Albania in the Last Decade of the 20th Century

Albania in the Last Decade of the 20th Century


Under the impression of the political upheaval in Central and Eastern Europe, riots and protests have also occurred in Albania since December 1989 (anti-government demonstrations in Shkodër); these prompted the communist party and state leadership under Alia 1990 to initiate cautious internal reforms and to continue opening up foreign policy. The first steps towards a democratization of the law and judiciary were taken (including the re-admission of lawyers in May 1990, resolution to reintroduce a ministry of justice and reduction of the number of acts threatened with the death penalty from 34 to 11, lifting of the ban on religion). Despite the changes that had been introduced, around 5,000 Albanians fled to foreign embassies in July 1990 and forced them to leave the country. Under the pressure of the demonstrations directed against the autocracy of the PAA, which started from the university in Tirana in December 1990, the formation of opposition parties had to be allowed; the first to emerge at the end of 1990 was the Democratic Party (PDSh), which emerged from the student movement. After another serious unrest (especially in Tirana on February 20, 1991, the monuments were overturned Hoxhas in various cities) the Çarçani government resigned in February 1991, which was replaced by an interim cabinet under F. Nano. From the free parliamentary elections of March 31, 1991, the PAA emerged as the strongest force, which, including the results of the run-off elections of April 7, 1991, achieved a two-thirds majority; Nano formed the government again. In April 1991 the name of the state was changed to the Republic of Albania and a transitional constitution was passed. On April 30, 1991, Parliament elected Alia President of the Republic; shortly afterwards he gave up the chairmanship of the PAA.

The government of Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi (* 1939), in office from April 1992, pushed the market economy course (including far-reaching privatization projects), but was faced with a desolate economy and serious social problems. 1993-94 there were arrests and convictions of high-ranking CP officials (including imposing a prison sentence on Alia who was released early in 1995). The population’s dissatisfaction with the domestic political situation was expressed in the rejection of a draft constitution drawn up by the PDSh by a referendum on November 6, 1994. The Republican Party (founded in January 1991) and the Social Democratic Party of Albania (PSDSh; founded in April 1991) the coalition government previously supported by the PDSh; in December 1994 Berisha undertook an extensive government reshuffle. In view of the economic hardship, around 400,000 Albanians (around 12% of the population) left Land v. a. towards Greece (around 250,000 economic refugees) and Italy.

The issue of conflict developed from the national question, since Albanians live in every state bordering Albania (mostly settlement areas in the border area) and the advocacy of all Albanian ethnic groups in this region (right through to demands of individual political groups for the unification of the entire Albanian population on the Balkan Peninsula) caused some tensions (especially with Serbia because of the support of the Albanians in Kosovo). Greek-Albanian differences arose from the Albanian minority policy towards the Greeks living in southern Albania; The Greek settlement of this area, which goes back a long way in history (heavy immigration due to the Greek civil war 1944-49), was used by Greek nationalists to demand the annexation of what they termed »Northern Epirus« to Greece. Since a law of 1991 prohibited the operation of parties on an ethnic basis, the Greek nationality association OMONIA founded the Union for Human Rights to represent the Greek minority in Albania. In the dispute over the rights of the Greeks in Albania it came, inter alia. 1993 Albanians illegally entered Greece from Greece for mass deportations.

In the parliamentary elections of May 26, 1996 (criticized by international observers because of serious irregularities), the PDSh prevailed again; the opposition parties, which then carried out several protest demonstrations suppressed by the police (including on May 28, 1996 in Tirana), boycotted the second round of voting on June 2, 1996.

Criminal investment deals, in which many Albanians lost all their savings, led to serious civil war-like unrest and the temporary collapse of the state in early 1997. At the request of the government, the UN and OSCE dispatched a multinational peacekeeping force from March to mid-August 1997 to secure v. a. the relief supplies. In the parliamentary elections on 29. 6./6. 7. In 1997 the Socialist Party (PSSh) was victorious and provided the prime minister with Nano; after the resignation of Berisha (23 July), Rexhep Mejdani (* 1944) also a Socialist President (July 24, 1997). After renewed clashes in northern Albania (Shkodër, February 22/23, 1998) and two weeks of unrest throughout the country from September 12 (murder of a leading PDSh politician), Nano resigned on September 29, 1998; his successor was Pandeli Majko (* 1967), who in turn was succeeded on October 26, 1999 by I. Meta .

In terms of foreign policy, Albania has endeavored since the beginning of the political upheaval to rapidly expand its international contacts (including resumption of diplomatic relations with the USA on March 15, 1991) and to be integrated into the European organizational structures (on June 19, 1991 as the last European state in the CSCE admitted). The prohibition on accepting foreign loans imposed by the 1976 Constitution was lifted in 1990. Albania, which was striving for an early integration into the EU and NATO, became a member of the Council of Europe in July 1995. Visit for European parliament.

With the expansion of the Kosovo crisis (from March 1998, intensified since the NATO air strikes in spring 1999), more than 500,000 displaced Kosovar Albanians (Kosovars) were temporarily admitted. Albania became a NATO deployment area (at times 8,300 men) and received enormous international support (US $ 180 million in emergency aid and an international debt moratorium). Albania was able to use the Kosovo crisis to become closer to the international community (EU, NATO) and to improve its relations in the region (especially with North Macedonia and Greece). In February 2000, as a member of the Southeast European Cooperation Process (English abbreviation SEECP) with five Balkan countries and Turkey, Albania was involved in the signing of a Charter for Cooperation and Good Neighborhood in Bucharest.

Albania in the Last Decade of the 20th Century