About Fred Abrahams

Author of Modern Albania: From Dictatorship to Democracy (NYU Press, 2015)

Threats against “Koha Jone”

All of you will be put in prison

Teodor Keko: “I am answering politely: You will eat our shit…”

Democracy, freedom, free speech, and human rights in danger

Koha Jone

February 1, 1994

Koha Jone editor-in-chief Aleksander Frangaj and journalist Martin Leka imprisoned.

Today, our colleagues were arrested without being judged by a court and justice.

Our Appeal: Remove the handcuffs from the hands of our colleagues and the free press.

Teodor Keko: “This is a war and we are going to teach the state a good lesson.”

Thoma Gëllçi: “Anti-law has gone ferocious.”

Gjergj Zefi: “This is not the state, but a bunch of mafiosi.”

A day before yesterday the President came back to Tirana.

Yesterday two journalists were arrested.

The path to the free press goes through the prison.

An unfinished report of the journalist M. Leka…

Truth Does Not Harm Democracy, But Helps It

Interview with Rilindja Demokratike former editor-in-chief Mr. Frrok Cupi given to Koha Jone editor-in-chief Nikolle Lesi and the Albanian journalist living in Stockholm and working for the European press, Milaim Zeka.

Koha Jone

August 9, 1991

Currently, a lot is being said about your dismissal from the position of chief editor at Rilindja Demokratike, where you were the first chief editor and one of the main founders. They speak, you keep silent. Why?

Silence is not always dumb. Silence has its own language and philosophy. My silence, I think, is meaningful. Whatever I could say at the time, when you said I was silent, and because I was going to say the truth, it would have caused pain, because it is only 7-8 months ago that I along with some friends, such as Sali, Preç, Gramoz, Mitro, entered a war together. Others joined us. Now what should I speak about? Against myself? Against my friends? The truth is against some of them. This human pain didn’t allow me to speak. But sometimes people emerge from pain. Speaking then? In such tense situations, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that it had happened: my close friend, who together with me decided to sacrifice everything, is attacking me from behind. I couldn’t believe it at first.

Those were the first days of silence. Later, I continued to be silent, but I kept a cool head: I was waiting for my friends to speak about what happened or what they did. On several days, some newspapers made such an appeal in their pages. They spoke publicly, as you may have read in Rilindja Demokratike. But unfortunately, it was cynical.

I would have continued to be silent if you didn’t ask me for this interview. Silence or non-silence, these days worry me. I thank you for taking me out of this situation. Some people used to come and ask me: What are you doing? Why don’t you say something? Rilindja Demokratike articles and statements in different meetings do not convince us. Some others used to say: Please be patient, be patient until it ends. We know you are right, but don’t say anything. Because if you speak, democracy will be seriously harmed.

In the meantime, in the meetings held in different districts, the representatives of the Democratic Party were asked why that happened to the chief editor of Rilindja Demikratike. Different explanations have been provided. Somewhere it was said that he was promoted; somewhere else that he would be appointed as ambassador; somewhere else that he didn’t obey us and we didn’t have the newspaper under control; and elsewhere that he hadn’t sacrificed enough.

Things said in a meeting are different from those said in the Dajti Hotel or on the sofa of a living room, or by those whispered in the ear of somebody. All these forced me to tell the whole truth. I am convinced that this will help democracy and won’t harm it.

Public opinion has expected you to explain the reasons you left because you are the person to speak about this.

I would sincerely like to have a reason, even against myself. If I had a good reason to let the people know, I would say: this is the reason. Then everybody would be calm; I and them. The worst thing is when you have nothing to tell the others because you are forced to mutter in order not to tell the truth. But this tortures you a lot. It tortures also the people you speak to. I think I was not alone in this situation. My friends, leaders of the Democratic Party, were also in the same situation. What they once declared, next time they didn’t; what one of them said about this problem, the others didn’t. When this was discussed in the meeting of the Organizing Commission of the Democratic Party, it was said only that “the newspaper is weak.” But the following day, other things were said. In the newspaper it was not mentioned, but at Dajti the thing about the headlines was mentioned. It was muttering words and pieces of reasons.

However, there is a true thing, unfortunately not yet said: it is the way the newspaper Rilindja Demokratike was conceived by senior official of the party. They had conceived it and wanted it to be their own instrument. So, in the most vulgar sense: e.g. I left the house, the newspaper should write that Mr. X left the house when the sky was cloudy; or when I, the leader, stepped out of the car – the newspaper should immediately write that when the door of the car was opened, the true happiness was seen on people’s faces; when I step onto the platform, the newspaper should publish the photo and the great news that a new program was launched from this platform.

But I, as one of the newspaper heads (and as agreed in the newspaper program: the newspaper won’t simply be a party instrument), couldn’t allow that.

This is the true reason. The newspaper would neither create cults, nor do services to certain people. It would only serve the democratic movement and the truly democratic press. But why don’t the Democratic Party authorities declare this publicly? This would help them and help me too. Because that is the truth, and the truth helps. But if they know another truth, which they do not make public, but hide it perhaps to protect me, then I would ask them to say it openly on the newspaper, bulletin, or on radio. But it should be the truth.

It is said that the lynching organized against you lasted three hours only. What about it?

Yes, three hours. The most difficult hours of my life. It was 15:00. I was about to leave the office when I saw Napolon Roshi coming towards the office. With a bitter expression on his face, which he always wears when he has to hide, something under his skin, and with a voice just like that of an old woman saying: “Frrok, here is the material with the analysis of the newspaper. The meeting will be held today at 18:00.” He headed towards the door. I was surprised.

What analysis, I said. I had no information about it. Nobody asked my opinion. Nobody came here. What does it mean?

Ah, I don’t know. The doctor knows that. Why do you ask me, Napolon said.

The meeting is after three hours. I have no time to read the material, let alone to analyze or discuss it with the newspaper staff; to agree or object to it.

You are right Frrok. You are right, but you know the doctor told me that. Napolon whispered some words and hurried down the stairs.

After that moment, three hours were left. Three hours of exhaustion and heat. I opened that material written by Napolon personally on behalf of the whole staff and read. But, what to read? It was all dark. Dark about the newspaper. I couldn’t read it to the end (if the reader is curious, I can publish it). I put it in my bag and I went home…. The meeting began at 18:00. Who knows what happened to them during the past three hours but everything was clear and simple to me. A real lynching, perhaps the first lynching in this epoch called democratic.

Do these purges resemble those of Enver’s time?

Many DP leaders have developed an interesting rapport with Enver Hoxha, the cruelest dictator of this country. Their statements, speeches and rallies, and their declarations to unmask the dictator are already known. But in my opinion they are in the same line as him: Imagine Enver Hoxha on a cart riding on his own path. Exactly on the side of Enver’s cart, travels the cart of these democratic leaders. These democrats are in this cart not to accompany Enver but to have him as close as possible and to whip him. However, willingly or not, they are riding close to each other along the same road, though they are in different carts, are angry or are fighting with each other. This is the real way to perceive the relation between these democratic leaders and Enver Hoxha. This rapport will continue until they leave from the cart of Enver at any bend in the road, so until they will find the true path to democracy with democratic methods.

Because Enver’s methods or similar methods are often used. Consider the method used against me: It was an Enver or Stalin style of dirty tricks. I was with a delegation in America while everything was prepared here. As soon as I landed in Albania, I heard some rumor that “he will be discharged once he comes back.” This is exactly as it happened in Enver’s period, when any of Enver’s collaborators had to be openly criticized or sacrificed, the psychosis was developed in advance through some rumor or gossip. In the first edition, I was going to publish after my return from America, Sali came to the printing house late at night and he shook my hand coldly. (The workers said that “he calmed down, because he saw you, but earlier he had shouted: Where is he! What is going on here!) Then he ordered to remove an article and to publish another one instead. He left.

I had seen the same scene in a theater performance, when the first secretary leaves the stage before there begins the storm of demotions of the personnel. The workers thought “everything is finished between them.” But they didn’t say a word. Then came the announcement for the meeting, the three hours lynching that we spoke about. Ugly and disgraceful. But not like Enver because Enver gave warning a long time in advance. He also guarded you until he finally was ready, etc. Most disgraceful and scheming was the way the report was compiled. Napolon Roshi had been assigned as a specialist to deteriorate the newspaper work. That Napoleon, who sat at the end of the hall, sometimes made gestures as if to tell me “they don’t have any idea about a newspaper” and sometimes he was servile to the others. He stood there as the beautiful devil; an angel you would presume. That Napolon who told Rilindja Demokratike journalists that he was not involved in the plot against Frrok. But when some days ago I by chance went to his previous office, I found a lot of papers written by him trying to devise a plan and convince the party that the newspaper is weak; it is not the newspaper of the party; the party doesn’t have it under control, etc. so it was necessary to make changes in the newspaper’s management. So, he wanted to have that position. He had come to my office some time ago with some pieces of papers pretending that there were some remarks of the masses, but because I knew him since when working for Bashkimi newspaper, I reacted calmly and told him “put them on the desk.” Who is that person to do that; he was not even a member of newspaper publishing council. Well, let’s leave Napoleon and come back to the dirty trick. A dirty trick, I have declared this there, too. The Organizing Commission of the party gathers in a meeting at 18:00 and analyzes the newspaper. There were said things about the newspaper, but not about the editor-in-chief. When, suddenly they said: “Please go out because we have something to discuss.” I went out. The following morning, it was Sunday, the chairman of the party called me and told me that they had decided to discharge me and to replace me with Napoleon Roshi. How so? I am elected by the Newspaper Publishing Council, so the same council has the right to discharge me, I said to him. But nobody heard me or asked me about that. This is how we, the party, decided – the chairman said.

The Publishing Council knew nothing about what was going on. Nobody asked their opinion or view. Me neither. Journalists were not asked and listened to either. The editorial staff was completely ignored. The following day, I went to the office. I thought someone from the party officials would come and discuss with the editorial staff, at least now; I thought I could have a coffee with the new chief editor (who is going to retire soon) and have a friendly talk. But no. I tried to open my office but the key didn’t work. The newly appointed editor-in-chief was in the office. He had come very early, took the key from the cleaning woman, and was sitting on my chair.

  • What about you, I said to Napoleon.
  • Well, they asked me to become the editor-in-chief. But you may stay for a while, leave also your bag today.
  • Well, the bag, I said, but will the editorial staff have a meeting and be informed, won’t they?
  • Ah, yes. You are right.
  • He dialed the telephone. Arben Imami answered. Napolon’s words: “Let’s gather those who are present and say two words.” Arben’s car soon came. Arben said that he came to communicate the decision.

So, they were the chiefs of the staff; appointments made from the top. You mentioned Enver, but when Enver knew that somebody violated their competences, then he made them pay for it. One of the editors denounced that as unjust and declared “that he would not work for this newspaper anymore.” Two hours later, he was called and informed that “He was discharged.”

I think you asked me about the Enverist style of purges.

Your party accused you of having neglected the Kosova issue. What is your defense in front of the public prosecutors (the people)?

When I read this statement about Kosova in the newspaper, I had two sensations one after the other. First, I thought it was a joke by Sali while writing that for the newspaper. Then I learned that the article was written by Napoleon Roshi and I felt horrified. Me ignoring Kosova?! And this is declared by a Greek, Napoleon Roshi. If somebody has to protect Kosova, then first of all he has to be Albanian. How can a Greek accuse an Albanian of not loving Albania, that is Kosova? And here comes this Greek, who had denied his nationality to become a servant of Enver Hoxha’s regime, to defend the Albanian issue of Kosova. This is not simply absurd. It goes beyond it. I remember a debate in the parliament and press about the viewpoint of the Greek clan regarding the contemporary democratic national Albanian movement. It is my duty to remember that. Now, Albania is like a woman in a labor, seen by others as appropriate to inject their infection, e.g. Napoleon, who deliberately begins with a public attack against an Albanian democrat or several Albanian democrats and intellectuals in order to set the Albanian nation against them. Several days later, this Napoleon writes an article in Rilindja Demokratike pleading to Italian government authorities: “Please do not return the Albanian to their homeland.” Well Koçi Xoxe declared then: “Why should I feel pity for Albanians, I am not an Albanian.” I perceive Napoleon’s appointment at the head of the democratic press as suspicious, especially regarding the national issue.

But if Sali had written that, I would have considered it a joke. Because he knows very well how much attached to Kosova I am, even personally. He knows how and where I took Kosovan newspapers to happily read them. He knows that whenever we met we spoke largely about Kosova. While regarding the contribution of the newspaper to the Kosova issue, it is clear for everybody. The name of the newspaper Rilindja Demokratike was taken from a statement by the Kosovar intellectual Prof. Rexhep Qosja. On the front page of the very first edition of the newspaper, an article about Kosova was published. The editorial of the first edition states that the newspaper serves and will serve for a resolution of the national issue and union. Articles and information of Kosovar intellectuals, or of others about Kosova, have been published. Articles about Kosova were the first to be published.

But if the Organizing Commission, so not the party (perhaps the question was not clearly stated), share the accusation of ignoring the Kosova issue, then another issue is raised: As a chief editor I am also accused of ignoring the village. This is the old style. Every time something went wrong in an area, Enver Hoxha would sacrifice somebody. He would blame that person and give the impression that everything was resolved. While the problem was with his political line and its failure. How can a party ask a newspaper to resolve the village issue?

It seems that Rilindja Demokratike helped the party leadership more than was expected: It opened the way; time after time it showed the right path to follow, and showed what was right or wrong. Now the newspaper is asked to do even the autumn sowing, because we are staying in Tirana.

In true democratic countries, party newspapers are in opposition with the party. In your case, did Rilindja Demokratike dare to criticize the wrongful actions of the Democratic Party?

One day prior to the first edition of Rilindja Demokratike, I gave an interview for Voice of America, saying that the newspaper will be in opposition with its party in order to clean up and help the party and the democracy we want to establish. This is one of the objectives defined in the newspaper program. A day after the first edition, Elene Paukku, vice chairman of the international journalists association, came to meet me. She posed almost the same question. I gave the same answer I gave in my interview. Then she continued: “Aren’t you scared that your party will cut your head?” She posed this question and then tried to make it sound less hard. “Well, this is how it happened between the parties and the newspapers in the Eastern countries.”

“No,” I said. “I am not afraid, because I am not alone. There is a Publishing Council consisting of intellectuals who have a good understanding of the relations between the party and newspaper.” I explained to her the reason we established the Publishing Council. It was to protect the newspaper from the party’s direct attacks. But the party used the occasion when the Publishing Council was dissolved, partly because of other government assignments, or because it was not very attentive, and the party did not respect it and did what it actually did.

I had explained the function of the Publishing Council to some Eastern European journalists who came here. They appreciated this measurement and told me that they also had problems with their own parties. I explained that also to the journalist in western countries, when I had the chance to be there, and western journalists coming to Albania, and they appreciated that, too. I spoke about that also to Rexhep Qosja when I met him in America. He listened to me attentively and askedca lot of questions about the way we had preceded. He appreciated the idea, that the party should not subdue the press, as much as he appreciated the newspaper itself.

The newspaper was in opposition to the party in the sense that it did not allow the party to publish the crazy things that they wanted to, or develop cults and publish leader’s greetings, as had happened before, when the newspaper was completely subdued by the party, etc. We hadn’t yet begun with direct critiques of the party. We thought the party was very fragile and young. Perhaps we could break it. We were going to start now.

You, Mr. Çupi, are accused of a serious deviation of the editorial line of the newspaper Rilindja Demokratike, and of ignoring the Kosova issue. After these accusations it seems as if you have acquired an even more important role. Why does it happen so?

Across from a false thing stands a false thing. So, as the accusations made are not true, neither is that I have taken other positions. I am simply a journalist of Rilindja Demokratike. But they still do it, according to the old style: they beat you and they behave as if they are offering new positions. They would really like to offer me some position to say then that we have nothing against you. Well, leave me in the position of journalist. This is my profession. I want nothing else. Furthermore, this is what we declared when we found the Democratic Party: we want no positions, we will soon come back to our professions.

You were a persecuted journalist in Enver’s time. You dreamt of the victory of democracy. But please tell us the reasons why many persons from the opposition keep the same old attitudes.

I am concerned about what you say, because many people who applaud for democracy are bajraktare, careerists and dictators. I see the truth in your words. I am not concerned for myself but for the thousands of people who were ready to make big sacrifices; to sacrifice their sons and daughters; their life for the victory of democracy, for democrats. What can we say to people if we turn out to be dictators rather than democrats? I am sure people would prefer Enver Hoxha to be alive, and this would be the end. So, they are recently asking for Leka Zogu and his monarchy to come here because they have don’t have the same trust in Democracy. You ask: For what reasons? What is the source of all this? The source is Enver himself and his morals, and other persons as well. There are people who have adapted Enver’s tactics very well. It is not their fault, they can’t be different, they use the same methods.

Well, look: the first Enverist persecution or, as some others call it, the second neo-Stalinist persecution. They have things in common. Then, in 1984, an order was given (by Enver, they said) to take severe measures against me, because I wrote the truth in the newspaper. Then: “We can not accuse him of the article only because the facts are true. But we accuse him of having damaged the reputation of our state.” After that they fabricated something about my biography. Then they said he did not work well in the production. They just used one argument after the other.

Today: Once they said the newspaper is weak. But soon they resigned because the reader was of another opinion, so were Ismail Kadare and other true intellectuals. Then they fabricated headlines and editorials. Then the important position. Then they fabricated and published things I had never heard of.

So can you see the similarity?!

It was July 12 then also. It was already midnight when the phone rang. The chief editor of Zëri i Popullit at that time (a half crazy person, known by all) had ordered a meeting of the editorial council to punish me according to the order issued from the top. In the middle of the night. Members of the editorial council were immediately summoned. I found them standing in front of chief editor’s office. When I entered editor’s office, the son of Enver Hoxha, Sokol, and his wife Liljana came in. All were frozen because of … respect. It was clear. The chief-editor A. Xh., who was a close friend to Sokol and Liljana, had called them to go there in the middle of the night as if to tell the people: “So, can you oppose me and protect Frrok?” So, I was the sacrifice at the presence of Enver’s heirs. But they couldn’t stand very long meetings, and they left. The chief editor accompanied them and had a coffee with them at Dajti. The punishment would be declared the following day. I heard the phone in my office ringing time and again. Surely, my children shocked from my leave late at night were trying to speak to me.

Even this time I left the house the same way. It was Saturday evening, when all the people go home. In addition, I hadn’t stayed enough with my children since my return from America. I saw very dark faces that day! Sali had a toothache, but he went and pulled it out as soon as possible. He told that he would be back very soon and find everybody there.

These similarities worry me. This is my only concern, my dear people.

Don’t you think that it’s difficult to realize your dreams for democracy?

Difficult, yes, but not impossible. I always knew that. I want to tell something to the people thanking them for listening to me: Don’t fall into pessimism and resign from the work for democracy, if you see that somebody, who claims to be a democrat, doesn’t behave as such. I don’t feel anger against the leaders of the Democratic Party. The bad anger cuts the dream for democracy. Not the other obstacles: neither dictatorship, nor the bullet, nor the fabrications. Only you yourself, your inner world. In fact, I was seriously insulted by a friend of mine in the editorial staff who wanting to express his appreciation for me but, in a scholastic style, said that he had only one remark for Frrok: “he is too democratic…” These people’s dream for democracy is dying.

In a Scandinavian RTV program, I (M. Zeka) emphasized that people in Serbia and Albania need 20 years to learn to discuss in a democratic way. Was I right?

I can’t say exactly the time needed. But if we consider a certain time in the future, it will be prior to that in Yugoslavia. We should feel pity for Kosova’s people having the Serbs over their head and feel happy with each other, Albanians with Albanians, and find the democratic language. I have a big hope in the coming generation, in the generation of my 15 year-old son. Have you seen them? They have a kind face, a clear look, a confined anger, rich language, and do not bear the others holding fingers up when it is not appropriate. They are the hope. So less than 20 years.

Years ago, Rexhep Qosja spoke about cultured dialogue in his book “The Anatomy of Culture.” I am personally shocked when I listen to some of the deputies in the parliament. Does the same behaviour take place in the newspapers staffs? (M. Zeka)

Most of the actual members of the parliament have not read “The Anatomy of Culture.” It was illegally brought to Albania. I read it secretly. But this is not the point. The point is that people are calmer and more cultured than the parliament. Fortunately, people demonstrate calm and good manners, while the parliament demonstrates the opposite. But surely the composition of the parliament in the next elections will not be the same. People will have a better understanding and they will vote for the deputy and not for the party. This doesn’t mean that there is no current deputy deserving to be as such. But these deputies who are real democrats also have other tasks and duties and cannot always be in the parliament. For example, I see Preç Zogaj, a friend and a co-founder of the democratic newspaper, who I appreciate so much, go rarely to parliament.

Regarding the same behavior among the newspaper staff. Yes, there is such behavior, since a deputy, sitting at the bottom of the parliament hall often saying “Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman,” was appointed the chief editor of the newspaper. He is Napoleon Rroshi. He is so quiet in the parliament but so hostile in the newspaper. “You sabotaged me,” he says. Journalists tell a political joke: “It seems that our staff will make the party happy by discovering a group of enemies.”

Many of your colleagues in the newspaper were indignant at your dismissal. Tell us something more concretely about their support, and have you resigned from the party or the newspaper staff?

The party arbitrarily discharged me without asking the opinion of the newspaper staff or the Publishing Council and without having made any previous comment or remark on the newspaper or me. That is why the staff felt indignant and insulted. If party people ever ask me, I would implore them not to destroy that staff, because it is a staff of talented journalists and good people and democrats. But they sent Napoleon Roshi who is continuously telling them: “you will not take another salary here, find another job, because you are not staying longer here.” What a shame!

Who decides about the editor-in-chief? The Party or the editorial staff?

When we founded the newspaper, we decided that only the Publishing Council had the right to appoint or discharge the chief editor. But in fact something else happened: the party took the decision about the chief editor. So long as the party will do what they want, so long as the party takes decision without considering other norms, so long as other people, being not journalists and writers, will decide on the newspaper and literature, then we have the same situation as in a one-party state. I think that the Democratic Party should discuss about such facts and signals, because its leadership is demonstrating a tendency towards a one-party state. This is a misfortune.

Napoleon Rroshi says that he was appointed the editor-in-chief against his will. Then, how did it happen?

I heard that. And I am not surprised. Nobody knowing Napoleon is surprised. You don’t know him…?

This Napoleon worked in the world news section of Bashkimi newspaper. I worked for that newspaper also. So many phrases and expressions against American imperialism were said and written by him! Most probably instead of asking for a cup of coffee in the morning he might have said “American imperialism.” I remember when he worked for Bashkimi and Enver Hoxha criticized him because he had gone beyond Enver’s idea itself. This Napoleon had written an article about the Helsinki Conference with the headline “The Conference for European Insecurity.” He criticized Helsinki (which he is now supporting) very hard. He criticized Russians and Americans. He declared the world’s danger comes from Helsinki. He blamed America for everything bad in the world. But he criticized the Americans so illogically that Enver personally felt angry. Enver burst into anger: “what is this pseudo-journalist who, to satisfy me, violates the political line of the party and causes problems for us with the Chinese, who complained that we have unfairly criticized the Americans too much.” Then Napoleon was scared to death because Mehmet Shehu also criticized him. But the chief editor protected him. He served so willingly to the politics of that time, so that he was appointed the director of radio (in foreign languages). He continued to be a director even when the Democratic Party was founded, when demonstrations were taking place, as well as in other difficult situations. After the publication of seven or eight editions of the newspaper I asked him for an interview.

“No, no, no,” he said. “Don’t mix me up with that newspaper, please.” Then he sent a journalist from radio to take some notes he had in my office, because he was afraid “they were going to be sent accidentally to the printing house and published in the newspaper.” Several days later, I met him in front of the Art School. He was going to a reception at the Embassy of France. I asked him to write an article about the Greek minority, as he belonged to this minority. But he refused categorically. I don’t know what happened on the eve of the election campaign. I think that they couldn’t have a thorough list of candidates for deputy, so they included Napoleon. Then the Democratic Party learned that Napoleon was also listed as a candidate of the Republican Party. They called him and told him that this situation should be resolved. He said promptly: “Don’t worry. I can resolve this immediately. I can be yours from now on. I quit from the Republican Party. So don’t worry. Tomorrow morning I will be your candidate, not theirs. I promise!” So, he also became a deputy. He knows how he dealt with other things. He messed things up in Rilindja Demokratike and wrote a report on the work of the newspaper, underestimating and criticizing the work done. Perhaps one day he will be awarded as a hero of democracy. Well, if the people have their eyes shut. But I don’t believe it. It’s not a matter of a Napoleon, but of some renegades having joined the democratic movement. 

This Napoleon, who in the editorial staff meeting of the 5th of August was distanced from the Party’s Steering Committee), criticized them as much as he could, and then resigned as a editor-in-chief.

I heard you have applied for a job at “Zëri i Popullit. What is your comment?

It’s not true.

You are among the first people who attacked the Enver Hoxha regime. You joined the DP willingly and enthusiastically. Now, several months later, do you think that your ideals have been betrayed?

I notice something positive in the Democratic Party. Its members from all over the country, when they have a concern about the party or something related to the tarty, they come and meet the party chairman. They express their opinions freely, without any hesitation. This didn’t happen in the Labor Party. A communist couldn’t go to Enver Hoxha and tell him that he was not right about this or that.

However, this is still a little. I think we should wait for the party elections in districts and here I think the Albanian TV should broadcast them live. I think, let’s wait until the leadership advances. Let’s wait until the free Albanian press starts; we, some journalists, writers, and other intellectuals have to start organizing and to make it. Let’s be patient until everyone gets some economic independence. Let’s also wait until our little children grow up. Let’s wait and work until the nation within and on the other side of the border unites. Until then I am convinced that I will not lose my hope in democracy. On the contrary, I become constantly optimistic that our people will achieve democracy. This will never be betrayed.

According to our opinion, Albanians have never been Bolsheviks. Albanian bajraktarism was born prior to Marx. What is the affect of this bajraktarism within the political parties and other institutions?

The affect of bajraktarism can be: Bajraktarism can make possible the archaic lifestyles; the people can be further divided into groups; within the bajraktar areas, an danger to the Nation can emerge; it might necessitate reestablishing the Enver Hoxha dictatorship.

But the most likely to happen is that the parties and first of all the people demand that this bajraktarism be destroyed and removed from their lives. Then the people is the winner. Well, we keep saying that it depends on the people; it is in their hands. This time it really is.

I know Eastern countries quite well. I have the impression that in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and Albania a true opposition is considered only that person who attacks the president. I have rarely or never heard of attacking or criticizing the political programs of each other’s party. Is that correct?

First, I don’t like it when they attack through the newspaper. What is it? But I think this will soon be over for the Albanians. In addition, I would like to be patient and calm to wait until these people who attack get tired of it. Then we could ask them: “Is it over, because now we want to build a democratic order.”

According to you, if we gave ourselves the right to change, should President Ramiz Alia also have this right?

The right to change cannot be denied to anybody. Neither in the most critical moments nor in the happy moments. I would say that this is not only a right but also a responsibility. Whoever that might be, even if s/he is only two days in politics or he has only two days left in politics. But the president once changed does not have the right to say I am not who I used to be or that I was not who I used to be.

Who would you actually propose as a President?

I think of the President as a common person, who walks and works together with us; a person who wisely joins us with his honesty and culture; who loves people; who sincerely respects the nation; who has no complexes from the past and supports none of the parties; who has a soft and kind look and face; who does everything because he feels and thinks that it is the right thing; who the day he is elected a president he belongs no longer to himself; who the day he is elected, the political and economic life of the country will feel his influence; who is devoted only to work and the politicians will be devoted to his word and opinion to regenerate our country; who continues to be as human as we are and as he is today. I know this person. He is among Albanian people. Everybody knows this person and loves him, I believe. So, this is the person to be our president.

Thank you.

Four Great Days of the Students

By Ben Blushi and Blendi Fevziu

Rilindja Demokratike

January 5, 1991 (first edition of the newspaper)

Should youth, especially students, and could youth undertake such endeavors? Does their position and status justify this? The results are the best answer.

Considering the past 46-years, you could never find a solidarity act to justify that.

Those days somebody with official authority blamed the students, calling them law-breakers and pampered people who complain only about a two-hour blackout. As they were official authorities, they declared that they could expel all the students from the university.

Do youth and students have any other fault, besides that of knowing how to age?

Saturday – December 8

It’s several nights that the power is off. As an irony, the lights in Tirana completed the contrast. Since October 25, 1971, when the electrification of the Socialist Popular Republic of Albania was completed, millions of power cuts in the country can be counted. But none of these millions of cases was accompanied by a protest and the indignation like that of December 8. Those cases were tolerated and they will be tolerated in the future. So, everybody understands that this served only as an excuse. The way that the excuse was chosen at the right place and time shows maturity. Everybody understands that if it had not been the power cuts, another excuse would have been found – maybe the lack of food or a car accident. If it were not December 8, it would have been December 25 or perhaps January 1. Everybody finally understands that the day to destroy the walls that unjustly separate us from Europe was coming.

Sunday – December 9

In a legend of the ancient Greeks, the night was presented as a pregnant woman delivering the day. I don’t know why the dawn, while the previous night filled with tension was giving space to the determination of the students, reminded me of that legend. In the square and streets of Students City, where everything common was forgotten, thousands of people shout different slogans, which were for a long time had been uttered in whispers.

It seems that violence, instead of suppressing determination, did the contrary, exactly what we wanted, killing the fear.

About 10 o’clock thousands of students march towards the university headquarters. Armed police forces block the streets and most of the protestors (about 3,000 students) are stopped at the art school. Protestors at the front lines touch the shields of the police. Shouts: “We are peaceful; we don’t want violence; remove the police.”

10 o’clock. The group of students keep protesting. The Secretary of the Socialist Youth Union of Albania comes for dialogue. He guarantees that the violence of the previous night will not be repeated. We sing the hymn of the flag. Shouts – “Freedom, democracy;” “We, as all Europe” – can be heard everywhere.

11 o’clock. Concern grows. The situation is strange. The possible danger is neglected by sincere smiles. Maybe they will give the order to shoot, somebody says. He smiles. The others smile too. Can death be so easily perceived? Maybe yes, maybe no.

12 o’clock. Our determination remains the same. We are demanding something legal. The words Democracy and Pluralism are felt everywhere, just as we feel the indignation for the words “hooligans” that radio and television can call us in the evening.

12:30. “Police forces” dressed in civilian clothes unexpectedly begin to disperse the crowd. The only way out is the field in front of the Italian Embassy. What happens can be described as: boys running and helping girls to run, brave people stooping to pick up the wounded, books dropping to the ground, roars of pains, armed civilians pursuing and attacking us.

There were the houses of Tirana people, which were opened to let us in and protect us from the rubber batons. The houses were full. We cannot forget the trembling hands and faint voice of a boy from Kolonja, who lost temporarily his sight. “Do not tell my father,” he said. In all those families there were fathers and mothers. An hour later when we left the host house, we looked at the field once again. It was empty, but the torn pages of books and lectures lay on the ground. In order to come here the democracy was obliged to walk on our books.

During all these days, the people of the city spoke so much about us. We were tired and wounded. The reality used the rubbe batons against us, so as to force us to believe that dreams are only dreams.

Monday – December 10

After a day full of curses, threatens and violence (December 9), it seemed to many people that apocalypse day for the country was approaching. The photos taken the other night during the terror of rubber batons and violence were developed in the dark laboratories of their minds. One party was expecting the method of violence to give an end to the epidemic, while the other party was expecting this method to become petrol for the fire of the epidemic.

The morning of December 10 was a strike morning. It had all the elements: the objective, the interests, the demands, the leaders, and the strike-breakers. The strike also constituted a moral test. It divided the students into two camps. Naivety, fear, morality and political beliefs, personal or familial political commitment made some of the students walk down Elbasan Street and stay in the house or dormitory. While the leaders of the movement headed by Azem Hajdari, a student of philosophy (third year), presented the 11 demands from the first pluralist tribune of post-liberation.

They did not rest, but they had thoughts; they had not slept, but they had dreamed; they had not forgotten the violence, but they wanted to replace it with dialogue for the sake of the thousands of people who supported them.

In the meantime, the orators (it was very easy to be an orator that day) held speeches on the stage one after the other.

Some professors approached the microphone. It was time to differentiate among them. However, the orators kept speaking until it began to rain. Wet but fresh pluralism. Awaiting the response from the president, the tables at the main Students City cafeteria was changed into a tribune. President Alia accepted the dialogue.

Tuesday – December 11

The pilgrimage of Tirana citizens continued in the streets of Students’ City. The bus of the representatives drove slowly among the crowd surrounding it. It seemed that it would break down from the students’ shouts of joy and greetings. Freud said: the enthusiasm of the moment is the golden key to raise the simple man onto the pedestals. It seems that everyone has a moment like that inside them. I saw indifferent students shouting like children; I saw strict professors wiping tears from their eyes; well-known writers and scientists following the bus; young people kneeling in front of it. Ovations started there and stopped at the Palace of the Brigades, where the President was waiting.

“This is the best day of my life,” a worker waid. While we thought that, it was the first day, which opened the way for many other happy days.

Some hours later, when the representatives were back, we felt that at least de jure we had won pluralism, the absence of which only some weeks ago had kept us out of civilized Europe.

The Truth About the Founding of the Republican Party

By Gafur Muco and Shpetim Spahiu


July 22, 1991

We have been silent for a long time, but now we think it is over. We took this decision when we learned that in the first Republican Party Conference, Sabri Godo declared Vangjush Gambeta as the first Republican in Albania, and himself as the second. This hurt us because the first Republicans of December are out of the Republican Party, while their names are used by “the leadership,” which lies and deceives hundreds and thousands of people all around the country to develop its activity.

We will try to speak based only on facts…

On December 18, 1990, we submitted a request, the program, and a regulation to the Ministry of Justice. On December 29, 1990, we had a meeting with the Minister Enver Halili and the lawyer Jani Vasili, where the program of the Republic Party was considered. In the document ref. no. 75, dated 4/1/1991, issued by the Codification and Legislation Department, headed by Mr. G. Muco, we were asked to go to the Ministry of Justice. Present in the meeting were the same persons who received us on December 29, 1990, who said that a list of 100 persons should be presented.

On January 7, we met Vangjush Gambeta by chance. We spoke about the recent events and the new democracy in Albania. We asked him to join us and we suggested him to run the newspaper in the future and to help us gather names. He accepted to make a list of names, but on the same day in the evening he gave it to us blank, and he did not even accept to sign himself. In collaboration with the other members of the organizing commission, we completed the list of the first 100 R epublicans, who had supported us since December. We gave it to Mr. Jani Vasili. The list was considered valid, and we had to go to the Ministry on January 9, 1991 in the morning. On January 8, 1991, I (G. Muco) went to Vangjush, but he was not there.

On January 9, we were told at the Ministry of Justice that the legalization of the party was planned for January 13. I insisted it take place on January 10, on the eve of “January 11.” Finally, it was decided that three people would go there on January 10. We decided it would be G.M uco and R. Permeti. There was not a third person. Quite by chance, Vangjush Gambeta joined this group. This is verified by a signature at the margins of the document of the RP fundamental act.

To our surprise, the representative of the justice department J.V. came to my house in the evening of the same day and invited me to go for a walk. We walked to the center of the city. When we were parting, he said to me: “Well, I almost forgot … give this telephone number to Vangjush. Take care, it is the telephone number of Sofokli Lazri!” I kept the promise. I did it.

I should also say something else. At the Ministry of Justice at J.V.’s office, we met the journalist V. Zoto, who would write a short article about the RP to be published in Bashkimi on January 12, 1991, but surprisingly it was not published. After several days, the same newspaper published an announcement about RP and its organizing commission consisting of P. Marko, S. Godo, V. Gambeta, H. Cobani, A. Zeka, ect., who had nothing to do with us.

The discussion with Sofokli Lazri, the involvement of S. Godo, and the non-publication of the first article at Bashkimi made things change profoundly. The leadership slipped from our hands. We have a guilty conscience, as we invited V.G. to RP. “The second Republican,” S. Godo, has never been a Republican, not even formally. S. Godo was placed at the top of the RP pyramid, due to the elbows given and the external interventions.

The difference between us and the usurpers of the RP leadership became increasingly evident. Vangjush took information from us and Sabri neutralized our activities. The first moved, the second stayed by us.

Other facts. On January 15 I represented the RP in a meeting with the governmental commission regarding the requests of the Valias miners. We were also on TV. But the following day in the meeting with Ramiz Alia, Sabri Godo – a person who had nothing to do with us and what is more, who used G. Muco’s invitation, which was given to him by V.Gambeta without our authorization – took part. Now the question is: Why was the protocol not respected? Who authorized him to send to the president somebody else, whose name was different from the one written on the invitation? It is not difficult to understand. The meeting with Sofokli had opened the way for those two people.

This step alarmed us. Something was done in a secret way and deliberately, so that this political force be led by someone else, reliable for the Party of Labor. None more reliable than Sabri Godo could have been found. We were convinced about that, as all our requests for financing and materials were immediately passed to the hands of the last ones.

To bring an end to this, we asked V. Gambeta to give some explanations for everything that was happening and especially the discussion with Sofokli Lazri. He tried to refuse any fact and vowed that he spoke only about family problems, as he knew his wife. His attitude made us further convinced that we were dealing with a well prepared plan and trick. Then we decided to have a meeting with the organizing commission, to consider the activity of V. Gambeta, who though informed did not show up. The organizing commission after having discussed V. Gambeta’s stance, and evaluating his activity as malicious, decided unanimously to expel him from the RP. The activity of Sabri Godo was considered illegal and had nothing to do with the RP. We asked to do this public, but we were stopped. The boss of the press and information, Sofokli Lazri, who was the friend of “the Republicans,” decided on that.

We informed V. Gambeta officially about our decision to expel him, but V. Gambeta and S. Godo continue their activity. Due to the pressure exerted on us, phone threats etc., we were forced to withdraw. In that period of troubles and being also depressed I had two meetings with S. Godo, where I asked him to give up that dishonest initiative.

After that attempt failed and our situation became increasingly critical, on February 18, 1991 we decided to address an official letter to the Ministry of Justice, where we explained our situation and we returned the decision on the founding of the RP. The Ministry of Justice did not answer, but on February 28, 1991, it sent to “the true” RP, headed by S. Godo and V. Gambeta, a copy of the decision given to us on January 10, 1991, signed by Dashamir Kore, as Enver Halili was no any longer at the position of minister.

Please read the newspapers of January 11, 1991, which announced that Enver Halili ordered the registration of the Republican Party. On February 28 another order signed by Dashamir Kore was sent; it was not published…, could such a scenario be informed?

We pose the question: who gave the right to this ministry, which based on a social group gave the right of political activity to another social group, which had nothing to do with us and which had submitted nothing to the Ministry of Justice? Instead of suspending their activity immediately and giving the right to the people to whom it belonged, it was strangely given to usurpers.

Isn’t that political business, a fifth column of the Party of Labor of Albania within the opposition? Isn’t that an imitation of Enverism in founding the Communist Party of Albania?!

The RP has hundreds and thousands of honest members.

We believe that these honest republicans should distance themselves from them.

Until When Will Albanians Astonish the World?

By Ilir Keko

Alternativa Social Demokrate

September 29, 1993

Roland Bimo, the Albanian Ambassador in the USA, has been seen for several days walking the streets of Tirana. This fact makes an impression, when at least half of the state’s senior government officials (Deputy Prime Minister Kopliku, Minister of Foreign Affairs Serreqi, Minister of Finance and Economy Ruli, and Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy Konda), top leaders of the ruling party (head of the Democratic Party and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commission Selami, Chairman of the DP Parliamentary Group Spahia) and several senior officials (Governor of the Bank of Albania Hoti, Director of the Bank Xhyheri, Director of the International Relations Department Fullani) are visiting the USA these days. So, it sounds strange, and is a diplomatic act not frequently practiced. The ambassador, responsible for accompanying senior Albanian officials and participating in official meetings as a member of the delegation, is actually in Albania, while they are accompanied…

Who is accompanying the Albanian senior officials these days in Washington and New York?

An employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who accepted “to speak” with the condition of not mentioning his name, because he is married and has a wife and children to care for, said that … Idriz Konjari went to the USA one week ago …

That is all he could say. Pushed by the curiosity of a journalist, we managed to identify who Idriz Konjari is and the reason for his trip. We decided to make these facts public not for the sake of this case but as a work principle…

Idriz Konjari – a mechanical engineer, who worked the past two years as a driver at the American Embassy in Tirana (the second driver for Ambassador Ryerson), was recently appointed in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and assigned to study South Korea…  But the study didn’t last long. Another assignment of special importance made him leave South Korea for America. His mission: “Be in charge of the embassy until a second order.”

And that Idriz Konjari, who had listened of America only in the American embassy, is actually the head of the Albanian embassy in the super-state of the world and at the center of world politics. He organizes the visits and meetings of Albanian officials and authorities with American officials and authorities; advocates for Albania’s foreign policy at the high American institutions and exchanges ideas about the possibility to develop relations and collaborations of mutual interest with diplomats having a consolidated career in Washington!

Misters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs do not put in a bad position the people (your employees), who with their limited knowledge of diplomacy cannot even go to Djibouti.

America is not a place to organize guide trips to learn diplomacy …

And remember! Albania is perceived through these people. Are they the adequate representatives of Albania? And should Albania develop its image through them? Mr. Serreqi can provide an answer to that, when he comes back to Albania, if he considers it appropriate.

The spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cannot deny the fact that on September 29, 1993, the Albanian Ambassador to the USA, Roland Bimo, walks the streets of Tirana. While the person in charge of the Albanian embassy in the USA, newly assigned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tirana, walks the streets of Washington.

In addition, Albanians already used to abnormal appointments, are not impressed by such matters. However, we would kindly advise the officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to try not to reveal the ignorance of the institution they represent to foreigners. It is not fair that because of one person’s or several persons’ wish, foreigners laugh at Albania. For those who behave in a way to be laughed at and don’t feel ashamed, then let them be like that (i.e. a clown). But they should leave Albania in peace because Albania owes them nothing. On the contrary, it is these people who owe Albania a lot and who can never pay it back, because of their frequent misbehavior.

Attempts and Failure of the United Military School Coup d’état, February 1991

An interview with Mr. Neritan Ceka, a protagonist in the events at the United Military School on February 22, 1991


December 29, 1995

Does history teach us?

Widely reported in the press covering the political situation, the coup attempt at the United Military School in February 1991 has remained a mystery, approached by justice only when required by politics.

But even in these cases, it was not that serious. It seems that “the coup d’état of the United Military School” counts more for political propaganda than for finding out what really happened and who was responsible for the confrontation of those days.

The main representative of the DP at that event was Mr. Neritan Ceka, who on behalf of the DP denounced the coup attempt at that place, where Enverist history was prevailing, and was asked to testify about that several months after the case was brought to court. “RD” journalist Genc Tirana, who reported on those events for the newspaper, was not asked to testify. Mr. Ceka was called in the General Prosecutor’s Office, where he testified. His testimony was also recorded on a cassette – he keeps it.

When considering this dangerous event, it is interesting to point out that neither then nor now have attempts been made to free the structures of Public Order, National Security and Army from politics, which verifies the pessimistic thesis that “history teaches nothing to nobody.”

“Several days ago you were called to the Tirana Prosecutor’s Office, where you were asked to testify about the events at the United Military School on February 22, 1991. How do you explain the delayed interest in justice for these events?

Bringing the organizers of the coup d’état of February 22, 1991 to the court was one of the main commitments of the DP to justice. Negligence regarding this commitment can be explained by the fact that those who have remained in the DP and who govern Albania today have had no time to keep the promise towards justice because they have considered doing justice against their former friends more important and honest than being guided by the law. Now that the responsible people for the coup d’état have left Albania, this investigation will be part of the propagandistic serial of coffees of the dictatorship.

How would you, as a witness but also as a protagonist of this event, politically consider February 22, 1991?

It was for sure one of the most dangerous days, which could have marked the beginning of a civil war in Albania. The fall of the statue of the dictator on February 20; the triumph of students’ hunger strike; and the prevention of the confrontation between the crowd and police forces, as well as with the Guard of the Republic at Lana Bridge on February 21, showed that the DP had the situation in the capital under full control. Under the pressure of these events, the Labor Party and Ramiz Alia were fully paralyzed and it became clear that the country would peacefully take part in the March 31 elections – the DP’s victory.

The most conservative forces of the Party of Labor dressed in military uniforms were mobilized against this prospective. An organizing commission headed by the officer Agim Bajraktari discharged the commander of the United Military School and the Military Academy on February 22, armed hundreds of students, sent and received delegates from the military units of Tirana and other districts, wrote an ultimatum and sent it to Ramiz Alia, RTV, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Interior, DP, etc. The essence of this ultimatum was to bring political life in the country under the control of the army. That commission also called the political parties and representatives of the government in a meeting at the United Military School premises with the presence of television. Mr. Agron Cika and I represented the DP in that meeting. We also took Abdi Baleta with us as the secretary of the Human Rights Forum. The Republicans did not come, while the counselor for the army at the Central Committee represented the Party of Labor. Present also were representatives from the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Interior, the National Front and the 15 members of the Organizing Commission.

Could you tell us how the meeting was?

The officers of the Organizing Commission, but also the representatives of the Party of Party, the National Front and the ministries who supported them, were very aggressive. They were also supported by the shouts of hundreds of armed students gathered in the square behind the school building. My main duty as DP representative was to denounce the so-called initiative as a military coup d’état and I did that. I asked for the disarmament of the students, while the command of the school and the units involved in this movement should obey the order of the Minister of Defense and the Commander General of the Army, who should commence their duties in compliance with the constitution. I was also against the demand to replace the statue of Enver Hoxha in the center of Tirana and to hold a referendum on his figure. By the end of the meeting, Abdi Baleta supported me by presenting the juridical arguments. So, the commission was paralyzed and the military officers’ goal to subdue the political forces failed in that meeting. Of course, the whole people, who was determined not to have a back-slide, supported our stand. Hundreds of people, upset that the military had decided to transport the statue of Enver Hoxha from the school to the center of the city, had gathered in front of the school building.

How did the skirmish at the United Military School begin?

While we were discussing, the forces of the notorious unit no. 326 shot in the air and attacked the people staying in front of the school building. This panicked the armed students, who began to shoot towards the windows of the flats nearby, injuring two people. Following that, police forces also panicked and they began to pursue the “dark forces,” propagandized by the Party of Labor and RTV for several months. The consequences were tragic: one policeman was accidentally killed by his friends; and two innocent citizens died. Some tens of citizens, among them the football referee Fiqiri Haxhiu, were arrested and cruelty beaten.

How did that event come to an end and who prevented its consequences?

The DP demonstrated balance and seriousness in that event. The following day, on February 24, hundreds of young people with bottles of diesel and dynamite besieged the school building and blocked Dibra Street. That scared the military and made them recover their professional consciousness. A delegation from the school command came to DP headquarters and a group of remarkable DP leaders, Azem Hajdari and Aleksander Meksi, were sent to calm the people, with the condition that the Organizing Military Commission be dissolved and the command of the school resume control.

Do you think that coup d’état at the United Military School was an isolated event or does it reflect a spiritual situation of the armed forces?

I should say that in the framework of the armed forces, the coup d’état was an isolated attempt, and this was one of the main reasons it failed. This coup d’état was not supported by the personnel of the Ministry of Defense or the commands of the main military units deployed near Tirana. However, nobody can say what would have happened if DP was not determined and if all people had not objected.

How do you consider that event now, four years after?

Personally, I feel I did a civil duty and I am convinced that most military taking part in the event got a very good lesson and they consider the relations between the army and politics differently. I would welcome the initiative of the Prosecutors’ Office to consider that event in two directions.

First, it is never late to find the guilty persons who encouraged and caused that event, where at least there were three casualties, and some others were wounded. This cannot be neglected.

The current military of Albania should also learn from this very good lesson. They should understand that their profession is related to the state and not to the power. In truly democratic countries the armed forces are depoliticized, and they obey only the constitution and law. The military remain in their positions regardless the change of powers and the parties having them.  Unfortunately, during the mandate of the Meksi government, there’s been a criminal attempt to politicize the armed forces. Certain segments of these forces are pursuing the opposition.

Five years ago, the Party of Labor and its Senior Secretary, who was also the Commander General of the Army, stigmatized the military by considering the DP as a dark force. In fact, now those officers have been brought to the court. Two weeks ago, the DP chairman Sali Berisha, who is also the Commander General, considered the leaders of the Democratic Alliance as enemies of democracy. While a year earlier the Minister of Defense, Safet Zhulali, asked the military forces to vote for the Commander General in the referendum. I hope that the police forces, National Information Service, and the armed forces will not respond to these appeals to be involved in a party or personal political issues. This is a proper and relevant lesson taught from the failed coup d’état at the United Military School.

Cassette of the meeting

“Bloodshed is a matter of hours unless we start …”

Agim Bajraktari, chairman of the Organising Commision speaks.

Now we have made a social appeal, considered reasonable, to set up an organizing group to command a crowd, which actually cannot be commanded either by political parties or the government. The reasons to set up this organizing group are: to command this crowd and that recently in our country many bad things, which people don’t want and which are not good for the nation, have been introduced. First of all this organizing group protects the interests of the people and the country. We are at the edge of a catastrophe. Here in this garrison besides the telegrams of solidarity from all the military schools and military units of Tirana we have also received other telegrams from Vlora, Gjirokastra, Tropoja and Tirana, from all the military units and they agree with this organizing group. There are some problems, which the organizing group would like to clarify. We, the organizing group, are for the democratization of the life in the country, for the pluralism, for joining Europe. But how will we join it? We don’t want to join it the way applied until now. We will take measures to join Europe according to a plan, not after five or ten years. An unsafe situation is created in the country: murders have been committed; different objects (buildings) have been destroyed; depots, and precious goods have been looted; and finally – the fall of the monument of Enver Hoxha in the center of the city. Enver Hoxha is the greatest historical figure of our country, who succeeded in realizing the biggest unification of our country, according to the left Dutch. For this reason we have stated in our program, which is distributed to all the organizations in the country, that we are for the de-politization of the army. We don’t want to belong to any party. We obey to the law, rules, and discipline. We want to join Europe without shedding blood. Now there is a problem: all the political parties have been distanced from the vandalistic actions. This number of people, as the history shows, can be big, but it can also be small. So far we have had no order from the Labor Party, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Defense, we have not an order like that. We are unsatisfied with these bodies. We are unsatisfied with the President of the Republic. So we would appreciate if comrade President or other comrades working with him came here. We don’t want bloodsheds and we would like to join the European Union as all the parties declare. Who will keep the responsibility for all these vandalistic actions? I think that a national referendum should be developed for the figure of Enver Hoxha. To respect him as much as the people decides; as a historical figure, as the leader of the National Liberation War. We are not for policies of a year (short-term policies). The Labor Party should not also. Destruction of Enver Hoxha’s statues into pieces does not demonstrate any model of cultured people. Only the cannibals can behave like that. As we said above there are telegrams from Tropoja, Kukes, Peza, saying that depots have been looted and they had kept arms in hand, the same as in the United Military School and the Military Academy; let us arm the people. We implore all the leaders of the parties, organizations and state institutions to avoid the blood shed in our country. That is a matter of hours, unless we start an intensive commitment, come to the same opinion and prevent bloodshed. We, I mean the army, have completed our mission, we have obeyed to all the orders and we are very indignant; it’s about 8-9 months that we have constantly been insulted. As we have emphasized, we have sacrificed everything; our privileges, our youth and our lives to protect our country. For these reasons the people want us to react, if this is really the duty of the army. We have our complaints against the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense and we do not agree especially with the President regarding the events of yesterday. We will ask a confrontation with the president-the Ministry of Interior-the Ministry of Defense. Why is the people deceived? Why are laws enacted? Why are laws not enforced? Why is the army left in shadow? Now let us listen to the opinions of our comrades. We also have our complaints against the TV, which lately and more precisely yesterday did not present the situation in the whole Albania. Why is Tirana changed into a sinking ship? Why are the Albanian people suffering spiritually? In fact it is a matter of moments or hours and the war can start all over Albania. I don’t say that for panic or pressure. People will kill us, the government, the parties and everyone. Let’s not demonstrate a poor culture. We are in Europe; the greediness for power should not close our eyes. We respect the representatives of the political parties, but we didn’t appreciate Mr.Pashko’s statement in television, (maybe it is not the right moment), that the army destroys the ecology. I don’t know in what circumstances he said that, but the people listened to that, the army listened to that too. Now I have an idea, let all of us discuss, and reach a conclusion. We are for the elections to be held on March 31 and we should approach them without committing any murder. We do not want bloodshed. But we don’t also want our sisters and brothers not to be safe, so this is the reason we want to set up the organization, the organizing commission, not to have things like that. Let us please discuss now and let us make a common statement at the end.

“I would consider a coup d’etat any attempt to oppose the constitution.”

– Speech of Neritan Ceka, DP representative.

I think that before meeting the students we should resolve problems here. This is an initiative of the organizing group.  If this initiative has to do with what this comrade said, I think it does not comply with the appeal.

I think that first of all the duty of a military man is to obey to the constitution and the Commander General. If you ask us to come here, while your officers and students are armed, I think you do not obey the constitution, the people or the president. Albanian people have a very safe strong point here in Albania and that is the president, if he protects the constitution, and I think Ramiz Alia has so far protected that. Speaking also on behalf of DP I would consider a coup d’etat any attempt to oppose the constitution and Ramiz Alia. This should be clear and on behalf of the DP I firmly support this.

If you come here on behalf of an unrestrained crowd, as you already said, who do you represent than? If you represent the students outside, you have to come here with the authority of their opinions. So if you ask us to come here, than you should have also authority on those people. Do not ask us to confront those people, if you have not clarified your ideas. I think that most of the ideas presented here are right. Your concern is right and I agree that our army and our military students have a heart beating for their people under their military coats. We should all accept that. On the other hand I think that the situation presented as tragic, in fact is not. Listen, Albania is going towards democracy and it is not a process without pains and losses. We should bear in mind that if there is any people in Europe going through this process with less pains, that is Albania. There is no political murder; no big political crimes; no big political objections; so do not make it that tragic. Generally we all agree to develop democracy. Ask some of your students to leave the arms and have a walk in the streets of Tirana and they will see that Tirana is calm. (Don’t interrupt me please.) Police forces have the situation in Tirana under control, and this is due to the consensus of the whole people, not the parties, (the parties may say something today, and something else next day). They have it under control, because people’s desire and the desires of everyone here is to join Europe, so to join where we really belong to, because we actually are in Europe. The most vital issues of our era (country) are democratically resolved. We cannot exclude excesses, but we cannot stop the march to democracy. This should be clear. The historical figures cannot be established or removed by a referendum. I say it would be wrong to urge our people to decide on that until the deadline you suggested, it would not serve to the nation. He has his place in the history, and I think that if one of the alternatives won 60% and the other 40%, we would not allow this 40% to have their own opinion. Hence, let us not exaggerate things. Let us not confuse the democratic movement with the excesses and the people who pretend to be democrat, but who in fact are pseudo-democrats.

I think if we do something like that, we would make a mistake. It is not our right to evaluate the figure of Enver Hoxha in a referendum. The history does not allow us. The main request stated here I think is to free the army from politics, not simply from parties. There should be no party organizations within the army, either Democratic Party, or Ecologic Party or Labor Party. This request will be covered in the constitution, but policy should also be taken out of army texts, walls, etc. this does not mean that the de-politicized soldiers and officers will become machine. He is a man and he will not be excluded from the political life, but when he is in a military uniform and when he has the arm in hands, he has to obey to the constitution, the supreme law and the Commander General. He has to obey to him. If we say, we will do what the nation asks us to, we should start now. We have to be free from politics since this moment. You require de-politicization, but on the other hand you want to impose yourselves to the president; you want to impose to the police forces and I think the police forces have been very serious and correct. They have won the sympathy of not only the parties, but also of people. (Voices.) I am expressing my opinion; you may express yours. We should not accompany your soldiers to Skanderbeg Square and restore order. The order is restored, when the law, the constitution and the president are respected. We all agree on that. Who does not obey to the president, violates the law and if we violate the law, there is no March 31.

Interview with Ramiz Alia: On the Eve of 75, Ramiz Alia Speaks


October 15, 2000

On October 18, the day Ramiz Alia will be 75 years old, he will be in a surgery ward of a clinic in Boston. But this does not worry him at all, and the only thing he would not like to do is to complain about health, as any person of his age would do.

“Feasts and birthday parties do not make any impression on me. For me, it is important that at the end of this life I have no debts to anybody. And it seems to me that, so far, I have no debts. I fought since I was 16 for the same ideals that I believe even today, and along the way I have never thought of making a fortune, not even having a house of my own. But this does not make me feel bad, on the contrary….”

The only present Alia gives to himself this birthday, is the book “Talking about Albania,” a long interview – questions and answers –  about 250 pages that was just published in Greece.

During these ten years Alia, a publicist, the author of three other books post 1990, knows something for sure. No matter how and how much he writes, he is not completely reliable for the Albanian readers, who expect something more from him.

“They think that we have been developed through a great number of secrets, which can be revealed only by me. But I have told all that happened, and now I have nothing else to tell but gossip in order to become more interesting. But perhaps they are really expecting some gossip or curiosities. Or they may think that because somebody likes to think that Enver Hoxha was a murderer, a dictator, that I should also say so. When I say that I have not known him as such, they say to me that I’m hiding something or I’m lying. Not mentioning then the ones who say that I am asking for political asylum, taking with me all the secrets and mysteries of so many years. In order not to make them waste time and ink, now I say that I will be back in Tirana on October 25.

Something else Alia does not like to do is self-criticism. “Why should I always criticize the past using the logic of today. They were other years, other ways of thinking. If we consider the past, we should analyze it with the logic of that time.”

He does not comment on Enver Hoxha either. He keeps repeating that he knew an Enver, who was self-conscious until the last day, and who had nothing in common with the personage they want to create for him.

Klan: All the questions for you to answer have to do with the change of systems and the declaration of pluralism….

Ramiz Alia: I do not know what hasn’t been said yet. I feel a strange desire of everybody for me to tell what in fact did not happen. So, I should say how I brought Berisha, how I created the DP, etc. I as a President accepted the pluralism of thought and the political pluralism. Later, I encouraged the creation of the parties, but I did not take part and I could not take part in the history of their creation. That is regarding the DP, while regarding the SP, things are different. I had known Nano since the stage of changes within the Party of Labor and I considered him promising. In fact, I appointed him as prime minister while the Party of Labor still existed. When the Party of Labor changed into the Socialist Party, the congress of the party elected him to be the head, but I had the opinion that he was the most appropriate candidate.

Klan: Ten years have passed since then. Who are the people you regret selecting?

Ramiz Alia: It can be judged now with the logic of another time. Every time has its own logic. However, during these 10 years these people have demonstrated characteristics that I did not know then, and the time did not prove them. For example, Fatos is very ambitious. This is not a bad thing, but when this vice surpasses the limits, it becomes problematic for a leader.

Klan: What is your impression for the candidates for the Municipality of Tirana?

Ramiz Alia: Besnik Mustafaj showed that he was not a politician. In reality, a writer does not know how to do politics. The writer thinks that the events develop the way they develop in his books and he gets confused. He remains sensitive, sentimental, while politics is cold and well-calculated. It has nothing to do with the emotions but only with the cold logic.

Klan: With which period of ours could you compare the recent events in Belgrade?

Ramiz Alia: With 1997 in Albania, when the popular movement demanded the fall of Berisha and, even more than Milosevic did, Berisha released the army and the police. Berisha could have died politically since then, but the Socialists did not allow that, and that’s not because they did not like to, but because of the pressure from abroad. I would not wish and believe that the end of Milosevic could also be prevented like that. I would consider that impossible.

Klan: It is obvious the attention that the world has paid recently to Belgrade. What about Albania? What is the level of attention Americans to Albania?

Ramiz Alia: I don’t think that America caresses Albania, it has its own interests. In fact, in politics the game is played on the basis of interests. But there are interests, there is policy, and there is being interested. Politics is cold, it does not accept sentiments. America has its interests in Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosova, and the whole Corridor 8. That is why its policy is friendly. How much we know to profit from this, that is our problem and not America’s.Interviewed by Rudina Xhu

Where is Albania and Where is it Going?

By Teodor Keko


May 28, 1994

Albania! Quite near Italy and Greece. An ancient country but with very few ancient relics, it continues to remain a land unknown by most of Europe. Perhaps the famous Albanian writer Ismail Kadare explained the character of this people well in his books, where it is seen theoretically by the critics as an interlacing of the real and unreal, which practically is the complicated character of the Albanian.  It is separated in two parts – even in two different minds – Albanians are the people with the most meaningful symbol, the double-headed eagle on their flag.

For many people what we do is not understandable. On March 25, 1992, 75% of the votes were given against the Socialists, but exactly four months later, in the local elections, 50% of the votes were given to the Socialists. It was a victory that should have been deeper if we consider what was said about the July elections: that they were manipulated in Fier etc. It is difficult to understand what made people change their minds so soon, when the new government had no more than 100 days of existence.

It is said that Albanians have a sense of smell. There is even a proverb that says that rotten things smell soon.  Actually, they should have a sense of smell.  After two years of the governing DP under the flag of democracy, it does not seem like the staff of today’s politicians have many chances to remain on the political scene of the country. About the current politicians and ministers, the people of the capital do not speak well. The ministers are accused of embezzling large sums of money.  Some arrests have been made but silence and mystery shrouded these cases. Even when the freedom and independence of the press is in a desperate situation, RTSH, an institution dependent on the parliament, has become a spokesman of Berisha, and this is not noticed only by those who know Albanian. The opposition does not appear anywhere, even in the cultural programs.  Readers and viewers can easily notice that there are months during which the names of well known writers such as Neshat Tozaj, Dritero Agolli, A. Frangaj, N. Lesi… have disappeared. Pen names are being used in the most popular paper of the opposition, Zëri i Popullit.  The Albanian journalist calls this “creative democracy,” ironically comparing it with the “creative socialism” of Enver Hoxha. The fact that the press is not free shows that the DP does not have a pure democratic concept. Some ministers of the DP have ordered their staff not to give information to journalists without their permission.

Even in the street you cannot say your opinion openly because you may have to deal with the secret service or, if you are a state official, you may lose your job. It is painful to hear the deputies of the DP addressing this opposition with: Shut your mouth!  We saw you for 45 years in succession…  It is exactly like the dictator’s language right after the war.  Shut up!  We saw you during the war…

No one has learned the lessons of history. Very few politicians know that democracy is made by the twin of position-opposition. The power of justice does not have the slightest independence. Berisha is person number one of the country, in full meaning of the word “one,” and does not like very much the independence of powers. A general prosecutor who tried to be independent was immediately fired.

The same things Albanians have said about Ruli, the former minister of finance, who presented an unconvincing resignation.

Most of the other political parties do not agree with the DP privatization policy and have said that they will not accept it in the future.  They say there is corruption, and the DP is grabbing all the country’s valuable property. If we add the unconvincing imprisonment of Nano, the fact that the Communist Party is illegal, the fact that the PAD is not legalized, the future of the DP will be gloomier still.

Albanians have understood this.  Some of them who are against the DP say that, even in 1996, the power must be given to the DP so as to avoid revenge. Another part says that the DP will not relinquish power without bloodshed. It can easily be proven that in Albania there is corruption and there is no legal state. Special stories can be written about the violations of human rights and press freedom, foreign policy, the paralyzed economy or Albanians’ tendencies to leave the country.  All of these and other important problems lead to the question: Where is Albania going?  What shall the opposition do in Albania?