Staten Island Celebrates City Sisterhood With Ulcinj, Montenegro, With Both Cities Home To Large Albanian Diaspora Communities


 BP Fossella, Mayor Bajraktari Honor Sisterhood between Staten Island and Ulcinj

Editor’s note: According to Merriam Webster‘s dictionary, a sister city is defined as “one of two cities or towns in different areas that have a special relationship and are usually similar in some way”

And according to, “A sister city, county, or state relationship is a broad-based, long-term partnership between two communities in two countries. A relationship is officially recognized after the highest elected or appointed official from both communities sign off on an agreement to become sister cities.”

Staten Island, NY – Borough President Vito Fossella was joined by Mayor Omer Bajraktari of Ulcinj, Montenegro to announce that Ulcinj and Staten Island have been named Sister Cities. The announcement and celebration of sister cityhood took place at a press conference in Borough Hall on Friday, February 2nd.


“I can say with full conviction that the Albanian-American community in Staten Island, New York City, and across the United States of America are among the most loyal, patriotic, hardworking, family-oriented people I have come to know,” said Borough President Fossella. “This is a blessing to me as part of this job that we get to establish a Sister City and relationship with our good friend, the Mayor, and the people of Ulcinj. And let this not be a day just for symbolism, but that we know we can come together and walk hand-in-hand.”


Ulcinj is located in southern Montenegro, close to the border with Albania. The town of nearly 20,000 people hosts the largest of Montenegro’s Albanian diaspora communities. Similarly, Staten Island hosts one of the larger communities of Albanians living in the United States, including those from Ulcinj.


The designation of sister cityhood will celebrate the common values and heritage that Staten Island and Ulcinj share, open opportunities for further economic cooperation, and strengthen cultural ties between the cities.


“Today is a special day as we come together to celebrate the Sister City of Staten Island and Ulcinj,” said Mayor Bajraktari. “This is a big step to bring benefits and friendship to both cities.” 


The day’s celebrations were also emceed by Edon Alibegu, the Executive Director of the Albanian-American Association of Ulcinj. Also joining the celebrations was Fatmir Gjeka, Minister of Human and Minority Rights of Montenegro, as well as the board of the association, including Association President Dzemal Lanica, Cano Duli, Besnik Adovic, and Tina Lula.


Executive Director Alibegu said, “As proud Staten Islanders and members of the Albanian-American community, we are confident that this partnership will resonate as a beacon of hope for our youth and hold a promise of a common and positive destiny of our two cities, marked by meaningful collaborations, mutual understanding, and shared values.”


On behalf of the Albanian-American Association of Ulcinj, Mr. Duli presented Borough President Fossella with a gift to Borough Hall – a painting of the coastal façade of Ulcinj and a vessel bearing the Statue of Liberty on its sails.

Borough President Fossella and Mayor Bajraktari then jointly signed a proclamation to cement the joining of Staten Island and Ulcinj as sister cities.

Banner Image: Sister Cities sign in Los Angeles. Image Credit – Mark Fischer. Licensed by CC


BP Vito Fossella

The Office of the Borough President has a responsibility to advocate for the entire Borough of Staten Island and all its residents, and represents the Borough's interests within City government. The Borough President communicates directly with the Mayor and the City Council to emphasize Staten Island’s budget priorities. In addition, the Borough President is responsible for reviewing major land use decisions and proposing sites for city facilities within the Borough. As the chair of the Borough Board, the Borough President leads Staten Island’s City Council delegation and Community Board chairs in the process of reviewing and approving the transfer of public properties to private use. The Borough President’s Office houses the Borough's Topographical Bureau, which maintains the borough’s official maps and assigns street addresses. The Borough President monitors the delivery of city services on Staten Island, and acts as a liaison between residents and city agencies when problems arise to devise solutions. The Borough President is also responsible for appointing one member to the Panel for Educational Policy and one member to the City Planning Commission, as well as some 150 members to Staten Island’s three community boards.

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