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The Albanian American Civic League...

         By Beqir Sina

The Albanian American Civic League Participates in the Annual Meeting of the National Republican Congressional Committee and Lobbies Foreign Policy Leaders in the House about the Future of Kosova


Washington, DC, March 31, 2011—The National Republican Congressional Committee held its annual conference and dinner on March 30.  This presented an opportunity for the Albanian American Civic League to lobby key foreign policy leaders in the US House of Representatives, now led by a Republican majority, about the status of Kosova and the future of Albanians in Southeast Europe. 


Former Congressman Joe DioGuardi, the Civic League’s President, and Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi, the Civic League’s Balkan Affairs Adviser, led a delegation that included Kosova MP Florin Krasniqi, his colleague Sokol Necaj, and Civic League Board members Agim Alickaj, Zef Balaj, Steve Gjonbalaj, Gazmend Lita, and Rifat Memeti. 


The conference began with a session on “Balancing the Federal Budget by Reviving Self- and-Limited Government directed by Congressman Paul Ryan (WI-1), who is Chairman of the House Budget Committee and the architect of a new proposal for federal financial reform aimed at addressing America’s financial crisis.  This discussion was followed by a roundtable on national security with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Congressman David Drier (CA-26) Chairman of the Rules Committee, Congressman Darrell Isa (CA-49), Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Congressman Fred Upton (MI-6), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.


The Civic League arranged for Florin Krasniqi to do a live interview with Voice of America.  This was followed by a private lunch with Speaker of the House John Boehner and meetings with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46), Chairman of the Subcommittee for Investigation and Oversight in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Committee Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen and her staff, and members of the European Subcommittee.  The focus of the meetings was on the talks between Prishtina and Belgrade and Belgrade’s goal of partitioning northern Kosova, three years after Kosova has declared its independence. 


Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi stressed the importance of  “not fulfilling Serbia’s expansionist appetite and instead insisting on mutual coexistence and human rights throughout the region.”  Florin Krasniqi emphasized the fact that Kosova has been a “US project,” and that the project  “can only succeed if the United States remains engaged.”  Joe DioGuardi reminded Members of Congress that whenever the United States takes a back seat to Europe in the Balkans, as it is doing now because of the demand of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the crises in North Africa, we eventually pay the price. Therefore, all members of the delegation called for continued engagement of the United Statesin the Balkans. 


In this connection, the delegation raised the need for ongoing military presence in Southeast Europe by keeping open Camp Bondsteel in Kosova, which some U.S.government officials have recommended for closing to help balance the U.S. federal budget.  At a private dinner the night before the NRCC conference, the DioGuardis and MP Krasniqi met with the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee in the House, Buck McKeon (CA-25), and his chief of staff to make the case for peace and stability in Kosova by continuing the American presence at Camp Bondsteel.


The dinner, which was held at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, featured Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey as the keynote speaker Chris Christie, followed by remarks from House Speaker Boehner, Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen, and former Vice President Dick Cheney.




 Former Congressman Joe DioGuardi addresses the session on the federal budget led by Congressman Paul Ryan.


 The AACL delegation with CongressionalHouse Chairmen

(from left to right:  Rifat Memeti, Agim Alickaj, Zef Balaj, Congressman Darrell Issa, Sokol Necaj, AACL Balkan Affairs Adviser Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi, AACL President Joe DioGuardi,Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Kosova MP Florin Krasniqi, Congressman David Dreier, and Gazmend Lita.  Steve Gjonbalaj not shown)




Outside the Capitol Hill Club (from leftto right:  Zef Balaj, MP Florin Krasniqi, Joe DioGuardi, Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi, and Sokol Necaj)




The AACL delegation with Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, atthe US Capitol (from left to right:  Steve Gjonbalaj, Sokol Necaj, Rifat Memeti, Agim Alickaj, Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi, Zef Balaj, Joe DioGuardi,Congresswoman Buerkle, MP Florin Krasniqi, and Gazmend Lita)





The AACL delegation with Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA), member of the House Subcommittee on European Affairs, in the Rayburn Room at the US Capitol



 The AACL delegation in front of the US Capitol




The AACL delegation meets with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher in his office in the Rayburn House Office Building.



 MP Florin Krasniqi and Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi make the case for Kosova to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.



 The AACL delegation discusses the issuesfacing Albanians in the Balkans with the foreign policy staff of Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs meeting room.


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