Newspaper of the Albanian Party of Labor
Summary of Key Articles – curated and translated by Prof. Artan Puto
2 April, page 3, has an article by Musa Ulqini entitled “The PLA Won, Albania Won” about results of the March 31 elections. The Party of Labor (PLA) was the initiator of democracy and deserved the victory, the author says, urging it to maintain the reforms.
3 April, front page, covers events in Shkoder on 2 April when security forces opened fire on a protest and killed four people. A statement from the Presidium of the Popular Assembly (parliament) calls the protest an attempt to undermine stability. (Note: On 2 April in Shkoder, angry crowds protested what they considered electoral fraud. Security forces opened fire on the protesters, killing four people, including the student leader Arben Broci and three others: Bujar Beshenaku, Besnik Ceka and Mazmi Kryeziu.)
4 April, page 2, has an article by Sedat Braja with the title “The Pigeons of the PD,” which describes the Democratic Party as an aggressive force, while the PLA’s victory marks a return to public order, peace, and tolerance. The author sees the PLA as an option for gradual and thoughtful change versus the radical and turbulent changes sought by the PD.
5 April, page 2, has an article entitled “Albania and Albanian Communists” by Luan Muhameti, member of the Central Committee of the PLA. He sees the communists as an flexible promotor of democracy and the market economy.
5 April paper has an interview with Fatos Nano by the Italian journalist Tito Stanca of “La Stampa,” in which Nano accuses certain circles in Europe and the Balkans, among them Leka Zogu, of fomenting instability in Albania, using the exodus of Albanians from the port of Durres as an example.
10 April, almost the whole paper, has the draft of the new Albanian constitution.
14 April, front page, has an editorial entitled “An Undesired Reply,” which accuses the DP of having stoked the recent turmoil in Shkoder to destabilize the situation after the elections. The front page also has a press release from the office of the General Prosecutor about ongoing investigations into the deaths of the four people in Shkoder. While calling the Shkoder meeting “illegal,” the prosecutor says that some members of the police surpassed their competencies by opening fire toward the crowd. The investigation has been delayed, the statement says, because of the inability to speak with witnesses or do autopsies on the victims.
16 April, front page, has the speech of Ramiz Alia to the first pluralist Albanian parliament. He condemns the DP’s boycott of the opening session and says that national interests are more important than those of the party. (Note: DP deputies protested the first session of the first multiparty parliament to protest the four killings in Shkoder.)
1 May, front page, has the speech of Ramiz Alia as president of Albania. He stresses internal cooperation as in the interest of the country and the need for an open foreign policy. Pages 3-4 have the draft of the new constitution.
4 May, front page, has an interview that Ramiz Alia given to the chief editors of Zëri i Popullit and Rilindja Demokratike in which he, among other points, describes the difference between his current position as president and his previous position as head of the party. The same page has his decision to nominate Fatos Nano as prime minister.
5 May, front page, has the decision of the 17th plenum of the PLA’s Central Committee to release Ramiz Alia from all positions in the party after his election as president. Pages 2-3 have the draft of PLA’s new party program, which will be discussed at the 10th party congress on June 11. Page 3 has a list of people who are organizing congress.
7 May, front page, has an editorial with the title “Program for a Deeply Renovated Party,” arguing that the PLA was the initiator of changes, under the leadership of Alia, and is currently the most authoritative political force. The piece recognizes implicitly that changes were the result of shifts at home and abroad.
10 May, pages 1-3, have the speech by Fatos Nano to parliament as the newly elected prime minister, covering the economy, foreign policy, and other issues. The list of ministers of the new government is also provided.
12 May paper has an interview with William Ryerson, head of the US delegation sent to re-open the US embassy in Tirana, who will soon become the first US ambassador.
14 May, front page, has an article about the formation of the Nano government.
14 May, pages 2-3, have an article entitled “Waiting for the 10th Congress” by Mumtaz Shehu. It addresses the failures of socialism as an economic and social system, saying that Albanian socialism was part of a wider effort across East Europe. (Note: One year prior, the PLA was insisting that Albania belonged to neither East nor West.)
15 May, pages 1-2, have an interview with Spiro Dede, secretary of PLA before the 10th party congress. He speaks about reforming the party.
28 May paper has an editorial on the front page about worker strikes in the country, considered a threat to stability.
1 June, front page, has a speech by Ramiz Alia on the situation in the country after the strikes by miners. Pages 1-2 have speeches by various parliamentary deputies about the strikes. Leontiev Çuçi suggests the creation of a coalition government and the holding of early elections.
2 June, page 3, has speeches by some PLA deputies who asks for a new coalition government and fresh elections.
5 June, pages 1-2, have news about the resignation of Fatos Nano as prime minister and his speech before parliament.
6 June, front page, has an editorial on the political solution, the new multi-party government, and the nomination of Ylli Bufi as prime minister.
9 June paper has a statement by Nexhmije Hoxha, responding to attacks that her family lived in luxury.
11 June, the full paper, has the speech of Xhelil Gjoni, secretary of the Central Committee of the Party of Labor. Page 9 has the agreement between the new government and trade unions to re-start work.
12 June, pages 1-2, have the report by Ramiz Alia to the 10th party congress, and on page 1 the ministers of the new government.
13 June, front page, has the decision to change the name of the PLA to the Socialist Party. Pages 1-2 have the speech to parliament by Prime Minister Ylli Bufi. For the first time, the newspaper banner does not have the communist hammer and sickle.
14 June, front page, has the decision of the party congress to elect Fatos Nano as head of the Steering Committee of the Socialist Party, followed by his speech to the congress. Page 2 has the names of the steering committee members.
15 June, front page, has the letter that Prime Minister Ylli Bufi sent to the CSCE (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, soon to become the OSCE), asking that Albania be accepted as a full member.
16 June, page 3, has an article by Leontiev Çuçi, entitled “Socialist Party a New Party in Its Content,” and one by Ethem Ruka entitled “Towards European Left – A Vital Necessity.” (Note: after the 10th party congress, the renamed Socialist Party is presenting itself as a new effort in sync with the European left.) The front page also has an article about the visit to Albania of German Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher.
20 June, front page, has news about the full membership of Albania in the CSCE, plus the speech of the Albanian foreign minister and declaration of the prime minister. Page 2 has an article by Fatmir Zanaj entitled “On the Ideals of the Socialist Party,” calling for a better understanding of Marxism.
22 June, pages 1-2, have an interview with Socialist Party head Fatos Nano with the headline “Europe, Albania, Socialist Party.”
23 June paper is dedicated almost entirely to the visit to Tirana of US Secretary of State James Baker. (Note: For more on Baker’s trip, see pp. 99-103 in the book and these declassified US documents: James Baker visit to Tirana – agenda and goals, June 17, 1991; James Baker meetings with PM Ylli Bufi, President Ramiz Alia, and NGO reps, June 22, 1991; and Address of U.S. Secretary of State James Baker to Albanian parliament, June 22, 1991.)
28 June, pages 1-2, have the speech of Ramiz Alia to a meeting in Kukes.
30 June, page 3, has an article commemorating the storming of the western embassies on 2 July 1990, under the title “2 July 1990: the Most Massive Challenge Against the Totalitarian Regime.”
1 July, pages 1-2, have an interview with Fatos Nano entitled “Socialist Party on Its Way toward Integration In the European Left.” Nano gave the interview after returning from the congress of the Italian Socialist Party in Bari. (Note: the Socialist Party gave the Italian Socialist Party leader Betino Craxi its third party card – a symbolic position in the party – because he was a strong symbol of the European left. A few years later, Craxi fled Italy after corruption charges and later died in Tunisia.)
3 July, pages 1-3, have the program of the Socialist Party. The front page has a short press release on a decree signed by Ramiz Alia releasing the last remaining political prisoners.
7 July, front page, has a report on Ramiz Alia’s meeting with high officials of the Albanian Army due to the escalation of tensions in Yugoslavia. Pages 1-2 have the declaration of the Albanian government about those developments, especially the situation in Kosovo.
12 July paper has the resolution of the Albanian parliament on events in Yugoslavia, calling for Kosovo to be recognized as a republic within Yugoslavia.
14 July, front page, has a report about the meeting of Fatos Nano with Kosovo’s LDK head Ibrahim Rugova in Tirana.
20 July, front page, has a statement by the Socialist Party calling on the Albanian parliament to recognize the Republic of Kosovo.
26 July, front page, has a statement by the steering committee of the Socialist Party condemning “past sectarian practices of the PLA” and calling for the rehabilitation of those people who were excluded for ideological reasons.
30 July, front page, has a report on the trial of some police officers in Shkoder for wrongly opening fire and killing four people on 2 April during the anti-government protest.
8 August, front page, has some reports on the second exodus of thousands of Albanians who stormed the main ports in an attempt to reach Italy.
8 August, front page, has an appeal to the public from the Socialist Party, calling for calm and labeling the exodus a heavy blow to stability and democracy.
10 August, front page, has a short press release on the presidential decree proclaiming the ports of Durres, Vlora and Saranda as military zones that are guarded by the army.
11 August, front page, has a statement by the Socialist Party on events at the country’s ports. The party considers the events part of an anti-Albanian scenario which aims to establish a right-wing dictatorship in the country and to destabilize Albania when tensions are rising in Kosovo.
16 August, front page, has an editorial with the headline “Shock Therapy, a Real “Shock” for the Workers” with the subtitle “Social Equilibrium – the Alternative of the Socialist Party.”
17 August has an interview with vice chairman of the Kosovo parliament with the headline: “A Strong and Democratic Albania – the Biggest Help to the Albanians in Yugoslavia.”
20 August, front page, has reactions to events in Moscow where Gorbachev was overthrown. The news is considered a backwards step with negative consequences. In another article, entitled “Thoughts On the Albanian Question,” Gorbachev is considered to be the initiator of the democratic processes that had an influence also on Albania.
21 August, front page, has a statement by the Socialist Party on events in the Soviet Union.
22 August, front page, has reports on the failed coup d’état in the Soviet Union, expressing relief that Gorbachev remains in power.
27 August, page 3, has an article with the headline “The Right-wing – a Serious Threat for Albanian Democracy.” The author, Fatmir Zanaj, argues that the DP is encouraging terror and destruction in the country and three right-wing parties, the Democratic Party, Republican Party, and Social Democratic Party, are encouraging revenge.
30 August has an editorial by Fatos Nano entitled “Current Developments in the Country and the Position of the Socialist Party” covering future elections and reforms.
7 September, pages 1-2, have an article by Anastas Angjeli entitled “The Albanian Economy Before the Market Economy.” He supports gradual reforms over “shock therapy.”
8 September, front page, has a statement by the foreign ministry supporting the decision of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia not to participate in the republic’s elections. The ministry appeals to the Macedonian authorities to recognize the Albanians as a nation.
14 September, front page, has an article by Koço Broka with the title “Respect for Pluralist Democracy,” in which the author condemns terrorists acts against the offices of the Socialist Party in Bajram Curri and Vlora and, according to him, the climate of persecution against SP supporters.
17 September has news about Albania signing the Final Act of the Helsinki Accords.
18 September, front page, has a report about Albania joining the Charter of Paris.
19 September, pages 1-4, have an interview with President Ramiz Alia after his trip to Europe, where he signed the Helsinki Final Act and Charter of Paris.
26 September, front page, has a letter that Ramiz Alia sent to head of the Kosovo parliament, Iljaz Ramajli, expressing support for the decision to hold a referendum on Kosovo’s independence.
26 September, page 3, has an article by Fatmir Zanaj with the title “On the Eve of the National Assembly of DP” in which he explains the founding of the DP and its role during the first year of pluralism.
27 September has an editorial with the headline “SP Social Program – the People’s Welfare.”
28 September, front page, has a statement from the president’s office on the strike by former political prisoners about their right to compensation.
2 October, page 2, has an article entitled “In Front of the Opposition’s Nihilism,” written by Edi Lisi. The author asks why democratic leaders, once being communists, reserve for themselves the right to change and deny that to others. He mentions contributors to Zëri i Popullit who have now joined the Democratic Party.
2 October, page 2, has an article by Fatmir Zanaj entitled “David and Goliath” about the first congress of the Democratic Party, criticizing the autocratic tendencies of Sali Berisha and calling him the leader of the DP’s aggressive wing.
3 October, front page, has a statement from the president’s office about his support for Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state.
4 October, page 2, has an interview with Servet Pellumbi, deputy head of the Socialist Party, with the headline “The Capacity for Auto-development – A Reality in the Life of the Socialist Party.” He speaks about Enver Hoxha and the party’s goals, presenting the SP as a new party like those on the European left.
5 October, on pages 1 and 3, have an article by Guro Zeneli entitled “My Judgement on Our President,” assessing the role of Ramiz Alia during the transition.
6 October, front page, has an interview with Halil Lalaj, high official of the SP, who explains why Nexhmije Hoxha is not a member of the party.
10 October, page 3, has an article with the title “An Irresponsible Declaration in Parliament” by Hamdi Jupe. It covers the declaration of a representative of Omonia, the ethnic Greek organization, who says the parliament is not defending the rights of the Greek minority.
13 October, front page, has an article entitled “Political Belonging More Important Than Capacity,” which says that members of the SP are getting kicked out from local institutions and being replaced by DP supporters. The same page has a short letter from an older man who was wounded as he sold Zëri i Popullit in the streets.
15 October, page 3, has an article with entitled “Intellectuals at the Crossroads of the Time” written by Ethem Ruka. It presents the difficult position of intellectuals in the new reality of the market economy.
22 October, front page, has two declarations, from the SP and the Albanian parliament, about recognizing the Republic of Kosovo.
27 October, front page, has an interview with Fatos Nano with the headline “SP Distances Itself from the PLA, from Its Mistakes and those of Enver Hoxha.” Nano gives his views on the figure of Hoxha.
27 October, page 3, has an article entitled “Socialists and Religion” by Albert Shala, who says that the current Socialists have nothing to do with the errors of the past and with the previous communist policy towards religion.
30 October, front page, has an appeal from the organization called “Assembly for National Union and Conciliation.”
31 October, pages 1-2, have a statement by the Stability Government calling for rapid reforms as the only solution to the country’s crisis.
29 November, almost the full paper, has the speech of Fatos Nano to the first conference of the Socialist Party. He speaks about economic reform and the figure of Enver Hoxha.
30 November, front page, has a message from LDK head Ibrahim Rugova on Albania’s national day. He says: “we wish that forces of the old system in Albania not stop democratic processes as these are of a vital importance for Kosovo, Macedonia, South Serbia and Montenegro, and for all Albanians in the world.”
30 November has a report on a meeting of all political parties on the economic and political situation.
5 December, front page, has a statement from the president’s office about the withdrawal of the Democratic Party ministers from the Stability Government.
6 December, front page, has a statement form the Socialist Party about the crisis of the Stability Government, rejecting criticisms from the DP.
7 December, front page, has statements from the president and prime minister on the crisis of government. Both are appeals to the public to keep order and respect the law. Page 2 has the intervention of SP deputy head Servet Pellumbi in a government meeting, when he rejects the accusations of Sali Berisha against the SP.
8 December, front page, has the decree of Ramiz Alia ordering the army to guard stores, commercial centers, and power stations due to the chaos after the collapse of the stability government. It also has a statement from the Ministry of Public Order, which says the chaos comes from ordinary criminals and the enemies of democracy.
11 December, front page, has the news that Vilson Ahmeti has been charged to form a new government.
11 December, page 3, has an article by Hamdi Jupe with the title “A Troubled December for the Democratic Party,” assessing relations between the parties after the stability government.
19 December, front page, lists the ministers of the new technical government headed by Vilson Ahmeti.
25 December, front page, has an article entitled “Who Really Holds Power,” claiming that the Socialists are a minority in the government compared to the Democrats.
26 December, front page, has an article by Lulezim Çota with the title “Europe Should Recognize the Independence of the Republic of Kosovo.” The same page has a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemning the massive expulsion of Albanian workers from Greece.