- Title: ALBANIA: KING LEKA VISITS HIS FATHER'S BIRTHPLACE
- Date: 20th April 1997
- Summary: BURRELL, ALBANIA (APRIL 20)(RTV - ACCESS ALL) 1. GV ROAD TO BURRELL/ LV CONVOY OF VEHICLES ON ROAD (2 SHOTS) 0.17 2. SV KING LEKA IN TOWN OF BURRELL, 2KM AWAY FROM BURGAJET/ DRINKS WATER FROM FOUNTAIN/ SHAKES HANDS WITH LOCAL RESIDENT (2 SHOTS) 0.34 3. SV SUPPORTER PASSING CONVOY WITH ALBANIAN FLAG OUT WINDOW (3 SHOTS) 0.52 4. SV KING'S MOTORCADE ARRIVES 0.58 5. SV CROWD 1.01 6. SV KING WALKING AMOUNGST HUGE CROWD 1.06 7. SV KING WAVING/ LV/SV HUGE CROWD SHOUTING "KING, KING" (ALBANIAN) (4 SHOTS) 1.30 8. SV KING ADDRESSING CROWDS, SAYING "THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SUCH A NICE WELCOME (ALBANIAN) 1.39 9. TV CROWD WITH SOUNDS OF GUNFIRE 1.43 BURGAJET, ALBANIA (RTV - ACCESS ALL)(APRIL 20, 1997) 10. GV/SV CROWD WALKING UP HILL TO PLACE WHERE OLD KING USED TO HAVE HOUSE (LATER DESTROYED BY COMMUNISTS) (2 SHOTS) 1.51 11. SV KING SAYING "THANK YOU FOR YOUR HOSPITALITY. NOW WHEN I'M BACK IN ALBANIA, I WILL SOON HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO VISIT YOU AGAIN BECAUSE THIS IS ALSO MY BIRTHPLACE" (ALBANIAN) 2.05 12. SV CROWD CHANTING/ WOMAN KISSES KING (2 SHOTS) 2.33 13. LV PEOPLE ON TREES WAVING FLAGS 2.36 14. CU/SV KING PUTS FLOWERS ON SPOT WHERE GRANDMOTHER (KING ZOG'S MOTHER) WAS BURIED / LOOKS AT GRAVE (2 SHOTS) 2.55 15. GV OF AREA 2.59 TIRANA, ALBANIA (APRIL 20, 1997) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) 16. SV KING SAYS WELL IT WAS OBVIOUSLY TREMENDOUSLY EMOTIONAL FOR ME AND I THINK YOU SAW YOURSELF THE RESPONSE OF THE PEOPLE. IT WAS WONDERFUL. IT WAS PRETTY MUCH AS I IMAGINED IT BUT EVEN MORE BEAUTIFUL. THE SHOTS THAT YOU HEARD, THOSE ARE AN OLD ALBANIAN CUSTOM OF SHOWING HAPPINESS AND I THINK YOU HEARD FROM THE ENTRANCE OF I HAVE MET ALL THE WAY THROUGH. (ENGLISH) 3.32 BURGAJET, ALBANIA (RTV - ACCESS ALL)(APRIL 20, 1997) 17. TV/SV GROUP OF PEOPLE IN OPEN TRUCK WITH CELEBRATORY KALASHNIKOV FIRE BEHIND KING (2 SHOTS) 3.43 Initials s3, p3 Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
- Embargoed: 5th May 1997 13:00
- Location: TIRANA, BURRELL AND BURGAJET, ALBANIA
- Country: Albania
- Reuters ID: LVAB9W3HEM6R76IMJ53XZ1R9R0XJ
- Story Text: INTRO: Albania's King Leka has made an emotional pilgrimage to his father's birthplace visiting the mountain village of Burgajet for the first time.
Launching a campaign to win public support for restoring the monarchy in the troubled Balkan nation, King Leka travelled Sunday (April 20) by motorcade to the Burgajet.
King Leka was welcomed by about 5,000 cheering people at the village 120 km (70 miles) north of Tirana.
"I am very happy to be with my family again," said the King, who was two days old when his father King Zog fled invading Italian fascists 58 years ago. "I will travel across the country to spread the message of peace and unity." Albanian President Sali Berisha has promised the King a referendum on the monarchy. Even though the timing was left open, Leka said he was delighted and vowed to visit towns and villages across Albania in the weeks ahead.
About 300 people have been killed and more than 700 injured in the armed anarchy that has plagued the country following the collapse of investment schemes that wiped out the life savings of many Albanian families.
Many see King Leka as a possible unifying force in a country split by government and rebel forces.
His father ruled between 1928 and 1939 and was a powerful figure who overcame tribal, regional and secular rivalries before he fled with his family. He was forced to flee the country by Italian forces from the then fascist regime in Rome.
Many elderly Albanians recall fondly how King Zog pushed through improvements in education and infrastructure. Schools and banks were opened, roads were build and police organised.
His son maintains he is the legal leader of Albania based on a constitution adopted in 1928.
King Leka had never been to Burgajet, a farming village known for its sheep and grapes. Several villas there that belonged to his father, an ardent opponent of Serbs, were burned by Serb forces just before World War One began.
Villagers from Burgajet fired Kalashnikov rifles into the sky to welcome the monarch, a practice that has become customary in a nation awash with arms.
King Leka, who towers over most Albanians at 2.04 metres (six feet eight inches), has been welcomed by adoring crowds.
He tried to return to Albania in 1993 but was unceremoniously tossed out within hours after his passport, marked "Kingdom of Albania", was declared invalid.
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