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In a speech worthy of a satirical spoof, President Bujar Nishani chose the 100th anniversary of Albania’s independence to tell the nation that its flaws are a great boon.
In the city of Vlora and the Albanian capital Tirana, President Nishani on Wednesday held what in all likelihood are likely to have been the two most important speeches of his career.
Although he has been president for only a few months, an anniversary like the 100th year of the declaration of independence, needless to say, does not come around every day.
In most countries, as was the rule in Albania, such occasions are imbued with solemnity.
Political leaders pay respect to the men and women who struggled against all odds to make the nation happen. It’s an occasion for flag-waving, jubilation, and, in Albania’s case, the song: “It’s way too good to be Albanian, oheyy.”
That was before Nishani took the stage on Wednesday in Tirana’s Palace of Brigades. Our head of state does not seem to have a great opinion of his countryman and women, and his timing in laying bare his soul to the nation could not have been worse.
As the speech started and his moustache wiggled, the President announced that he would be less formal than usual, “in order to brag a bit about ourselves. We deserve it, it’s our birthday.”
And what bragging it was. First, Nishani recalled that Albania is a tiny nation. Although everybody else thinks that might be a problem, we, or more precisely him, termed it a “luxury”.
“We Albanians are not like a jar of clay, but more like a crystal glass, we are not warm sea water, but cold water from a spring,” Nishani declared with poetic whimsy.
“We Albanians have a great advantage because we would not hurt anyone. Even when we do something bad, we do it to ourselves,” he added.
According to Nishani “We are last in everything” but should not be blamed for that, either, because coming last is not a flaw.
Here is how he illustrated his grand idea. According to Nishani, Albania’s Balkan neighbours, who broke first from the Ottoman Empire, immediately did a bad thing and invaded Albanian lands. We, who were the last territory to break free from the empire, did nothing similar, apart from “being a victim”.
Should we actual despair at this? No, the President recommends. According to him, if some traits are scarce in Albanians, others are in abundance.
“We Albanians are bit strange, capricious consumers, foolhardy lovers, kings of ourselves. Every one of us wants his own private highway, his own hospital, prosecutor and judge,” Nishani said.
According to Nishani, in the past we have had our “Robin Hoods” but now Albanians are “exporting peace to the planet’s hotspots… ever vigilant over Western civilization.”
After hearing that speech, many were probably left wondering how such a man managed to become President.
Personally the thought that bothered me was: how did he even make it through the junior high Albanian composition standardized test?
For sure, he got one thing right. We Albanians are indeed a strange lot.
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