Source: Macedonian daily newspaper Dnevnik
Translated by UMD Staff
We hold the key to the development of the rights of Macedonians.
Prespa is a very poor region and there is a lot of work ahead of us. This is why we will need the help of both Albania and Macedonia.
At the local elections in Albania, held on February 18, 2007, a Macedonian from the party Macedonian Alliance for European Integration (MAEI) was, for the first time, elected as mayor. Edmond Temelko, a 36-year-old veterinarian turned politician won the mayoral position in Prespa municipality, making him the first Macedonian elected in Albania.
During the campaign, you frequently said that the Macedonians had a historic opportunity during these elections. What does your election victory mean to you and your electorate?
These are crucial moments in the history of Macedonians in Albania. Macedonians in this country unable to fully exercise their basic human rights such as schooling in the mother tongue, the use of national symbols and participation in the state institutions. We also fought very hard to register our political party, the Macedonian Alliance for European Integration. This is a major event for Macedonians, because they demonstrated maturity and voted for themselves, their party, and their candidate, and by doing that they showed to the Albanian society that we are also a part of it and will take an active role of dealing with the outstanding issues in the country.
How will you address the issue of poverty in Prespa, one of the more destitute parts of the country?
Prespa is weighed down with high levels of unemployment, electricity shortages, and inaccessibility to clean drinking water, inadequate roads and so on. We all know the problems and we will work on them. This is why our party came out with a concrete program for development of the municipality. We will try to have development projects with foreign firms, embassies, and with Macedonia, so that we can help the people of this region have a decent and normal standard of living. We are loyal citizens of Albania, we pay our taxes, and respect the law, and in return, we demand better living conditions
Prespa municipality includes nine different towns, inhabited mostly by ethnic Macedonians who speak in their own language and foster their own cultural heritage. It is also a naturally beautiful region, but run down and underdeveloped. How do you see the future of Prespa?
God has given us natural beauty and cultural richness that provide for a significant appeal to the region. We see Prespa as a popular tourist destination that will animate the region, the economy, and the people. The locals here are very hospitable and kind, which would only increase the appeal for tourists. This is the heart of our program—development of the tourism sector. We will also push for the use of our national, Macedonian, symbols, which is mandated by law. The Macedonian language will become the second official one and we will rename all the landmarks to their original names that were changed under the Enver Hodza regime.
An Appeal to Macedonian Businessmen
Macedonians in Mala Prespa are optimistic, and so am I personally, regardless of the fact that Macedonia is not a very rich country. We are hopeful that there will be some support and aid for our projects coming from Macedonia. I am grateful to the government and everyone else in Macedonia who gave us support thus far for the development of Prespa municipality in Albania. I would also like to issue an appeal to Macedonian businesspersons, from all over the world, not to forget about us and bear in mind that we are eager to offer very good opportunities for investment in the region.
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