The Government of Albania is planning to undertake a comprehensive administrative and territorial reform ahead of the 2015 local elections for the purpose of empowering local governments, creating new opportunities for economic development, and promoting local democracy. Currently proposed by the Ministry of Domestic Affairs is the administrative merger of the Himarra municipality with that of Lukovo to the south and Vranisht, which is located across the mountains to the east. The Himarrioton Society of America supports the union of Himarra and Lukovo, but rejects the proposed inclusion of Vranisht in such an administrative territorial alignment for a variety of self evident reasons.
Himarra and Lukovo have common interests related to geography (they are neighboring coastal areas) , tradition (they constitute the historic area of Himarra), economy (tourism oriented) and society. Vranisht on the other hand looks away from the coast, is agriculturally and pastorally oriented and has no shared traditions and marginal historical societal ties with Himarra/Lukovo. In our opinion, the inclusion of Vranisht in this administrative unit would only create the potential for conflict and disenfranchisement for the people of both Himarra/Lukovo and Vranisht. The majority of the population of Himarra and Lukovo are united in the rejection of any proposed alignment that would include the area of Vranisht.
There has been a great deal of misinformation and mudslinging by some of the Albanian press and government officials, in attempts to dismiss the people of Himarra and Lukovo's objections. We wish to point out the Government's stated approach to this reform effort "through a participatory and transparent process building alliances consensus with the local community and all stakeholders. The process welcomes local solutions for voluntary mergers to ease decision making..and promote practical and realistic solutions." We hold the government to its word to seek realistic solutions, and urge it to consider the benefits it would reap in the economic sphere, goodwill and international public opinion that honoring the consensus of the people of Himarra/Lukovo would bring. We believe the supporters of the territorial reform effort: SIDA, USAID, Swiss Development Corporation, UNDP, OSCE, et al, would agree.