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The Albanian American Civic League Visits The Albanian Community Of New Zealand

Trip to New Zealand Saturday 2 December to Tuesday 5 December

By Mazhar Krasniqi

In their continuing quest to inform world leaders and the press about the critical issues affecting Albanians in the Balkans, especially those in Kosova, former Congressman Joe Dioguardi and his wife Shirley Cloyes, also a political activist for the Albanian national cause, visited New Zealand from December 2 to December 5.

Arriving from their seven day trip to Melbourne and Canberra, Australia they were greeted enthusiastically at Auckland Airport by about one hundred Albanians including many children who recently came to New Zealand from Kosova with their refugee families.

Among them were Mazhar Krasniqi, Chairman and Qemajl Murati, Secretary of the New Zealand Albanian Civic League which has been founded for 10 years an affiliate of the Albanian American Civic League founded and currently chaired by Joe Dioguardi.

Joe and Shirley made remarks to those who assembled outside the terminal and distributed hundreds of vehicle bumper stickers proclaiming the “independence of Kosova” as the only way to peace in the Balkans.

On Sunday 3 December, Joe and Shirley met with more than 200 members of the Albanian community in Auckland at the campus of Selwyn College. They spent three hours talking and answering questions about recent events in Kosova and Serbia especially the great problems now presented by the new Serbian regime under Vojislav Kostunica.

This regime professes to be democratic but has done nothing to apprehend serbian war criminals in Bosnia and Serbia including Milosevic and has not yet taken meaningful steps to release the Albanian prisoners of war languishing in serbian prisons.

The wests’ haste to embrace Kostunica without any condition and its inability to deal with the status of Kosova, apart from Serbia is of paramount concern to Albanians in New Zealand.

Since parliament was not in session in Wellington during the time Joe and Shirley were in New Zealand, discussions were held in Auckland with representations of the Foreign Ministry including Peter Kennedy, representative of Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Director of the European Foreign Affairs and Trade Division who was travelling abroad.

Many press releases on the critical issues affecting Kosova since the so called fall of Milosevic were faxed to Prime Minister Helen Clark, the foreign ministry, New Zealand Parliament and the press.

Finally, discussions were held with the Jewish community leader in New Zealand including Wendy Ross, Chairperson of the Auckland Jewish Council and Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence, Chief Rabbi of Auckland. They were presented with the book “Rescue in Albania” and Shirley’s article dated August 1998 “Presiding over jenosid : the shame of the west”. It was clear that the jewish community sympathised with the Albanians of Kosova and understood the need to monitor events in Serbia, particularly the actions and inactions of the Kostunica regime.

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