Remarks of Zenel Hoxha
President and CEO of the Albanian-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry
On Friday 23 November, 2012 At Memories of Mother Teresa, Westminster Abbey
Dr Berisha, Canon Reiss, Lord Watson, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
There is much to rejoice today. It was this month, 100 years ago, that Albania became an independent nation. And, it is this month that the Albanian-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry celebrates its tenth birthday.
What better place to celebrate these occasions than here, under the magical and historic arches of Westminster Abbey.
I cannot emphasise enough my gratitude to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, The Very Reverend John Hall, for allowing us to bring Mother Teresa to the Undercroft, amongst some of the greatest heroes of this country. Nelson. Elizabeth I. Charles II. William and Mary. Queen Anne. Duchess of Richmond. William Pitt. And, of course, under this soil many of the Kings of England have been buried.
My thanks must also go to Canon Reiss, who gave such a moving service of Evening Prayer, and has supported our efforts throughout.
Mother Teresa’s memories live on. Not just in her work and in her Missionaries of Charity, but in her values, and what she stood for. Mother Teresa, for me, represents the contributions and progressive impact that citizens of Albania have given to the world throughout history. We have had two Nobel Prize winners – a lot for such a small country – and, of course, our national hero George Kastrioti Skanderbeg, defender of Christianity. This is why members of the Albanian community of London join us tonight – to share in these memories and identify in all that Albania has done in the world. All of these contributions, I hope, are recognised by Europe. As history has shown us, we must build bridges, not break them down. Albania has given so much to our European neighbours, and it is only right that we are treated as relatives – as a whole family – in return. It should also be said that, by doing this, they fulfil one of the ambitions of Mother Teresa, to make her nation prosperous!
We have here the most honoured guest and contributor, Dr. Berisha, who – like Mother Teresa – has spent most of her working life helping vulnerable people in Albania. Even though she never actually met with Mother Teresa, she lives and breathes, independently, her values. Values of love, care, passion for others and giving. Dr. Berhisha founded the Mother Teresa Foundation in Albania, which has brought the memories of this inspirational woman to the world, form New York in the US to the cities of mainland Europe – and now to here, the heart of London.
My gratitude must also be extended to BP for sponsoring this wonderful event. I’m not sure how many of you know this, but British Petroleum was the first British investor in Albania, 20 years ago, and the founding member of the ABCCI. We hope that this deep rooted relationship will continue to blossom and grow into the future; your unwavering support and alliance is one we cherish.
Of course, the contribution from the Templeton Foundation in America must not be forgotten either. They supplied a number of the exhibits here today, and were one of the first institutions to recognise Mother Teresa’s work – awarding her with the Templeton Prize in 1973. Like the Order of Merit given to Mother Teresa in 1983 from Queen Elizabeth II, and like the Nobel prize she received in 1979, I like to think that these awards are shared by every person in Albania who lives by her values and teachings.
I hope that you have all enjoyed this touching exhibition, remembering a woman who redefined the notion of charity.
Now, I have saved the very best until last. It goes without saying that none of us would be here today without the continuing and generous support of Lord Watson. On behalf of the nation of Albania, I am exceptionally grateful and honoured. You are a visionary, a collaborator and a true friend. Thank you!