On 31 March 2019, the Republic of Chameria organised a conference in the city of Bergamo in Italy. This event brought together a large number of Cham who live in northern Italy and surroundings. The objective of the conference was to launch the official start of the citizenship registration process in this part of Europe, as well as the presentation of the newly established Lombardia branch of the Republic of Chameria.
There is a large Diaspora of Cham and Albanians in Italy who have formed communities in various parts of the country for centuries. The Republic of Chameria has significant support with the Cham and Albanian communities in Italy and president Festim Lato frequently visits the country in order to collaborate with the many organisations and individuals who support the Cham heritage.
A new chapter in the struggle for self-determination of the Cham community was opened with the public announcement and presentation of the newly produced passport of the Republic of Chameria on 7 February 2019. Following this announcement, a major conference was held in Vlorë, Albania, on 9 March 2019 to officially launch the passport and its related citizenship of the Republic of Chameria. At this event, a new and separate immigration office was also opened in Vlorë. This office is dedicated to the administration of citizenship requests and the dissemination of identity documents of the Republic of Chameria.
The event today, 31 March 2019, is the official launch of the citizenship proceedings for the Cham living in this part of Europe and the opening and presentation of the Lombardia branch of the Republic. The positive responses by the Cham living in Italy and the neighbouring countries provides a clear indication that the Cham living in various parts of the world are united in their struggle for greater recognition of the Cham identity and their support for the Republic of Chameria.
The various speakers included representatives from the newly established Lombardia branch: Mr. Pëllumb Selimi, Mr. Gjergji Harka and Mr. Astrit Meli. They explained their vision of the future workings of the Lombardia branch and their intent to closely cooperate with the various parts of the government. A group of Republic of Chameria officials from Vlorë and Kosova as well as president Festim Lato himself also spoke at the conference where they highlighted their past activities. A video of president Festim Lato speaking about Chameria at the European Parliament on 20 March 2019 was also screened and provided the audience with a clear example of the successes that have been achieved. The recognition by many of the Republic of Chameria as the defender of the Cham community is one major victory. The new passport is a formalisation of this success.
The conference served to launch the Lombardia branch of the Republic of Chameria in northern Italy, which enables the president to more effectively distribute the citizenship services among the community and together work towards self-determination of Chameria and the resolution of the Cham issue. The presentation of the passport of the Republic of Chameria can be considered a major milestone.
President Festim Lato held an inspiring speech explaining his family’s origins in the heartlands of Chameria and his personal story as a Cham-Albanian immigrant in Italy and the Netherlands who always carries the Cham identity with him no matter where he resides. His vision of a united Cham people organised under the banner of the Republic of Chameria was shared by the participants of the conference who will certainly remain, or become, vocal and active supporters of the government within the Lombardia branch and will move the Cham issue forward.
In the days before the conference the president visited numerous cities in northern Italy to inform the Cham communities living in the area of the progress made by the Republic of Chameria and to motivate them to join him on his journey for self-determination of the Cham, which has entered a new stage with the organisation and presentation of citizenship.