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Conference on Cham Citizenship

On 9 March 2019, a large number of Cham and others came together in Vlorë, Albania for an international conference about Chameria. Speakers from numerous Balkan countries as well as Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium discussed the social, political and economical situation of the Cham and how the various organisations and individuals are working to improve their condition. Many media representatives reported about the conference, highlighting the significance of the event to the Cham struggle.

One of the main topics of the conference was the status of the governmental services of the Republic of Chameria. The Republic was proclaimed two years ago and since then president Festim Lato has established and implemented the main institutions of the government. The foundation for these services is formed by the citizenship of the Republic of Chameria. Many people have already requested official citizenship of the Republic of Chameria and a new official passport was designed last year. This new passport was approved and subsequently printed by a specialised printer and finally presented in January of 2019. The status of the new passports and the updated requirements for citizenship were discussed at the conference.

The conference also served as the launch of the new immigration office in Vlorë, Albania, where people will be able to request citizenship and fill out the necessary forms that will enable the government to assess the validity of the application and provide the applicants with the necessary identity documents in a short time-frame.

The various speakers at the conference highlighted particular sections of the struggle for greater self-determination and freedom for Chameria. Several academics like professor Elena Kocaqi placed the Cham struggle in a broader historical context of the Balkan and specifically of that of the struggle for self-determination of the Albanian People. In his speech, European diplomat Jeroen Zandberg took a slightly different approach to similar problems by explaining the advocacy campaign that Festim Lato and he have rolled out in the past year in the European Parliament, European Commission, Council of Europe, the United Nations as well as in many national capitals.

Yet another perspective on the Cham issue was given by prime-minister Ali Aliu in his speech, which was followed by two representatives from Belgium who have been collaborating with president Festim Lato in finding opportunities for economical development in Chameria. President Festim Lato addressed the participants via a live stream and provided the audience with the much valued and needed inspiration to continue the struggle for peace, justice, recognition and development of Chameria.

The event was closed with a performance of traditional Cham music and song.

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