Since 1983, the seriously ill Enver Hoxha gradually transferred power to Ramiz Aliyah, who became his successor. Enver Hoxha died on April 11, 1985, and the new Albanian leadership did not accept (sent back) a telegram expressing condolences from the USSR (where Gorbachev was already the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee), the PRC and Yugoslavia.
There was no significant opposition to his government in Albania at that time. And in October 1988, a museum in the form of a pyramid was opened in Tirana and a monument was erected:
Opening ceremony of the monument to Enver Hoxha in Tirana. October 16, 1988
However, against the background of the destructive processes initiated in the USSR by M. Gorbachev and rapidly spreading in the territories of his Eastern European allies, the power of the Albanian Party of Labor has also significantly weakened.
In 1990, against the backdrop of mass protests, the introduction of a multi-party system in Albania was announced. However, the APT still managed to win the elections on March 2, 1991 (with a result of 56,2% of the vote). On April 29 of the same year, the country was renamed. Became known as the "Republic of Albania". On April 30, Enver Hoxha's successor, Ramiz Alia, became its president.
The process of decomposition of the old ideology has already been launched.
On June 12, 1991, the Albanian Party of Labor split into the Socialist and Communist Parties of Albania. In addition, in political sympathies, the country was divided into two parts according to the national principle.
Toski ("lower Albanians") - residents of the southern, more developed areas, a native of which was Enver Hoxha, traditionally supported the Socialist Party. Outside of Albania, melancholy lives mainly in Italy and Greece.
Gegs ("upper Albanians", highlanders) of the northern part of the country vote for the Democratic Party. It is the Gegs who live in Montenegro, Kosovo and North Macedonia.
Resettlement of Tosks (marked in blue) and Gegs (in red).
This division in political sympathies persists in Albania to this day.
In May 1992, the new Albanian authorities followed the path laid by Khrushchev: at night they secretly reburied the remains of Enver Hoxha, transferring them to a public cemetery located on the outskirts of Tirana. But the Albanian "democrats" went further than Khrushchev in mockery of history own country: a tombstone from the former grave of Enver Hoxha was used to make a monument to English soldiers.
The modest graves of Enver Hoxha are at the Memorial Cemetery "Fallen Heroes of the Nation" in Tirana (photo April 1986) and modern (note, the tombstone has already been "stolen" by the new rulers of Albania).
A year later, Ramiz Alia resigned.
In 1994, he was sentenced to 9 years in prison on charges of abuse of office. In July 1995 he was released - and again arrested in March 1996: this time the case was purely "political", he was charged with participation in the repression of opponents of Enver Hoxha.
1997 Albanian uprising
In January 1997, after the collapse of a number of financial pyramids in Albania, unrest began, which turned into a full-fledged civil war. The Democratic government was then in power, and the inhabitants of the southern regions of the country fought with the northerners.
The first anti-government protest was noted on January 16, and on January 24, these protests became widespread. On this day, in the city of Lushne, protesters burned down the administration building and a cinema.
These protests soon turned into pogroms. So, on January 26 in Tirana during the protest actions, the building of the municipality of the southern district of the capital was burned down. During the riots, the buildings of the National Historical Museum, the Palace of Culture, and the Efem Bey Mosque were damaged.
Protesters in Vlora burn copies of the Democratic Party newspaper, Rilindje Demokratike. February 14, 1997
On February 20, students from the University of Vlore began a hunger strike, demanding the resignation of the government and compensation for funds lost by the population.
On February 26th, following rumors of an impending takeover of the university by the national security forces (Shërbimi Informativ Kombëtar - SHIK), thousands of protesters surrounded the campus with starving students.
On February 28, the crowd attacked and destroyed the SHIK building, killing 6 security personnel and three insurgents. On the same day, 46 students from the University of Gjirokastra (the hometown of Enver Hoxha) began a hunger strike.
And on March 1, the Peshilimena naval base was captured and police stations in Gjirokastra burned down.
On March 3, the Vlore Vocational Training Center was destroyed and the city of Saranda was captured, where the rebels burned down all government buildings.
On March 7, the Gjirokastra garrison went over to the side of the rebels.
On March 7–8, the Albanians-melancholy defeated parts of the government army near Gjirokastra. Further, on March 10, the cities of Gramshi, Fieri, Berat, Polichan, Keltzura and some others were captured. Already on March 13, the rebels approached Tirana. And on the 14th, Durres fell.
At that time, the government opened arsenals of military warehouses and bases for the allied hegs of the north, who arrived in the hundreds in the capital, where battles were already taking place in the suburbs.
On March 17, President of Albania Sali Berisha was taken out of Tirana by an American helicopter.
It was then that the Albanian crime clans became especially strong, which, in the end, took control of a number of cities.
On March 22, Gjirokastra and Saranda were at the mercy of Albanian gangs. The inhabitants of these cities were plundered, several dozen people were killed. Later some other cities were plundered by bandits. It is said that in the cities of Vlore, Gjirokastra and in the province of Elbasan, bandit clans still have more influence than local authorities.
In late February and early March 1997, the situation in Albania was so acute that foreign citizens and diplomatic missions had to be evacuated from Tirana. US Marines evacuated 900 people during Operation Silver Wake.
American citizens boarding a CH-53 Super Stallion attack helicopter. March 15, 1997
On March 3 and 10, 16 Italians, 5 Germans, 3 Greeks and a Dutchman were taken out by helicopters of the Italian Air Force. And the German army then carried out Operation Libelle ("Dragonfly"), during which German soldiers (for the first time since World War II) had to use weapon... The rebels opened fire from two armored vehicles at the helicopters, the Germans forced them to retreat with return fire. 98 foreign citizens from 22 countries were evacuated (21 of them were Germans).
German soldiers at Tirana airport
On March 28, the UN adopted a resolution on humanitarian aid to Albania.
On April 15, the first units of the peacekeeping forces began to arrive in Durres, the number of which was brought to 7 thousand people. This contingent remained in Albania until August 14, 1997.
The economic damage from those events was estimated at $ 200 million - a very significant amount for small Albania.
In just three months of unrest, about one and a half thousand people were killed, up to three and a half thousand were injured. Thousands of Albanians fled to Italy and Greece. In Albanian ports, they were robbed in full view by local bandits who demanded from 250 to 500 dollars for a ticket.
An Albanian bandit demands money from a refugee trying to get to a ship bound for Italy. Durres. March 1997
Not without tragedy.
On March 28, an Italian Coast Guard ship collided with a ship carrying Albanian refugees. 82 people were killed.
On April 12, 1997, the grandson of King Ahmed Zog, Lek, arrived in Albania, who, on the sly, decided to take the throne of this country. At the referendum held on June 29, 1997 (simultaneously with the parliamentary elections), he received only 33,3% of the vote.
The then failed "King" Leka on Skanderbeg Square. July 3, 1997
However, on November 30, 2011, he still received the royal title ("King of Albania"), but not the power in this country.
It was during this uprising (March 13, 1997) that Ramiz Alia was released by his supporters and left for Dubai. In the same year, the Socialist Party (the successor to the APT) came to power in Albania. And Alia was released from criminal liability. He died in Tirana - October 7, 2011.
The events of 1997 in Tirana are now reminiscent of the Peace Bell, cast from bullets, shells and shell fragments collected by children. It can be seen at the famous "Pyramid".
Albania still cannot boast of political stability.
Outbreaks of protests and retaliatory violence by the authorities are not uncommon. And they are often accompanied by victims. So, during the next anti-government rally in Tirana on January 21, 2014, which was attended by up to 20 thousand people, during the riots that arose, 3 people were killed, 22 demonstrators and 17 police officers were injured.
January 21, 2014: Cars on fire again at Pyramid.
Economic and social situation of modern Albania
The new authorities of Albania, of course, accused Enver Hoxha of all sins, including the low standard of living of the Albanian people.
However, more than 35 years have passed since his death. And life in Albania has not improved at all.
Both industrial and agricultural production fell sharply. And more than 20% of the country's GDP are remittances sent home by labor migrants from different European countries - there are about 1 people (about 300% of the country's population).
In 2017, for example, the funds transferred home by labor migrants amounted to 22% of GDP. In Albania, now 2 flags are often hung on houses - of their country and the state where the head of the family works.
Albania supplies mainly agricultural products to neighboring countries (mainly Italy - 48%, but also Germany, Spain, France, China), which are valued there for an excellent combination of price and quality. This is not only fruits, vegetables and tobacco, but also ice cream, which is considered the best in Europe. From industrial products, chromite ore, ferroalloys and footwear are exported abroad.
The drug trade brings huge profits (though not to the state). A police operation in 2014 yielded results that shocked many: 102 tons of marijuana and more than 507 cannabis seedlings were found and destroyed. The approximate cost of the extraction of the police was estimated at 6,5 billion euros, which was about 60 percent of the country's GDP. 1900 people were arrested then. In 2016, 5204 hemp-planted plots were discovered (about two and a half million bushes).
Destruction of a cannabis plantation in Albania.
And in 2018, in the port city of Durres, 613 kilograms of cocaine were found, arrived with a cargo of bananas from Colombia - for further shipment to Western Europe.
Demographic situation in Albania
The population of Albania in 2019 (compared to 1990) decreased by 376 people.
Currently, the number of people living in Albania is estimated at 2. The forecast of the number for 878 is 310 2050 2 people.
95% of the citizens of this country are ethnic Albanians (Serbs, Greeks, Bulgarians, Gypsies also live in the country). More than 80% of the inhabitants of Albania call themselves adherents of Islam, 18% are Christians of various kinds, and 1,4% are atheists.
Confessional map of Albania
Albanian communities in other countries of the Balkan Peninsula
Outside Albania, there are currently about 10 million ethnic Albanians.
In September 2017, Albania even created the post of Minister for Diaspora Affairs. Compact groups of Albanians live in Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo, North Macedonia.
Places of residence of Albanians in the territory of the former Yugoslavia
In Serbia (in addition to Kosovo and Metohija), Albanians live in the communities of Buyanovac, Medvedja and Presevo (about 60 thousand people).
In Montenegro, Albanians make up 5% of the country's population. They live mainly in the Ulcinj community, as well as in Plava, Husin and Rozai. Currently, there is an active settlement by Albanians in the northern regions of this country, which is especially noticeable in the city of Bar and the area south of Podgorica. It was the votes of the Albanians that turned out to be decisive in the referendum, as a result of which the union state of Serbia and Montenegro collapsed.
In North Macedonia, according to the 2002 census, 509 Albanians (083% of the total population of the country) live - mainly in Tetovo, Gostivar, Debar, Struea, Kichevo, Kumanovo, as well as in Skopje. Over the years, the number of Macedonian Albanians has increased significantly. And (according to various sources) is from 25,2 to 700 thousand people. Currently, 900% of newborns in North Macedonia are ethnic Albanians.
Albanians living in the states that emerged on the territory of the former Yugoslavia often serve as conductors of the ideas of "Greater Albania".
However, many leaders of these foreign Albanian communities, having realized that it is better to be “the first guy in the village” than the second or third “in the city”, have already cooled down a little to this idea. Supporting her in words, they prefer to aggressively beat out a special position for themselves and more and more rights in their place of residence. And they are in no hurry to go under direct subordination to the Albanian authorities.
Even more Albanians now live in other countries - not only in Europe, but also in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the states of South America.
In the next article we will talk about the Albanian diasporas in other countries and the criminal business of the Albanian clans.