Enver Hoxha becomes prime minister, foreign minister, defense minister, and military commander-in-chief of the People’s Republic of Albania.
Hoxha severs ties with Yugoslavia. Albania turns to Stalin and the Soviet Union.
Britain and the United States begin efforts to overthrow Hoxha by infiltrating anti-communist guerillas.
Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev criticizes Stalin’s cult of personality and begins modest reform. Hoxha condemns these “deviations” from Marxism-Leninism.
Hoxha sides with China after the Sino-Soviet split. Soviets reduce aid to Albania and then break diplomatic relations. Hoxha turns to China.
Hoxha declares Albania the world’s first officially atheist state. Mosques and churches are destroyed or converted into warehouses and sports halls.
Albania withdraws from Warsaw Pact after Soviet Union invasion of Czechoslovakia. Hoxha orders construction of 700,000 concrete bunkers around country.
After improved U.S.-China relations, Hoxha begins turning away from Beijing.
Hoxha purges military officers, sweeping them away with “an iron broom.”
Hoxha breaks political and economic ties with China.
Prime minister and loyal Hoxha aide Mehmet Shehu apparently kills himself after rebuke by the Politburo.
Enver Hoxha dies. Ramiz Alia (left) named First Secretary of the Albanian Party of Labor.
Berlin Wall falls. Romanian leader Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife killed.
Demonstrations begin in Shkoder, Kavaja and, to a lesser extent, Tirana. In May UN Secretary-General de Cuellar visits Albania. Alia liberalizes the criminal code, lifts restrictions on religion and allows foreign travel. Sanctioned criticisms appear in newspapers. In July 5,000 Albanians storm foreign embassies in Tirana and are allowed to leave the country.
In December students at Enver Hoxha University begin demonstrations. Under pressure from protests, political pluralism is legalized. The first opposition party, the Democratic Party (DP), is formed.
In January the DP publishes the first opposition newspaper, Rilindja Demokratike. In February Tirana students begin a hunger strike that culminates in the toppling of Enver Hoxha’s statue in Skanderbeg Square. In March Albania and the United States reestablish diplomatic relations. The first multi-party elections are won by the Party of Labor. In April security forces shoot and kill four anti-communist protesters in Shkoder.
In March thousands of Albanians storm boats and flee to Italy. In June the new government falls after large strikes and is replaced by a Stability Government. The Party of Labor changes its name to the Socialist Party (SP). U.S. Secretary of State James Baker is received by raucous crowds in Tirana. In August a second wave tries to reach Italy by boat but most people are returned. In December the DP withdraws from the Stability Government.
The DP wins the second multi-party elections in March and Sali Berisha becomes president. In July the SP does well in local elections. In August the DP expels seven Berisha critics, who then form the Democratic Alliance. In December Albania gets membership in the Organization of Islamic Conference and applies to join NATO.
In March NATO Secretary General visits Albania followed the next month by Pope John Paul II. In July SP head Fatos Nano is arrested on corruption charges. In August Alia is arrested for abuse of power.
In April gunmen apparently from Greece kill two Albanian soldiers. Albania arrests five ethnic Greeks from the organization Omonia, angering Greece and the U.S. SP chief Fatos Nano convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison. In July Ramiz Alia and nine former communist officials convicted. In a November referendum, Albanians reject a Berisha-endorsed constitution. In October an appeals court releases one of the Omonia activists.
In February the supreme court (Court of Cassation) releases the remaining four Omonia activists. In March Eduard Selami removed as DP head. Harassment of journalists and opposition members increase. In July the Council of Europe admits Albania. In September Berisha meets U.S. President Clinton and, upon return, orchestrates dismissal of supreme court chief justice. In December the Dayton Accords end the war in Bosnia. UN sanctions on Yugoslavia are lifted.
Elections in May are marred by fraud and violence. The DP wins 87% of the seats. Relations with the U.S. worsen. Pyramid schemes continue to expand. In summer the World Bank and IMF warn the Albanian government about the schemes. In November the first pyramid stops payments. In December Berisha calls Albanians’ money “the cleanest money in Europe and the world.”
In January the first pyramid schemes declares bankruptcy. Government freezes accounts of two schemes and arrests a scheme director in Lushnje, sparking protests. Violent demonstrations spread across the South. In February a mob in Vlora attacks the secret police headquarters—two agents and three protesters die.
In March Prime Minister Meksi resigns. Crowds loot military bases and parliament declares a state of emergency. Parliament reelects Sali Berisha to second term as president with vote of 113-1. Government fails to control the South and agrees to a Reconciliation Government with opposition parties. DP gives its supporters weapons. An Albanian ship with more than 100 people collides with an Italian Navy vessel and sinks, resulting in 57 deaths.
In April the Italian-led Operation Alba formed to stabilize Albania. Violence continues across Albania as the OSCE begins to organize elections. The elections in June bring the SP to power, with Fatos Nano as prime minister. In September a Socialist member of parliament shoots and wounds the first DP head, Azem Hajdari. In Kosovo, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) goes public in November.
In February and March violence escalates in Kosovo with KLA attacks and retaliatory killings of ethnic Albanian civilians. After a Serbian offensive in May-June, 45,000 ethnic Albanians flee into northern Albania. In summer Albanian agents work with the CIA to detain five Egyptian Islamic Jihad members in Albania, rendering them to Egypt.
In September Azem Hajdari is assassinated in Tirana. DP militants occupy state buildings and seize two tanks, but give up after international pressure. Prime Minister Fatos Nano resigns and is replaced by Pandeli Majko. In November a new constitution is adopted after approval by parliament and popular referendum.
A January massacre in the Kosovo village of Racak pushes the West closer to armed intervention in Yugoslavia. In March NATO begins a 78-day air campaign, after Yugoslav President Milosevic refused to sign an agreement at the Rambouillet conference in France. 850,000 Albanians from Kosovo are expelled, mostly to Albania and Macedonia, and about 10,000 are killed.
In June, Milosevic surrenders and NATO forces enter Kosovo. The United Nations administers the province. In October, Ilir Meta replaces Majko as prime minister.
Edi Rama becomes mayor of Tirana.
The SP barely wins parliamentary elections in June.
In January, Pandeli Majko replaces Meta as prime minister. In July Alfred Moisiu becomes Albania’s first “consensual president,” accepted by DP and SP. A few days later Nano returns as prime minister.
In January Albania and the European Union begin Stabilisation and Association Agreement talks, potentially leading to EU membership.
In January a boat sinks off Albania’s southern coast and 21 people drown. Anti-government protests and the “Nano Go” movement grow.
Parliamentary elections in July won by the DP. Sali Berisha named prime minister. In October Edi Rama replaces Fatos Nano as head of the SP.
Albania signs a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU in June (enters into force in April 2009).
In June George W. Bush becomes first U.S. president to visit Albania. In July Bamir Topi is elected president by parliament after three rounds of voting.
In March an explosion at a military warehouse in Gërdec kills 26 people. Defense Minister Fatmir Mediu resigns but is not charged due to parliamentary immunity.
In April Albania joins NATO. In June, the DP wins parliamentary elections with coalition partner Socialist Movement for Integration, run by Ilir Meta, who had split from the SP.
In November the EU presents 12 conditions Albania must meet for EU membership. In December the EU lifts visa requirements for Albanians.
In January a video broadcast on television allegedly shows Ilir Meta engaged in corruption. It sparks a violent demonstration in which four protester die. In May Edi Rama loses disputed elections for Tirana mayor to Lulzim Basha. In November DP and SP reach an agreement on political cooperation, ending an SP boycott of parliament.
In July Bujar Nishani becomes president. In September about 20 ex-political prisoners begin a hunger strike to protest the lack of government compensation. Two protesters set themselves on fire, one of whom dies. In October, the European Commission recommends Albania be granted EU candidate status after implementation of the 12 key reforms.
In April Ilir Meta announces the Movement for Socialist Integration will form a coalition with the opposition SP for parliamentary elections. The coalition wins elections in June. Edi Rama becomes prime minister. Lulzim Basha replaces Sali Berisha as DP head.
Albania sends arms and soldiers to fight Islamic State in Iraq.