Covid -19 pandemic, repatriation of Albanian citizens stranded abroad

Hello everyone,

This is a message for our fellow citizens stranded all over the continent for days and weeks now amid border closures due to the war. I have received several messages from students, parents, family members stranded because of the border closures. Together with the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and our embassies, we have been really working day and night to identify, contact and compile a list of them. We have already solved several cases depending on our very limited capacities we have had, but we know very well and we are totally aware of the distress and the ordeal our fellow citizens are increasingly being put through after being stranded all over Europe. The largest group of around 650 people have been stranded in Italy, 114 in Great Britain, 341 in Croatia, 77 in Switzerland, 45 in Greece, 35 in Germany, 37 in France, 19 in Austria, 21 in Sweden, while smaller groups of 10 to 12 people and single individuals have been stranded in many other countries.

Needles to provide you with explanations over this extraordinary situation as everybody everyone — young and old- know it. In the meantime, I know it quite well the word patience is not the most welcomed one by someone who lives through the day from dawn till dusk thinking about this plight for many days on. Yet patience is a weapon we need to load and charge everyday with the resistance energy in the face of this world war.

Meanwhile, I would like to assure everyone that I and everyone else are working hard day and night so that none of you is left alone. Not a single one! From the families and individuals in need for immediate food, medicine aid and other basic services to those who can’t return back home since they have been stranded in various countries across the continent. For the sake of truth, the majority of them are seeking to return back home as soon as possible, voicing readiness to pay the travel cost. I appreciate them for this, because in the meantime I come across many others who are staying at home and are spending time idly by making every sort of unworthy and deplorable comments on the social networks, complaining about the people who are supposedly starving, about relief supplies being stolen, or absurd demands to be excluded from having to pay the electricity bills, or by throwing insults at people under uniforms or social workers, who are sacrificing by going door-to-door to deliver relief supplies.

These are shameful acts considering such a difficult time when it takes patience, understanding, encouragement and true family unity, and national unity! We don’t have a magic wand. We are also not a wealthy home in this poor neighbourhood of Europe, such as the Balkans, though frankly speaking, even the continent’s wealthiest homes are not doing that much or I am not seeing any miracle happen in terms of helping people suddenly in the grip of woes and troubles.

I will move heaven and earth and do utmost efforts to help everyone. This is what I am tasked with. However, please bear it in your mind that we are at a war. We are at war and everyone should tighten their belt. The government is supported by contribution, with everyone having to pay his share of contribution, settle payments, liabilities and taxes, and it doesn’t operate on wishes, nonsense or gibberish writing on social networks. For example, we pardoned the delayed electricity bill payments. We wrote the delayed payments because we are at war, otherwise I would never accept the logic behind the pardon decision! But this measure really weakens the Power Distributor Operator and it doesn’t strengthen it and if the power utility that distributes electricity to your houses should cover this financial damage just to offer relief to all people, especially people in need, failure to pay the electricity bills would ultimately collapse the country’s electricity and power system, triggering a devastating chain effect to the state coffers. This would make it impossible for us not only to emerge victorious, but even to end this war without ending up killing each other, plunging ourselves into a dark pit, just because we can’t properly distinguish between what the state or individuals are entitled to. So, brothers and sisters, one for all and all for one, or more concretely, the state for everyone, and each of us have to contribute to the state. There is no other option.

Now, as for the citizens stranded abroad, on Monday – and this is good news for them – we will launch flights to bring them back home. I believe the schedule of repatriation flights will be announced tomorrow and the respective spots where the already listed people will embark at. We will carry out these missions free of charge and I believe that it is now up to Albanian Airline’s plane named after Lasgush to bring our citizens back home. Air Albania is the red and black national carrier and in the face of this national problem I have asked the company to assume its responsibility as the Albanians’ home on Europe’s skies and charge no one for carrying out these humanitarian missions. I am happy that the national carrier has promptly expressed readiness, while the Minister of Infrastructure and Energy has been and is constantly working to provide the special permits for these charter flights.

I hope, dear friends, that this message will convey a simple truth to you all. I do not make any promises without being firs assured that we can deliver on each of them, while as to those who keep constantly complaining, I can tell that we are constantly working to address the whole set of complaints, just like we do regarding any legitimate complaint. We are not a great nation, we are not even a state with unlimited power, but I assure you that we are strongly committed and we have the unlimited will to fight for Albania and Albanians. We will fight this way every day and every night, all the way to the end, believing that you will forgive us for the suffering of this war, which we did not wage, but befell us all and which we should all fight and win together. We have no other option!