Constitutional Declaration of July 2, 1990

Zenun Çelaj

Zenun Çelaj was a journalist at the Rilindja daily newspaper, when he was approached by Gazmend Zajmi to help him type in his typewriting machine the constitutional declaration of July 2, 1990. He shared this experience with us, in an oral history interview conducted in February, 1 and March 1 and 7, 2019.

On July 2, 1990, they called me with a constitutional statement which was written by the late Gazmend Zajmi, he was an academic. I was friends with him, I had created a name as a journalist, Zenun, and I was also friends with Fehmi Agani and other professors.

And as we were walking one of those gloomy nights, Gazmend said to me, ‘Zenun, as a journalist, you know the delegates,’ meaning the members of the parliament, that’s what they were called then. He said, ‘It’s good to issue a constitutional statement, as a legitimate body.’ At that time a constitutional declaration was issued by the Slovenian Parliament, which was seceding from Yugoslavia. It was issued by several parliaments of the Baltic countries that were part of the Soviet Union, Lithuania, Estonia. I mean, Gazmend probably got the idea here.

He said, ‘It’s good for our people to do it too. Do you have anyone to talk to?’ I did. I had my brother-in-law and my wife’s niece. My brother-in-law, Sabri Hashani, was a delegate, the other one was Leonora Ibishi from Gjakova, now a doctor in Switzerland, she was a doctor even back then. I said, ‘Yes, I do.’ He said, ‘Good, let’s meet tomorrow.’ We met, he came to me by car to the house in Velania, where I live. He had written that statement by hand. The content is now known. He dictated to me and I typed it on the typewriter. I forced him, he didn’t want to, but if I had known to keep it back then, we would take care of each other.

I was expecting to be arrested and I didn’t want them to find it as a corpus delicti so I tore it apart, the handwritten one. I found my brother-in-law. They had already fired Albanian delegates from the Assembly. Belgrade, Serbia had taken control. I gave him the text and the delegates organized and they held meetings. Even then, there were committees like the parliamentary committee now. In buildings like this at Kurrizi in the house of a delegate from Prizren. They gathered in his apartment and called me.

‘We are reviewing the constitutional statement, can you come? We have only one request.’ They asked me to remove a point from… there were six points, if I’m not wrong. That sixth point really seemed too much, there was no need to say, as long as this happened, this, inform these, these. There was no need for that. They said to me, “Will you talk to Gazmend?” Because I told them who wrote it, ‘So, if he agrees to remove it.’ I met Gazmend, we removed that point. I mean… and on July 2, it… they gathered and didn’t let them get inside, they gathered in front of the parliament, at the entrance and there they read the declaration. Voted with fingers, the people were watching what was happening from all sides. On the side towards the municipality, the army had brought tanks, police in all directions, but they declared it and  applauded.”