Bashkimi Newspaper 1991

Newspaper of the Democratic Front

Summary of Key Articles – curated and translated by Prof. Artan Puto

17 January pg. 1 has the agreement of political party representatives and organizations to halt all strikes until May 1 due to the difficult economic situation.

18 January has the decision of the Presidium of the Popular Assembly to postpone the elections until March 31 and the statement of Ramiz Alia after the disorder and strikes that began in early January.

23 January pg. 1 has the decree of the Presidium of the Popular Assembly on the protection of statues, monuments and symbols of national figures, including of Enver Hoxha.

28 January pages 1-2 have the program of the newly founded Republican Party. Independence and national sovereigniy, human rights, and private property are among the objectives of this party. {Note: The party sets out in its initial program that land must be given to farmers. Later, the party represents landowners interests.}

10 February pg. 1 has an interview with Defence Minister Kiço Mustaqi, who denies the allegations of Sali Berisha and VOA about an eventual coup d’etat in Albania. On the same page, there’s news about turmoil in the town of Durres while people gathered to wait for a ferry to Italy.

13 February pages 1 and 2 have a speech by Ramiz Alia in Vlora where he admits some errors in the past and calls for more stability in the country which, he says, will also benefit Kosovo. He says that a gradual and careful transition is more appropriate for Albania, which should not be exposed in rushed way to the “blind rules of the market economy.” He praises the role of the communists as leaders of the changes.

15 February on pg. 1 has the Ministry of Interior announcement about riots in the country by “terrorist and fascist” groups, which will take advantage of political party rallies for terrorist acts.

18 February pg. 1 declaration of the Council of Ministers which rejects the demand of Tirana University students to remove the name of Enver Hoxha from that of the university.

21 February has the speech of Ramiz Alia after protesters ripped down the statue of Enver Hoxha in the main square of Tirana. Alia says that this act has harmed the siuation in the country and he will form a presidential council which will henceforth run the country. On the same page, there is also the decision of the Albanian government to remove the name of Enver Hoxha from the main university in Tirana. {Note: from this point, Bashkimi newspaper continues to present the party and government views while giving space to opposition parties, the forum for human rights and student activists.}

22 February on the first pg. there is the declarations of Party of Labor, Democratic Party and Republican Party on the situation in the country after the students strike, which demanded the removal of the name Enver Hoxha from the university. The PLA considers the strike to be a “vandalist act” while the DP warns against “the risk of a declaration of state of emergency by the anti-democratic forces.”. The RP agrees with Alia on the creation of a presidential council to run the country until the holding of elections.

23 February on the first pg. Has the decree for the creation of the presidential council and the list of its members. This includes the council’s first declaration and the list of the new Albanian government headed by Fatos Nano. On the same page, there’s information from the Ministry of Interior which reports on clashes between officials of the military schools and a crowd of people, resulting in four deaths.

7 March pg. 1 has news about clashes in the port of Durres where thousands of people have stormed boats and fled to Italy.

8 March pg. 1 has a declaration of the Albanian government which declares the port of Durres a military zone after the exodus of thousands of Albanians. On the same page is also the declaration of the Central Committee of Party of Labor which says these events are organized by foreign and internal enemies.

11 March pg. 1 has information from the Ministry of Interior about the fleeing of thousand of Albanian citizens of Montenegrin origin to Yugoslavia.

13 March pg. 1 has a short news about the release of the last political prisoners.

14 March on pages 1 and 4 there’s an interview with Stefan de Mistura, special UN envoy, who denies reports that the embassies of western countries will open their doors to Albanians who want to leave the country.

16 March pg. 1 has the announcement about the establishment of diplomatic relations beween Albania and the US.

17 March pg. 4 has a report on a press conference held in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the establishment of diplomatic relations between Albania and the US. These relations are considered important and an opening to new opportunities for cooperation between the two countries.

21 March pg. 1 has a declaration by the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the suspension of the presidency of the autonomous region of Kosovo. The ministry considers this an act which denies Kosovo its status as a constituent part of the Yugolsav federation.

24 March pages 1-2 have the speech of Ramiz Alia to the nationaal conference of the PLA. Alia again considers the tearing down of Hoxha’s statue and the massive exodus to Italy as organized by foreign and internal enemies of Albania.

30 March pages 1-2 have the electoral speech of Ramiz Alia one day before the elections. Alia calls the PLA the initiators of the democratic processes in Albania.

3 April has the declaration of the Presidium of the Popular Assembly and the presidential council about the violent events in Shkodra. The declaration considers the event an anti-democratic and anti-national attempt to destabilize the country after the elections.

14 April pg. 1 covers a report by the Office of Investigator General about the April 2 events in Shkodra. The declaration admits that security forces opened fire on protesters and says this “went beyond the competences of the armed forces.”

26 April on pages 1 -2 there’s a report by the special parliamentary commission on the events of Shkodra. The commission disagrees with the information from the Interior Ministry and finds that the armed forces went beyond their competencies.

1 May pages 1 and 3 have the speech by President Ramiz Alia. This speech is neutral and contrasts with his former positions as leader of the PLA.

5 May pg. 1 has the declaration from the 17th plenium of the PLA, which decides to reléase Ramiz Allia from his position of party Secretary General because he’s elected presdient of republic.

9 May pg. 4 has an article by Mehmet Elezi with the title “In Front of the Alternative: Europe or America.” The author says that for Albania it is important to establish strong relations with both “powerful partners” and considers it dangerous and naive to view the positions of the Socialist Party and Democratic Party as a clash between Albania nearing Europe or the US.

10 May in almost the whole paper there’s the program of the new government headed by Fatos Nano.

15 May pg. 1 has an article written by Pellumb Sulo with the title “What is Happening in the Villages of Shkodra.” The author reports on a situation of insecurity and chaos in the agricultural cooperatives which now are objects of continuous looting and theft. “Socialist property” has become “nobody’s property,” he says.

27 May on the first pg. there are two reports on the hunger strike of the miners in Valias and the declaration of the Albanian government.

30 May has a joint press release on the establishment of diplomatic relations between Albania and Great Britain.

31 May has a short report on a meeting between hunger-strikers and deputies. Their demands are the resignation of the government and declaring as martyrs of democracy the four people killed on April 2 in Shkodra, among other points.

1 June has a speech by Ramiz Alia before parliament after a wave of strikes has swept the country. Alia calls for stability and invites the parliament to give its support to the newly elected governmen to implement economic reforms.

5 June pg. 1 has the decision of political parties to form a new government and to call fresh elections in 1992. It also has the speech of Fatos Nano about his resignation as prime minister.

9 June has a declaration by Nexhmije Hoxha who says that Enver Hoxha had no properties or assets other than his pension.

19 and 20 June has an article by Uk Zenel Buçpapa entitled “6 Months of Pluralism” with some considerations on the peculiarities of Albanian pluralism.

20 June pg. 1 has the news that Albania has been accepted as the 35th member of the OSCE.

23 June, the full paper, covers the visit to Albania of US Secretary of State James Baker. Page 4 has his speech before the Albanian parliament.

24 June has an editorial with the title “Messages of Friendship and Confidence” about the Baker visit. The author, Llazar Vero, writes that the visit had two important effects: for the internal situation, as it gave a psychological and political support to the changes in the country during a time of crisis, and as a success of Albanian foreign policy. The author thinks it is an indication that the US administration supports the democratization of Albania and it will contribute to it.

28 June has the speech of Ramiz Alia as president of republic in the town of Kukes. He speaks here also about Kosovo.

4 July pg.1 has a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to chairman of the OSCE on the situation in Kosovo, warning of a possible massacre there against the Albanian population. On the same page, there’s a letter from Kosovo leader Ibrahim Rugova to the international community in which he draws attention to Kosovo after the events in Slovenia and the forced recruitment of young Albanians into the Yugoslav Army.

5 July on pages 1 and 3 have an interview with Ali Aliu, member of the presidency of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) entitled “Together.” Aliu speaks about Albania’s stance towards Kosovo, what should be done, and the importance of Albania’s admission to the OSCE.

7 July first page has the declaration of the Albanian government on events in Yugoslavia after the proclamation of independence by Slovenia and Croatia. The government supports the status of republic for Kosovo in a future reorganization of the Yugoslav Federation.

7 July pg. 4 has a declaration by Ibrahim Rugova, head of the Democratic League of Kosovo, that if the other nations in the former Yugoslav Federation will proclaim Independence then Kosovo Albanians will demand full autonomy.

12 July pg. 1 has a resolution by the Albanian parliament recognizing the right of Kosovo to have the status of a republic in a new Yugoslavia.

15 July pg. 1 has a report on a meeting between Ramiz Alia and Ibrahim Rugova. Rugova praises the support to Kosovo given by the Albanian parliament and Alia says that the Albanians of Kosovo should enjoy their right to have a republic.

8 August pg. 1 has news about a new large-scale exodus in Vlora and Durres, where thousands of people tried to take boats to Italy. These attempts were accompanied by vandalous acts, the paper says.

8 August pg.1 has a meeting of President Alia with the prime minister and other ministers regarding the situation in Kosovo. They decided to strengthen the unity among Albanian people, to support the demands of Kosovo Albanians, to put the army on alert for any eventual situation on the border with Yugoslavia, and to order the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to sensitize the international community on the rights of Kosovo Albanians. On the same page, there’s a letter from Ibrahim Rugova to the European Parliament and the Albanian President on the aggravated situation in Kosovo after a considerable increase of Yugoslav military troops in the region.

9 August pg. 1 has a communication by the Council of Ministers, which decided to transfer the ports of Vlora and Durres to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defence. The decision is taken after the new exodus to Italy.

9 August pg. 2 has an article by Fiqiret Barbullushi entitled “Shock Therapy or Gradual Measures.” The author gives eight reasons why Albania should pursue drastic reforms, comparing the situation to that in other East European countries.

11 August pages 1 and 2 have a press release by the Albanian government spokesman on the situation of Albanian refugees in Italy and the decision of the Italian government to send them back home.

14 August pg. 1 covers a meeting that Ramiz Alia had with the Italian oficial Francesco Cossiga after the recent Albanian exodus.

18 August pg. 1 has two reports on the meetings that vice chairman of Kosovo’s parliament, Iljaz Ramajli, had with President Alia and Prime Minister Ylli Bufi, who expressed their support for an independent republic of Kosovo.

22 August pg. 2 has an article by Andrea Stefani with the title “Exodus, Politics and Economy.” The author examines the causes of the exodus, stressing the precarious economic situation in the country and also the tense political atmosphere and fears of social conflicts.

6 September pg. 1 has a letter from Ramiz Alia to the chairman of the Yugoslav peace conference Lord Carrington in which he regrets the fact that Kosovo Albanians are not invited, saying they are required to resolve problems in Yugoslavia. The same page has a declaration by the Albanian government supporting the holding of the conference but calling the exclusion of Kosovo Albanians unjustified.

7 September pg. 1 has an editorial entitled “Kosovo, Yugoslavia and Europe” written by Llazar Vero on the occasion of the first anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Kosovo. He says there is no solution to the problems inside Yugoslavia without addressing the issues with Kosovo Albanians.

12 September pages 1 and 3 have an article by Sokrat Plaka, head of the institute for international studies, with the title “The Kosovo Problem in the Yugoslav Crisis.” He writes that, because the other former Yugoslav republics have declared their independence, Kosovo too has its right to proclaim its future status as a republic. The author says that the Albanian state is for the recognition of the Republic of Kosovo and of the Kosovo Albanian people as a nation, and the participation of Albanians in all negotiations for the future arrangement of Yugoslavia.

16 September pg. 1 has two short reports on the visit of Ramiz Alia to Finland and France where he signed the Final Act of the Helsinki Accords and the Charter of Paris.

19 September pages 1 and 3 have the declaration of the Democratic Party on a car accident near Kruja involving Elez Biberaj from the Voice of America and two journalists from the Bashkimi newspaper. The DP considers this an act of the Sigurimi, which wants to foment chaos and terror against the country’s democratic forces.

20 September pages 2-3 have an interview with Hydajet Hyseni, one of the leaders of the Kosovo movement for liberation in the 1970. The interview continues the next day on pages 2, 3 and 4. Hyseni speaks about the so-called Marxist-Leninist groups.

25 September pg. 1 has news about the resolution of the Kosovo Parliament.

26 September pg. 1 has an editorial with the title “A Historical Event” by Llazar Vero on the referendum for the Republic of Kosovo as an independent state.

29 September pg. 1 has a declaration by the Albanian government on the refendum in Kosovo.

3 October has a press release by President Alia presenting his position on the referendum in Kosovo. Alia says he supports the declaration of the Republic of Kosovo.

9 October pg. 1 has the announcement of the commission of the Kosovo parliament, which declares the results of the referendum on the status of the Republic of Kosovo. On the same page there is also a letter of congratulation from Ramiz Alia to Iljaz Ramajli, chairman of the Kosovo parliament.

19 October pg. 1 has the declaration of 11 Albanian parties in Kosovo on the situation in Yugoslavia and the future status of Kosovo, giving three versions of a future republic and the possibility of unification with Albania.

23 October pg. 1 has a declaration of the Albanian parliament recognizing Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state after the referendum. It recognizes also the Kosovo government of Bujar Bukoshi.

30 October has a declaration by a group of intellectuals to hold an “Assembly of National Reconciliation and Unity” in order to confront chaos and anarchy.

31 October pages 1-2 have a declaration by the Government of Stability lamenting a lack of internal support and denouncing the climate of chaos in the country.

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