Albania in 1990s Part I

By | December 15, 2021

The political and social instability of the Albania in the 1990s it was largely due to a persistent economic crisis and the absence of a widespread democratic culture, both legacies of the E. Hoxha regime. The end of the communist government, which marked the beginning of the transition process to multi-party and a market economy between 1990 and 1992, did not bring about significant changes from the point of view of the democratization of society. At the same time, the relatively high rates of economic growth, which the Albania recorded starting in 1992following the privatization and liberalization measures, they did not lead, in the short term, to a reduction in the very high percentage of unemployed. The condition of widespread internal misery pushed consistent flows of emigration towards the neighboring countries of the Mediterranean (Italy and Greece above all) and maintained the Albania in a state very close to civil war, against which the economic aid and political support offered by Western Europe and the United States could very little.

From the first multi-party elections, which had been held in March 1991, a government led by F. Nano, of the Labor Party (Socialist Party of Albania starting from June) had emerged, while R. Alia, former head of state since 1987, following the introduction of a provisional Constitution, he was elected president of the Republic by the parliament. A wave of anti-government strikes, caused primarily by the deterioration in economic conditions (again in March 1991, 25. 000Albanians had fled from the Albania), led in June to the constitution of a government of national solidarity which also included the newborn Democratic Party of Albania and other minor opposition forces. Faced with protracted demonstrations, which degenerated into popular uprisings repressed with the use of force, Alia appointed a government of technicians awaiting new general elections (December 1991). In the meantime privatizations continued, the immediate effect of which on industries and farms was to free up a quantity of redundant labor (also due to the demographic policy of the Hoxha regime) which had previously been ‘underemployed’ in collective farms and which by now it saw no other outlet than emigration (in the month of August thousands of Albanians, despite the military control exercised over the ports, tried to reach the Italian coasts by sea, but were mostly repatriated). For Albania 2009, please check

The elections were held in March 1992 following the new electoral law, approved by parliament in February, which reduced the number of deputies from 250 to 140, of which 100 elected on the basis of the single-member system and 40 on the basis of the proportional system. The results saw the clear affirmation of the Democratic Party which secured 94 seats against the 38 of the Socialist Party; the remaining seats went to the Republican Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Union for Human Rights. The Democratic Union of the Greek Minority (Omonia) was unable to take part in the voting due to the regulation which excluded parties representing ethnic minorities from electoral competitions, a fact that aroused protests from the Greek community of. (between 200. 000 and 400. 000 people, according to unofficial estimates). Following the results, Alia resigned and, in April, parliament elected S. Berisha, leader of the Democratic Party, to the presidency of the Republic, who then appointed a new coalition government chaired by the Democrat Albania Meksi.

Berisha, with the support of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, steadfastly continued on the path of complete liberalization of the economy, abolishing price control (except for bread and milk), removing barriers to foreign trade and launching plans for private sector development and infrastructure renovation. In domestic politics, the new executive was essentially characterized by its accentuated anti-communism which, within three years, led to the purge of an entire ruling class with the exception of those who had been able to rebuild a new democratic credibility. During 1992 and 1993 numerous Communist leaders were imprisoned on charges of corruption or embezzlement, including N. Hoxha (widow of E. Hoxha), former prime minister Nano and former president Alia (all released in 1997). In September 1995, President Berisha ratified a ‘genocide law’ for crimes committed during the communist regime, which excluded from public office until 2002 all those who had had political responsibilities between 1944 and 1991 ; moreover, also in September, three Supreme Court judges were replaced and therefore the President of the Court himself who had tried to oppose the provision and had previously advocated a review of the Nano trial.

In foreign policy the choices of the Albanian government were largely influenced by the European Community – by Germany in particular – and by the United States: their goal was to prevent the Albania contributed to a further destabilization of the Balkan region by supporting the Albanian minorities in neighboring countries (which make up practically half of the Albanian population) and by claiming in particular the independence of Kosovo. On this front, Berisha therefore maintained a moderate attitude, while not renouncing the defense of the Albanian community present in Serbia: in 1993 asked, without obtaining it, the intervention of a UN contingent to protect the Albanian population and the following year appealed to the international community to have a partial lifting of the sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia subject to a solution, agreed on an international level, of the Kosovo issue.

However, relations between Albania and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia continued to remain tense, as well as difficult relations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, where about 21 % of the population is Albanian and Muslim. Accidents at the borders and the policy of repression exercised on the Albanian minority of Macedonia pushed Tirana to oppose the latter’s entry into the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (of which the Albania had joined in June 1991), until the Skopje government guaranteed the protection of ethnic minorities within its borders. Relations with Greece also continued to revolve around the question of minorities, which, moreover, remained one of the most serious problems facing the Balkan states after the explosion of nationalisms in south-eastern Europe. In 1993, 20. 000 Albanians were expelled from Greece in protest against alleged mistreatment suffered by the Hellenic minority in Albania. From here arose a series of reprisals that hit the leaders of Omonia alternately, who were incarcerated by the Tirana authorities, and Albanian workers in Greece, who were repatriated in large numbers between 1993 and 1994. To this were added the formal protests addressed by Athens to the European Union, relating to the violation of human rights against the Greeks of. and, above all, the Greek veto on the granting of EU funds. The economic consequences produced in Albania by the measures taken by the Greek government prompted Berisha to offer a signal of detente: the exponents of Omonia were released between the last months of 1994 and the first months of 1995to encourage Greece to lift its veto. The improvement of Greek-Albanian relations therefore involved, in June 1995, the approval of a school reform law in Albania on the protection of languages ​​and cultures of ethnic minorities, while in March 1996 the two countries signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation.

Albania in 1990s Part I