Albania Diaspora community the best bridge builders for the economic growth of Albania
In the framework of the research project “The Diaspora as a Resource for the Knowledge, Preservation and Enhancement of the Lesser Known Cultural sites in Albania”, six highly skilled researchers from the Albanian Diaspora in Italy, who have studied at the University of Florence, presented today the current results of the survey of three cultural monuments in local communities of Përmet municipality in Albania: the Church of St. Mary in Leusë; the Bridge of Katiu in Bënjë and the area surrounding the Church of St. Mary in Kosinë. The survey was made possible thanks to an innovative 3D laser scanning technique (“points cloud”) of the Laboratory of Digital Survey of Architecture of the Department of Architecture (DIDA), University of Florence.
The event was held on 12 November 2019 at the Center for Openness and Dialogue (COD) premises in Tirana. The event was attended by Mr. Luca Maestripieri, Director of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation; H.E. Mr. Pandeli Majko, Albanian State Minister for Diaspora; H.E. Ms. Elva Margariti, Albanian Minister of Culture; H.E. Mr. Alberto Cutillo, Ambassador of Italy to Albania; Mr. Brian J. Williams, UN Resident Coordinator in Albania; Ms. Manoela Lussi, Manager of the Diaspora Programme of IOM Albania; Prof. Antonio Lauria, Department of Architecture of the University of Florence in Italy and Ms. Valbona Flora, IOM Albania Diaspora Programme fellow engaged in the research.
The research project is developed under the Fellowship Scheme of the IOM Programme “Engage the Albanian Diaspora to the Social and Economic Development of Albania” and it is focused in five villages (“case studies”) of Albania: the three villages of Përmet - Bënja, Leusë, Kosinë, the mountain village of Razëm (Shkodra) and the coastal village of Zvërnec (Vlorë). Also, the research involved 13 other students in the educational thematic workshop organised partially in Italy and partially in Albania to make a digital survey of the cultural assets mentioned above.
This initiative promotes the transfer of knowledge and skills of Albanian Diaspora to the benefit of the home country and includes three important stages: 1) the Analysis phase of studying the potential of 5 villages, 2) the Model phase designing the Guidelines for the development of these sites, 3) the Piloting phase to validate the Guidelines”. The designed guidelines will be handed over to national and local Albanian authorities to make use of them either to restore these monuments or for the development plans of the areas.
“Today all stakeholders have realized that the Albanian Diaspora is becoming more and more important for the development of home country and that there is the need to support new ways of promoting diaspora to retain its connection to Albania and contribute to its cultural, social and economic growth,” noted Ms. Manoela Lussi, the Manager of the IOM Albania Diaspora Programme. “Albanian diaspora members in Italy are demonstrating that they can not only be a development factor but even ‘builders’ of bridges that make possible the link among traditions and facilitate the circulation of human, social and financial capital between Italy and Albania.”
“The Italian Cooperation supports the Diasporas in many countries. The Albanian Diaspora is one of the most active communities and has many talents. It is essential to involve the best part of it to make Albania a better place. The Diaspora programme implemented by IOM and financed by the Italian Cooperation is the biggest Diaspora initiative taking place in the country. The work of the Albanian talents enhances communities and territories. It is the result of a comprehensive coordination activity, with a positive and innovative impact both in Albania and Italy. The Italian Cooperation is proud of it and will keep on supporting it to achieve all its important expected results, particularly in the safeguard and enhancement of the local Cultural Heritage, a sector in which Italy is a well-known and leading cooperation partner in the world,” said Mr. Luca Maestripieri, Director of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.
The UN Resident Coordinator Brian J. Williams highlighted the contribution that the Albanian diaspora can make towards sustainable development: “Migration has a big impact on the demographic profile of Albania. But migration can also bring benefits. People abroad learn new skills and approaches to business and governance, earn capital that can be invested, and create links between the borders. Through IOM Albania Programme, the UN is pleased to support circular migration and the engagement of the diaspora that contribute to Albania’s development.”
According to the statistics, out of 1.4 million Albanians living outside Albania, there are nearly 500,000 residing in Italy.
“This initiative is a perfect example of building linkages, exchanging information and experiences of high skilled Albanian Diaspora” highlighted Mr. Pandeli Majko, the Albanian State Minister for Diaspora. “More than ever Albania needs its people and their knowledge”.
“Besides important professional contribution, this initiative brought us closer to our home country. For some of us this is a unique opportunity to come back to Albania after many years. We are proud to have been able to put a stone in this bridge that is aiming to connect Albanian Diaspora to the home country” says Valbona Flora, Fellow of the IOM Albania Diaspora Programme, while sharing her personal story of being engaged in this research.
The IOM Albania Diaspora Programme is implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Albania, the UN Migration Agency, with funding from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) in coordination with the Albanian State Minister for Diaspora, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Economy.
 Four of these villages (Leusë, Kosinë, Zvërnec and Razëm) are part of the strategic programme of Albanian Government “100 Villages”.