Zëri i Popullit, 1990

Newspaper of the Albanian Party of Labor

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

The January 1 paper, front page, has the speech of Ramiz Alia on the occasion of the New Year. The title indicates what will from now on be the “official meaning” of socialism: “The party line – the line of freedom, of full national and popular sovereignty.”

The January 10 paper, paper 4, has an article by Javer Malo entitled “Nobody Can Play with Socialist Albania.” The article denies the news about the killing of 4 members of the Greek minority in south Albania as they were trying to escape the country. The author insists that Albania will continue on its path despite pressure from abroad, including the recent events in Eastern Europe.

January 25, pages 1-2, have the speech of Ramiz Alia at the 9th Plenum of the Central Committee of the Party of Labor, where he explains the events in Eastern Europe and developments in Albania. The title is “The Deepening of the Revolutionization of the Life of the Party and the Country – a Permanent Duty.” He stresses that the situation in Albania is different from that in other East European countries.

February 4, on the front page, has the decision of the 9th Plenum of the Central Committee, entitled “On the Deepening of the Measures for the Revolutionization of the Life of the Party and the Whole Country,” which represents the party’s response to changes in Eastern Europe.

April 18, on the front page, has the decision of the 10th Plenum of the Central Committee to take measures to lead state enterprises to self-financing.

April 19, on the front page, is the full speech of Ramiz Alia, who justifies the timid economic reforms and characterizes events in the East as a backwards step unrelated to Albania. From now on, the 9th and 10th Plenums will be talked about as meetings that paved the way for a new economic mechanism, as opposed to an administrative one, and as a further step in the democratization of life in the country.

April 24, on the first page, there’s a short news item on the authorities’ decision to let the Popaj brothers leave Albania. (Note: five members of the family took refuge in the Italian embassy from 1985 to 1990).

April 25 paper, pages 1-2, has an article by Astrit Nuri entitled “How Will May 1 Be Celebrated This Year.” This is an interview with district party official Piro Lako. For the first time, the women’s parade will not take place before the Politburo and the holiday celebration will be changed with the justification of returning to the tradition of picnics.

The papers on April 28 and 29 have an article by the well-known cardiologist prof. Ylli Popa with the title “Searching for Lost Time.” It was a cautious attempt, referencing Alia, to criticize the “old mentality,” according to which everything had to be planned and explained by the state. (Note: The article caused a stir, as it suggested the need for reform within the pages of the paper newspaper. Some thought that Alia must have sanctioned the piece, trying to create ground for change, which Alia denied. Read how this is covered in the book.)

The front page of the May 1 paper has the speech of Ramiz Alia held before the workers of Korça on the occasion of the workers day. Alia still insists on the socialist alternative that differs from other Eastern countries. “Socialism for us means to be free, independent and not swallowed by the others, threatening the freedom and the independence of the country,” he said.

May 2, on page 4, there’s an article written by the economist Harilla Goga with the title “Development of Economic Relations Favors National Interests.” He considers Albania’s economic relations with some international organizations, such as the European Union and European Free Trade Association, as in the interest of the country.

May 5, on page 4, there’s an article by Shaban Murati, entitled “The Big Changes in Europe.” The author writes that recent events in Europe are deeply significant and cannot be understood as the following the old schemes: “Foreign policy is not memoirs. It is made by interests.”

May 8, almost the whole paper, covers the speech of Albanian Prime Minister Adil Çarçani held at the seventh session of the Popular Assembly regarding the new economic mechanism.

The May 9 paper has the speech of the Albanian Deputy Prime Minister Manush Myftiu regarding important changes to some repressive laws and the penal code. (Note: The assembly legalized the private practice for attorneys and reopened the Ministry of Justice, closed since 1968.  It lifted internment and expulsion as administrative measures and changed the illegal crossing of Albania’s borders from a counter-revolutionary act to a penal offense. It also redefined the notorious Article 55 of the penal code–Agitation and Propaganda against the State.  An amendment abolished the death penalty for “anti-socialist agitation and propaganda” and narrowed the definition to acts aimed at “overthrowing the state and social order as defined in the constitution.”  Mention of religious propaganda was removed.)

May 13, the front page, covers the meeting between Ramiz Alia and UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, who was visiting Tirana. Answering questions from foreign journalists, (Note: the first time an Albanian president had received foreign journalists in Tirana) Alia says that “the process of development in Albania will never stop. Albania will follow the way of freedom, independence, and socialism.”

May 17 paper has a short statement from ATSH on the front page announcing the departure from Albania of the Popaj family, which had sought refuge in the Italian embassy in late 1985.

May 25 paper has an article by Fahri Balliu entitled “Around 3,000 Passports Have Been Issued to Citizens These Past Days.” It says that after the decision of the Popular Assembly to give passports to Albanian citizens, more than 3.000 people have received one. (Note: Balliu later became editor of the rabidly pro-Sali Berisha newspaper “55”).

A May 25 article written by Arben Karapici with the title “The New Hungarian Cabinet and Its Program” says that Hungary has decided to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and to enter the market economy. (Note: from about this time, news on East European countries is mostly informative and without comment.)

May 29, on pages 3-4, there’s an article with the title “Freedom, Independence and Socialism Are Indivisible” written by Ismail Lleshi. He argues forcefully that Albania will not follow the way of other East European countries.

May 31 paper has a short press release from ATSH on the meeting between Alia and US congressman Tom Lantos who was visiting Albania together with Joseph DioGuardi. (Note: In this meeting, Alia said he was interested to reestablish diplomatic relations with the US. See also this Washington Post article.)

May 31, page 4, has an interview by Sokol Gjoka and Arben Karapici with US Congressman Tom Lantos entitled “Albanian People Live Today Free and Independent.” Lantos says that he will transmit to US President Bush the Albanian desire to establish full diplomatic relations. According to the newspaper, both guests were satisfied with their visit.

June 6, front page, has the speech of Ramiz Alia held in the General Council of the Democratic Front. Alia says that “freedom and national independence and popular power can not exist without each other.” (Note: This speech seems more ideological than others in recent days and weeks. His language is different from what he says to foreigners.) On the same day, the paper has the speech of Nexhmije Hoxha (Hoxha’s widow and head of the Democratic Front), on pages 1-2, in which she says that “those who want to introduce in Albania the pluralism of the parties also want its division, as political, economic, cultural and even military domination follows that.”

June 17, pages 3-4, have an article by the film director Kujtim Çashku entitled “Art Does Not Accept Compromise and Mediocrity,” in which he argues against the politicization of the arts. On the same day, page 4, there’s an article by Lulzim Çota entitled “Eastern Europe: An Even More Difficult Economic Situation,” in which he writes: “Actually, in all eastern countries the worker masses are concerned, as the introduction of new economic rules, imposed by international capital, has put in danger those few inherited social achievements, such as a guaranteed job, housing and pension.”

June 22, page 4, has an article by Lulzim Çota with the title “Insecure Before the Future.” The author says that the situation in the East European countries, where right-wing parties have come to power, is getting worse.

June 22, page 2, has an article by Marash Hajati entitled “When Time Risks Your Position” about democratization of the life of the country, which cautiously criticizes how party leaders have addressed problems, saying the “party should be democratized under the leadership of the party.”

June 27, pages 2-3, have an article by Dr. Sali Berisha entitled “Some Priorities for Researchers in the Health Services.” He stresses the need to improve some services, making an until-then unusual reference to the humanist spirit of Mother Theresa.

June 28, page 2, has an article by Sami Milloshi entitled “To Deepen the Democracy in the Press,” in which he tries to define the rights of journalists, calling for a more independent media.

July 1, front page, has an article by Krenar Loloçi with the title “The Further Democratization of the Mechanism of Elections,” in which he says that elections should have multiple candidates.

July 4, front page, has three articles from ATSH on the attempts of hundreds of Albanians to enter the western embassies in Tirana, calling these people hooligans and ex-prisoners.

July 6, front page, has some articles on reactions from around the country to events in Tirana, such as letters sent to Ramiz Alia from workers condemning what they call the acts of some unscrupulous young people and the deeds of internal and foreign enemies.

6 July, pages 3-4, have an article by the economist (and future Prime Minster) Fatos Nano with the title “Socialism Asks More Economic Culture From Us All.” He offers a mild criticism of the existing economy, saying that what happened in East Europe was not the failure of socialism and the market economy is not the only alternative.

July 7, pages 1-2, have the speech of Ramiz Alia to the 11th Plenum of Party where he strongly condemns the storming of the embassies.

July 8, front page, has the decision of the Popular Assembly to not prosecute those people who agreed to leave the western embassies that they had occupied. On the same page, the paper runs the decision to reshuffle the Politburo and an article (without author) condemning the foreign embassies who are allowing Albanian citizens to remain on their property.

July11, front page, has letters from various cities and institutions expressing their solidarity with Ramiz Alia.

July 12, front page, has the decision of the Albanian government to allow some private activities in small commerce and artisan production.

July 14, page 4, has a very short press release by ATSH saying that the Albanian citizens who has occupied the foreign embassies have left the country.

July 18, page 4, has an article by Hamdi Dega with the title “Eastern Europe Caught in Economic Difficulties.”

July 19, front page, has an article by Avdul Dule with the title “Enjoy the Increase of Salaries.” The article describes the enthusiasm of workers at a factory in Tirana after the government’s decision to raise salaries.

July 25 paper has an article by Sejdin Cekani with the title “Each New Situation Is a Test for the Militarism of the Communists.” (Note: a resurgence of old language.)

July 27, front page, has the decision of the Politburo to increase the garden size for farmers.

August 1, front page, has the decision of the presidium of the Popular Assembly to allow foreign investments in Albania.

August 2, page 4, has an article, without author, entitled “An Important Step on the Path of Friendly Bilateral Cooperation,” about the normalization of diplomatic relations between Albania and the Soviet Union. The establishment of relations is seen as a consequence of recent events in Europe and as a change in the attitude of the superpowers towards Albania. The Albanian approach is considered to be coherent in its principles while the others are changing for the better.

August 5, page 4, has a collection of pieces from the foreign press, entitled “Lost Illusions,” about the deception of those Albanians who left the country after entering the western embassies in Tirana.

August 10 paper, page 4, has more articles as from August 5, entitled “Albanian Refugees Deceived.”

August 11, on the front page, ATSH reports about the meeting Ramiz Alia held with a group of prominent intellectuals. Almost all the report contains a short information what Alia said about the strengthening of the role of mass associations, a better defining of the relations state-party, the improvement of the electoral system, etc.

August 23, page 2, has an article by Xhemal Dymylja with the title “The Bigger Our Tasks the More Determined the Party Leadership.” The article stresses the important role that the party has in the democratization of the country.

August 29, pages 2-3, have an article by Fatos Tarifa entitled “Sociology – A Contemporary Science Under Development.” The author stresses the need to introduce sociology as a separate field at Albanian universities. Reality cannot be analyzed without social sciences such as sociology, he says.

September 12, front page, has the decision of the Albanian government to increase salaries, under the title “New Expression of the Supremacy of Our Social Order.”

September 12 paper has an article by Hasan Muçostepa with the title “The Co-operation of Our Country with UN Institutions.” The author stresses the importance of having close relations with UN institutions in order to build research institutions and to improve technology in the country.

September 16, front page, has the declaration of the Albanian government asking for full membership in the OSCE.

September 21, front page, has the speech of Ramiz Alia to the students of Tirana University about the scientific preparation of the youth. Alia says: “Democratization is a significant process that includes all the masses but nobody will be allowed to speculate and turn it against the interests of the people. Therefore, social opinion should be formulated by those progressive people, true fighters for the cause of socialism and democratization of life, avant-garde workers and communists, intelligentsia and revolutionary youth – all those men and women who want Albania to be free and independent, as it was created these five decades by the blood of our people.”

September 22, page 3, has an article by Astrit Nuri entitled “Communist and Private At the Same Time?!..” The idea is that a communist cannot be the private owner of a shop. Although the government has allowed some small private activities, communists are still deemed as inappropriate to take on such activities.

September 28, page 2, has an article by Pirro Kondi with the title “For a More Active Stance in the Propaganda of the Party.” The article calls for more aggressive propaganda on the part of the party.

October 3, front page, has a speech by Ramz Alia at a meeting with Albanians living in Boston. At one point, he says that “democratization in Albania is not an imitation of the events in East Europe.” Alia was in the US to attend the opening of the UN General Assembly and was granted permission to travel to Boston.

October 3, page 3, has an article by Artan Fuga entitled “The Pluralism of Thought – A Necessary Condition for Further Democratization of Society.” The author supports open debates and asks for new rules to regulate that.

October 17, front page, has reports about commemorating the fifth anniversary of the death of Enver Hoxha.

October 16, front page, has an editorial paying tribute to Enver Hoxha on the occasion of his birthday.

October 23, the first and second pages, has the draft of the new electoral law which allows two candidates to run for each electoral zone (2 candidates from each organization – Party of Labor, trade union, national front, org of communist women, communist youth etc.). An article there says “the draft of the law will further democratize the social and political life.” A candidate can run if they collect 300 signatures.

October 25, pages 1-2, have the speeches of Ramiz Alia and Albanian Foreign Minister Reis Malile at the conference of Balkan foreign ministers held in Tirana. Both of them appreciate the improvement in relations among Balkan countries and in international relations more broadly.

November 7, front page, has an editorial entitled “Party of Labor – the Avant-garde of the Continuous Progress of Society,” written on the occasion of the 49th anniversary of the establishment of the party, and highly praising the party’s role.

On November 8, almost the whole paper has the speech of Ramiz Alia to the 12th party plenum with the headline “The Strengthening of the Popular Power and the Perfecting of the Political System Gives More Strength to Democratic Developments.” While appreciating the achievements of the so-called “democratization process,” Alia says that Albania will continue on its path despite the pressure that’s being exerted by some foreign governments. “Democracy means order and working, means discipline and culture,” he said. “There is not democracy without production.”

November 14, front page, has the speech of Ramiz Alia to the 8th session of Popular Assembly with the headline “The Changes in the Constitution – a Juridical Support for New Democratic Changes.” He speaks about the need to introduce new chnges to the constitution, such as lifting the prohibition on foreign investments in Albania and changing the stance towards religion. Pages 1 and 3 have the names of the members of the commission to revise the constitution.

December 4, on pages 1 and 3, there’s a report on the meeting of Mother Theresa (second trip) and Nexhmije Hoxha. Page 1 also has a report on celebrations for Mother Theresa’s 80th birthday.

December 5, front page, has a report on Ramiz Alia’s meeting with Mother Theresa. According to the report, Alia says that Albanians are proud of her and Mother Theresa made positive remarks about the treatment of children in Albania.

December 11 paper has a very short ATSH statement on the situation at Tirana University. It mentions only that the situation is unclear and the students want to meet Ramiz Alia.

December 12, front page, has the decision of the 13th party plenum which replaces some members of the Politburo (Muho Asllani, Simon Stefani, Lenka Çuko, Foto Çami, Hajredin Çeliku, Qirjako Mihali and Pirro Kondi). The plenum also allowed the creation of independent political organizations. The front page also has a longer report on the meeting Ramiz Alia had with students of Tirana University. He mentions here the term “party pluralism” or “political pluralism” for the first time. He says that we need unity and that we should go towards Europe with our originality, our traditions, and not as a bad copy of the others.

December 13, front page, has the speech of Ramiz Alia with the title “Democratic Developments Will Be Achieved with Democratic Means,” in which he says that “democracy and pluralism, either ideological or political, should lead to popular and national unity and not to divisions.” On the same page, there’s a report on “hooligans pillaging the town of Kavaja.” The report says that “such people want to hinder the process of democratization and to spread panic and to place obstacles before the peaceful work of the people.”

December 14, front page, has a declaration of the First Commission for the foundation of the new Democratic Party, which condemns the vandalistic acts in the towns of Kavaja and Shkodra. It refers to Ramiz Alia, saying that “Democracy can never be achieved by infringing the rules.” On the same page, there’s a report on “vandalistic acts in the town of Shkodra.”

December 15, front page, has a report on vandalistic acts in the towns of Elbasan and Durres.

December 16, front page, has a report by ATSH on the meeting Ramiz Alia had with a group of farmers from Peza (Note: a PLA stronghold). “There is a troubling situation in some towns, caused by forces that are pushed by internal and foreign enemies,” he said. “But these acts will never be tolerated by the people and the state. The Party of Labor is the initiator and leader of the democratization of the country.”

December 19, front page, has the decision of the Popular Assembly approving the decree that allows the creation of political organizations and associations. The paper also reports on trials against “vandals” in the town of Elbasan, charged with destruction of public property during rallies held after the creation of the Democratic Party.

December 20, front page, has a short editorial with the title “National Unity Over All.” It says that in the new conditions, after the proclamation of political pluralism, national unity is one of the top priorities. The same page has a short release from ATSH on the Ministry of Justice approval to create the Democratic Party.

December 21, front page, has a report on a meeting of the Democratic Front where Nexhmije Hoxha resigns as head of the organization. In her speech, she condemns what she calls the “acts of vandals” in the streets and urges the Democratic Front to do everything to strengthen the unity between generations. Prime Minister Adil Çarçani is named her replacement.

December 23, front page, has the decree of the Presidium of the Popular Assembly on some changes in the government. Fatos Nano is nominated for the position of Secretary General of the Council of Ministers. The paper also covers a meeting of the Democratic Party, quoting Sali Berisha as saying: “democratic aspirations of the people will be achieved on the basis of the constitution, and charters of the UN and OSCE. Gramoz Pashko is reported to have said that Albania will enter Europe not by destroying but by constructing. Neritan Ceka also reportedly condemned the vandals and said that democracy is not anarchy.

December 25, front page, has a press release which says that the Presidium of the Popular Assembly rejects the request of the Democratic Party to postpone the elections that are due to be held on February 10. An editorial, also on the front page, entitled “Elections for the Popular Assembly – A Large Political Campaign,” argues that supporters of the Party of Labor should propagate the ideals of freedom, independence and national unity which, according to the newspaper, are threatened by enemies at home and abroad. The front page also has a report on the meeting of the organization of communist women, which decides to run as “an independent electoral subject” in the elections. (Note: Alia was either allowing or creating independent groups from the organizations with party ties.) Below this article is another report about a meeting of the same kind by the League of Albanian Writers, which refuses to take part in the elections.

December 27, in almost the whole paper, runs the speech of Ramiz Alia held at the meeting of the Party of Labor’s national assembly (Aktive e Kombetare). First, there is a reshuffling of the Central Committee, with Fatos Nano joining. The economist also joins the commission for revising the party program. Also expresses some criticisms of the past, including the position towards Stalin and privileges in the party.

December 29, pages 1-2, has some reports about the decision of the Council of Ministers to have in its own competences the right to appoint the director of state radio and television (RTSH) and the state news agency (ATSH) and about the creation of the commission for drafting the law on information and the press. Page 2 has a short announcement on the permission given by the Council of Ministers to publish the Demoratic Party newspaper Rilindja Demokratike.

December 30, page 4, has an article by Leontiev Çuçi with the title “Dilemmas in Eastern European Democracies” in which he paints a gloomy picture of the situation in East European countries after the emergence of new political forces that are “creating dilemmas instead of finding solutions.” The beginning of the article states that events in Eastern Europe have created more relaxed relations between countries that once belonged to different blocs.

Comments are closed.