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Schweizer Zeitschrift für die Zusammenarbeit mit Albanien
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Swiss non-profit Journal for the Cooperation with Albania

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Give us a chance and you will see us

In his last article, Agim Likaj tells us about the problems of the intellectuals in Albania and, thus about his own life

Albania is changing its face. Though slowly, but Albania is changing even its mentality. The first who are trying to raise the personality and the reputation of Albania are the intellectuals. After 50 years of a fanatic isolation, the chaos of the transition is natural for a country, for a people who suffered one of the most cruel dictatorship of this century.

The most important things that an intellectual can do to serve his own country are: to be able full of capacity and to love his own country. Most of the intellectuals have understood what they can do and what they must do. They saw that for some time the authority of Albania was quaked with an collapsed economy, with an old mentality and with a chaos everywhere, even in the conscience of the Albanians themselves. But what can and must the intellectuals do at first? They must do more comfortable their life.

That's because the intelligence is still the poorest part in Albania. Not rarely they find themselves with empty pockets because of their low saleries. Sometimes, the buying of a new book or of the edition of a book written by themselves is a prohibited fruit. They're always reading, writing poems and novels and learning foreign languages like English, German, Italian or French; but under difficult conditions: every day at fight and war for surviving. Though under the poorness of symbolic low saleries, the Albanian intelligence lives with the idealistic pure hope of tomorrow. The Albanian intelligence loves and appreciates to work and study, loves deeply the country and tries to change its image through its works - especially the books. This is a splendid intelligence educated in the school of the great Ismaïl Kadaré. They know Hugo and Prevert better than a Frenchman, Shakespeare and Greene more deeply than an Englishman. They read Goethe and Böll or Dante and Quasimodo more often than a German or an Italian. And often they can not even pay the rent of the lighting and the water. Through the work and activity of the educated people Albania is in research of a better image, in research of itself. For example, in Berat, the »organisation of the cultural and historical activities« is vital and attractive thank of the work of intellectuals such as Yzedin Hima, Balil Gjini, Asllan Saraçi etc. The people are more interested about the tradition of old history, art and culture of their antic city through the worthful work and activity organised by these intellectuals, through their articles and books.

But for the intellectuals from the country of the great Kadaré, the contact with Europe is only a dream under the falling rain. For them, to get a visa is much more difficult (or often impossible) than to climb over the »ex Berlin Wall«. The Albanian intelligence suffered the isolation and closing of yesterday built by the communism and caused by the Cold War. Now it suffers the height of the barrier built by Europe itself and caused by the Cold Peace. While the European intelligence comes into Albania freely and without obstacles, the educated people in Albania know Europe only through the reading of books and newspapers, through the hearing of old Russian and Chinese radios or through the watching of very old black-and-white televisions.

In Europe, they say sometimes that the Albanians are cruel and uneducated or brutal. That's not true! The person who has this idea in his mind knows only a little about the Albanian realitiy or - worse - some of them want only to know the black side because of their own prejudices. The Albanians are one of the oldest and most nobel people in Europe. They are deeply and purely Europeans as the Europeans themselves are. As a European country, Albania wants Europe to open its doors for the Albanians as free and equal citizens of this continent.

Only so, Europe will better know the real force of the mind, the real power of the spirits of the Albanians. Europe will see, will touch and will feel also the shining part coming from Albania. The Albanian intelligence says to Europe: »Give us a chance and you will see us!«

Agim Likaj, Berat

I was asked to present the author: He's a young man living in Berat. Under the ancient regime, he was forced to become a carpenter. By himself, he learned Italian, English, German and is now learning Spanish. He tries to earn some money by giving lessons, but that's so few that his actual financial situation doesn't allow him to marry his fiancée.

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