Defense Minister’s full speech held on the occasion of 73th anniversary of Liberation of Albania

Honorable Prime Minister,
honorable Excellency ambassadors,
generals, military members, friends, invitees,

Today 29th November brings us together. The great day of our national history, the day that marked the liberation of the homeland from Nazi fascist invaders and their collaborators. It is a special day for all of Albania because it is the day which crowned the most glorious and heroic war that the Albanian people have made throughout their history filled with sacrifices.

This was the most glorious one because the weight and dimensions of this war carry the sacrifice and heroism of the Albanian people, which ranked Albania on the side of the world's largest antifascist coalition, which paved the way for comprehensive development of Albanian society up to the Albania that we have today.

Today is the day to remember and honor all veterans and representatives of their organizations, who with the blood and sacrifice of thousands of comrades made possible the birth of a free, independent, war-winning Albania.

Dear veterans,

I am proud of you, as I am proud of my grandparents, who were partisans from the very beginning. Let the respect for you be an example of inspiration for generations.

But Albania has its history filled with wars, sacrifices, many valiant warriors and heroes. Albanians have always fought for their flag, with or without a state, with or without great powers’ support. And the mighty Albanian heroes who fought over centuries and lost their life for homeland do not have a commemorative date.

Without their sacrifice, we would not have the 1912 Vlora of Ismail Qemali, we would not have freedom, independence, dignity, or Albanian state. Their epic endurance and worth deserve to be marked in our national conscience and I think that this marked date should serve to remember not only the heroes of the war but to reflect on the sacrifice of all who serve the homeland with self-sacrifice, not only in times of war but also in times of peace.

All the Albanian mighty fighters and heroes who have not exhausted even today in times of peace and swear to serve the homeland with self-sacrifice.

It is thanks to them that we celebrate today more proud than ever in our history. Because the flag that led partisan battles, the flag for which thousands of Albanians died, today waves proudly in the North Atlantic Alliance, the most powerful alliance of all times, a continuation of that great antifascist alliance founded during the war years. This significant moment finds us alongside NATO's allied forces to protect the common values of democracy and the rule of law.

I just celebrated the Independence and Liberation Day with our military members in Kosovo and Afghanistan, two of NATO's largest and long-term missions. I observed closely the difficulties and sacrifices of our guys in uniform, but also their self-sacrifice to accomplish their noble mission. Meanwhile, we are also engaged in Latvia, Bosnia, Mali and the Aegean Sea because we are convinced that there can be no peace for some, poverty, hunger, and wars for others.

It is precisely these sons and daughters, our military members, the modern heroes of our day, for whom this marked date should make us reflect the most. And I have decided today, on this significant and marked date, to exercise authority of the minister by giving 4 medals of gratitude to four military members.

I have decided today to honor with the Medal of Gratitude people in uniforms with no ranks nor office. I will honor those who go first to fire spots or homes flooded from torrential rains. It is the simple professionals, the unnamed heroes who are found first where a human life is in danger, where a bridge is to be built, or where refugees in international waters want help.

These soldiers have not fought the classic enemy, but have put themselves in danger to save human lives, whether they are Albanian children, or children of Middle East wartime refugees, transforming themselves into today's heroes who make us proud of the service which they provide for the country and every Albanian citizen.

I will start with First Sergeant Sajmir Balla, this guy who saved a newborn baby in Zenisht, in Burrel, in very severe weather conditions. The guys in the helicopter which did several emergency flights during day did not even fear at all, even though weather conditions posed a great risk. First Sergeant Balla is the father of a boy and a girl, so it is endlessly exciting that he saved the life of a newborn baby by keeping it in the bosom with the same affection and compassion as if it were his child, removing it from the water that was covering the roof of the house.

Construction of roads and bridges by the engineer battalion, destruction of rock massifs is laborious work, in difficult conditions, which precedes consequences that can be caused by isolation, bad weather, or emergencies caused by it. Support battalion’s guys are always present in communities and to citizens when local government opportunities have exhausted. Fatjon Lulja, who receives the medal of gratitude, is today is one of hundreds of guys working in the cold winter and summer heat to make citizens' lives easier.

Evacuation of residents in emergencies is one of the most demanding tasks among the Armed Forces. And in the multitude of stories about flooding, I want to remind you of the one at the beginning of this year where over 30 families in Ura Vajgurore were endangered by the raging stream of water.
The father of two children, First Sergeant Ervin Todo, entered almost completely inundated homes to evacuate children, men and women, as he did this summer during firefighting operations. Along with Ervin today, we honor all the infantrymen who have made us proud for their soul of sacrifice.

There are about 1 thousand lives saved by our military members in international waters. A few days ago, Oriku ship came back home, which for a year, with its 6 crew contributed to the Aegean Sea search and rescue operation, whose engagement was highly valued by NATO. All Orik's crew deserves to be decorated today. But I believe, in their name, this medal should be held today by Esmeralda Murati, the mother of two children, a nurse who together with doctor Aurela Bala were the first girls seeking to be part of our mission in the Aegean Sea, and Oriku ship as the great life savior which does not differentiate nationality.



Butrinti and Oriku exercise with SNMCMG2 flagship Saturday, 25 August 2018Our Naval Force ships of Butrinti and Orikum conducted a three-day Joint - Exercise at the estuary of Vjosa - Gram and Vlora Bay,...
Prime Minister Rama announced NATO investment in Kuçova Air Base Saturday, 04 August 2018Prime Minister Rama announced via Facebook, the NATO investment in Kuçova Air Base...
Minister Xhaçka visits SHAPE: More troops to send on NATO missions Friday, 01 June 2018Defense Minister Olta Xhaçka paid an official visit to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE)...
Stoltenberg-Xhaçka meeting during NATO's ministerial, appreciated the Albaniain contribution to peacekeeping missions 14 February 2018Defence Minister Olta Xhaçka held a special meeting with NATO Secretary General...
Albanian patrol boat concludes navy’s first NATO tour 24 November 2017The Albanian Navy’s ALS ORIKU patrol boat on Wednesday (22 November 2017) wrapped up a full year of operations with NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2)...
Albania cleans up war graves after decades of neglect 15 November 2017Albania has launched a nationwide drive to renovate the long-neglected cemeteries of its war dead in the run-up to 29 November...
Military Committee Conference of NATO ChoDs was concluded 17 September 2017NATO Military Committee Conference, which was held for the first time in our country, closes its formal proceedings...
Chiefs of Defence provide direction and guidance on key NATO priorities 17 September 2017General Petr Pavel, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, opened the Military Committee Conference by thanking Albania...
Opening remarks by Prime Minister Edi Rama's at the start of the NATO Military Committee Conference 16 September 2017It was not until long ago that many of you here were seen as the “very bad guys” in this country. But now times have changed and today you are the “best guys”...
Opening remarks by General Petr Pavel at the start of the NATO Military Committee Conference 16 September 2017The Alliance is grateful for Albania’s contributions to our shared security and your continued involvement in our Mission and Operation...
Interview with General Petr Pavel, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee 15 September 2017Interview with General Petr Pavel, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee for Albanian Military Magazine.
The Ushtar Eagle has landed September 2017The UK’s NATO ally Albania hosted over 200 RAF Reserves and Regulars in numerous locations around the country as they trained together developing operational teamwork and friendships on Exercise Ushtar Eagle 17...
Albanian-British Exercise "Soldier Eagle 17" 14 September 2017In the framework of joint training between Armed Forces of Albania and Armed Forces of United Kingdom...
Women at War - 100 years of women on the front line September 2017In a year that sees combat roles within the UK military routinely opened to women, the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force (RAF) are celebrating the centenary of women serving at the forefront of conflict...
NATO Annual Report 2016 13 March 2017Secretary General’s Annual Report sets out priorities to shape 'Future NATO'...
Defence Directive 2017 March 2017The Directive of Defence for the year 2017 bases on the goals of strategic documents for security and defense, and on fundamental documents of NATO and EU...
Join AAF as an active soldier/seaman April 2017AAF requires the recruited personnel to have the highest qualities for serving in the Armed Forces. AAF will recruit professional soldiers with necessary knowledge in accordance with work requirements...