Monday, July 5, 2010

Zehrudin Dokle: Gora is most preserved Bulgarian brand in Albania
FOCUS News Agency

Zehrudin Dokle, chairman of Culture and Education Society ‘Ivan Vazov’ in Tirana, in an interview to FOCUS News Agency

FOCUS: Mr. Dokle, would you present the Culture and Education Society ‘Ivan Vazov’ in Tirana – what are its tasks and goals?
Zehrudin Dokle: We are working intensively with the preparation of candidate students, who come to study in Bulgaria. Around 200 students have already graduated different universities in Bulgaria. This is our most important activity, on which we work together with the Prosperitet association – Golloborda.
Every year we send around 25 - 30 students to Bulgaria. Most of them prefer to study law, medicine and journalism, as well as the Technical University. They go to study in the cities of Sofia, Svishtov, Ruse, Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo, Blagoevgrad.
In July, there will be an admission exam in Bulgarian language, history and literature at the embassy. Students are preparing for this exam during the entire year. They go to universities with scholarship.

FOCUS: For the first time Bulgaria has a minister in charge of the Bulgarian residents abroad. What are your recommendations to the Bulgarian institutions for their works with the Bulgarians living abroad?
Zehrudin Dokle: Over the years we had many meetings with high-ranking officials. We met with former president Petar Storyanov, former prime minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and others. Sometimes, there used to be some stirring-up.
I hope that now when there is a minister in charge of this issue, there will be much more results. This is very important when it comes to Bulgarian citizenship – the situation has been improved. The applications are examined following their order and no applications are being skipped. This means that corruption has been overcome.
This is a very important thing as up to now we used to hear only some promises, which never came true.

FOCUS: Are Bulgarians in Albania interested in obtaining Bulgarian citizenship.
Zehrudin Dokle: There is interest, indeed. However there are many administrative obstacles and red tape. For example, a person should come at least four times to Bulgaria to obtain the citizenship. Up to now, people used to wait for three to four years for it. This might be the rules but they are too complex.
Isn’t it possible to do this through the embassy?

FOCUS: Is it easier to obtain Macedonian passport than a Bulgarian?
Zehrudin Dokle: It is much easier. There aren’t too many requirements to obtain a Macedonian passport. Macedonia and Bulgaria are on different levels.

FOCUS: Have you heard about problems of people with Muslim names to obtain Bulgarian citizenship?
Zehrudin Dokle: Yes, I have. For regions such as Gora, which are popular as Bulgarian regions, such problems have been overcome. In Gora everyone has Muslim name but this area is the most preserved Bulgarian brand, in all aspects – language, traditions, everything.
Problems occur when people are scattered at different places. Then, there are investigations, as if they are criminals.

FOCUS: You say that Gora is the most preserved Bulgarian brand in Bulgaria. Where else there are Bulgarians in Albania?
Zehrudin Dokle: There are Bulgarians in Mala Prespa and Golloborda.

FOCUS: Is there any propaganda on behalf of Skopje that these people are Macedonians?
Zehrudin Dokle: Of course…

FOCUS: What problems do Bulgarians in Albania encounter most often?
Zehrudin Dokle: I don’t think that Bulgarians in Albania face too many problems. Even during the communist era in Gora, the Gorans were absolutely free…

FOCUS: How many Bulgarians are there in Albania?
Zehrudin Dokle: In Gora itself, there are 30 villages – 18 of them are in Kosovo, 9 in Albania and 3 in Macedonia. Only in the Albanian part of Gora, there are around 10,000 people. Nowadays, their grandchildren, grand-grandchildren are scattered throughout Albania.
Anyway, when some say that Bulgarians in Albania are around 100,000, I think that are exaggerating.

FOCUS: Are there Bulgarian schools?
Zehrudin Dokle: There aren’t official Bulgarian schools but there are courses.

FOCUS: Apart from education, how can the Bulgarian state help Bulgarians in Albania?
Zehrudin Dokle: There is always something that Bulgaria can do about the Bulgarians in Albania and for Albania itself. Bulgaria is member of the EU, while Albania is getting ready to join the European family and in this sense there is always something that Bulgaria can do to be useful.
All Albanian governments have been in good relations with Bulgaria, at a really high level.

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