AACL – Twenty-year History
THE ALBANIAN AMERICAN CIVIC LEAGUE
…CHANGING HISTORY FOR TWENTY YEARS…
The First Albanian American Is Elected to the U.S. Congress
November 1984: Joe DioGuardi, a Certified Public Accountant and a Republican, is elected to the U.S. House of Representatives by a very slim margin in a Congressional District that had been controlled by the Democratic Party for more than fifty years He was born in the Bronx, New York, of an Albanian father and an Italian mother, and he had no prior political experience.
The DioGuardis Discover Their Real Albanian Roots
September 1985: At Joe DioGuardi’s 45th birthday celebration, his Albanian roots are discovered when Kosovar Albanians who had supported his election to Congress, overheard his father, Joe, Sr., then aged seventy-two, speaking in Albanian to his younger sister. Thereafter, the Albanian community lobbied Joe about Kosova, reminding him of his connection by bloodline to the Kosovar Albanians.
The First Resolution for Albanian Rights Is Introduced in the U.S. Congress
June 1986: After much lobbying by Albanian Americans from around the United States, who adopted Joe DioGuardi as their Albanian American Congressman, and after much research by Joe’s staff, the first resolution (H.Con.Res. 358) to protect Albanian human rights in the former Yugoslavia is introduced by Joe in the U.S. House of Representatives. The next day, Joe’s friend, Senator Bob Dole, introduces the same resolution in the U.S. Senate (S.Con.Res. 150). Caught by surprise, Serbian officials enlist their Russian and Greek sponsors to use their lobbies in Washington to attack DioGuardi as a provocateur and to get their friends in the State Department to kill the resolution. The battle lines for Albanian human rights and freedom are drawn openly in Washington for the first time, and DioGuardi, surprised and stung by the vehement opposition to his seemingly innocuous Resolution for basic human rights, meets the challenge by personally lobbying over one hundred Congressman in the following twelve months to gain their support.
DioGuardi Is Reelected to Congress
November 1986: With elections every two years in the House of Representatives, DioGuardi, known by some as the accidental congressman, works hard to win a second term against the well-known political figure, Bella Abzug, who brought national attention to the race.
DioGuardi and Dole Introduce an Expanded Version of a
Resolution for Albanians in Kosova
June 1987: DioGuardi, after resuming his intense, personal lobbying efforts in the House, reintroduces an expanded version of the 1986 Resolution for justice for Albanians in Kosova (H.Con.Res. 162)—this time with fifty-seven Congressmen. Senator Dole accommodates Joe by reintroducing the same Resolution in the Senate (S.Con.Res. 150).
Milosevic Comes to Power
July 1987: Slobodan Milosevic, a Serbian banker, deceives his personal and political mentor in Yugoslavia and seizes control of the Communist Party and the Presidency of Yugoslavia. An ardent nationalist, who unlike his predecessor, Marshal Tito, openly disdains the Albanian people of Yugoslavia , he calls for their suppression and total control as “enemies of the state.” He also tries to promote his agenda in Washington and against DioGuardi by enlisting the support of his former American colleagues, Henry Kissinger (former Secretary of State), Larry Eagleburger (former Ambassador to Yugoslavia), Messrs. Brent Scowcroft and Scanlon (former State Department officials in Yugoslavia), Maryland Congresswoman Helen Bentley, a Serbian American and ardent Serbian nationalist supported by the Greek lobby, including Senator Paul Sarbanes, also from Bentley’s home State, and Congressman Jim Moody, who openly dealt with and supported Serbs in Congress.
The U.S. State Department Exposes Its Pro-Yugoslavia, Anti-Albanian Policy
October 1987: The State Department, under much pressure from the Greek lobby and the former colleagues and friends of Milosevic, who worked hard behind the scenes to promote Serbian dominance in Yugoslavia and to disparage DioGuardi and the Albanian case for human rights, sends a letter to Congressman Dante Fascell, then chairman of the House International Relations Committee.The letter denounces the DioGuardi Resolution as an affront to U.S. friend and ally Yugoslavia, and blames the Albanians of Kosova for crimes against the Serbian people there.
First Congressional Hearing on Kosova Authorized
November 1987: Using his friendship and powers of persuasion with the Democratic Chairman Dante Fascell (D-FL), and the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Gus Yatron (D-PA), DioGuardi prevails against the State Department in getting a Congressional Hearing on his Resolution, which for the first time openly exposes the barbaric and egregious abuse of human rights by Serbs against the defenseless Albanians of Kosova.
First Major Albanian Rally in Front of the United Nations
June 1988: DioGuardi leads a massive demonstration by Albanians from around America in New York City in front of the United Nations and in Washington in front of the White House and the Capitol, to make the U.S. press and public more aware of the desperate plight of Albanians in Yugoslavia, especially in Kosova.
DioGuardi and Congressman Lantos Confront the U.S. State Department
September 1988: DioGuardi works with his friend and colleague Congressman Tom Lantos, a prominent Jewish American Congressman from California and Chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, to arrange a high level meeting with State Department officials and the Ambassador from Yugoslavia to confront our flawed and failing U.S. foreign policy in the Balkans.The meeting, spearheaded by Lantos, an ardent supporter of Albanian human rights, is a great success and Milosevic recalls his ambassador to the United States in a show of contempt.
DioGuardi Narrowly Loses His Third Election
November 1988: In a bitterly fought election campaign against former NY Secretary of State and multimillionaire liberal Democrat Nita Lowey, DioGuardi loses his seat in Congress the way he won it—by a very slim margin.The loss is a great surprise to all, but was due to many factors, including Vice President Bush’s poor Presidential election results in New York (Governor Mike Dukakis won New York State in 1988), the work of the Greek lobby on behalf of Lowey, and illegally unreported money used at the last minute to smear DioGuardi, for which Lowey was fined $3,500 by the FEC two years later.
The Albanian American Civic League Is Formed
January 1989: Undaunted by his loss, DioGuardi announces that he will run again for Congress after redistricting in 1991, and proceeds to form the Albanian American Civic League to continue to lobby the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration on behalf of the Albanians in Yugoslavia, especially in Kosova.
Feb.-Oct. 1989: With more time to devote to Albanian issues, DioGuardi and three of his former key staff, now paid by the AACL, intensify Congressional pressure against the pro-Serb State Department policy and by engaging in mass demonstrations, sending out press releases, and causing Congressional statements to be issued by our friends in Congress.
The First Major Rally in Washington Is Held
June 1989: The first Washington rally is held to free Kosova from Serbian occupation and to free Albanian dissident Adem Demaci from prison. Congress Passes First Albanian Rights Resolution
July 1989: The June rally sparks the passage of Civic League-sponsored House (H.Con.Res. 314) and Senate (S.Con.Res 124) resolutions condemning Serbia for human rights abuses in Kosova.This leads to the immediate removal of the Serbian ambassador to the United States by Slobodan Milosevic.
DioGuardi Takes First Trip to Belgrade and Prishtina to Confront Milosevic
November 1989: DioGuardi goes to Belgrade’s International Press Center and Milosevic’s office with a letter signed by Senator Bob Dole and twelve other U.S. Senators to free Kosova.He then makes his first trip to Kosova to witness firsthand the brutal Serbian occupation and is evicted from the Grand Hotel in Prishtina for conducting a press conference there.
DioGuardi and Rugova Support Democracy in Slovenia
January 1990: DioGuardi joins Rugova in Ljubljana to meet with the Albanian community to promote freedom for Kosova and to support the first democratic elections in Slovenia.
DioGuardi Brings the Congressional Human Rights Caucus to Belgrade and Prishtina
February 1990: DioGuardi goes to Belgrade with the staff of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, chaired by Congressmen Lantos and Porter, to conduct a press conference in Belgrade about Serbian oppression of Kosova’s Albanians.He then makes an unannounced visit to Kosova to meet leading intellectuals, journalists, and activists, including Dr. Zekeria Cana, Zenun Celaj, Bajram Kelmendi, Ibrahim Rugova, Rexhep Qosja, and Vetton Surroi.
The Serbian Secret Police (UDBA) Under Milosevic’s Control Kill Enver Hadri
Kosovar activist Enver Hadri is assassinated in Brussels, and DioGuardi is invited to give a eulogy at his funeral before thousands of mourners.Afterwards, he travels to Geneva at the request of Hadri’s widow and son to deliver to the United Nations Human Rights Commission the list of 34 peaceful Albanian demonstrators killed by Serbian authorities that was found on Hadri’s body at the time of his death.
Kosova Comes to Washington for the First Time
April 1990: The Civic League sponsors a delegation of ten Albanian leaders from Kosova to testify against Milosevic’s occupation of Kosova at an historic Congressional Human Rights Caucus Hearing for Kosova in Washington and to be honored at an historic dinner at the Sheraton Hotel in New York City, attended by 2,700 Albanian Americans, to “Salute Freedom and and Democracy for Kosova.”
DioGuardi Brings Lantos to Kosova to Expose Milosevic’s Modern Day “Warsaw Ghetto”
May 1990: Congressman Tom Lantos and Joe DioGuardi lead a delegation to Kosova to challenge the brutal Serbian occupation of Kosova.They blast Milosevic as a modern day tyrant bent on policies that will destroy any democracy in Yugoslavia.
July 1990 DioGuardi is officially banned from returning to Yugoslavia by the Milosevic controlled parliament in Belgrade for his press conferences in Belgrade and Kosova as “hostile acts against the State.”
DioGuardi Leads a Delegation to Australia
DioGuardi leads a delegation to Melbourne and Canberra, Australia to enlist the help of the large Albanian community there and then Foreign Minister Gareth Evans in freeing Kosova from Serbian occupation.
DioGuardi and Lantos Form the Interparliamentary Group for Kosova in Luxembourg
January 1991DioGuardi brings Iljaz Ramali, speaker of the exiled Kosova Assembly, to Luxembourg to meet with Congressman Tom Lantos and Lord Nicholas Bethel of the British and European Parliaments to sign a joint declaration proclaiming an “Interparliamentary Group for Kosova’s Protection,” as a strategy to further expose Milosevic’soccupation of Kosova.
DioGuardi Calls Milosevic the “New Hitler” in the U.S. Senate
February 1991 DioGuardi testifies before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, cochaired by Senators Joe Biden and Claiborne Pell, and makes the first public case for the independence of Kosova under international law.In the process, he compares Milosevic to Hitler, Stalin, and Saddam Hussein and issues a press release calling Milosevic the “Saddam of Serbia.”
DioGuardi Goes to Albania with the National Republican Institute
March 1991 The Civic League goes to Albania with the National Republican Institute to monitor the first election in Albania and is the first organization to declare the Communist Party victory illegal and the elections a sham.
DioGuardi Declines Invitation from Croatia’s President Tudjman
May 1991 DioGuardi declines an invitation to visit Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, after he publicly states that he considers Kosova to be an internal problem of Serbia.
The Albanian Lobby Takes Its Case to the Helsinki Commission
June 1991 DioGuardi goes to Copenhagen, Denmark, to meet the Albanian community and attend a Helsinki Commission Conference.He addresses a massive Albanian rally just outside the conference hall and conducts a press conference about human rights abuses in Kosova, showing for the first time enlarged photographs of Albanians brutally tortured and killed by the Serbian police at the direction of Slobodan Milosevic.
Senator Dole Greets 10,000 Albanian Demonstrators in Washington and Goes to Kosova
July 1991 The Civic League sponsors a massive rally in Washington in front of the White House and the U.S. Capitol.More than 10,000 Albanian Americans march from the White House to Capitol Hill and demonstrate for freedom for Kosova. Senators Bob Dole, Claiborne Pell, Larry Pressler, and Al D’Amato and Congressmen Gilman, Lantos, Porter, and Broomfield address the crowd.
August 1991 At the request of the Civic League, Bob Dole and six other U.S. Senators visit Prishtina to see firsthand the brutality of Milosevic.
The Civic League Stops U.S. Aid to Serbia
October 1991 The Civic League lobbies for and passes economic sanctions banning aid to Serbia under the Nickles-D’Amato Amendment to the Foreign Aid Bill.
The Civic League Gets Lantos to Introduce a Resolution for the Independence of Kosova
January 1992 The Civic League introduces a well-documented Congressional Resolution (H.Con.Res. 264) cosponsored by Congressmen Lantos and Gilman calling for the recognition of the independence of Kosova.
Demaci Comes to Washington
March 1992The Civic League brings Adem Demaci, after 28 years in Serbian jails, to Washington to discuss the crisis in Kosova with Secretary of State Larry Eagleburger and to New York to meet with Mayor David Dinkins at Gracie Mansion, where he is honored as the Nelson Mandela of the Albanian people.”
The Civic League Monitors Elections in Albania and Macedonia
DioGuardi leads a Civic League delegation to Albania to monitor the second elections, bringing more than 50 Albanians from Macedonia in cars stocked with gas and food to help the democratic forces overcome the advantages of the Communists in the rural areas.
DioGuardi brings Paul Weyrich, president of the Free Congress Foundation, and John Fund of The Wall Street Journal to Macedonia to monitor the referendum on political and cultural autonomy for the one million Albanians in Macedonia.
The Civic League Brings Arbnori to the Prayer Breakfast
February 1993The Civic League brings Pjeter Arbnori, speaker of the Albanian Parliament to meet with Congressmen Gilman and Lantos and to attend the annual Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, as a special guest representing Albania.
DioGuardi Attends Historic Investiture of Albanian Archbishops in Shkodra
April 1993 Sali Berisha officially invites DioGuardi and a Civic League delegation to join him, Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and Cardinal John O’Conner in Shkodra at the historic investiture of four Albanian archbishops in the newly renovated cathedral.
DioGuardi Leads Congressional Delegation to Albania and Macedonia
September 1993 DioGuardi leads a Congressional delegation to Albania and Macedonia to make the case (in Congress) for U.S. sponsorship of NATO membership for Albania and to press the Macedonian government to conduct an internationally-sponsored census as the first step to securing human rights and equality for the country’s one million Albanians.
Shirley Cloyes Joins the Albanian Lobby
October 1993 Joe DioGuardi meets Shirley Cloyes, then publisher of Lawrence Hill Books, who is working on a book entitled Yugoslavia’s Ethnic Nightmare, the first to bring the perspective of the anti-Milosevic, anti-war opposition inside the former Yugoslavia to U.S. readers.
The Civic League Attends the First International Conference for Investment in Albania
November 1993 DioGuardi leads a Civic League delegation to the First International Conference for Investment in Albania.His speech emphasizes that the real potential of Albania is not only in its vast mineral resources, but in its diaspora of millions of successful Albanians around the world.
The Civic League Introduces Clinton to Rugova
February 1994 Joe DioGuardi and Civic League Balkan Affairs Adviser Shirley Cloyes bring Kosova President Ibrahim Rugova and Prime Minister-in-exile Bujar Bukoshi to Washington, DC, to meet President Bill Clinton at a private reception before the annual Prayer Breakfast, to hold a press conference on Capitol Hill about Kosova’s occupation by Milosevic, and to participate in a special tour and special tour and reception at the newly opened U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
DioGuardi Goes to Turkey to Win Support for Kosova
March 1994 DioGuardi addresses a Balkan peace conference in Istanbul, sponsored by the Balkan Solidarity Foundation, and publicly condemns Milosevic, Tudjman, Gligorov, the Greek government, Lords Owen and Carrington, and the U.S. State Department for their roles in suppressing the Albanian people of
The Civic League Helps Create the U.S.-Albanian Underwater Archaeological Project
The Civic League brings a delegation of archaeologists to Tirana to organize a U.S.-Albanian cooperative underwater exploration off the Albanian coast for the purpose of establishing the true identity of the Albanian people as direct descendants of the Illyrians—the only indigenous people of the Balkans.
The Civic League Conducts First Rally Calling for U.S. Troops
April 1994 The first rally calling for U.S. troops in Kosova is led by DioGuardi in front of the United Nations in New York City.
Congressman Gilman Introduces a Resolution Asking Clinton to Protect the Rights of the Kosovars
May 1994 Congressman Gilman introduces a resolution (H.Con.Res. 251) calling on President Clinton to report to the Congress within 60 days about the conditions in Kosova and to make recommendations for protecting the rights of Kosovars, including the possibility of establishing an international protectorate for Kosova together with other members of the UN Security Council and the European Union.
DioGuardi and Cloyes Create the First Hearing on the Albanian National Cause
February 1995 DioGuardi and Cloyes create the first Congressional hearing on the Albanian dimension of the Balkan conflict, including Arben Xhaferi, Fadil Sulejmani, Iliaz Halmi, and Ismet Ramadani from Macedonia, Bujar Bukoshi from Kosova, Gjerg Gjokaj from Montenegro, and Riza Halimi from Presheve.
The Jewish Lobby Becomes a Partner with the Civic League for Kosova
The Civic League makes the addition of Albania to the “Righteous among Nations” section of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum a reality.Three Jewish congressmen, Gilman, Lantos, and Nadler, cochair and speak at a League-sponsored ceremony and reception commemorating the installation. The connection is made for the first time between the ethnic cleansing in Kosova and the genocide of the Jewish people in the minds of Jewish American leaders.
DioGuardi and Cloyes Help Open the University of Tetova
February 1995 DioGuardi, Cloyes, and Yugoslav dissident Mihaljo Mihaljov travel to Macedonia at the invitation of Albanian leaders there to monitor the opening of the University of Tetova on February 15. On the morning of their departure, the Macedonian government attacks the university, killing a student, wounding hundreds, and jailing professors.
Gilman Introduces a Resolution Making the Lifting of Sanctions Against Serbia Conditional on Improvements in Kosova
March 1995Congressman Gilman introduces a resolution (H.Con.Res. 1360), conditioning the lifting of sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro on improvements in Kosova.The resolution details the horrors of the occupation and states that “the rights of the people of Kosova to govern themselves and to establish a separate identity for Kosova must not be denied.”
The Civic League Calls a UN Rally to Protest Crackdown on the University of Tetova by the Macedonian Military
Two thousand Albanian Americans flock to the UN for a Civic League- sponsored rally to protest the crackdown on the University of Tetova on February 21.Congressman Gilman addresses the crowd.
DioGuardi and Cloyes attend Masses at the Vatican and in Albania for “Our Lady of Shkodra”
May 1995 DioGuardi and Cloyes travel to Rome, Genazzano, and Shkodra to commemorate the miracle of “Our Lady of Shkodra” with a large delegation of Albanians from the United States and Europe.
DioGuardi and Cloyes Attend Opening in Vlore of the U.S-Albanian Marine Archaeological Project
July 1995 DioGuardi and Cloyes participate in a ceremony in Vlore to mark the signing of the U.S.-Albanian cooperation agreement for underwater archaeological exploration of the Albanian Coast—a project that they facilitated between the Institute of Archaeology in Tirana and the University of Miami.
DioGuardi and Cloyes Join Congressman Gilman on an Official Visit to Albania
August 1995DioGuardi and Cloyes join Congressman Ben Gilman for an official visit in Tirana with Albanian President Sali Berisha and his cabinet to discuss national security issues for the United States and Albania in the Balkans.
DioGuardi and Cloyes Make the Case in Turkey Against Milosevic and for the Independence of Kosova
September 1995 DioGuardi and Cloyes travel to Istanbul, Turkey, to speak about the Balkan conflict and to make the case for the independence of Kosova at the National Press Center and at a seminar with key members of the faculty for international affairs at the University of Marmara.
Congress Demands Official Recognition of the University of Tetova and the Release of Jailed Founders
January 1996 Ben Gilman introduces a resolution calling for the Macedonian government to guarantee the national rights of the Albanian population, to officially recognize the University of Tetova, and to free the university’s imprisoned founders (H. Con. Res. 103).
June 1996 Congressmen Lantos, Nadler, Gilman, and Traficant speak out on the House floor and on C-SPAN in support of H. Con. Res 103.
July 1996 A delegation from Macedonia led by Arben Xhaferi comes to Washington to discuss increasing threats to the University of Tetova and to meet with the Albanian community in New York. The Civic League sponsors a UN rally in support of the University of Tetova and its jailed founders.
Cloyes Testifies Before Congress on Behalf of Albania
Cloyes testifies at a Congressional hearing on human rights and democracy in Albania and exposes the role of Nicholas Gage of the Panepirotic Federation and the Albanian Communists in attempting to overthrow the Berisha government.
Gilman Reintroduces Resolution Calling for Albanian Equality in Macedonia
January 1997 The Civic League gets Congressman Gilman to immediately reintroduce the Resolution for the University of Tetova and Albanian rights in Macedonia (H.Con. Res. 36).
A Civic League Delegation Monitors Second Round of Presidential Elections in Albania
June 1997 DioGuardi and Cloyes lead a Civic League delegation to Albania to monitor the second round of presidential elections and to attend rallies and press conferences with the democratic leaders.Under questionable circumstances, the Berisha government loses the election and the Socialist Party under Fatos Nano comes to power.
The Civic League Responds to the Macedonian Military Attack on Gostivar and Tetova
July 1997 The Civic League brings Arben Xhaferi, Fadil Sulejmani, and Milaim Fejziu to meet with Congressmen Gilman and Traficant and the State Department, following the Macedonian government’s military attack on the cities of Gostivar and Tetova, which left three dead, a hundred wounded, and four hundred jailed. The Civic League holds a rally outside the UN to demand the release of Gostivar Mayor Rufi Osmani and Tetova Mayor Alajdin Demiri from prison. Afterwards, the delegation meets with the representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in New York about the Macedonian attack on Albanian municipalities and the Serbian occupation of Kosova.In response to an almost universal press blackout in the West, the CivicLeague produces a videotape entitled “Crisis in Macedonia.”
The Civic League Begins Distribution of Rescue in Albania to the House and Senate
October 1997 At the Civic League’s request, Congressmen Lantos and Gilman write a foreword to Rescue in Albania by Harvey Sarner.The League begins distribution of 10,000 copies to demonstrate the courage and tolerance of the Albanian people who saved Jews from the Nazis in World War II. Congressmen Gilman and Traficant send the book with a personal letter to each Jewish member of Congress and with a “Dear Colleague” letter to the other members.
The Civic League Declares its Support for the Kosova Liberation Army
February 1998 The Civic League issues a public declaration, “In Defense of the Albanian National Cause,” in which it announces its support for the Kosova Liberation Army and condemns the neo-Communist government of Fatos Nano for its corrupt politics and abandonment of the Albanian national cause.
The Civic League Tells Congress that the KLA Is Not a “Terrorist Group”
March 1998 The Civic League shifts the focus of a Congressional hearing with Balkan envoy Robert Gelbard from Bosnia to Kosova.Under questioning instigated by the Civic League, Gelbard is forced to retract his earlier, erroneous depiction of the KLA as a “terrorist” organization.The retraction creates a storm in the Western media, and overnight the attempt to “criminalize” the KLA is halted.In an historic confrontation, Cloyes tells Gelbard that “the KLA is not a terrorist group, and that the 500,000 Albanians in America are all KLA.” After the hearing, the Civic League holds the first rally on Capitol Hill in support of the Kosova Liberation Army.
DioGuardi and Cloyes Call Congress to Support U.S. Intervention in Kosova and to Indict Milosevic
March 1998 DioGuardi testifies before the Congressional Helsinki Committee, calling for U.S. intervention in Kosova before Milosevic kills more Albanians.
May 1998 DioGuardi testifies at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Kosova, criticizing U.S. foreign policy there and clashing with Biden over the need for U.S. military intervention.
June 1998 DioGuardi again testifies before the Congressional Helsinki Committee, this time about the Serbian invasion of Kosova and the need to indict Slobodan Milosevic as a war criminal.
July 1998 Al D’Amato in the Senate and Chris Smith in the House pass Civic League- sponsored Resolutions (S.Con.Res. 105 and H.Con.Res. 304) calling for the indictment ofSlobodan Milosevic as a war criminal.
Congressman Jim Traficant, with international legal expertise retained by the Civic League, introduces H. Con. Res. 312, calling the Clinton administration to recognize the legal right of Kosovar Albanians to self-determination and independence from Serbia.
August 1998 Cloyes begins work with the Transnational Radical Party on the documentation to be submitted to The Hague to indict Milosevic as a war criminal.In order to establish the charge of “crimes against humanity,” international law requires that an armed conflict between two armies must be established.Cloyes with KLA assistance demonstrates that the KLA is a legitimate army, with a chain of command, training camps, courts, etc., andnot a “guerrilla group.”
The Civic League Lobbies the Pope for Kosova
October 1998 DioGuardi and Cloyes travel to Rome to meet Pope John Paul II and to Bajram Curi, Albania, to meet with the Albanian refugees in the care of the UNHCR at the request of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and with leaders of the KLA.
The Civic League Lobbies the European Commission for Kosova
September 1998 Emma Bonino, head of Human Rights for the European Commission, meets with the Civic League Board in New York City to discuss her trip to Kosova during the Serbian summer offensive and her plans for ending the war.
The Civic League Lobbies Against Holbrooke’s Agreement with Milosevic
October 1998 The Civic League holds a rally in Manhattan, marching from the United Nations to the office of U.S. Special Envoy to the Balkans Richard Holbrooke, to protest Holbrooke’s entering into the October agreement with Milosevic—a diplomatic holding pattern that would lead to the infamous massacre of Albanians at Racak.
The Civic League Goes to London, France, and Tirana for Kosova
January 1999 DioGuardi and Cloyes meet with the leaders of the Albanian community in London at a dinner organized by UCK representative Pleurat Sejdiu and then travel to Paris to participate in a UCK-sponsored event for the Albanian community in France.
February 1999 DioGuardi and Cloyes go to Rambouillet, France, to speak at a KLA- sponsored demonstration outside the peace talks.
DioGuardi and Cloyes are keynote speakers at an international conference in Tirana on Kosova and peace and stability in the Balkans.They make the case for the independence of Kosova at a press conference with former Albanian President Sali Berisha and on Albanian TV and radio.DioGuardi and Cloyes also confront Albanian President Pandeli Majko about his failure to publicly support the independence of Kosova.
DioGuardi and Cloyes Advocate on U.S. and International TV and Radio for Kosova
January – July 1999 DioGuardi and Cloyes represent the Albanian viewpoint on more than 50 U.S. and international TV and radio broadcasts, including CNN International, CNN, Fox-TV, BBC-TV, NBC, MSNBC, WPIX, and CNBC—before and after the NATO bombing campaign.
March 1999 Cloyes testifies after Senator Bob Dole, Ambassador Jean Kirkpatrick, and Henry Kissinger before the House International Relations Committee in support of U.S. troop deployment to Kosova.
The Civic League holds a rally in front of the UN, calling the U.S. government to arm the KLA and deploy troops to defend the people of Kosova.DioGuardi and Cloyes march with 5,000 demonstrators to the Serbian mission.
The Civic League holds a second rally in front of the UN with Jewish leaders to protest the ongoing genocide in Kosova.
Congressman Traficant Calls Congress to Support Independence and Indict Milosevic
April 1999 Traficant introduces the Kosovar Independence and Justice Act (H. Con. Res. 1425), calling for the arming of the KLA, the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic as a war criminal, and the independence of Kosova.
As the starvation, torture, mass expulsion, and murder of Kosovar Albanians continues, the Civic League holds a rally in Washington, DC, with Senator Joseph Lieberman and Congressmen Ben Gilman, Jim Traficant, Stenny Hoyer, and Tom Lantos, calling the U.S. government to arm the KLA, to grant Kosova independence, and to indict Milosevic as a war criminal.
April to July 1999 DioGuardi and Cloyes visit Jewish community leaders, conduct rallies, and do press interviews for Kosova in Dallas, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Miami, and Atlantic City.
DioGuardi and Cloyes Address Council of Muslim Communities Benefit for Kosova in Canada
May 1999 DioGuardi and Cloyes travel to Vancouver, British Columbia, to meet with the Albanian community and to address a multiethnic, multireligious dinner for the benefit of the work of Doctors without Borders in Kosova sponsored by the Council of Muslim Communities in Canada.
Milosevic Is Indicted by the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
On May 24, 1999, Slobodan Milosevic is indicted, along with four of his military and security officials (Milan Milutinovic, Nikola Sainovic, Dragolub -16-
Ojdanic, and Vlajko Stojiljkovic) for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Kosova.The indictment is accompanied by an international arrest warrant.
June 1999 DioGuardi and Cloyes travel to the Arberesh communities in Italy with National Geographic as advisers in preparation for a major article on the the Albanian nation, which is later published in February 2000.
DioGuardi and Cloyes Travel to a Free Kosova and Report to Congress
August 1999 DioGuardi, Cloyes, and members of the Civic League Board meet with Arben Xhaferi in Macedonia and make their first trip to Kosova after the NATO bombing campaign to report back to Congress on postwar conditions.
October 1999 DioGuardi and Cloyes are invited by Bishop Mark Sopi to attend an outdoor mass in Bizhtashin to commemorate all the Kosovars who sacrificed their lives for freedom.The first mass in free Kosova, it is attended by more than 5,000 people.They then travel to Prishtina to meet with UNMIK economic development adviser Joly Dixon and to Junik, Babaj Bokes, Peja, and Gjakova to meet with residents and local officials.
November 1999 An official Civic League delegation of eighteen Civic League members, led by DioGuardi and Cloyes, meets with Arben Xhaferi in Tetova, celebrates Flag Day in Prizren and Peja at the invitation of Major General Ramush Haradinaj, and meets with Kosovar public figures and professionals in Prizren, Prishtina, and Gjakova.
Civic League Holds Rally in Manhattan with Senator John McCain to Demand the Release of Kosovar Albanian POWs in Serbian Jails
February 2000 The Civic League holds a rally in midtown Manhattan calling for the release of Kosovar Albanian prisoners of war in Serbian jails.The rally is timed to coincide with Senator John McCain’s visit to New York for his presidential campaign.He addresses the rally and then members of the Civic League Board attend his fundraising reception and luncheon inside the Hyatt Regency. Cloyes turns over the list of prisoners to his staff at the reception, and McCain, a former POW, agrees to write the first of several letters to President Clinton and, later, the Bush administration appealing for their release.
AACL Convinces the House Committee on International Relations to Hold a Hearing on How to Win the Peace in Postwar Kosova
April 2000 The Civic League brings Ramush Haradinaj, Muhamet Mustafa, Bajram Rexhepi, Esad Stavileci, and Shyqyri Kelmendi to the House Committee on International Relations to present the political and economic obstacles to the reconstruction of Kosova, including the need to block access to all but humanitarian aid to Serbia until Slobodan Milosevic is indicted and the Albanian prisoners of war, illegally transported to Serbia at war’s end in violation of the Geneva Conventions, are freed.
DioGuardi and Cloyes Meet the Albanian Refugee Communities in Italy
September 2000 DioGuardi and Cloyes are invited by the Albanian communities in Rome, Ancona, Florence, Treviso, and Trieste that have fled the Serbian military in Kosova and economic deprivation and political persecution in Albania.The purpose of the trip is to organize a collective response to anti-Albanian racism and to strengthen the international impact of the Albanian lobby. From there they travel to Kosova to work with the Alliance for the Future of Kosova in preparation for the municipal elections.
The Civic League Brings Ramush Haradinaj to New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC
Ramush Haradinaj addresses the Albanian American community for the first time in a 400-person meeting in Yonkers, New York, and at the Albanian American Islamic Center in suburban Chicago, and then meets with members of the House, Senate, and State Department in Washington.
DioGuardi and Cloyes Celebrate Flag Day in Australia and New Zealand
November 2000 DioGuardi and Cloyes are invited by the Albanian communities in Melbourne and Auckland to celebrate Flag Day and to lobby government officials in Canberra and Wellington to recognize Kosova’s right to independence under international law.
The Civic League Attends the Bush Inauguration
January 2001 AAK President Ramush Haradinaj, former Albanian President Sali Berisha, and fifty members of the Civic League travel to Washington for the inauguration of President George W. Bush and for meetings with the State Department and members of the House and Senate.
DioGuardi and Cloyes Visit Macedonia, Kosova, and the Presheve Valley to Assess Conditions for the House International Relations Committee
March 2001 Cloyes and DioGuardi meet with Albanian leaders, President Boris Trajkovski, and Prime Minister Lubjco Georgievski to push for Albanian rights in Macedonia on the eve of the National Liberation Army uprising in Tanusha.They then travel to Gjilane, where they meet with Presheve Mayor -18-
Riza Halimi and then cross the border into southern Serbia to meet with Shefqet Musliu, Sami Azemi, and other leaders of the Liberation Army of Presheve, Medvegje, and Bujanoc (UCPMB) at their headquarters in Koncul to discuss their peace plan.
The National Security Council Convenes a Meeting at the White House with the Help of the Albanian American Civic League
Returning to Washington as the war breaks out in Macedonia, Cloyes writes a major article, “Resolving the Crisis in Macedonia,” which is applauded by Ambassador James Dobbins, then Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs.The NSC asks the Civic League to select leaders in the Albanian American community to attend a meeting at the White House to discuss the need for a diplomatic resolution of the crisis in Macedonia.
The Civic League works from March to November, meeting almost every week in Washington with members of Congress, the State Department, and the NSC, to make sure they understand that granting Albanians their rights is the only way to end the Macedonian conflict and that Albanian leaders Arben Xhaferi and Ali Ahmeti hold the keys to a peaceful solution.
Civic League Delegation Goes to Tirana to Promote Democracy Building
April 2001 Joe DioGuardi and members of the Civic League travel to Tirana to promote greater participation by the people of Albania in the June parliamentary elections and to focus international attention on the unresolved problems in election laws and procedures.
Milosevic Is Surrendered to The War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague and Is Charged with Genocide
June 2001 In a great triumph for the victims of war crimes and genocide in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosova, Slobodan Milosevic is transferred to the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague on June 28.
Senator Joseph Biden Holds His First Hearing as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Crisis in Macedonia
DioGuardi and Cloyes attend Senator Biden’s first hearing as the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on “The Crisis in Macedonia and U.S. Engagement in the Balkans.”Cloyes and DioGuardi begin intensive work with the Biden foreign policy staff to challenge Bush administration policy on the Balkans.
The Civic League Hosts an Evening in Honor of General Wesley Clark
July 2001On the occasion of the publication of his book, Waging Modern War:Bosnia, Kosova, and the Future of Combat, the Civic League hosts a reception and book signing for Clark, the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.The Civic League gives Clark its first Balkan Peace Award.
Milosevic’s Cover-Up of Mass Murder in Kosova is Revealed
War crimes investigators establish that Milosevic ordered the bodies of hundreds of civilians murdered in Kosova to be exhumed, driven to Serbia in refrigerated trucks, and reburied in secret mass graves. Prosecutors believe that the evidence will help prosecutors secure a life sentence at the end of the trial in The Hague.The Civic League is instrumental in determining the fate of three Albanian American brothers who were U.S. citizens (Agron, Mehmet, and Ylli Bytyqi), whose bodies are discovered in a mass grave in Petrovo Selo, Serbia.
Congressman Gilman Meets with the Civic League and Albanian leaders from the Presheve Valley in New York
August 2001 The Civic League brings Presheve Mayor Riza Halimi, Ternoc Mayor Galip Beqiri, and Shaip Kamberi, head of the Center for Human Rights in Bujanoc, to meet with Congressman Gilman for a three-hour discussion of ongoing human rights abuses by Serbian authorities and the deterioration of the peace implementation process in the Presheve Valley.Gilman responds with a forceful letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell.
The Civic League Participates in Kosova’s First National Elections
September November 2001 A delegation of Civic League Board members participate in the pre-election and Election Day process in Kosova’s first national elections and hold a press conference at the Illyria Hotel on key issues facing Albanians in the Balkans. The International War Crimes Tribunal charges Milosevic with genocide against Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina..
The Civic League Holds Historic Meeting with Senator Biden in Manhattan
December 2001 Senator Biden meets for three hours with Civic League Board members and 2001 supporters at the Columbus Club in Manhattan to analyze the history of U.S. government response to the Balkan conflict and to discuss a strategy for convincing the Bush administration not to withdraw U.S. troops from Kosova and not to take a back seat to Europe in Macedonia.
Milosevic Goes on Trial in The Hague
February 2002 Slobodan Milosevic goes on trial in The Hague, facing 66 counts on three indictments for genocide and war crimes spanning a decade in Bosnia, and crimes against humanity in Croatia and Kosova.On February 15, in his opening statement, Milosevic attacks and defames the Albanian American Civic League and Joe DioGuardi for supporting “Albanian terrorism and separatism” in Kosova and for making “a great contribution to the systematic expansion of the anti-Serb mood and the ‘Satanisation’ of the Serb people in the American public opinion.”
DioGuardi and Cloyes Meet with Milosevic’s Prosecutors in The Hague
April 2002 DioGuardi and Cloyes travel to The Hague in The Netherlands, where DioGuardi is interviewed by the Office of the Chief Prosecutor at the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as the final step to becoming a witness against Slobodan Milosevic at his trial in The Hague. Earlier, Cloyes, at the request of the ICTY, had submitted a detailed testimony in writing in response to 300 pages of Milosevic’s opening statements, in which he blamed NATO and the West for the atrocities and genocide that he committed in Bosnia and Kosova.
The Civic League is Called to Washington to Meets with the new U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia
At the request of Larry Butler, the new U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia, and Ambassador James Holmes, the new U.S. envoy to the Stabililty Pact, the Civic League brings a delegation to Washington to discuss the roots of the Macedonian conflict and the implementation of the Oher peace agreement.
The Civic League Hosts a “Salute to Albanian Freedom” on the 12th Anniversary of the Historic April 28, 1990 Sheraton Dinner
The Albanian American Civic Leagues hosts a delegation of Albanian leaders from all Albanian lands in the Balkans to salute Albanian freedom with Senator Joe Biden and Congressmen Ben Gilman and Tom Lantos on the 12th anniversary of the historic Sheraton dinner saluting “freedom and democracy in Kosova.”After the dinner, the delegation meets with Congressional and Bush administration leaders in Washington to emphasize their roles in bringing peace and stability to Kosova, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Presheve
May The Civic League brings Pjeter Arbnori, Ramush Haradinaj, Iliaz Halimi, Rufi Osmani, Nikolle Camaj, Ferhat Dinosha, and Riza Halimi to Washington for briefings with the House International Relations Committee and the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, where they are officially received as representatives of the “Albanian nation.”
June After a trip to Kosova, DioGuardi and Cloyes convince Congressmen Gilman and Lantos to introduce House Resolution 467 in support of the independence of Kosova now, breaking the silence imposed by the international community about Kosova’s final status. The Civic League gives Senator Joe Biden its second annual Balkan Peace Award in the presence of Kosova Assembly Speaker Nexhat Daci in Washington, DC.
September Congressman Lantos, Cloyes, and DioGuardi travel to Detroit, where they publicly announce the Civic League’s plan to internationalize the plight of Albanians in Montenegro.
December Congressman Henry Hyde, Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, comes to New York City to meet with the Board and key supporters of the Civic League.He declares that the Bush administration’s policy in Kosova of “standards before status” is a “cart-before-horse” approach that will lead to another Gaza Strip, this time in the heart of Europe.
January With the opening of a new Congress, Chairman Hyde and Congressman Lantos reintroduce the resolution in support of Kosova’s independence as House Resolution 28.
March Congressman Tom Lantos joins the Civic League and the Atlantic Battalion in Yonkers, New York, for the commemoration of the memorial to the Bytyqi brothers (Albanian Americans who were murdered by the Serbian police after the war) and the anniversary of the death of Adem Jashari.
May The Civic League Board attends the unveiling of the official portrait of Chairman Henry Hyde in the House International Relations Committee Hearing Room.
Congressman Hyde and Lantos convene a hearing at the urging of the Civic League on the independence of Kosova, at which DioGuardi and Cloyes testify.Lantos and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher vigorously oppose the U.S. State Department policy in Kosova of “standards before status.”
June The Civic League gives its third annual Balkan Peace Award to Congressman Tom Lantos, Chairman Henry Hyde, and retired Congressman Ben Gilman in recognition of their pathbreaking work on behalf of Kosova’s independence.
August Congressman Lantos and the Civic League, with the support of the Patriotic Association of Kraja and Shoqata Ana e Malit, travel to Montenegro to observe conditions in the Albanian majority communities of Ulqin, Ana e Malit, Kraja, Tuzi, and Plave-Guci.
Joe DioGuardi speaks at the 90th commemoration of the death of Albanian heroine Sulltana in Qafa, Macedonia.Cloyes and DioGuardi meet in Prishtina with Azem Hajdini, a survivor of the Tivar massacre in 1945, in which more than four thousand Albanians were executed by the Serb and Montenegrin military.
October The Civic League brings a delegation to Rome for the beatification of Mother Teresa at the Vatican and a visit to the Arberesh town of Greci—the birthplace of DioGuardi’s father and home to the descendants of Skanderbeg’s soldiers, who came to the Italian peninsula in 1461 to fight the French on behalf of the Kingdom of Naples. The Congressional Human Rights Caucus, led by Congressman Lantos, holds a hearing on “The Future of Albanians in Montenegro,” at which Shirley Cloyes, Joe DioGuardi, Nail Draga, Anton Lajcaj, and Xheladin Zeneli testify.
December The Civic League meets at UN headquarters with Congressman Ben Gilman, President George Bush’s representative at the UN General Assembly, and John Negroponte, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, to discuss the need for privatization, World Bank lending and final status for Kosova.
January The AACL executive board meets inside the U.S. Capitol Building on the night of President Bush’s State of the Union Message.That day -23-
Congressmen Hyde and Lantos sent a revised “Dear Colleague” to all 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives with H.Res. 28, calling on the United States to declare its support for the independence of Kosova now.
February DioGuardi and Cloyes travel to Toronto, at the request of the Albanian community there, to help create a lobbying effort to introduce a bill like H.Res. 28 in the Canadian parliament.
March Cloyes’s comment on Western foreign policy towards Serbia is published in the Financial Times of London.
On March 17, the Civic League officially launches the International Campaign for the Independence of Kosova Now at a meeting with Congressman Henry Hyde in Washington.An electronic petition drive begins on the Civic League website.
The Civic League gives its fifth annual Balkan Peace Award to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a senior member of the House International Relations Committee.The Civic League gives its fifth annual Balkan Peace Award to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a senior member of the House International Relations Committee.Congressman Tom Lantos sends a strong and comprehensive letter to Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, urging him not to pass the Capital City Bill and to reinstate Tuzi’s status as a commune.The Civic League gives its fifth annual Balkan Peace Award to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a senior member of the House International Relations Committee.Congressman Tom Lantos sends a strong and comprehensive letter to Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, urging him not to pass the Capital City Bill and to reinstate Tuzi’s status as a commune.
The Civic League gives its fifth annual Balkan Peace Award to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a senior member of the House International Relations Committee.Congressman Tom Lantos sends a strong and comprehensive letter to Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, urging him not to pass the Capital City Bill and to reinstate Tuzi’s status as a commune.The Civic League travels with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher to Albania, Montenegro, and Kosova. Rohrabacher meets with President George Bush and the head of the National Security Council to explain why the U.S. government should recognize Kosova’s independence and support the new government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha in Albania. Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi publishes an article entitled “Jewish Survival in Albania and the Ethics of ‘Besa’” in Congress Monthly, the magazine of the American Jewish Congress, about the unique role that Albanians played in rescuing Jews during the Holocaust.
Congressmen Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Tom Lantos, the Committee’s ranking Democrat, and Dana Rohrabacher, and former Congressman Ben Gilman hold a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol building with the Civic League board to receive the one million petitions signed by mainly Kosovar Albanians calling on President Bush to recognize the independence of Kosova now. Chairman Hyde subsequently delivered the petitions to the White House.
Cloyes publishes an article entitled “The Serbian Lobby Attempts to Hijack U.S. Foreign Policy on Kosova,” exposing the connection between the Serbian lobby in Washington, the Serbian National Council of Kosvo and Metohija, James Jatras of the Venable law firm, Venable’s creation of an “American Council for Kosovo,” and a spate of articles and ads in the U.S. press designed to undermine U.S. government support for Kosova’s independence by miscasting Albanians as a potentially terrorist Muslim force in the heart of Europe.
At the urging of the Civic League, Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and John McCain (R-AZ) introduce a Congressional resolution (S.Res. 521) recognizing Albanians for their tolerance and heroism in saving Jews during the Nazi Holocaust.
Cloyes and DioGuardi travel to Kosova to warn the government that, as Kosova moves closer and closer to becoming an independent state, the Serbian lobby in Washington is intensifying its effort to derail Kosova’s independence, and to call for diplomatic action.
The Civic League gives its sixth annual Balkans Peace Award to Senators Charles Schumer and John McCain in recognition of their cosponsorship of S.Res. 521 and for their historical support of Kosova’s independence. Albanian Deputy Foreign Minister Edith Harxhi and American Jewish Congress Executive Director attend the ceremony in the U.S. Capitol.