Albania - The Inside Story

The Armed Insurrection in Albania and the imperialist Intervention, India-Albania Friendship Association, Delhi, 1997, 16 pages. Price Rs. 7/- including postage from: The Manager, 'Revolutionary Democracy'.

Ernie Trory

This is a collection of seven articles originally published in various Marxist-Leninist periodicals during the critical months of March and April, 1997. Together they give a picture of events about which little is known outside Albania.

In the first of these articles, 'a comrade in the Communist Party of Albania' who is not named for obvious reasons, is interviewed by a journalist from La Nostra Lotta, organ of the Communist Party of the Proletariat of Italy.

This comrade dates the beginning of the collapse of socialism in Albania from shortly after the death of Enver Hoxha in 1985. 'Despite some negative phenomena in 1985' he says 'with the transformation of the Party of Labour of Albania (PLA) into the Socialist Party, reformism has spread, opening the way for the "democratic" reaction of Sali Berisha.'

At first there were illusions about the benefits that capitalism would bring, but after the fraudulent election of Sali Berisha in 1992, people quickly changed their minds.

During 1996 the social climate became explosive due to the failure of almost all economic activity, the crisis of education, the failure to pay pensions, mass unemployment, the lack of goods of prime necessity and the fall in living standards generally.

Asked what he considered to be the role of the Socialist Party of Albania in 1997, he said: 'This Party is linked with big European capital and has good relations with US imperialism.

'It also has unofficial relations with the party of Berisha who, these days, is using Serbian mercenaries and is engaged with counter-revolution.' Berisha's party was, of course, the so-called 'Democratic Party.'

The years from 1991 to 1997 in Albania were years of destruction in the name of the fight against communism. They are described in some detail in an article, by another member of the Communist Party of Albania, which was published in the 13 March, 1997 issue of Roter Morgen, journal of the Communist Party of Germany.

This member said that one of the theses of the Democratic Party was that everything that had been built up during the years of socialism was worthless and had to be destroyed so that work could begin again from 'zero point.' Or, as formulated by the economist, Gramoz Pashko, a leading member of the Democratic Party: 'We are destroying communism in Albania down to the roots.'

In pursuit of this thesis, factories, social and cultural organisations, stock- breeding complexes and warehouses, even hospitals were closed down or destroyed. Vineyards and plantations of tropical fruits were burned and telephone networks in the villages, as well as irrigation plants, were put out of action.

Graves of the heroes and heroines of the national liberation movement were desecrated. 'We are fighting against communism so that the European and American world will like us and help us,' trumpeted the Berisha clique.

More than 600,000 young Albanians fled the country to seek work in Italy and Greece or anywhere else that seemed to offer an opportunity for survival. But many stayed and fought back in desperation.

The popular anger surfaced on the 26th May, 1996, during the rigged elections, when the headquarters of the Democratic Party, as well as police stations and the buildings of other state organisations were burnt to the ground. These actions were accompanied by hunger strikes of students in the universities of Vlora and Gjirokaster in the south, where working people raided depots and armed themselves.

In Saranda and in Shenkoll the prisons were opened and political prisoners released.

President Berisha replied by declaring a state of emergency and placed the whole country under the control of the army, the police and the secret service (SHIK). But he did not get the guns back.

In an interview with Ubaldo Buttafava, secretary of the Central Committee of the Organisation for the Communist Party of the Proletariat of Italy, on the 22 March, 1997, presumably for the La Nostra Lotta, it was pointed out that the bourgeois press in the US 'says that there is anarchy in Albania, and that the rebellion was due to the pyramid money schemes.'

But what are the real facts? In the opinion of Buttafava, 'The popular rebellion in Albania is the product of an economic, social and political crisis which has matured over the past year.

'It is the result, in the first place, of the reformism of Ramiz Alia and Fatos Nano inaugurated in 1991 at the 10th Congress of the PLA with the expulsion from the Party of officers faithful to Enver Hoxha and the defence of socialism; and in the second place of the 'Democratic' politics of Sali Berisha who has demonstrated a neo-colonial policy subservient to the US and to Italy. The popular rebellion in its internal force has diverse politics, among them those of the new Communist Party of Albania.'

In reply to a further question it was stated: 'The Socialist Party is a typical social-democratic party which openly supports capitalism, bourgeois democracy, integration into Europe and NATO. It is the true obstacle to revolution and the principal counter-revolutionary force; but in these days it is being unmasked in the eyes of the masses.

Meanwhile, according to an article appearing in the Turkish publication, Emek, on the 1 April, 1997: 'within the Rebellion Committee in Vlora the influence of the people and that of the Communist Party of Albania is very great. In meetings that take place twice daily, thousand of people discuss further ways of proceeding.' On one thing they appear to be adamant: 'We will not lay down our weapons.'

Another decision taken by the Rebellion Committee in Vlora was not to march on Tirana. 'Berisha and the foreign powers.. are trying to provoke a war between the south and the north....' it decided. 'Such a march would reinforce this attempt of Berisha and the imperialist countries.' In Vlora, control remained firmly in the hands of the Rebellion Committee. There was neither chaos nor looting nor arbitrary shooting.

Similar Rebellion Committees were set up all over the south of Albania, chosen directly at public meetings by the people who reserved the right to recall any elected member who did not fulfil his or her obligations.

In an interview in the same edition of Emek, a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Albania complained that even the history of Albania was being manipulated by the new rulers; for example: 'The resistance of the Albanian people against fascism in 1944 was declared to have been a civil war in which allegedly much blood was spilled between brothers.' The anniversary of the liberation of Albania from the Nazis on the 29 November 1944, as a result of a struggle which had cost the lives of 28,000 partisan men and women, was no longer allowed to be commemorated.

In the final article in this compilation, published in Roter Morgen on the 10 April 1997, there was a grave warning that following detailed discussions between the Albanian Prime Minister Fino and his Italian colleagues, plans for military intervention by the imperialists had reached an advanced stage.

It was known that Italy had agreed to provide 2,500 troops, France 1,000, Greece 700, Turkey 500, Spain 500 and Rumania 400. Ostensibly this was to provide humanitarian aid.

The Communist Party of Albania responded with an appeal headed, 'Hands off Albania,' which was immediately signed by the Communist Party of Denmark (M-L), the Federation of Democratic Workers' Associations of Turkey, the Communist Workers' Party of France, the Communist Party of Germany and the Revolutionary Organisation of Norway.

In a foreword to the booklet under review, dated the 20 April 1997, it was announced: 'Foreign troops have landed in Albania in response to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1101 under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter upon the request of the besieged President Sali Berisha: it has been supported by NATO and the European Union. The Italian armed forces have provided the bulk of the soldiers of this military adventure.

'This is no coincidence as Italian capital covets Albanian copper and oil. Just 58 years ago, under Mussolini, Italian troops landed on Albanian shores and occupied the country.'

Subsequent events have been sparsely reported in the capitalist press. We know, for instance, that despite a political coup that at first seemed successful, Berisha lost the election that followed and that the pathetic attempt to restore the Albanian monarchy did not survive a referendum held at the same time as the election.

Fatos Nano, replacing Sali Berisha as President, has, according to an article in the New Worker on the 4 July, 1997, 'reassured the European Union that he will continue to support the market economy and the restoration of capitalism in Albania.'

But as the New Worker added: 'The Albanian Communist Party which led the revolt, remains loyal to Albania's revolutionary' traditions.'

Or, as a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Albania is quoted in this booklet as having said when the struggle was at its height: 'This uprising will bring our people numerous experiences and self-assurance.

'A people that lived for decades under socialism and places great importance on independence will not put up with everything.'

Read this booklet and become inspired - as I have been.

From 'New Worker', 20th February, 1998

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