By Edi Rama
Prime Minister of Albania
It’s unbelievable even for me that it’s been a while now that I’m not surprised by the “uncertified food” that the Democratic Party offers to the Albanian people on a daily basis, the same as the meat shops at the turn of Kamza, which used to sell meat in the middle of mud and blood. It’s unbelievable that the Democratic Party, completely ignorant about history, current events and the projected future of the old church of Dhermi, joins an unbelievable shriek of those who decided to defend the outrageous construction, the so called church; a construction not built by the church, but by the individual brutality of the ‘90s on a cultural monument, which nobody in the world would call it a church.
But not only this, it’s unbelievable that the Democratic Party, in order to attack the government, joins an effort that has nothing to do with the relations between the state and religion; which has no connection with the relations between the government and the Orthodox clergy and it has no relation with the southern neighbor, which on its side, must be aware of the fact that no issue or problem concerning the Albanian Autocephalous Church or Albanian orthodox community, has to do in any way with the neighboring country. Albanian orthodox are Albanian citizens who have their state and the extent to which they exert their faith is not under the protectorate of another state. Meanwhile, the Albanian Autocephalous Church will handle any problem that it has had, which it has and will have, with the Albanian state and its institutions. Therefore, any intervention is an unacceptable intervention in Albania’s internal affairs. Albania is a country where the Orthodox Church is in its home and not the home of the neighbor. The orthodox believers of the Greek minority are also in their home.
They participate in the mass along with the Albanian orthodox and enjoy the same as them, the same religious freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Albania. These truths are clear and the politization of this problem cannot be allowed, because it damages the high quality of religious relations in Albania or the relations of the state and Albanian government with all religious institutions in Albania. I must stress that the relations of our government with the Orthodox clergy and its highest representatives and my personal relations with Archbishop Anastas, have always been excellent.
Disagreements for particular problems which have no connection with religion, do not make these relations any weaker and this doesn’t make the Orthodox clergy, or any other clergy in Albania for that matter, less respected by us.
Those, who in the name of the Orthodox Church, associate the demolition of that construction, which was not at all a church, with the recent declarations, commit an error. Only God is unmistakable. It’s human to make mistakes. I’m convinced that we will soon clarify this temporary misunderstanding of the representatives of the Orthodox church with us, because there’s no sound mind who is unable to understand that what is being done in that place in Dhermi, is a noble mission, which upholds the values of religion, history and cultural heritage of that place and that land. The Municipality of Himara will rebuild there the imagery of the old church of Dhermi and it deserves only praises, in order to make that land a land that conveys the echo of a past time and history that generations and visitors deserve to live.
Meanwhile, as far as the Democratic Party is concerned, it’s unbelievable that a big Albanian political force continues to blow a fire which is intolerable for the history and the future of Albania.
Like the majority of Albanians, I know too that the Democratic Party is in the process of a desperate destruction and we all know that desperate people do desperate things. But it’s unbelievable that the Democratic Party’s desperation resorted to attacking the government of Albania in the name of religious freedom. This is just pitiful.
* The opinion of the author doesn’t necessarily represent IBNA’s editorial line