdue, because this is our fate and we are not like them. Before this injustice, I have all the right to climb to the highest podium of the human history and dignity and cry out at the top of my lungs so that the entire world would listen: “ICH BIN EIN EUROPÄER!” – I am a European – and that’s a fact that everyone across the board must accept. And with the determination inspired by President Kennedy’s words, I refuse to compromise with it. History shows that I have carried values of great civilizations and have contributed to the today’s European values centuries before the ones, who call themselves as such, could become aware of them being part of the whole. This fact is tangible just by a visit to Albania, where everyone can clearly see that ancient Illyrian-Greek-Roman cities, combined together, are a testimony that this people was integrated in the co-existence of these civilizations as an inseparable part of them.
It was this people of mine, which the gentlemen of the West consider unworthy to be European that, five centuries ago, was sublimely self-sacrificed to face the greatest threat from the greatest power of the era in the name of defending the European values that belonged to it and a continent it belonged to.
Even though strong currents crashing here, on this land, and horse-trading on the back of this people, where the West has its undeniable role, have created perfect conditions for anti-European governments to rule this country for the last hundred years, the hearts of the people and the eyes of Albanians have always been focused there, at the place they deserve among the countries that consider Albania unworthy.
And the support given today to an oriental dictatorship in the name of liberty, as they want to make us believe, for they consider us too gullible to get their thick tricks, will never make me and other Albanians hush. On the contrary, it will make us shout even louder that We Are Europeans. All the world would do a good thing to listen to this voice as the voice of the truth of the Albanian nation.
“Ich bin ein Europäer!” and I don’t have to expect a confirmation from some lady or gentleman in the European parliament, nor from an EU commissioner or from a prime minister or president of a European country. This is what I am and nobody can say otherwise. And as such I have the right and obligation to give my contribution in building a just country for all, a country where the liberties of each and everyone are respected and guaranteed, a country that guarantees conditions for all to pursue their material and spiritual happiness, a country where the property, both private or public, is holy and inviolable, a country where power comes from the people and is for the people, a country where murderers and robbers, despite their social position and rank, are thrown behind bars to guarantee peace and security for all. Every other Albania outside this set of parameters is not the Albania that people want, despite being largely promoted by bullhorns and members of mass media, purchased with the poverty and misery of Albanian people. Every foreign official who offers to present the Albania of today as a global success insults me in my European feeling and being, therefore, deserves nothing but my disrespect.
I am a European and I belong to the European values and traditions. They teach me to fight for my undeniable rights and never submit to the tyranny, whatever the price I have to pay.
Yes, I am a European and so are all my wise, decent and brave Albanians. And together we will manage to make Albania worthy of its place among the best, a place it has deserved for centuries.