By Harry Bajraktari
Today, congressman Eliot Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, hosted his last hearing on the Balkans.
It was his parting gift for the region he worked so much for more than 30 years.
Chairman Engel is considered today a hero in Kosova and by Albanians everywhere.
We are indebted to him for his great contribution to the liberation and the independence of Kosova, to the democratization of Albania and its membership in NATO, to the human and political rights of the Albanian communities in Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, and Presheva Valley.
Today there is a boulevard in Peja and a highway connecting Albania and Kosova that bear his name. Kosova has issued an official postal stamp with his image.
Chairman Engel is first of all, a great American and a true patriot, who served his country with honor and integrity.
I am humbled that he mentioned me in his last speech on this issue and remembered our first meeting more than 30 years ago in his office, when I met him and spoke to him for the first time about Kosova and the Albanian cause.
From that time on, he has been our greatest friend and supporter in Washington DC for 30 years.
We have traveled together many times to Albania, Kosova, Macedonia, Montenegro and everywhere where Albanians live in the Balkans.
To me Chairman Engel is more than a friend, he is my older brother. I am proud that I have supported him, worked with him and believed in him for three decades.
Chairman Engel is ending his service in the US Congress, but he will continue to work and influence decision-making and policies in Washington and abroad. He will continue to contribute to the peace and progress in the Balkans and to the Albanian cause for a future of freedom, democracy, and prosperity.
I look forward to traveling again to the region very soon, and to many more meetings and conversations with him and his wonderful wife, Pat. They have been both great and gracious friends to me and my family.
Thank you, Chairman Engel. God bless you and God bless America!
Harry Bajraktari is founder and publisher of Illyria newspaper (1991-1998), an Albanian-American community leader, philanthropist and recipient of many awards, including the Honor of the Nation Order by the President of Albania, Kosova’s Presidential Medal for Merits & the White House Presidential Call to Service Award.