Speech by Ardian Fullani, Governor of the Bank of Albania, at the Opening of the Exhibition ''100 Years of Independence: Our History Reflected in the National Currency'', Prishtina, 23 November 2012

Publication date: 26.11.2012


Dear guests,

Let me begin by saying that as an Albanian, I am very delighted to be, on the eve of Albania's 100th anniversary, here in Kosovo, in the land of Ymer Prizreni, Hasan Prishtina, Isa Boletini and many other patriots who contributed to making Albania gain its independence. In the capacity of the Governor of the Bank of Albania, I am proud to open the exhibition held to celebrate Albania's 100th anniversary: "100 Years of Independence: Our History Reflected in the National Currency". After touring a number of cities in Albania, such as Berat, Gjirokastra, Korça, Elbasani, Shkodra, Tirana and Vlora, it could not miss being opened in Prishtina, as the history the Albanian currency unfolds is ours; it is common; it is the history of Albanians wherever they may live. 

This exhibition seeks to draw the public's attention to the fact that the state formation process and the history of modern states are not only about political and military events, or the real economy, but they are also closely linked to the history of their national currency. The value of a nation's currency goes beyond its price! Over the centuries, empires, kingdoms and international powers have documented the glory, history, tradition, cultural values and national heroes through the configuration of coins and banknotes. You can clearly see in them how the history of the Albanian currency - despite not being instituted as such with Albania's Declaration of Independence - reflects the history of the Albanian State and nation. It reminds us of the sacrifices of those Albanians, whose values and braveries led to the state formation 100 years ago.

The sacrifices of our common history are best embodied by the Albanian League of Prizren, one of the greatest events of modern Albanian history. It stands as the foundation of the Albanian State, representing the first massive movement that aimed to accomplish the greatest mission of the Albanian National Renaissance: acknowledgement of the Albanian nation as an inseparable unity, protection of nation's territory and the formation of an autonomous and democratic Albanian State.

The period between 1912-24 was very important in the past century. They were years of political rotations, revolutions and world wars. They were years when entire civilizations gradually vanished. The power and domination of politics became clear in those years; therefore, politics and geography were the theme of the day.

But November 1912 was fortunate for Albanians; it would bring them independence. The history that had progressed slowly over the centuries would shift gears in this year. But not just that. Year 1912 brought Albanians their national symbols: their flag and anthem, which would be bound to one another as the latter united all Albanians singing around the common flag. The flag also brought the double-headed eagle, which later became the symbol of all Albanians worldwide and, naturally, the symbol used in our national currency.
I am delighted to bring, through this exhibition, similar historical events to the public's attention. Likewise are the merits of Ismail Qemali, which place him on a deserved pedestal due to his activity and vision as a statesman and not to his romantic idealisms. Among these merits is his effort to establish the first Albanian central bank, by expressing his clear vision for its role in the economic system, as a basic cell for the nation's recovery and prosperity. His effort is still actual in the present days.

Soon after the declaration of independence, the establishment of the central bank, which would operate in line with the models provided by other European national banks, was among the main concerns of the Government. Ismail Qemal bej Vlora considered the establishment of the first Albanian central bank as a financial institution that would give life to economic development and stabilization of the independent state of Albania. Unfortunately, the Albanian State was established on the eve of World War I and the following historical events left the project for the establishment of the central bank only on the paper. However, Ismail Qemal bej Vlora considered its establishment as the second victory after that of Independence. In one of his speeches, he noted: 'From the day Albania had the good luck to become a state among the other Balkan and European states, it is entitled to have one or more banks to ensure foreign credit as a nation, and individual credit for each Albanian. This is what our soul wanted, but we could not dare to expect it to happen this soon due to Albania's concerns, both in terms of its borders and the country's present organization, not being resolved yet..... After endorsing a number of agreements and exchanging many opinions, the cabinet approved and signed the last project. Let me say with admiration that the work of the bank is, both economically and politically, a second victory for Albania, after that of independence'.

His visionary words are similarly valid even today. The last economic and financial crisis clearly showed that the role of central banks is key to ensuring a country's stability and prosperity. It is also very much related to other aspects, such as to the role of money as a historical and artistic testimony of nations over the centuries. If we turn our attention to money reading, we should understand that each coin and banknote is a story printed in metal or in paper; it is a colourful rebus or puzzle. Hence, there is a message behind monetary credibility. However, this message or story will gain greater importance if another story will be "issued" through the issue of new currency series. Therefore, "the story of money' is always being written.

The message conveyed by "the story of the Albanian currency" through Ismail Qemali, whose portrait is featured on the 500 lek banknote, tells us that he, Ismail Qemal Vlora, together with our nation's patriots, knew how to mitigate all contradictions and disagreements and give us extraordinary results.

I think their vision as Albanian statesmen should be at the centre of a common story in the future. We, Albanians, must work together to live under the same sky and around the same flag: The EU flag!