Zëri i Popullit, 1989

Newspaper of the Albanian Party of Labor

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

The January 19 paper has a report on the meeting of the Balkans Deputy Foreign Ministers who gathered in Tirana. Two days later, on January 21, the front page also covers the meeting, focusing on efforts to strengthen economic and commercial ties without mention of minorities or other delicate issues. {Albanian deputy foreign minister at the time was Muhamet Kapllani.} On January 22, page 4, there is an analysis by Shaban Murati of the deputy ministers meeting. He stresses the benefits of inter-Balkan cooperation and mentions minorities as an obstacle that can be overcome with good will, calling them a “cohesion factor.”

The April 18 paper has an article on page 4 by Sofokli Lazri, foreign policy advisor to Ramiz Alia, with the title “Serbian Nationalism and the Dangers of Yugoslavia’s Balkanization.” Lazri says that “a balkanization of multinational Yugoslavia with its central position in the Balkans would be a disaster not only for its peoples, but it would also severely affect the rapprochement and cooperation processes that have started in this region.”

On July 9, the last census statistics of communist Albania are published on page 1. The census was conducted from April 2 to 8, 1989, recording 3,182,417 inhabitants. The average annual increase since the last census was 20.1 per 1,000 inhabitants. The population is 51.5% male and 48.5% female. In cities live 35.5% and in rural áreas 64.5%. The non-ethnic Albanian population is 64,816, which equals 2% of the population. Of this, 58,758 people have Greek nationality, 4,697 Macedonians, 100 Montenegrins, Serbs, Croats, etc. and 1,261 other nationalities.

On August 3, pg. 4, Shaban Murati has an article entitled “Why Did Perestroika Become the Subject of US-USSR Diplomatic Talks.” (Note: At the time, perestroika is still viewed as synonymous with capitalist reforms. Murati was later ambassador to Macedonia under Sali Berisha and served as his foreign relations advisor.)

August 12, page 4, has an article by Elmas Leci entitled “Sufficient Level” about the Gorbachev defense doctrine. It presents the government and party’s view that perestroka represents an aggressive policy also in the military sphere.

On August 15, the front page has a short article about the first trip Albania of Mother Teresa. It reads: “There has arrived in Tirana for a private visit the well-known Albanian philanthropist, winner of the Nobel Prize, Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. She came to Albania with the desire and longing to see her country and to pay homage to the graves of her relatives in Tirana. Mother Teresa was born in Skopje to Albanian parents in 1910. After receiving the relevant education, she worked for several years as a teacher in Calcutta, India. Later, she devoted herself entirely to the activity of her charity in helping sick, poor, abandoned people, victims of war and natural disasters in India and in many other countries of the world. For her selfless activity she has been honored with high prizes by countries and organizations in various international events. In 1979, she was awarded the “Nobel Peace Prize.” At the airport, she was received by the head of the Albanian Red Cross, Ciril Pistoli, the head of Cultural and Friendly Relations with the Outside World, Jorgo Melica, and others.” {Note: no mention of Mother Teresa’s religious affiliations or activities. She was hosted by the Red Cross rather than the government.}

On August 16, the front page reports that Mother Teresa has visited kindergartens, her family’s graves, and the cemeteries of the martyrs of the homeland and Hoxha’s grave. On August 17, the front page, an article reports on her meeting with Enver Hoxha’s wife, Nexhmije, who appreciated the work Mother Theresa has done with the por. She also met then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Reiz Malile. The August 18 paper has a short article about the end of Mother Teresa’s visit.

August 18, page 4, has an article about the efforts to create a new government in Poland by Arben Karapici. {Note: The government viewed reform in Poland as less sensitive than other East Europe countries, perhaps because of changes since 1981 and the view that the country was already steering towards capitalism}. On August 23, page 4, there’s an article entitled “The Romanian People Celebrate the 45th Anniversary of Liberation” by Shkelqim Beqari, which covers the the country’s achievements during the years after the Second World War. Likewise, on the front page of the August 24 paper, there’s an article about the opening of a photo exhibition called “Romania 1944-1989.” {Note: Romania was viewed as more immovably in the Eastern bloc.}

August 26, page 4, has an article entitled “The Logical End of the Revisionist Course” written by professor Agim Popa, which covers the international challenges facing the party’s Central Committee. Popa mentions recent events in Poland and Hungary, and treats them as the capitulation to revisionists and the surrender of power to anti-communist capitalist elements. The article makes a nuanced distinction between the revisionists, who have long betrayed socialism, and the openly anti-communist forces. The former, although harshly criticized, do not get viewed as negatively as the latter, who seek to destroy the socialist order and replace it with right-wing forces.

August 30, page 4, has an article entitled “National Crisis – a Blow to Perestroika” by Shkelqim Beqari which says that perestroika has failed to solve national problems, such as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

August 31, page 4, runs an ATSH news service article on the publication of Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s book “The Gulag Archipelago,” which is described as the rehabilitation of counter-revolutionaries.

September 6, page 4, has an article entitled “Perestroika Promotes Social Polarization” by Dalip Çota, who stresses that perestroika has widened the gap between social groups, further impoverishing women workers and creating a wealthy class.

September 9, page 4, has an article by Sokol Gjoka entitled “The Bulgarian People on the 45th Anniversary of Liberation.” {Note: Once called “revisionist,” Bulgaria is here praised for successful economic development, perhaps because it has not seen reform as in Poland and Hungary.}

September 12, page 4, has a short article without comment from ATSH on Hungary opening its border with Austria to allow thousands of East Germans to cross to the West.  There’s also an article about the formation of the new Polish government, where Solidarnost took most of the seats. Although without comment, one paragraph mentions the poor economic situation in the country due to market reforms with serious social consequences.

September 22, page 4, has an ATSH news item on Poland entitled “Next Year the Market Economy will be Established” and the subtitle “Difficult Economic Situation Deepens.” {Note: Typical of news coverage about dramatic events in East Europe is short articles that emphasize a worsening economic situation.}

September 29, page 1, covers the report of Ramiz Alia to the 8th plenary session of the party’s Central Committee held in Tirana on September 25, 1989. He criticized Gorbachev as a revisionist traitor who, with his perestroika and counter-revolutionary reform, is leading the process of transitioning Soviet society and other East European countries to capitalism. Alia said:

“The developments in the international situation and the increase of opportunism, as a consequence of revisionist betrayal, bring about a change of forces ratio; they affect the relations among states, alliances and military blocs; they affect the balance established in one or another area.

These developments are reflected also in economic relations. Our Party cannot ignore this phenomenon, because they take place around us and in different ways and sizes have their impact on us, on the relations of our country with other countries, on our struggle to build socialism. Therefore, we should carefully observe these processes, study them, try to foresee forthcoming events, in order never to be caught by surprise; elaborate the necessary stands so that they can respond to the protection of the interests of the country, the protection of socialism and the cause of peoples’ war and revolution. It is our duty to be active in the activities of foreign relations to strengthen the political position of our country.

Vigilance should be sharp; the political level of the masses–raised; the economic development rates–progressive; the competency of defense–high; and the diplomatic activity–skilful. All of this should be inspired and led by the Party.”

October 1, pages 3-4, have an article entitled “What is the Pluralism that Serves the Bourgeoisie” by prof. Vangjel Moisiu, who says an advertising campaign has begun in revisionist countries for the bourgeois practice of political pluralism. This is seen as the logical result of ongoing revisionist counter-revolution.

October 7, page 4, has an article by Sokol Gjoka “On the 40th Anniversary of the Creation of the German Democratic Republic,” which evaluates the countries post-war achievements and relations with West Germany.

October 11, page 4, has an article entitled “Fruit of the Ideology of Counter-Revolutionary Reformism” by Arben Karapicin, who severely criticizes the reorganization of socialist parties in eastern countries, such as Poland and Hungary, according to the social democratic model.

October 21, page 4, has another article by Sokol Gjoka entitled “The Outstretched Hand of Revisionism Towards Capital,” in which he stresses the economic dependence of countries such as the USSR, Poland and Hungary on western capital.

October 28, pages 3-4, has an article by Shaban Murati entitled “Communism Did Not Fail in Eastern Countries, but Its Deformation.” He argues that socialism remains an alternative to capitalism and a clear example of this is Albania.

October 29, page 4, has an article by Liliana Hoxha entitled “Capital Applauds the Removal of Communist Symbols.” She harshly criticizes the rehabilitation of counter-revolutionary figures such as Imre Nagy in Hungary (Note: who led the 1956 uprising against the Soviet-backed government).

November 7, page 4, has an article by Dr. Adem Mezinit entitled “Revisionist Betrayal Cannot Weaken the Strength of the October Ideas.” He argues that the values of the October revolution are still alive and that they cannot be extinguished by the “new Gorbachevian political thought.”

On November 14, the front page, has a summary of the speeches at a conference dedicated to literature, organized in the framework of the 45th anniversary of the liberation of the homeland, including a speech by Ismail Kadare praising the new socialist order.

November 29, the first three pages, cover the celebration of the 45th anniversary of the country’s liberation, highlighting the speech of Albanian Prime Minister Adil Çarçani, who presents developments in East Europe as a logical consequence of the failure of revisionism rather than communism.

December 13, front page, has the speech by Ramiz Alia delivered at the meeting of the Professional Associations. Among other points, he says:

“There are foreigners who ask: will there be processes in Albania like those that happen in Eastern Europe? We answer categorically, no, there won’t be. Why? First of all, Albania is not the East. Albania and the European East have developed on completely different ideological, political, economic and social paths. Therefore, the problems are not and cannot be the same. The crisis that has involved the countries of the East is a crisis of today’s community certain, of what was called “socialist community”, but not of socialism, as theory and practice. Therefore, the events that happen there do not belong to us.”

December 20, the front page, has an item from ATSH refuting a report in (Yugoslav government news agency) Tanjug about a demonstration in Shkoder and the killing of four Albanian citizens on the border with Greece.

December 21, page 4, has a short article about developments in Timisoara, Romania. The news refers to Romanian leader Nicolae Ceauşescu, who described the events as organized by revanchist and imperialist circles.

December 23, page 4, has a news item from ATSH entitled “Ceauşescu Removed from Power.” The article says a “Committee of National Salvation” has been created in Bucharest.

December 26, front page, has a short news item about Albania expressing its desire to further develop relations with Romania, including that Romanians can determine their own internal affairs. {Note: This is after a statement about recent events by the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Romanian embassy in Tirana.}

December 26, page 4, has a short news item entitled “About Events in Romania,” which briefly mentions the killing of Ceauşescu.

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About Fred Abrahams

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

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