Bashkimi Newspaper 1990

Newspaper of the Democratic Front

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

25 January – Almost the full paper contains the speech of Ramiz Alia to the 9th plenium of the Party of Labor (PLA). Alia speaks about events in East Europe and some minor changes in Albania.

3 February  – page one has the letter of Albania’s foreign minister to UN Secretary-General Javiar Perez de Cuellar on events in Kosovo.

14 February – page one has the declaration of Albania’s foreign ministry spokesman which denies any Albanian interference in the events in Kosovo.

14 March – page three and four have an article written by Qemal Lame, Head of the Investigation Office with the title “Perfectioning Socialist Democracy Demands a Further Democratization of the Justice System.” Lame writes about the decision of 9th plenium of the PLA to recognize lawyers during the investigation process.

19 April – Almost the whole paper has the speech of Ramiz Alia to the 10th plenum of the PLA Central Committee. Alia speaks about the US and Soviet Union and events in East Europe, as well as events in Kosovo.

9 May – Speech of Deputy Prime Minister Manush Myftiu on important changes to the Albanian penal code.

14 May – An article written by Genc Kondi with the title “A Reciprocally Friutful Visit” about the visit to Albania of de Cuellar. The author considers the visit important for Albania and calls for strengthening relations with the UN. He explains how Albania sees global problems from “a socialist perspective, from the experience of our history and from the  reality of Albania as a small country, with its own geostrategic position, which strives for peace and freedom for its citizens in all aspects.”

28 June – Page three has an article written by Aleks Luarasi with the title “The Juridicial Education of Masses Must Be Away from Formalism.” Dean at the law school at Enver Hoxha University and member of the presidency of the Democratic Front, the author explains recent changes to Albanian legislation. All changes, he says, have been generated by the party and to a certain degree by the evolution of Socialist society.

9 July – Page one has short pieces by two professors of the law faculty, Luan Omari and Ksenofon Krisafi, who give their opinions on the events of July 2, when thousands of people entered the foreign embassies in Tirana.

14 July – Page one and two have reports on a meeting in Tirana’s main square right after the evacuation of the people from the foreign embassies.

1 August – Page one has some decrees of the Presídium of the People Assembly under the title “Decrees for the Further Economic and Social Development of the Country.” These include the decree on the protection of foreign investments in Albania, on foreign credit, and on the right to organiize public rallies.

20 August – Page two has an article by Kleanthi Zoto with the title “Pluralism of Thought – A Necessity of the Time.” The author says that pluralism of thought is necessary for the development of Albanian society and a return to the best Albanian traditions. It’s a response, Zoto says, to the development of political pluralism elsewhere in East Europe and an attempt to say that “we have our traditions and our experiences, so we don’t need the others.” Pluralism of thought is also something new in contrast to the conservatives and bureaucrats, who are stuck in old dogmas. Dogma here means “to blindly accept decisions and to put them into practice without taking into account the specificity of the situation.” The article is a critique of practices but not ideology.

7 September – Pages one and two have reports on a meeting that Ramiz Alia had with activists from social organizations under the title “Democratization of Political System – the Continuation of the Program of the Party.” Alia speaks about the events of July (storming of the embassies) and considers them to have been fomented by the foreign enemy, mentioning also the “disoriented youth of the towns.” He calls for close cooperation with the UN and, in this context, informs the public about his upcomhing visit to New York.

17 September – Pages two and three have an article by Dr. Sali Berisha called “Democracy and Humanism – An Inseparable Duo.” Berisha stresses the importance of Albania’s democratization for Kosovo and the role of intellectuals in that democratization. He criticizes “conservatives” who resist change and hold firm to “old ways,” saying at the same time that pluralism is rooted in Albanian tradition. [NOTE: Calling for pluralism under cover of “forgotten traditions” was safer at the time. Comparing the situation in Albania with the changes in East Europe was to link Albania to international trends, which the still-communist leadership rejected. They tried to promote gradual reform as “the Albanian way” – in this case, pluralism of thought instead of pluralism of parties.]

29 September – Speech of Ramiz Alia at the 45th session of UN General Assembly in New York, where he mentions Kosovo and developments in East Europe. “The mere exaltation of democracy and human rights cannot be the magic key to the solution of the major, indeed we would say the dramatic, problems of those countries,” he said, referring to East and Central Europe.

27 October – First page has a brief press release from ATSH (Albanian Telegraphic Agency) with the title “Ismail Kadare Deserted.” The Albanian writer has sought political asylum in France, the article says.

29 October – Pages one and two have an interview with Aleks Luarasi, vice dean of the law faculty at Enver Hoxha University and a member of the presidency of the Democratic Front, about the new draft electoral law. Among the new elements, consistent with “pluralism of thought,” is that voters can choose from multiple candidates but all of them are still from the Democratic Front.

8 November – Almost the whole paper has the speech of Ramiz Alia to the 12th plenum of the Party of Labor’s Central Committee, entitled ” Strengthening of Popular Power and Perfectioning of the Political System Invigors Democratic Developments,” which covers foreign policy and “democratic changes.”

10 December – Page one has a short press release on the first protests in Tirana’s Student City.

12 December – Page one has the decision of the 13th plenum of the Central Committee of the PLA to release some Politburo members from their positions, as well as a report on the meeting that Ramiz Alia had with some students and young professors from Enver Hoxha University after the first major demonstrations, during which he announced the legalization of political parties.

13 December – Page one has the speech of Ramiz Alia to the nation after his meeting with the students. “Democracy and pluralism, either ideological or political, must lead toward popular unity and not to división,” Alia says. Divisions have always been provoked by foreign states, he says. Pages one and three have a short report on the meeting in Student City after the decision to create the Democratic Party.

16 December – Page one covers the meeting of Ramiz Alia with a group of farmers from Peza, using firm langauge to call the student protests dangerous.

19 December – Page one covers the decision of the organization of the communist youth to declare itself an independent association. [Note: Consistent with Party of Labor efforts to create “independent associations” out of its former satellites organizations.]

22 December – Page one has a short press release on the decision of the Council of Ministers to remove Stalin’s name from all institutions.

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About Fred Abrahams

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

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