Rilindja Demokratike, 1992 (Jan-April)

Newspaper of the Democratic Party

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

4 January, front page, has an editorial on the first anniversary of publishing RD. The piece accuses the government of hindering the paper and says that foreign friends, first of all from the U.S., will supply newsprint to enable publishing every day. The front page also has an article by Armand Shkullaku with the headline “One Year from the First Edition of RD,” in which he recounts publishing the first edition, prepared by the young journalists Blendi Fevziu and Ben Blushi and more experienced staff Frrok Çupi, Preç Zogaj, and Aurel Plasari.

4 January paper has an interview with Eduard Selami, secretary of the DP Steering Committee, with the headline “Serious Economic Reforms Can Only Come After the Opposition’s Victory,” given after he returned from a training course for politicians in the United States. He says market economy reforms cannot take place in Albania while a communist regime remains in place.

8 January, front page, has a statement by the Democratic Party in response to comments  by a representative of “OMONIA,” the Greek minority organization, that parts of Southern Albania should be included in Greece. The statement accuses Theodhori Bezhani of being “the propagator of Northern Epirus chauvinism.” (Note: Bezhani was tried and convicted in September 1994 for espionage with four other OMONIA activists in what became a major point of tension between Albania and Greece and then Albania and the U.S.. For more on the U.S. concerns, see here, and for details on the case see here.)

8 February, page 2, has an interview with Sali Berisha given to the French newspaper Figaro. He speaks about the policies he would implement if the DP came to power, as well as the idea of “Greater Albania.” The same page has some short news items about DP rallies in various cities. In Kuçove, the U.S. diplomat Chris Hill was also present and gave a speech. According to the newspaper, he said that “the US government will not support whatever government comes to power, but only the genuine democratic forces.”

8 February paper has an article by Petrit Kalakula entitled “What the DP Will Give to the Farmer.” The author says the DP will recognize the right for farmers to own land, will modernize agriculture, and introduce social benefits for farmers in some areas.

12 February, front page, has a report on the meeting of DP leader Sali Berisha with Kosovo leaders, including Rexhep Qosja and Idriz Ajeti, on holding a pan-national meeting of national reconciliation in Tirana. Berisha says this is feasible only after the victory of anti-communist forces.

15 February, front page, has a statement by Sali Berisha confirming that the DP will form a coalition with the Republican Party and Social Democratic Party for the upcoming elections. The coalition is necessary, he says, to win the elections and to ensure a broad base for the future democratic power. Page 3 has some DP electoral slogans related to rural areas. In response to Socialist Party claims that the DP will return land to the previous landowners, RD states that the land will remain for farmers and landowners will be reimbursed.

22 February, the whole paper, is dedicated to the electoral program of the DP.

26 February, front page and page 4, have an interview with Ismail Kadare in which he mentions a collective psychosis that appears in sudden situations of freedom.

29 February, page 3, has a list of “intellectuals” from Permet who support the DP. (Note: in the Albanian context, the term intellectual refers mostly to people who attained a higher education. During the communist period, these people were considered complementary to the party, with workers and the masses taking the lead. After the transition, political parties often wanted to recruit and highlight their “intellectual” supporters to gain credibility.)

29 February, page 4, has the second part of the Ismail Kadare interview with the headline “The Victory of the Opposition is the Order of the Day,” in which he declares his support for the DP.

11 March, front page, has the list of DP candidates who will run for the March 1992 elections.

15 March, front page, has a manifesto signed by 182 intellectuals who support the DP. Page 2 covers the press conference of Sali Berisha on the eve of elections. He speaks about freedom of the press, the future of Ramiz Alia, a lustration law (to ban former communist officials from office), and his already-expressed view that Albanians are “together responsible and together guilty” for the Hoxha dictatorship. He also mentions the plight of ethnic Albanians in Yugoslavia.

21 March, front page, has Berisha’s appeal to DP supporters, urging them to intensify their work for the electoral campaign and to be vigilant for possible manipulations by the Socialists.

24 March, pages 1 and 4, have the press conference by Berisha after the DP’s victory in the elections with the headline: “Albania Showed the World that It’s an Inseparable Part of the Family of Democratic Nations.” He urges Albanians to eschew revenge and work for the good of their country.

5 April, front page, has a short press release about Ramiz Alia’s resignation from the presidency. Page 3 has an interview with US ambassador Ryerson with the headline “Now Albania is a Free Country.”

11 April, front page, has the first speech of Sali Berisha as president to the parliament. All of page 4 is dedicated to Berisha, presenting him as a hero and “man of hope.”

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About Fred Abrahams

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

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