Rilindja Demokratike, 1991

Newspaper of the Democratic Party

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

5 January – the first edition of RD. The front page lists the staff: editor-in-chief Frrok Çupi, head of the publishing council Preç Zogaj, and members of the publishing council Petraq Kolevica, Ajet Haxhiu, Natasha Lako, Mitro Çela, Kujtim Çashku, Edi Hila, Ilirjan Zhupa, Teodor Keko and Genc Pollo. Pages 1-6 have a report by Blendi Fevziu and Ben Blushi with the headline “Four Great Days of the Students” about the protests by students at Enver Hoxha University in Tirana that led to the legalization and formation of the Democratic Party. Pages 1-2 have the statement by the writer Ismail Kadare given after he left the country in October 1990 with an introductory article by the Kosovar Rexhep Qosja. Page 3 has the draft statute and basic program of the Democratic Party. Page 5 has the speech Sali Berisha gave at the meeting to legalize the DP where he speaks about the factors that prompted changes in Albania, the importance of tolerance over revenge, the situation for minorities in Albania, and the Kosovo question. The same page has an interview with Gramoz Pashko, who explains the DP’s economic strategy.

9 January, front page, has an article entitled “A Difficult Saturday” about pressure against DP activists in various towns as they try to organize rallies. The front page also has a short report on a meeting that Ramiz Alia had with DP representatives about postponing the elections, which the DP was demanding. Page 4 has an interview with Besnik Mustafaj given to VOA on 13 December with the headline “The Albanian People Deserves Democracy.” Mustafaj calls for the depoliticization of the ministries of interior and justice and says he supports the appeal of Ramiz Alia that “our people need a contemporary democracy.” Page 6 has an interview with Abdi Baleta, secretary of the Forum for Human Rights, who sets out the objectives of this organization, founded shortly after the DP’s legalization.

9 January, page 5, has an article entitled “With Azem Hajdari, Member of the Organizing Commission,” presenting this “leader of the students.”

12 January, page 2, has an article by Preç Zogaj with the headline “Stalin was Removed, the Anti-Stalinists Are Still in Prison.” The article recalls the events of January 1990 in Shkoder, when protesters organized the first anti-communist protest, trying to remove the bust of Stalin. Zogaj names the people who organized that demonstration and were imprisoned.

16 January, pages 1-2, have a report by Armand Shkullaku on the strike at the mine of Valias with the headline “Workers of Valias 4 Days in Strike.” (Note: this was the first major strike after the introduction of pluralism in December 1990.)

19 January, pages 1-2, have an article by Armand Shkullaku entitled “What Was Achieved Is Thanks to the Workers of Valias.” He writes about the end of the strike after the government agreed to increase the miners’ pay. The article includes the names of the workers and political leaders who negotiated the deal. Pages 2 and 5 have an article by Viron Koka entitled “Selfishness of the Power” about the privileges of bureaucracy, making a distinction between these privileges and Ramiz Alia. (Note: until now, Alia is viewed as a force for reform, trying to change the “bureaucracy” – the conservative elements and their administrative power.) Page 4 has an article by Ardian Klosi entitled “Did the Albanian Dissidence Exist?” in which he reflects on the unique features of dissidence in Albania.

2 February, pages 1-2, have the electoral program of the DP.

6 February, pages 1 and 5, have an editorial by Gramoz Pashko with the headline “The DP Electoral Program and Some Alternatives for The Transformation of Society.” Pashko presents some of the DP’s future goals with regards to privatization, private property, and foreign credits.

9 February, front page, has a letter sent to prime minister Adil Çarçani by students of Enver Hoxha University in Tirana and other educational institutions in which they ask for the first time to remove Enver Hoxha’s name from the university. (Note: this marks the beginning of the student protests that culminated in the toppling of the Hoxha monument in Tirana’s Skenderbeg Square on 20 February 1990.)

9 February paper has an interview with Azem Hajdari given to the Voice of America, where for the first time he openly criticizes Ramiz Alia and denies allegations that the DP was created by the Party of Labor. He highly appreciates DP leaders Sali Berisha and Gramoz Pashko, who he considers dissidents and leaders of the movement that sparked pluralism. Page 2 has a report by Blendi Fevziu on the student strike at Tirana University, entitled “Again the Diary of the Student Strikers,” which includes the names of some of the students and political leaders.

16 February, front page, has an article about the first conference of the DP in which the leading staff of the party was elected, including Sali Berisha as head of the Steering Committee. Pages 1 and 5 have a statement by the commission of the student strike confirming their economic demands and the need to remove the name of Enver Hoxha. The commission members are: Mesida Doda, Ridvan Peshkepia, Blendi Gonxhe, Arben Lika, Arjan Manahasa, Ilir Dizdari, and Ndue Lugja.

23 February, pages 1-2, have a report by Mitro Çela on the student strike and large protest in Tirana that ended with the toppling of the statue of Enver Hoxha on 20 February.

2 March, front page, has a statement by the Democratic Party with the headline “Democracy Means a Peaceful Situation and Free Elections.” The DP condemns the terror of the regime after the events of 20 February (toppling of Hoxha monument) and calls for the de-politicization of the army, Albanian Radio-Television and ATSH news agency. The statement gives the names of four people killed during clashes between police forces and the crowd after the statue fell. Page 2 has an article with the headline “Report on a Failed Rebellion” about the tense situation at the Military Academy in Tirana, where military officers threatened to take revenge after the toppling of Hoxha’s statue.

6 March, front page, has a long report on the first visit to Europe by a DP delegation, which included Eduard Selami, Preç Zogaj, and Edmond Trako.

13 March, page 5, has an article entitled “Helsinki Federation in Albania” about the first mission of this international organization in Albania. The article is based on a press conference the delegation gave after meetings with Albanian authorities. (Note: this visit before the first multi-party elections, resulted in this report by Human Rights Watch/Helsinki.)

16 March, pages 1-2, have a report on the first national electoral meeting of the DP, including speeches by Eduard Selami, Aleksander Meksi, Genc Ruli, Edmond Dragoti, Arben Demeti, Arben Imami, among others. These pages also list the DP candidates for the first pluralist Albanian parliament.

20 March, pages 1 and 5, have a statement by Sali Berisha after the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Albania and the US. The front page also has a statement by Gramoz Pashko on the same topic. (Note: Both of them were invited to the ceremony at the State Department.) Pages 1-2 have a statement by the Forum for Human Rights about political prisoners still being held in Albanian prisons.

23 March, pages 1 and 6, have an article entitled “American Assistance Will Be Conditioned on the Victory of Democratic Forces” about the meeting that DP leaders had in Tirana with the first American diplomats in the country. Page 5 has a long article by Genc Ruli and Dashamir Shehi on the DP’s agricultural policy, entitled “The Failed System of Socialist Co-operatives.” The authors support the dissolution of socialist cooperatives in villages but promise the land will not be sold to foreigners.

27 March, pages 1 and 6, have an interview with Sali Berisha after his return from the US where he took part in the ceremony for the re-establishment of diplomatic relations. The title is: “American Government Is Engaged to Support Democratic Forces in Albania.” (Note: for more on the visit of Berisha and Pashko to the US, see here and here.)

30 March, front page, has the electoral speech of Sali Berisha on the eve of elections. Page 5 has a report from the press conference of the US Helsinki Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe, presided by Congressman Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ), with the headline “The Biggest Help Wouldn’t Suffice for Albanians if a Socialist Economy Remains in Place.” The commission asks for the release of all political prisoners. Page 6 has a long article by Zef Camaj entitled “The Large Albanian American Diaspora Supports the Democratic Opposition.”

3 April, front page, covers the results of the first multiparty elections with the headline “DP Achieved a Partial Victory, But a Qualitative One,” stressing that the DP won in the cities and more developed areas. Pages 1-2 have an article on the events of 2 April in Shkoder with the headline “The First Coup Is Inflicted On the “Free” Post-Electoral Democracy,” covering the protest in which four people died when security forces opened fire. Pages 1 and 5 have a statement by the DP Steering Committee with the title “Time is Working for Democracy and for Democrats,” saying the electoral campaign was held in difficult conditions but the DP stresses its position against violence. Pages 1 -2 have an article with the headline “Many Facts Show That the Elections Were Manipulated” alleging electoral manipulations in various towns. Page 6 has a report by Bulgarian election monitors, written by Jouliy Porlov and Svetlana Spasova, who say they recorded manipulations in the areas where they observed.

5 April, front page, has a statement by Ismail Kadare who declares that the opposition won in the “most emancipated areas, while the communists in the most backward ones.” Page 5 has a statement by the Forum for Human Rights which says that the elections were held in unfair conditions.

10 April, front page, has an article by Sali Berisha entitled “The Elections Are Over,” in which he explains why the Democratic Party lost the elections. The same page has a statement by the US government about the elections, saying the process lacked some standards of fair and free elections. Pages 1-2 have a list of DP deputies in the first multiparty parliament.

13 April, front page, has an interview with Gezim Shima, head of the organizing commission for the independent trade unions, who declares that workers will start a general strike if the newly elected government does not respect demands for a 50% salary increase.

17 April, front page, has a statement by the DP’s parliamentary group for the opening ceremony of the first pluralist parliament. The DP boycotted the first session to protest the government’s unwillingness to investigate the killing of protesters in Shkoder on 2 April. Pages 1-2 have an article by Gramoz Pashko with the title “Demagogical Coalition” in which he rejects the PLA’s offer to form a coalition government.

24 April, pages 1-2, have an appeal by the Forum for Human Rights addressed to the parliament calling for rehabilitation and compensation for former political prisoners and exiled people as an act of national reconciliation. Page 1 has an interview with Ismail Kadare given to VOA where he offers an analysis of the situation after the elections. The communists don’t have the moral right to govern the country and they must reform their party, casting away the conservatives, he says.

27 April, front page, has an article about the DP rejecting the draft of the new constitution and proposing a draft of constitutional provisions.

1 May, front page, has a report on the election of Ramiz Alia as president of the country, written by Genc Tirana. The same page has a speech by Sali Berisha, who on behalf of the opposition does not agree to present any candidates for the presidency.

4 May, pages 1-2, have an interview with Ramiz Alia given to the chief editors of ZP and RD, Namik Dokle and Frrok Çupi, shortly after he was elected president. Alia says that from now on he will act only as president and he’ll relinquish all party positions. The front page and pg. 6 have an interview with the first US ambassador to Albania William Ryerson, given to the RD journalist Bashkim Trenova, with the headline: “We Are Interested to Develop US-Albania Relations.” Ryerson appreciates the tolerant atmosphere after the elections.

8 May, page 6, has an article based on reporting by VOA and the New York Times on the election of Ramiz Alia as president with the headline: “It Remains to Be Seen How the President Will Act in the Future.” Alia is portrayed as the man who facilitated a relatively peaceful transition to the new pluralist system.

15 May, pages 1-2, have a speech by Sali Berisha in parliament, in which he explains why the DP didn’t accept to enter a coalition with the PLA. The headline with the interview is: “Without Meeting the Demands of the DP, Albania Is Not Going Towards Europe, but Away from It.” Page 6 has a report by the country’s first human rights organization, the Forum for Human Rights, which gives the names of the people killed and injured in the recent violence in Shkoder. (Note: the four people killed when security forces opened fire at a protest were: the student leader Arben Broci, Bujar Beshenaku, Besnik Ceka and Mazmi Kryeziu.)

29 May, pages 1 and 5, have the testimony by Sali Berisha before the Commission of Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission) in the US Congress, in which he speaks about the DP’s defeat in the elections and the Albanian question in the Balkans. He says Albania is against changing borders and sees a resolution of the national question within the process of European integration. (Note: also testifying at the hearing were the writer Ismail Kadare and the student leader and DP member Azem Hajdari.) Pages 1-2 have a report by Mehill Tanushi on the strike of miners at Valis with the headline “Message from Hell….”

1 June, front page, has another report by Mehill Tanushi on the Valias miners’ strike and a speech by Sali Berisha speech in parliament in which he asks for a political solution to the crisis and the holding of new elections.

5 June, front page, is dedicated to the resignation of the Nano government and the agreement of the political parties to form a new coalition government, plus a report on the end of the workers’ strike.

15 June, front page, has Sali Berisha’s speech in parliament supporting the new coalition government with the headline: “This Government Deserves to Be Supported.”

22 June paper has an interview with Sali Berisha given to VOA about Albania’s admission to the CSCE (later OSCE). Berisha proclaims that “a new history begins for Albania, the rights and freedom of individuals will gain a new dimension, the defense of the rights of Albanians in Kosovo and Çameria will enter a new phase.”

26 June, front page, has an interview with Sali Berisha about the visit of US Secretary of State James Baker to Albania with the headline “The USA Will Help Us Overcome the Difficulties.” Berisha speaks about his activity as an intellectual rather than a politician, about factors that led to the fall of communism in Albania, and about Kosovo, among other topics.

10 July, front page, has a statement by the DP on the rehabilitation of former political prisoners.

13 July paper has an interview with Kosovo leader Ibrahim Rugova with the headline “Kosovo Problem Asks for National and International Support.” Rugova confirms the peaceful policy he has been pursuing and sees the resolution of the national question in the framework of the European integration process which will include Yugoslavia.

17 July, page 6, has an interview with Nervzat Halili, president of the Party of Democratic Prosperity in Macedonia, who says that one of the main demands of Albanians of Macedonia is to be a constitutive element in Macedonia, and to have the Macedonian parliament recognize the Republic of Kosovo.

24 July, pages 1 and 6, have an interview with Sali Berisha, who says that new elections must be held before May 1992. He warns against manipulations by the Stability Government and urges a rapid dissolution of the old structures of the Sigurimi (communist-era secret police).

7 August, pages 1 and 6, have a DP statement on events in Kosovo, denouncing violence against Albanians there, urging the Albanian government to recognize the Republic of Kosovo, and calling on the international community to include Kosovo in negotiations on the Yugoslav crisis.

10 August, pages 1 and 5, have a long article by the newly appointed RD editor-in-chief Napoleon Roshi attacking the paper’s first editor Frrok Çupi, with the headline: “Coordination of Attacks Against Democracy.”

17 August, front page, has a short news item about the prosecutor Flamur Çato who refused to charge Ramiz Alia with economic crimes. Pages 1 and 5 have a long article by Sali Berisha entitled “A Dangerous Anti-Albanian Alliance” in which he warns against the collaboration between “crypto-communists” and “ultranationalists,” which he says is trying to establish a right-wing dictatorship.

24 August, front page, has a joint statement by the Democratic Party, Republican Party and Social Democratic Party denouncing the activity and terror of the remaining Sigurimi structures, calling for reform at the state radio-television and ministry of foreign affairs, and the prosecution of former Politburo members.

4 September, pages 1-2, have a text by Sali Berisha with the title “Political Action of Citizens and Democracy” in which he invites citizens to be more present in politics and to hinder what he calls the “establishment of a right-wing dictatorship in the country” backed by the alliance of the crypto communists, Sigurimi and ultranationalists. Berisha sees this political action also as an instrument to “eradicate communism.”

7 September, front page, has the decision of the government to place the properties of political parties under state control.

11 September, front page, has an appeal sent to parliament by the association of former political prisoners, which includes a call to support former political prisoners, to condemn the figure of Enver Hoxha, and to remove conservatives from public media.

26 September, pages 1-2, have a report by Mehill Tanushi on the strike by former political prisoners who demand their rehabilitation and compensation.

28 September, almost the whole front page, has the speech by Sali Berisha at the DP’s first national congress. He speaks about the factors that led to the fall of communism in Albania, economic reform, and DP in the Stability Government.

2 October, page 3, has the speech of DP member Preç Zogaj at the DP congress with the title “Culture Accepts Only Democracy,” in which he warns against the lack of democracy in the party. Pages 1 and 6 have a resolution from the congress on Kosovo.

5 October paper has a report by Rekip Sulçe on a demonstration in Tirana’s main square with the title “Democracy Will Win. To Eradicate Communism from Albania.” The main demand of the demonstration was to prosecute former politburo members, above all Nexhmije Hoxha, and to condemn President Ramiz Alia as a hindrance to democracy.

23 October, front page, has a statement by the Albanian parliament recognizing the Republic of Kosovo.

26 October, page 1 and 6, have a report by Skender Shkupi on the conference of the DP’s National Council, based on speeches by various party leaders, including Sali Berisha, Gramoz Pashko, and Neritan Ceka. Berisha repeats his claim that DP policy will be based on reconciliation over discrimination. Pashko says that his political principle remains to fight against communism but not against communists.

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