Truth Does Not Harm Democracy, But Helps It

Interview with Rilindja Demokratike former editor-in-chief Mr. Frrok Cupi given to Koha Jone editor-in-chief Nikolle Lesi and the Albanian journalist living in Stockholm and working for the European press, Milaim Zeka.

Koha Jone

August 9, 1991

Currently, a lot is being said about your dismissal from the position of chief editor at Rilindja Demokratike, where you were the first chief editor and one of the main founders. They speak, you keep silent. Why?

Silence is not always dumb. Silence has its own language and philosophy. My silence, I think, is meaningful. Whatever I could say at the time, when you said I was silent, and because I was going to say the truth, it would have caused pain, because it is only 7-8 months ago that I along with some friends, such as Sali, Preç, Gramoz, Mitro, entered a war together. Others joined us. Now what should I speak about? Against myself? Against my friends? The truth is against some of them. This human pain didn’t allow me to speak. But sometimes people emerge from pain. Speaking then? In such tense situations, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that it had happened: my close friend, who together with me decided to sacrifice everything, is attacking me from behind. I couldn’t believe it at first.

Those were the first days of silence. Later, I continued to be silent, but I kept a cool head: I was waiting for my friends to speak about what happened or what they did. On several days, some newspapers made such an appeal in their pages. They spoke publicly, as you may have read in Rilindja Demokratike. But unfortunately, it was cynical.

I would have continued to be silent if you didn’t ask me for this interview. Silence or non-silence, these days worry me. I thank you for taking me out of this situation. Some people used to come and ask me: What are you doing? Why don’t you say something? Rilindja Demokratike articles and statements in different meetings do not convince us. Some others used to say: Please be patient, be patient until it ends. We know you are right, but don’t say anything. Because if you speak, democracy will be seriously harmed.

In the meantime, in the meetings held in different districts, the representatives of the Democratic Party were asked why that happened to the chief editor of Rilindja Demikratike. Different explanations have been provided. Somewhere it was said that he was promoted; somewhere else that he would be appointed as ambassador; somewhere else that he didn’t obey us and we didn’t have the newspaper under control; and elsewhere that he hadn’t sacrificed enough.

Things said in a meeting are different from those said in the Dajti Hotel or on the sofa of a living room, or by those whispered in the ear of somebody. All these forced me to tell the whole truth. I am convinced that this will help democracy and won’t harm it.

Public opinion has expected you to explain the reasons you left because you are the person to speak about this.

I would sincerely like to have a reason, even against myself. If I had a good reason to let the people know, I would say: this is the reason. Then everybody would be calm; I and them. The worst thing is when you have nothing to tell the others because you are forced to mutter in order not to tell the truth. But this tortures you a lot. It tortures also the people you speak to. I think I was not alone in this situation. My friends, leaders of the Democratic Party, were also in the same situation. What they once declared, next time they didn’t; what one of them said about this problem, the others didn’t. When this was discussed in the meeting of the Organizing Commission of the Democratic Party, it was said only that “the newspaper is weak.” But the following day, other things were said. In the newspaper it was not mentioned, but at Dajti the thing about the headlines was mentioned. It was muttering words and pieces of reasons.

However, there is a true thing, unfortunately not yet said: it is the way the newspaper Rilindja Demokratike was conceived by senior official of the party. They had conceived it and wanted it to be their own instrument. So, in the most vulgar sense: e.g. I left the house, the newspaper should write that Mr. X left the house when the sky was cloudy; or when I, the leader, stepped out of the car – the newspaper should immediately write that when the door of the car was opened, the true happiness was seen on people’s faces; when I step onto the platform, the newspaper should publish the photo and the great news that a new program was launched from this platform.

But I, as one of the newspaper heads (and as agreed in the newspaper program: the newspaper won’t simply be a party instrument), couldn’t allow that.

This is the true reason. The newspaper would neither create cults, nor do services to certain people. It would only serve the democratic movement and the truly democratic press. But why don’t the Democratic Party authorities declare this publicly? This would help them and help me too. Because that is the truth, and the truth helps. But if they know another truth, which they do not make public, but hide it perhaps to protect me, then I would ask them to say it openly on the newspaper, bulletin, or on radio. But it should be the truth.

It is said that the lynching organized against you lasted three hours only. What about it?

Yes, three hours. The most difficult hours of my life. It was 15:00. I was about to leave the office when I saw Napolon Roshi coming towards the office. With a bitter expression on his face, which he always wears when he has to hide, something under his skin, and with a voice just like that of an old woman saying: “Frrok, here is the material with the analysis of the newspaper. The meeting will be held today at 18:00.” He headed towards the door. I was surprised.

What analysis, I said. I had no information about it. Nobody asked my opinion. Nobody came here. What does it mean?

Ah, I don’t know. The doctor knows that. Why do you ask me, Napolon said.

The meeting is after three hours. I have no time to read the material, let alone to analyze or discuss it with the newspaper staff; to agree or object to it.

You are right Frrok. You are right, but you know the doctor told me that. Napolon whispered some words and hurried down the stairs.

After that moment, three hours were left. Three hours of exhaustion and heat. I opened that material written by Napolon personally on behalf of the whole staff and read. But, what to read? It was all dark. Dark about the newspaper. I couldn’t read it to the end (if the reader is curious, I can publish it). I put it in my bag and I went home…. The meeting began at 18:00. Who knows what happened to them during the past three hours but everything was clear and simple to me. A real lynching, perhaps the first lynching in this epoch called democratic.

Do these purges resemble those of Enver’s time?

Many DP leaders have developed an interesting rapport with Enver Hoxha, the cruelest dictator of this country. Their statements, speeches and rallies, and their declarations to unmask the dictator are already known. But in my opinion they are in the same line as him: Imagine Enver Hoxha on a cart riding on his own path. Exactly on the side of Enver’s cart, travels the cart of these democratic leaders. These democrats are in this cart not to accompany Enver but to have him as close as possible and to whip him. However, willingly or not, they are riding close to each other along the same road, though they are in different carts, are angry or are fighting with each other. This is the real way to perceive the relation between these democratic leaders and Enver Hoxha. This rapport will continue until they leave from the cart of Enver at any bend in the road, so until they will find the true path to democracy with democratic methods.

Because Enver’s methods or similar methods are often used. Consider the method used against me: It was an Enver or Stalin style of dirty tricks. I was with a delegation in America while everything was prepared here. As soon as I landed in Albania, I heard some rumor that “he will be discharged once he comes back.” This is exactly as it happened in Enver’s period, when any of Enver’s collaborators had to be openly criticized or sacrificed, the psychosis was developed in advance through some rumor or gossip. In the first edition, I was going to publish after my return from America, Sali came to the printing house late at night and he shook my hand coldly. (The workers said that “he calmed down, because he saw you, but earlier he had shouted: Where is he! What is going on here!) Then he ordered to remove an article and to publish another one instead. He left.

I had seen the same scene in a theater performance, when the first secretary leaves the stage before there begins the storm of demotions of the personnel. The workers thought “everything is finished between them.” But they didn’t say a word. Then came the announcement for the meeting, the three hours lynching that we spoke about. Ugly and disgraceful. But not like Enver because Enver gave warning a long time in advance. He also guarded you until he finally was ready, etc. Most disgraceful and scheming was the way the report was compiled. Napolon Roshi had been assigned as a specialist to deteriorate the newspaper work. That Napoleon, who sat at the end of the hall, sometimes made gestures as if to tell me “they don’t have any idea about a newspaper” and sometimes he was servile to the others. He stood there as the beautiful devil; an angel you would presume. That Napolon who told Rilindja Demokratike journalists that he was not involved in the plot against Frrok. But when some days ago I by chance went to his previous office, I found a lot of papers written by him trying to devise a plan and convince the party that the newspaper is weak; it is not the newspaper of the party; the party doesn’t have it under control, etc. so it was necessary to make changes in the newspaper’s management. So, he wanted to have that position. He had come to my office some time ago with some pieces of papers pretending that there were some remarks of the masses, but because I knew him since when working for Bashkimi newspaper, I reacted calmly and told him “put them on the desk.” Who is that person to do that; he was not even a member of newspaper publishing council. Well, let’s leave Napoleon and come back to the dirty trick. A dirty trick, I have declared this there, too. The Organizing Commission of the party gathers in a meeting at 18:00 and analyzes the newspaper. There were said things about the newspaper, but not about the editor-in-chief. When, suddenly they said: “Please go out because we have something to discuss.” I went out. The following morning, it was Sunday, the chairman of the party called me and told me that they had decided to discharge me and to replace me with Napoleon Roshi. How so? I am elected by the Newspaper Publishing Council, so the same council has the right to discharge me, I said to him. But nobody heard me or asked me about that. This is how we, the party, decided – the chairman said.

The Publishing Council knew nothing about what was going on. Nobody asked their opinion or view. Me neither. Journalists were not asked and listened to either. The editorial staff was completely ignored. The following day, I went to the office. I thought someone from the party officials would come and discuss with the editorial staff, at least now; I thought I could have a coffee with the new chief editor (who is going to retire soon) and have a friendly talk. But no. I tried to open my office but the key didn’t work. The newly appointed editor-in-chief was in the office. He had come very early, took the key from the cleaning woman, and was sitting on my chair.

  • What about you, I said to Napoleon.
  • Well, they asked me to become the editor-in-chief. But you may stay for a while, leave also your bag today.
  • Well, the bag, I said, but will the editorial staff have a meeting and be informed, won’t they?
  • Ah, yes. You are right.
  • He dialed the telephone. Arben Imami answered. Napolon’s words: “Let’s gather those who are present and say two words.” Arben’s car soon came. Arben said that he came to communicate the decision.

So, they were the chiefs of the staff; appointments made from the top. You mentioned Enver, but when Enver knew that somebody violated their competences, then he made them pay for it. One of the editors denounced that as unjust and declared “that he would not work for this newspaper anymore.” Two hours later, he was called and informed that “He was discharged.”

I think you asked me about the Enverist style of purges.

Your party accused you of having neglected the Kosova issue. What is your defense in front of the public prosecutors (the people)?

When I read this statement about Kosova in the newspaper, I had two sensations one after the other. First, I thought it was a joke by Sali while writing that for the newspaper. Then I learned that the article was written by Napoleon Roshi and I felt horrified. Me ignoring Kosova?! And this is declared by a Greek, Napoleon Roshi. If somebody has to protect Kosova, then first of all he has to be Albanian. How can a Greek accuse an Albanian of not loving Albania, that is Kosova? And here comes this Greek, who had denied his nationality to become a servant of Enver Hoxha’s regime, to defend the Albanian issue of Kosova. This is not simply absurd. It goes beyond it. I remember a debate in the parliament and press about the viewpoint of the Greek clan regarding the contemporary democratic national Albanian movement. It is my duty to remember that. Now, Albania is like a woman in a labor, seen by others as appropriate to inject their infection, e.g. Napoleon, who deliberately begins with a public attack against an Albanian democrat or several Albanian democrats and intellectuals in order to set the Albanian nation against them. Several days later, this Napoleon writes an article in Rilindja Demokratike pleading to Italian government authorities: “Please do not return the Albanian to their homeland.” Well Koçi Xoxe declared then: “Why should I feel pity for Albanians, I am not an Albanian.” I perceive Napoleon’s appointment at the head of the democratic press as suspicious, especially regarding the national issue.

But if Sali had written that, I would have considered it a joke. Because he knows very well how much attached to Kosova I am, even personally. He knows how and where I took Kosovan newspapers to happily read them. He knows that whenever we met we spoke largely about Kosova. While regarding the contribution of the newspaper to the Kosova issue, it is clear for everybody. The name of the newspaper Rilindja Demokratike was taken from a statement by the Kosovar intellectual Prof. Rexhep Qosja. On the front page of the very first edition of the newspaper, an article about Kosova was published. The editorial of the first edition states that the newspaper serves and will serve for a resolution of the national issue and union. Articles and information of Kosovar intellectuals, or of others about Kosova, have been published. Articles about Kosova were the first to be published.

But if the Organizing Commission, so not the party (perhaps the question was not clearly stated), share the accusation of ignoring the Kosova issue, then another issue is raised: As a chief editor I am also accused of ignoring the village. This is the old style. Every time something went wrong in an area, Enver Hoxha would sacrifice somebody. He would blame that person and give the impression that everything was resolved. While the problem was with his political line and its failure. How can a party ask a newspaper to resolve the village issue?

It seems that Rilindja Demokratike helped the party leadership more than was expected: It opened the way; time after time it showed the right path to follow, and showed what was right or wrong. Now the newspaper is asked to do even the autumn sowing, because we are staying in Tirana.

In true democratic countries, party newspapers are in opposition with the party. In your case, did Rilindja Demokratike dare to criticize the wrongful actions of the Democratic Party?

One day prior to the first edition of Rilindja Demokratike, I gave an interview for Voice of America, saying that the newspaper will be in opposition with its party in order to clean up and help the party and the democracy we want to establish. This is one of the objectives defined in the newspaper program. A day after the first edition, Elene Paukku, vice chairman of the international journalists association, came to meet me. She posed almost the same question. I gave the same answer I gave in my interview. Then she continued: “Aren’t you scared that your party will cut your head?” She posed this question and then tried to make it sound less hard. “Well, this is how it happened between the parties and the newspapers in the Eastern countries.”

“No,” I said. “I am not afraid, because I am not alone. There is a Publishing Council consisting of intellectuals who have a good understanding of the relations between the party and newspaper.” I explained to her the reason we established the Publishing Council. It was to protect the newspaper from the party’s direct attacks. But the party used the occasion when the Publishing Council was dissolved, partly because of other government assignments, or because it was not very attentive, and the party did not respect it and did what it actually did.

I had explained the function of the Publishing Council to some Eastern European journalists who came here. They appreciated this measurement and told me that they also had problems with their own parties. I explained that also to the journalist in western countries, when I had the chance to be there, and western journalists coming to Albania, and they appreciated that, too. I spoke about that also to Rexhep Qosja when I met him in America. He listened to me attentively and askedca lot of questions about the way we had preceded. He appreciated the idea, that the party should not subdue the press, as much as he appreciated the newspaper itself.

The newspaper was in opposition to the party in the sense that it did not allow the party to publish the crazy things that they wanted to, or develop cults and publish leader’s greetings, as had happened before, when the newspaper was completely subdued by the party, etc. We hadn’t yet begun with direct critiques of the party. We thought the party was very fragile and young. Perhaps we could break it. We were going to start now.

You, Mr. Çupi, are accused of a serious deviation of the editorial line of the newspaper Rilindja Demokratike, and of ignoring the Kosova issue. After these accusations it seems as if you have acquired an even more important role. Why does it happen so?

Across from a false thing stands a false thing. So, as the accusations made are not true, neither is that I have taken other positions. I am simply a journalist of Rilindja Demokratike. But they still do it, according to the old style: they beat you and they behave as if they are offering new positions. They would really like to offer me some position to say then that we have nothing against you. Well, leave me in the position of journalist. This is my profession. I want nothing else. Furthermore, this is what we declared when we found the Democratic Party: we want no positions, we will soon come back to our professions.

You were a persecuted journalist in Enver’s time. You dreamt of the victory of democracy. But please tell us the reasons why many persons from the opposition keep the same old attitudes.

I am concerned about what you say, because many people who applaud for democracy are bajraktare, careerists and dictators. I see the truth in your words. I am not concerned for myself but for the thousands of people who were ready to make big sacrifices; to sacrifice their sons and daughters; their life for the victory of democracy, for democrats. What can we say to people if we turn out to be dictators rather than democrats? I am sure people would prefer Enver Hoxha to be alive, and this would be the end. So, they are recently asking for Leka Zogu and his monarchy to come here because they have don’t have the same trust in Democracy. You ask: For what reasons? What is the source of all this? The source is Enver himself and his morals, and other persons as well. There are people who have adapted Enver’s tactics very well. It is not their fault, they can’t be different, they use the same methods.

Well, look: the first Enverist persecution or, as some others call it, the second neo-Stalinist persecution. They have things in common. Then, in 1984, an order was given (by Enver, they said) to take severe measures against me, because I wrote the truth in the newspaper. Then: “We can not accuse him of the article only because the facts are true. But we accuse him of having damaged the reputation of our state.” After that they fabricated something about my biography. Then they said he did not work well in the production. They just used one argument after the other.

Today: Once they said the newspaper is weak. But soon they resigned because the reader was of another opinion, so were Ismail Kadare and other true intellectuals. Then they fabricated headlines and editorials. Then the important position. Then they fabricated and published things I had never heard of.

So can you see the similarity?!

It was July 12 then also. It was already midnight when the phone rang. The chief editor of Zëri i Popullit at that time (a half crazy person, known by all) had ordered a meeting of the editorial council to punish me according to the order issued from the top. In the middle of the night. Members of the editorial council were immediately summoned. I found them standing in front of chief editor’s office. When I entered editor’s office, the son of Enver Hoxha, Sokol, and his wife Liljana came in. All were frozen because of … respect. It was clear. The chief-editor A. Xh., who was a close friend to Sokol and Liljana, had called them to go there in the middle of the night as if to tell the people: “So, can you oppose me and protect Frrok?” So, I was the sacrifice at the presence of Enver’s heirs. But they couldn’t stand very long meetings, and they left. The chief editor accompanied them and had a coffee with them at Dajti. The punishment would be declared the following day. I heard the phone in my office ringing time and again. Surely, my children shocked from my leave late at night were trying to speak to me.

Even this time I left the house the same way. It was Saturday evening, when all the people go home. In addition, I hadn’t stayed enough with my children since my return from America. I saw very dark faces that day! Sali had a toothache, but he went and pulled it out as soon as possible. He told that he would be back very soon and find everybody there.

These similarities worry me. This is my only concern, my dear people.

Don’t you think that it’s difficult to realize your dreams for democracy?

Difficult, yes, but not impossible. I always knew that. I want to tell something to the people thanking them for listening to me: Don’t fall into pessimism and resign from the work for democracy, if you see that somebody, who claims to be a democrat, doesn’t behave as such. I don’t feel anger against the leaders of the Democratic Party. The bad anger cuts the dream for democracy. Not the other obstacles: neither dictatorship, nor the bullet, nor the fabrications. Only you yourself, your inner world. In fact, I was seriously insulted by a friend of mine in the editorial staff who wanting to express his appreciation for me but, in a scholastic style, said that he had only one remark for Frrok: “he is too democratic…” These people’s dream for democracy is dying.

In a Scandinavian RTV program, I (M. Zeka) emphasized that people in Serbia and Albania need 20 years to learn to discuss in a democratic way. Was I right?

I can’t say exactly the time needed. But if we consider a certain time in the future, it will be prior to that in Yugoslavia. We should feel pity for Kosova’s people having the Serbs over their head and feel happy with each other, Albanians with Albanians, and find the democratic language. I have a big hope in the coming generation, in the generation of my 15 year-old son. Have you seen them? They have a kind face, a clear look, a confined anger, rich language, and do not bear the others holding fingers up when it is not appropriate. They are the hope. So less than 20 years.

Years ago, Rexhep Qosja spoke about cultured dialogue in his book “The Anatomy of Culture.” I am personally shocked when I listen to some of the deputies in the parliament. Does the same behaviour take place in the newspapers staffs? (M. Zeka)

Most of the actual members of the parliament have not read “The Anatomy of Culture.” It was illegally brought to Albania. I read it secretly. But this is not the point. The point is that people are calmer and more cultured than the parliament. Fortunately, people demonstrate calm and good manners, while the parliament demonstrates the opposite. But surely the composition of the parliament in the next elections will not be the same. People will have a better understanding and they will vote for the deputy and not for the party. This doesn’t mean that there is no current deputy deserving to be as such. But these deputies who are real democrats also have other tasks and duties and cannot always be in the parliament. For example, I see Preç Zogaj, a friend and a co-founder of the democratic newspaper, who I appreciate so much, go rarely to parliament.

Regarding the same behavior among the newspaper staff. Yes, there is such behavior, since a deputy, sitting at the bottom of the parliament hall often saying “Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman,” was appointed the chief editor of the newspaper. He is Napoleon Rroshi. He is so quiet in the parliament but so hostile in the newspaper. “You sabotaged me,” he says. Journalists tell a political joke: “It seems that our staff will make the party happy by discovering a group of enemies.”

Many of your colleagues in the newspaper were indignant at your dismissal. Tell us something more concretely about their support, and have you resigned from the party or the newspaper staff?

The party arbitrarily discharged me without asking the opinion of the newspaper staff or the Publishing Council and without having made any previous comment or remark on the newspaper or me. That is why the staff felt indignant and insulted. If party people ever ask me, I would implore them not to destroy that staff, because it is a staff of talented journalists and good people and democrats. But they sent Napoleon Roshi who is continuously telling them: “you will not take another salary here, find another job, because you are not staying longer here.” What a shame!

Who decides about the editor-in-chief? The Party or the editorial staff?

When we founded the newspaper, we decided that only the Publishing Council had the right to appoint or discharge the chief editor. But in fact something else happened: the party took the decision about the chief editor. So long as the party will do what they want, so long as the party takes decision without considering other norms, so long as other people, being not journalists and writers, will decide on the newspaper and literature, then we have the same situation as in a one-party state. I think that the Democratic Party should discuss about such facts and signals, because its leadership is demonstrating a tendency towards a one-party state. This is a misfortune.

Napoleon Rroshi says that he was appointed the editor-in-chief against his will. Then, how did it happen?

I heard that. And I am not surprised. Nobody knowing Napoleon is surprised. You don’t know him…?

This Napoleon worked in the world news section of Bashkimi newspaper. I worked for that newspaper also. So many phrases and expressions against American imperialism were said and written by him! Most probably instead of asking for a cup of coffee in the morning he might have said “American imperialism.” I remember when he worked for Bashkimi and Enver Hoxha criticized him because he had gone beyond Enver’s idea itself. This Napoleon had written an article about the Helsinki Conference with the headline “The Conference for European Insecurity.” He criticized Helsinki (which he is now supporting) very hard. He criticized Russians and Americans. He declared the world’s danger comes from Helsinki. He blamed America for everything bad in the world. But he criticized the Americans so illogically that Enver personally felt angry. Enver burst into anger: “what is this pseudo-journalist who, to satisfy me, violates the political line of the party and causes problems for us with the Chinese, who complained that we have unfairly criticized the Americans too much.” Then Napoleon was scared to death because Mehmet Shehu also criticized him. But the chief editor protected him. He served so willingly to the politics of that time, so that he was appointed the director of radio (in foreign languages). He continued to be a director even when the Democratic Party was founded, when demonstrations were taking place, as well as in other difficult situations. After the publication of seven or eight editions of the newspaper I asked him for an interview.

“No, no, no,” he said. “Don’t mix me up with that newspaper, please.” Then he sent a journalist from radio to take some notes he had in my office, because he was afraid “they were going to be sent accidentally to the printing house and published in the newspaper.” Several days later, I met him in front of the Art School. He was going to a reception at the Embassy of France. I asked him to write an article about the Greek minority, as he belonged to this minority. But he refused categorically. I don’t know what happened on the eve of the election campaign. I think that they couldn’t have a thorough list of candidates for deputy, so they included Napoleon. Then the Democratic Party learned that Napoleon was also listed as a candidate of the Republican Party. They called him and told him that this situation should be resolved. He said promptly: “Don’t worry. I can resolve this immediately. I can be yours from now on. I quit from the Republican Party. So don’t worry. Tomorrow morning I will be your candidate, not theirs. I promise!” So, he also became a deputy. He knows how he dealt with other things. He messed things up in Rilindja Demokratike and wrote a report on the work of the newspaper, underestimating and criticizing the work done. Perhaps one day he will be awarded as a hero of democracy. Well, if the people have their eyes shut. But I don’t believe it. It’s not a matter of a Napoleon, but of some renegades having joined the democratic movement. 

This Napoleon, who in the editorial staff meeting of the 5th of August was distanced from the Party’s Steering Committee), criticized them as much as he could, and then resigned as a editor-in-chief.

I heard you have applied for a job at “Zëri i Popullit. What is your comment?

It’s not true.

You are among the first people who attacked the Enver Hoxha regime. You joined the DP willingly and enthusiastically. Now, several months later, do you think that your ideals have been betrayed?

I notice something positive in the Democratic Party. Its members from all over the country, when they have a concern about the party or something related to the tarty, they come and meet the party chairman. They express their opinions freely, without any hesitation. This didn’t happen in the Labor Party. A communist couldn’t go to Enver Hoxha and tell him that he was not right about this or that.

However, this is still a little. I think we should wait for the party elections in districts and here I think the Albanian TV should broadcast them live. I think, let’s wait until the leadership advances. Let’s wait until the free Albanian press starts; we, some journalists, writers, and other intellectuals have to start organizing and to make it. Let’s be patient until everyone gets some economic independence. Let’s also wait until our little children grow up. Let’s wait and work until the nation within and on the other side of the border unites. Until then I am convinced that I will not lose my hope in democracy. On the contrary, I become constantly optimistic that our people will achieve democracy. This will never be betrayed.

According to our opinion, Albanians have never been Bolsheviks. Albanian bajraktarism was born prior to Marx. What is the affect of this bajraktarism within the political parties and other institutions?

The affect of bajraktarism can be: Bajraktarism can make possible the archaic lifestyles; the people can be further divided into groups; within the bajraktar areas, an danger to the Nation can emerge; it might necessitate reestablishing the Enver Hoxha dictatorship.

But the most likely to happen is that the parties and first of all the people demand that this bajraktarism be destroyed and removed from their lives. Then the people is the winner. Well, we keep saying that it depends on the people; it is in their hands. This time it really is.

I know Eastern countries quite well. I have the impression that in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and Albania a true opposition is considered only that person who attacks the president. I have rarely or never heard of attacking or criticizing the political programs of each other’s party. Is that correct?

First, I don’t like it when they attack through the newspaper. What is it? But I think this will soon be over for the Albanians. In addition, I would like to be patient and calm to wait until these people who attack get tired of it. Then we could ask them: “Is it over, because now we want to build a democratic order.”

According to you, if we gave ourselves the right to change, should President Ramiz Alia also have this right?

The right to change cannot be denied to anybody. Neither in the most critical moments nor in the happy moments. I would say that this is not only a right but also a responsibility. Whoever that might be, even if s/he is only two days in politics or he has only two days left in politics. But the president once changed does not have the right to say I am not who I used to be or that I was not who I used to be.

Who would you actually propose as a President?

I think of the President as a common person, who walks and works together with us; a person who wisely joins us with his honesty and culture; who loves people; who sincerely respects the nation; who has no complexes from the past and supports none of the parties; who has a soft and kind look and face; who does everything because he feels and thinks that it is the right thing; who the day he is elected a president he belongs no longer to himself; who the day he is elected, the political and economic life of the country will feel his influence; who is devoted only to work and the politicians will be devoted to his word and opinion to regenerate our country; who continues to be as human as we are and as he is today. I know this person. He is among Albanian people. Everybody knows this person and loves him, I believe. So, this is the person to be our president.

Thank you.

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About Fred Abrahams

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

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