Sunday, November 9, 2014


  2nd International Conference on “The Albanians in Montenegro”

Minority vs. Majority Politics
in an Era of Democratic Transition

ROCHESTER, MICHIGAN, NOVEMBER 1, 2014 – The 2ND International Conference on “The Albanians in Montenegro” concluded today on the campus of Oakland University with a historic presentation of scholarly research.  Hosted by the Department of Political Science and International Studies Program, along with several Albanian-American associations, the event attracted students, scholars, community leaders, business professionals and political elites from across the United States and Europe.
This year’s conference brought together researchers in the fields of academia, government and international law who joined forces to address the recurring issues plaguing Albanians in Montenegro.  From our outstanding keynote speakers, to the large number of abstracts received, the 2014 Conference was a resounding success.  Building on the first conference in NY, this event continues to provide scholars with the opportunity to present issues plaguing Montenegro’s failed policies towards inclusion of the Albanian minority.
The conference featured research on how Albanian communities in Montenegro continue to be victimized by state policies aimed at forced assimilation and emigration, limited access to education and employment, economic underdevelopment, absence of decentralized government and various other systemic programmes designed to stymie the Albanian language, culture and heritage.  The presenters successfully demonstrated that many of the commitments aimed at protecting minorities have come up short and not translated into law and policy.  As a result, data confirmed that Albanians fear that their place in a “union” with Europe will not improve their future status, and a programme of “smoking mirrors” – to conceal the reality of botched liberties and equal rights – will continue until the Albanian population is a non-factor.
The conference featured two major works by professors Viktor N. Ivezaj and Shinasi A. Rama, as well as a significant number of presentations from speakers discussing a number of issues and problems associated with the identity of Albanians, minority policies, and foreign influences and native states.
After the welcoming speeches by Professor Paul Kubicek and Professor Ivezaj, NYU professor Shinasi Rama analyzed the evolution of the identity of Montenegrins, and by bringing forth historical evidence, argued that Montenegrins are a complex ethnic group that had two common elements, the fight against the Ottomans and the Orthodox religion. Rama argued that they were not an ethnic group, but instead were connected with the idea of the state, and in the process of expansion of this state, and long after independence, they never stopped their attempt to clear the various minorities.  Today, the Montenegrin state is trying to build a Montenegrin nationality and ethnicity and making a great effort to assimilate others into the Montenegrin nationality. In the case of Albanians, who do not share with them religion, traditions, connection with the state, nor the language, Montenegrins have pursued a policy to divide and conquer, assimilation and the exclusion through immigration, etc.  This has serious consequences for Albanians as a minority living in their own land. 
Professor Viktor Ivezaj (WSU) introduced a dual-theory and argued that ethnic discrimination in Montenegro exists as a product of “ethnic polarization,” manufactured by the state, and not so much a result of ancient hatreds.  He contends that if ethnic polarization is not reversed the Albanian minority in Montenegro will continue to foster negative private preferences against the state that, when expressed publicly, will catch Montenegro by surprise and have negative connotations for social, political and economic development.
Dr. Nail Draga (Ulqin) offered a distinct analysis of Montenegro’s census taken between 1948 and 2011.  He presented evidence that Montenegro’s official population numbers do not support the actual structure of the population, pointing towards flaws in the collection, analysis and reporting data.  Draga’s research suggested that the methodology used by the census office in Montenegro is aimed at diminishing the Albanian population to the point where they are a non-factor.
Agata Biernat (Nicolaus Copernicus University, Turin Poland) focused her research on the Malësia region and the politics of local-self-governance, where she examined the contemporary methods of political participation used by Albanians to influence the political system of Montenegro to achieve their goal and restoring the Tuzi municipality.
Sabina Osmanovic (University of Shkodra) presented a survey study she carried out in the Albanian-inhabited regions of Montenegro.  Her study assessed how Albanians responded to a series of survey questions related to (a) the promises Montenegro made just preceding the referendum of 2006 and (b) their responses to how well Montenegro fulfilled those promises eight years later in 2014. She concluded that Albanians remain disenfranchised in all spheres of social, political and economic society while feeling that Montenegro has reneged on its promises of a better future.
Angjell Gojcaj (University of Shkodra) presented a contemporary analysis of the sociopolitical discriminatory policies perpetuated by the Montenegrin government.  His study focused on three stages of rights – the right to national symbols, right to political representation in local level governance, and the right on employment.  Relying on international legal statutes, monographs and reports, he justified the absence of equality of treatment for individuals and groups belonging to ethnic Albanians.
Grid Rroji (CUNY) explored the effects of Albania’s lackluster support for the rights of ethnic Albanians in Montenegro for regional security and stability, and concluded that the deterioration of human rights situation in Montenegro, coupled with Albania’s lack of support for ethnic Albanian minorities in neighboring states represents a constant threat to the peaceful future of Montenegro as well as regional security.
Paul Kubicek (OU) assessed the role of the EU in the minority rights arena, with a particular focus on the status of ethnic Albanians in Montenegro. He provided a list of priorities and suggestions, its engagement with both the government and civil society, and compliance from Montenegro authorities.  He concluded that although Montenegro seems to be adhering to minority rights on paper, there are underlying issues related to minority rights that Montenegro must address before it moves closer to EU integration.

Professor Rama analyzed the role of the Albanian Diaspora from Montenegro and showed how they influenced the US administration and other organizations.  Rama pointed to the growing role of the diaspora for conditioning the behavior of politicians and awareness of the Albanian-American community, as well as the construction of facilities that are working with the administration of the civil society to convey and clarify the situation of Albanians in Montenegro.
Several Albanian-American Associations attended this year’s event, including the Plavë-Guci Foundation, Albanian-American Association “Malësia e Madhe” and the Albanian-American Association “Ana e Malit”.  Supporters who were not able to attend but contributed to the event were the Humanitarian Fund Malësia, Ded Gjon Luli Foundation, the Dom Simon Filipaj Foundation and the Albanian-American Association “Kraja”.
The 2014 Conference may be in the books, but the editorial staff is working hard to publish a book that includes the research papers presented at this conference.  In addition, the organizing committee is already getting ready for the 3rd international conference in Montenegro in 2016.  This will mark Montenegro’s 10-year independence and the conference will continue its objective of highlighting the sociopolitical issues that affect Albanians one decade later.   In fact, we have already begun contacting our academic colleagues in Montenegro, United Kingdom, Albania Kosova and the United States to ensure a successful transition in 2016.
The organizing committee would like to thank all of those who made the 2014 conference a success, especially the scholars, Albanian-American Associations and the Albanian-American Student Organization.  We look forward to seeing you all in 2016!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Programme for the Conference

The Department of Political Science

and the International Studies Program at OAKLAND UNIVERSITY


The 2nd International Conference on


Majority vs. Minority Politics in an Era of Democratic Transition

Where:      Meadow Brook Hall
                   On the campus of Oakland University
                   Rochester, MI 48309 U.S.A

When:       November 1, 2014

Day:        Saturday

Time:      8:30 a.m. — 3:30 p.m.

 Seating:   Limited

Complimentary Breakfast


Welcoming Remarks:    Paul Kubicek
                                            Oakland University

Introductory Remarks:       Viktor N. Ivezaj,
                                            Wayne State University


§  Shinasi Rama, New York University
 History and Identity: Albanians and Montenegrins

§  Viktor N. Ivezaj, Wayne State University
Human Rights and Ethnic Polarization Among the Albanians in Montenegro

§  Nail Draga, Cultural Center of Ulqin
Shqiptarët Në Mal Të Zi Në Regjistrimet E Popullsisë (1948-2011)

Chair:                  Agata Biernat, Nicolaus Copernicus University (Toruń, Poland)
Discussant:         Angjell Gojcaj, University of Shkodra


§  Agata Biernat, Nicolaus Copernicus University (Toruń, Poland)
The Albanian political activities in Montenegro and the question of Tuzi

§  Sabina Osmanovic, University of Shkodra
Analysis of the expectations preceding the referendum of the Albanians in Montenegro compared to the present

§  Angjell Gojcaj, University of Shkodra
Discrimination of Albanians in Montenegro in Matter of Minorities Rights

Chair:                  Shinasi Rama, New York University
Discussant:         Viktor N. Ivezaj, Wayne State University

CONFERENCE BREAK – 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.


§  Grid Rroji, City University of New York (CUNY)
Albanian Kin State(s) Foreign Policy Towards Albanians in Montenegro: The Failure of the concept of integration as a definition of National Interest.

§  Paul Kubicek, Oakland University
The European Union and Minority Rights in Montenegro

§  Viktor Ivezaj and Shinasi Rama
The Albanian Diaspora and the Albanian Politics in Montenegro

Chair:                    Sabina Osmanovic, University of Shkodra
Discussant:            Angjell Gojcaj, University of Shkodra

CONCLUDING REMARKS:      Viktor N. Ivezaj, Wayne State University

Thursday, July 17, 2014

2nd International Conference on “The Albanians in Montenegro”


Rochester, Michigan USA
In the Detroit Metropolitan Area

November 1, 2014


Organizing Committee:
Viktor N. Ivezaj, Wayne State University
Paul Kubicek, Oakland University
Shinasi A. Rama, New York University

The independence referendum of May 21, 2006 paved the way for Montenegro’s second attempt at state sovereignty that it had lost in 1918, and at the same time signaled a close to the final chapter of Yugoslavia’s long and bitter collapse.   Montenegro’s road to her recent independence was certainly challenging, where internal forces proved to be as resistant to change as those outside its territorial boundaries.  Even though sovereignty has been accomplished, the road ahead is appearing to be more complex as this tiny nation sprints towards Euro-Atlantic integration, and at the same time attempts to forge a new identity, establish effective institutions, institute political legitimacy, and maintain social cohesion, which in the past two decades has been a convoluted task.  It could be argued that, from a regional point of view, the international community needs a “success story”, in other words, Montenegro serves as an example for a region that has been plagued by ethnic conflict and decades-long bloody wars.  And for the most part, Montenegro has emerged from the wrath of nationalism and was determined to carve out its own identity by first seeking independence from Serbia followed by accession to a more contemporary European family of states that share the common bond of democratic values, norms, and ideals, a far stretch from the communist ideologies that preserved Yugoslavia for more than six decades.  In spite of this, policymakers and political elites in Podgorica have failed to recognize the disparities in Montenegro’s socio-political and economic institutions.  Most troubling are its policies towards the Albanian population, where the Albanian minority has expressed grievances in all realms of social, economic and political life.
The politics of exclusion continue to frustrate the Albanian communities in Montenegro as their sociopolitical situation has not changed much since the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia.  In fact, many of the problems that faced Albanians in Kosova in lieu of the conflicts of 1990s are emerging in post-independence Montenegro.  Albanian communities continue to be victim of land confiscation, forced assimilation and emigration, limited access to education and employment, economic underdevelopment, absence of decentralized government and various other systemic programmes designed to stymie the Albanian language, culture and heritage.  As Montenegro weaves around the EU candidacy requirements, many of the commitments aimed at protecting minorities have come up short and not translated into law and policy.  As a result, Albanians fear that their place in a “union” with Europe will not improve their future status, and a programme of “smoking mirrors” – to conceal the reality of botched liberties and equal rights – will continue until the Albanian population is a non-factor.
This conference series was conceived to assess these problems and work towards developing possible solutions where a multi-ethnic state can work parallel to a common goal.  Following the first successful conference on The Albanians in Montenegro: History, Identity and the Minority Politics in a New State in 2012 on the campus of NYU, the Organizing Committee (OC) is pleased to announce A CALL for PAPERS and PROPOSALS for the Second Conference scheduled for November 1, 2014 at the historic Meadow Brook Mansion on the campus of Oakland University.  The conference is being co-sponsored by OU’s Department of Political Science and International Studies.

The OC seeks proposals, including thematic and topical panels, papers and roundtable discussions for the 2014 conference in Michigan.  The conference planners seek research and activities that reflect on the themes of ethnicity, nationalism, political participation and behavior, policy, advocacy, education, international law, culture, and research as they relate to the status of Albanians in Montenegrin society; particularly as they pertain to the aforementioned issues. Key questions of interest center on how Albanians in Montenegro have transformed the electoral strategies and policy decisions of political candidates both in regional and national politics; education and economic disparities and stagnation; Albanian, Montenegrin, and other Balkan politics related to minority rights, policy innovation, and conflict; ethnic politics and policy effects on ethnic communities; laws, law enforcement, and the courts; ethnic identities and psychology; the political communication of ethnicity in an age of Euro-Atlantic integration; public opinions on issues related to ethnicity and ethnic relations; the role of integration and assimilation in political discourse and behavior; and epistemological and theoretical foundations of Albanian political thought and behavior in Montenegro.

The ambition of this conference is to welcome theoretical and empirical contributions to generate the greatest possible number of concrete, innovative answers to the questions of the Albanians in Montenegro, their political, associative and socio-economic representation and whether the state is working to improve the quality of governance, and subsequently, the quality of their lives.

We encourage participants to follow the principal themes covered below:

1.    “Better governance” or “good enough governance”
2.    Ethnicity and Nationalism
3.    The Prospects of “Greater” or “Natural” Albania
4.    Politics of Identity
5.    Albanian culture and encounters with the State
6.    The politics of numbers: the 2012 census in Montenegro
7.    Religious (In)Tolerance
8.    Territoriality and Language Rights
9.    Anti-Government Protests in Montenegro
10. Personal identities and state policies
11. Montenegro’s Constitution
12. Montenegro nationality policy
13. Politics of Self-Determination
14. Nationalism, Institutions and Participation
15. Culture and National Identity
16. Democratization and EU Integration of Montenegro
17. Problems With Assimilation and Coexistence in Montenegro
18. Imagined Democracy? Elections and Nation-Building
19. Language, Culture, Education and Identity
20. The Patterns of Post-Yugoslavia (Intellectual) Migration
21. Political integration
22. Diaspora Politics
23. Prospects for change in Montenegro
24. Unity and Diversity among the Albanian communities in Montenegro

The objective is to publish a book that includes the research papers presented at this conference.  Rules and deadlines for final paper submissions to the editorial board will be discussed at a special meeting scheduled for Sunday November 2nd.

Paper-givers will have approx. 12 minutes for their presentation, as will the discussant(s). Chairpersons should leave approx. 30 minutes for discussion from the floor.

Abstract Submissions

Abstracts will only be accepted online via email to:      

Other queries concerning the programme should be addressed to:  

Important Dates
July 31st                     Deadline for abstract submissions
August 31st                Final Program released
September 30th        deadline for paper submissions
November 1st            Conference (8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.)
November 2nd           Round-Table Discussion

The OU Department of Political Science will provide a list of local accommodations once the Final Program has been released.