Councilman Mark Gjonaj and 10 Albanian-American organizations, gravely concerned over President Trump’s NATO comments

Albanians know better than anyone else the importance of America remaining true to itself, its democratic principles and its role as leader of the free world

July 25, 2018
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,
We, the below co-signers, are gravely concerned by the potential deteriorating relationship between the United States and its allies in general and with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in particular, and how both could potentially be further damaged by your comments regarding America’s role as the leader of the free world.
During a recent interview with Tucker Carlson on the Fox News Channel, you addressed a question regarding Article 5 of the NATO treaty. When asked why America should send troops to protect a “tiny” country like Montenegro or Albania, you replied that they are “very strong people…they’re very aggressive people…they may get aggressive and congratulations you’re in World War III.”
This answer is telling for its fundamental misunderstanding of the region’s history and of America’s invaluable role in keeping the peace.
It wasn’t all that long ago – after World War I – that President Woodrow Wilson stood up to other nations that sought to divide Albania among its neighbors as a “reward” for defeating the Germans and Austrians. European leaders wanted to dissolve Albania as spoils of war by giving portions of the country to Serbia, Greece, Italy and Montenegro.
A few generations later, America stood up again – as many around the world stayed silent – to stop the ethnic cleansing that threatened to eliminate an entire group of people by the thenYugoslavian government, which was led by Serbian aggression. It is precisely because of American intervention that Kosovar Albanians were able to win their independence and today are one of our most reliable allies in the region.
When speaking with any Albanian, in America or abroad, you will discover a deep sense of love and respect for the United States and what its leadership has meant to keeping and restoring peace.
So, perhaps as much as anyone else, we know the importance of America remaining true to itself, its democratic principles and its role as leader of the free world.
Your recent comments gravely misrepresent the purpose and role of Article 5 in the NATO treaty. The collective defense agreement has not brought the world to the brink of another world war. Quite to the contrary, it has served as a deterrent to would-be aggressors whose action could plunge the world into a multinational regional conflict, such as the well-known and reported Russian meddling and influence in the region.
Furthermore, the assumption that Article 5 serves to directly benefit smaller member-states is also incorrect. The only time that Article 5 has been evoked was following the terrorist attacks of September 11th when NATO members small and large stood with America in the war on terror. Between 2003 and 2013, nearly 3,000 Albanian troops fought alongside their American allies during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. This represents a larger troop presence than many of America’s traditional western allies, including, Australia (1,550 troops), Canada (2,100) and Germany (2,560).
It will take the collective courage and commitment of freedom-loving people to rid the world of the menace of global terror. American leadership and moral clarity are essential elements in our success to maintain world peace.
Unfortunately, your recent comments regarding NATO and “very aggressive people” call that moral leadership into question at a time when the world needs it most.

Respectfully,

New York City Councilman Mark Gjonaj
Albanian American Association Ana e Malit
Albanian American Council
Bashkimi Kombetar
Bijte e Shqipes
Dom Simon Filipaj Foundation
Foundation Plave Guci
Rugova Association
Shoqata Atdhetare Kraja
Shoqata Kosova Lindore
Sons of Illyria

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