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

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About Fred Abrahams

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

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