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News 07 Nov 17

Kosovo President Honours Albanian Speaker to Mixed Reactions

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has honoured Albanian parliamentary speaker Gramoz Ruci with the "Freedom Order",  sparking some impassioned reactions from intellectuals and politicians in Kosovo. 

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
Albanian Parliament Chairman, Gramoz Ruci (left) and Kosovo President, Hashim Thaci (right). Photo: Kosovo President's website

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci decorated the chairman of the Albanian parliament, Gramoz Ruci in Pristina on Monday, instigating a wave of anger among intellectuals and politicians in Kosovo.

Ruci is a veteran politician who started his career in 1985 as Labour Party Secretary (formerly the Communist Party). In February 1991, he transferred to the position of Interior Minister while the communist regime was still in place  a position he held until May the same year.

Anti-communist protests sweeping the country continuing into April, and in the northwestern Albanian city of Shkoder, four protesters were killed by Communist Party forces, creating a stain on Ruci's political life – an incident frequently recalled by Ruci's political opponents.

The current ruling Socialist Party was created in 1992 as the successor to the Labour Party in 1992. Ruci was considered an important party figure, and held top positions in the party as an MP.

Thaci honoured Ruci with the "Freedom Order" to illustrate his "contributions to the Albanian parliament and for the freedom and independence of Kosovo".

Albanian intellectual and journalist Enver Robelli took to social networks to condemn the decoration.

"The last Interior Minister of the dictatorship of Tirana is decorated with a medal for the "freedom and independence" of Kosovo. Nobody really cares about April 2, 1991, the victims in Shkoder," he wrote.

Donika Gervalla, the daughter of one dead Kosovo Albanian activist, Jusuf Gervalla, also took to the social network to express frustration over Thaci decorating Ruci.

The MP for Kosovo's LDK, Driton Selmanaj, considered the Albanian politician to have had no contributions to the Kosovo issue.

"Don't even try to think about his contribution, since there is none," he said.

In September, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama appointed Ruci as the speaker of parliament, while opposition members disputed it recalling his Communist Party past.

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