Washington, D.C., Sept. 24, 2004 - The District of Kukes, Albania has awarded the Managing Editor for Voice of America's Eurasia Division and former head of the VOA's Albanian Service, Elez Biberaj, with honorary citizenship.
The chief of VOA's Albanian Service between 1986 and 2004, Biberaj was recognized for his "extraordinary contribution as a publicist, analyst...and distinguished patriot" and his role in the "victory of democracy in Albania and the liberation of Kosovo" in a Sept. 18, 2004 ceremony in Kukes.
"I am delighted to accept this award," Biberaj said, "not so much for my personal role but on behalf of all those in the Voice of America who have worked so hard for more than half a century to provide Albanian listeners with objective news and promote human rights and democracy in Albania."
Biberaj, whose parents are from Bajram Curri, and who was born in Montenegro, considers himself a native son of Albania. He has a Ph. D. degree in Political Science (Columbia University) and has published three books on the region, most recently Albania in Transition: The Rocky Road to Democracy, in 1998.
VOA's Albanian Service was also honored on Sept. 17, 2004 when President Moisiu presented the Presidential Medal for "special civilian merit" to the Service for "inspiring and encouraging the democratic process."
VOA Albanian's popular TV news program Ditari is broadcast daily to audiences throughout the Balkans. VOA also transmits 8 hours a week of news in Albanian via shortwave. Programs are available on the Internet at www.VOANews.com/Albanian.
VOA went on the air in 1942 and today broadcasts more than 1,000 hours a week of news, information, educational, and cultural programming to a worldwide audience of 94 million people. Programs are produced in Albanian and 43 other languages. VOA is funded by the U.S. government.
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