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Here's what Sheriff Delvina had to say about Himara's story
Written by Kastriot Kotoni 1 Qershor 2023
The prominent historian Sherif Delvina with the statement "HIMARA - THE TREES EMPIRE". In 2001, the "VLORA IN THE FLOWS OF TIME scientific conference" was held at the initiative of the Technological University "Ismail Qemal Vlora" and the Cultural Association "Ismail Qemal Vlora" and the Municipality of Vlora. All this activity was described by the publication of a book by Professor. Nor. Badhosh Gaçe.
An interesting document with historical value is that of the researcher and historian Sherif Delvina with the title "HIMARA - EPIRI OF THE ARABS". Here's what Sherif Delvina writes about Himara: In ancient times, Himara was located in Kaonia of Epirus and was inhabited by the Keraun tribe. In the north, Epirus was bordered by the Keraune mountains (Vetetima mountains), and in the south by Greece, at the end of the Gulf of Ambrakia. From Skylax we learn that Epirus, namely Kaonia, begins with the Keraunians (Skylax 26, 28,). The Keraun tribe got this name from the Keraune mountains (of the Karaburun-Sëndelli-Ç?ke range) The narrow belt of the hinterland, from Palasa to Hundësovo, with two centers equipped with castles, which are still preserved today, Himara castle it is mentioned as a castle by the Latin author Gaius Pliny the Second (1st century AD) in his work "History of Nature". From the study of many skeletons of the ancient and medieval Treve Kaon by the anthropologist A. Dhima, it is emphasized that: in the head are the Adriatic and Mediterranean elements, known as defining elements in the synthesis of the Illyrian ethnos, then the arboreal one". In 395, Himara was then incorporated into Old Epirus. It is mentioned in the sixth century by Procopius of Caesarea, historian, contemporary of Justinian (527-568) AD, emperor of Byzantium. Until the century VIII Old Epirus, which included Himara, was an integral part of the Roman patriarchate, Alain Ducelleir informs us. In the year 1199, the emperor of Byzantium, Alex III Comenius, recognized the privileges of the Venetians in the province of Himara. In 1275 Charles of Anjou mentions him in the kingdom of Arberia. In the XIV century, prince Balsha II, the lord of Himara, was killed in 1385 in the battle of Savra by the Turks. The possessions inherited by his wife, Komita Muzaka, included Himara. Himara was also included in the Ottoman register of the sanjak of Albania, from 1431. It is a "naije" (province) consisting of 9 villages: Balasa, Vune, Belovodë, Stefanaj, Kavalarilediç, Rufani, Selce, Shalsi and Kirderjani with 229 houses, 23 widows and 22 bachelors. The tithes that these villages paid to the Ottoman ruler were 548 gold ducats. They were taken for a year from the province of Himara. Gjergj Aranit Komeni, Skanderbeg's father-in-law, defeated the Ottoman armies in the gorges of Kurveles. The Himarjotes were also part of his army. Their captain Andon Linjerosa was killed in the battle of June 29, 1444. This province continued the war even after the fall of Kruja to the Ottomans, emphasizes Sherif Delvina. Documents of 1479, in some mountainous areas, several resistant centers were created; Himara was one of them. Many residents moved at the end of the century. XV to escape Ottoman revenge and settled in the Kurvelesi highlands, while the others across the Ionian Sea, in Southern Italy where even today they fanatically preserve the Albanian language. There the priest Lekë Matrënga translated from Italian and published a catechism in Albanian in Rome. According to Papadakis "Diplomatic History of the Vorio-Epirus Affair, Athens, 1958, the Himarjotes concluded a treaty with the High Porte by acquiring the venoms in 1518, were to govern themselves, bear arms, and pay tribute to the sultan. Joanis lenclavi in ??"Pandectae" published in 1587, when he tells us about the wars of the Himarjotes against the Turks in 1572, informs us in CHR, year 1572, p.364, that the population of Himara and their province are part of Arberia. The purely Albanian ethnic character of this province is not questioned by many other authors. In the letter that the Himarjotes send to the Pope on July 12, 577, they write: ..from Himara, that is, from Epirus i Arbërve". Among other things, they are proud of their king Skenderbeu, and end the letter by asking for help: "For this purpose, Gjikë Nikolla and Gjergj Katasi, our subjects, come to your Holiness as our representatives and ask for help to raise the bishopric, and weapons to "resisted the Turks". At the beginning of the 17th century, Brazilian missionaries came to Himara. Most of them were Arber women. In 1630, the Catholic missionary Neofit Rodino, a tireless teacher, came to Himare. One of his students, who later became a priest, was Papa Dhimitri from Dhërmiu, from the Gjoleka family. The neophyte translated the catechism into Albanian. Monk Zef Skiroi taught the catechism in public squares in Greek (the language of the rite) and in Albanian. He, together with another Himarjot, the Catholic missionary Matrengë, did a lot for the spread of Albanian education. The schools of Himara were cursed by the despots of Ioannina and Delvina", says our outstanding writer Petro Marko. Among other things, Sherif Delvina also cites Liku who visited Hima at the beginning of the XIX century, who points out that the women of Hima speak Albanian, while the men, in addition to Albanian, also know Italian or Greek. Millinger, Byron's doctor, expressly writes that two hundred Himarian volunteers, who were going to help the Greek revolution, all dressed in frocks, did not know a word of Greek. In 1829 Greece gained independence. The first president of the Greek state (1827-1831) was elected Count Jan Kapodistria, former Foreign Minister of Russia. The basis of his state policy became the line of state arrogance and oppression of minorities. In the background of Greek and Albanian ideology, they were included as the first victim that had to be sacrificed. In order to firmly establish the foundations of Megaliides, it was planned to take Epirus, this ethnic land, from the Russophile Jan Kapodistria. Spiro Miloja also tried with flesh and soul to implement the Megaliide. In 1829 he asked to raise the Greek flag in Himara, then in Vlora and in the whole of South Albania. Himara, according to him, should be taken from Turkey and annexed to Greece. He never returned to Himare. According to Arvantino, all 7 villages of Himara (Upper Bank) in 1856 had 3300 inhabitants. (P.Arvantinoi, "Chronology of Epirus", Athens, 1856, volII. P.178). In 1870 we find kaymekam of Turkey in Himare Muslim Gjoleka, the son of Zenel Gjoleka. In the middle of February 1878, the Greek chauvinists started the occupation of Lëkurës with Andarta. Thanks to the successful maneuvers commanded by Myslym Gjolka, together with the forces that came to their aid, the Greeks were defeated. According to Megaliides, who was the backbone of Greek foreign policy, the diagnosis was universally announced: "Epirus suffers from Ottoman rule. Therapy is his rapid Hellenization". With the trinomial "Patriarchs-Greek government-Greek school of Hiamara", they tried in vain to Hellenize Himara, because the Greeks failed to change its completely Albanian substance. After the Young Turk revolution, through Dr. Epaminonda Koleka, the teaching of the Albanian language began in Himare. The Eldership of Himara received a letter in which the Greek chauvinists condemned the activity of Konom Zoto, because it had allowed the spread of the Albanian language and the singing of the Albanian Gospel. The activity of Naqe Konomi, Gaqo Kapore was also condemned, because they taught the Albanian language contrary to the language of God. The historian Sherif Delvina further adds that after the First World War, Greece tried to incite riots in Himara. While today, the Vorio-Epiriote kennel continues its propaganda against Albania. How long will this continue? The villagers of Himara consist of the seeds of the 7 villages of Himara. Only Piluri has all local seeds. It has 12 seeds: Dhramaj, Koçaj, Kokaj, Dodëlagji, Lagjin, Todraj, Gjiklimaj, Gjinmashaj, Qesaraj, Krekaj, Majal, Çakalay. While the following seeds have come to Himare: Meko from Nivica and Kurveles; Karo, Zhupa, Dhima, Mihaj, Gegëfikaj from Porgonati; Lekaj, Gjikaj, Beleri, from Kuçi; Bollano, from the Regina of Kurveles; Bodinoj from Piqeras; Zotaj, Totaj, Mitraj from Vithkuqi; Konomaj from Sopik; Zizaj from Pogon and so on for each village. In this province, each tribe was headed by a chief. The elders of each clan constituted the old age. They chose the first of the village. The institution of faith had almost the same content as it has in the North of Albania for friends, hospitality, honor, etc. Pukëvilli took the division into seeds as an old all-Albanian custom. Weddings, songs, everything like that in Himara is very close to that of Labëria: this includes the center of Himara. In all their folklore you do not find a creation compatible with Greek folklore. In Himara clothing derivatives of Labëria clothing are used. Greek chauvinists wanted to build their nest in Himara and confuse religion with nationality, but all the Himarjotes are autochthonous Albanians and they show this in all aspects of life (even in the lamentations that are the same as in other areas of Labëria). A year ago the historian Sherif Delvina passed away, he has always had a compass for the national issue and expressed this everywhere in the media and in his books dedicated to the nation.