Frank Shkreli -Washington, 01/31/23
Voice of America’s former director for Euro-Asia and member of the first American diplomatic delegation to Albania in March/April 1991, Frank Shkreli, when the American embassy was opened after almost 50 years, as well as observer at the elections in the same year, one of Voice’s experts on Eastern Europe, reports:
“Let them fly high and undisturbed, please! — Let the American and Albanian flags fly high! Don’t disturb them, please! – Let them fly together like two inseparable sister Eagles!”
But today, 6-7 weeks after the publication of this article and after many other critical writings, in which I expressed my personal disappointment with how these relations have been handled, especially in recent years.
Ibrahim Rugova's famous saying:
”Eternal relationship between Albanians and the United States...", is being severely tested.
As for me and many Albanian-Americans, we consider them sacred and untouchable.
In recent days, the Albanian world, the American world and almost the whole world learned from the American, Albanian and world media that at the end of the 100th anniversary of Albanian-American relations, they are in a much more serious situation than we thought, despite the propaganda by the spokesmen of both sides, who tried throughout the last year to present them as the best in the world, between the two countries; based on "common values" and "walking side by side".
“I have no doubt that the American justice will get to the bottom of this dreadful affair for the relations between our two countries. Of this I have no doubt. We just need to be patient becyit can be a long process. But how will the Albanians be treated by the Albanian justice system, up to the highest levels of politics, who may be involved in this scandal of bilateral relations. That’s another question…?!”
However, I do not care at all about the fate of any of these persons – American or who may have been involved in these criminal acts, either in America or in Albanian territory.
They will get what they deserve. I see that the Albanian media is treating this scandal as a “soap opera”, as a television series with melodramatic characters, without taking into account the damage it may have caused in Albanian-American relations, but also in the perspectives of Albania’s membership in the Euro-Atlantic Alliances.
Although it is early in the process of judicial developments, this scandal has international political, geostrategic and economic implications, but above all it touches the heart of Albanian-American relations, in the 100th anniversary of their establishment!
Depending on what will be the outcome of this court process, this scandal has the possibility to be a stabbing in the heart of these a century old relations, for a long time.
Although I believe that these relations, as I have often expressed, are relations that have been cemented people to people, for a century and do not depend on individuals, nor organizations, of any party that place their personal and political interests on these relations.
I am convinced that after this scandal, the Albanian-American relations, which we considered special, at least initially, will no longer be so in the American Congress, nor in official Washington, nor in the ranks of the American people.
The historical relations between our two nations, as a result of this scandal today, especially since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the liberation of Kosovo, can be considered at the lowest level, in a serious crisis unseen in the last 30 years.
Diplomatic relations between Albania, but also all Albanians, including Kosovo, and the United States will no longer be as they were until now.
I am afraid that today, the relations between the Albanian and the American Nation are at the lowest point imaginable: at the point where the centuries-old enemies of the Albanian Nation want them to be ‘if not hostile, then at least frozen and unfriendly.’
While the Albanian leaders in Tirana argue with each other about who is more "pro-American" and who is declared "non-grata", the world moves forward.
But unfortunately, from now on, everything Albanian will be regarded with suspicion in official Washington.
How Albania will deal with this scandal in the development of bilateral relations in the future and how Albanian justice will handle this scandal, regardless of who is involved in it, will certainly decide what direction the American-Albanian relations will take in the near and long term future.
The arrest, last week by the US authorities, of the former senior FBI counterintelligence officer, Charles McGonigal, accused of having received money from a former employee of the Albanian intelligence services and of his connections with other officials in Albania, it is an unprecedented criminal offense, not only in Albanian-American relations, but beyond.
American media say that Charles McGonigal may be the most senior official in the history of the FBI to face such serious, criminal charges.
We all know how grateful Albanians are to the assistance of the United States, not only for the unsparing American support at the tables of international diplomacy, but also on the battlefield of the war for the liberation of Kosovo.
Albanians will never forget this help, regardless of the fact that individuals from any party may temporarily hinder the normal development of these relations and even seriously threaten them in favor of low personal and party causes.
Believing with the majority of Albanian-Americans and Albanians everywhere that the relations between the Albanian Nation and the American Nation are irreplaceable for the survival and progress of the Albanian Nation!
Despite these difficult days, I remain optimistic that the historically friendly Albanian-American relations between our two nations, which have survived, for almost half a century, one of the most savage and barbaric regimes in the world, the "communist dictatorship" of Enver Hoxha, they will overcome this crisis as well.
I also believe with optimism that after the American justice has spoken about this issue, Albanian-American relations will continue to develop for the benefit of our two peoples and peace in the Balkans and in the world!
These relations between our two nations, which until today were among the best in the world between two nations, are the product of decades of hard work by 4 to 5 generations of Albanian-Americans, who for more than 100 years have cultivated, have kept them in the forefront and promoted them in Washington and all over America where Albanians live, ensuring the unwavering and sincere support of official Washington and American politics, in general, for the interests, rights and national freedoms of Albanians.
Therefore, I do not believe that the Albanian-American community will allow these relations to be violated in this way, falling victim to crimes for personal and party interests of some unscrupulous people, who do not stop before any action, no matter how illegal it is.
I believe that the Albanian-American community will find the support of the official Washington, as always in the past, to bring the holy and irreplaceable American-Albanian relations to their rightful place - in "Permanent Friendship with the United States", as the late Ibrahim Rugova once said.
Not that there haven't been problems in bilateral relations in the past, some of which I've pointed out from time to time, but the scandal of the last few days is indeed a serious threat, not only to the national security of the United States, as international complications are also dictated in it, but it also poses a threat to the national security of Albania and Albanians, from foreign influences, especially Russian-Chinese, in Albanian lands, about which I warned years ago.
It remains to be seen, but in my view, with deep regret, I have to state that this scandal, which the American judiciary is now treating as a serious criminal offense, constitutes a stabbing of a knife in the heart of these century-old friendly relations between our two countries.
This should concern all Albanians without distinction and wherever they are.
I would advise that the rest of this criminal act, although it may be inevitable, not be treated as a "soap opera", with a melodramatic character, because it is not like that, but be left in the hands of justice! I'm talking about American justice!
May God bless America and the Albanian Nation in this difficult time!