The fall of Communism in Albania, the last such event in Europe outside the USSR, started in earnest on December 1990 with student demonstrations in the capital, Tirana, although protests had begun earlier that year in other cities. The Central Committee of the communist Party of Labour of Albania allowed political pluralism on 11 December and the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party, was founded the next day. March 1991 elections left the Party of Labour in power, but a general strike and urban opposition led to the formation of a "stability government" that included non-communists. Albania's former communists were routed in elections in March 1992 amid economic collapse and social unrest, with the Democratic Party winning most seats and its party head, Sali Berisha, becoming president.
|Fall of Communism in Albania|
The toppling of Enver Hoxha's statue
in central Tirana
|Date||December 11, 1990|
|Location||Albania, mainly Shkodër, Kavajë, and Tirana|
Enver Hoxha, who ruled the Socialist People's Republic of Albania for four decades, died on April 11, 1985. Ramiz Alia succeeded Hoxha, and gradually introduced economic reforms and opened diplomatic ties with Western European countries.
During the revolutions of 1989 many Albanians remained unaware of events due to the dearth of information within the isolated state. Some Albanians did not even know that the Berlin Wall had fallen in November 1989.
In January 1990, the first revolts started in Shkodra, where a few hundred people wanted to demolish Joseph Stalin's statue, and from there they spread to a few other cities. Eventually, the existing regime introduced some liberalization, including measures in 1990 providing for freedom to travel abroad. Efforts were begun to improve ties with the outside world.
Mikhail Gorbachev had adopted new policies of glasnost and perestroika in the Soviet Union in 1985. After Nicolae Ceauşescu, the communist leader of Romania, was executed during the Romanian Revolution of 1989, Alia knew that he might be next if radical changes were not made. He then signed the Helsinki Agreement which then forced conformity to Western European human rights standards. Alia also organized a meeting with leading intellectuals of the time on ways to reform the Albanian political system. Under Alia, the first pluralist elections took place since the communists took power in Albania in 1944. Alia's party won the election of March 31, 1991.
Nevertheless, it was clear that the transition to capitalism would not be stopped. Many leading members of the newly formed Democratic Party wore light trench coats during demonstrations, while Sali Berisha, then still a Party of Labour member, was heard thanking Ramiz Alia when addressing the students protests, and was seen driving around Skanderbeg Square with a government vehicle. Meanwhile, a student demonstration was crushed by the state police in Tirana's Student City dormitories. Ramiz Alia invited a delegation of University of Tirana students to discuss their concerns and come up with a compromise.
The communists managed to retain control of the government in the first round of elections, but fell two months later during a general strike. A committee of "national salvation" took over but also collapsed within six months. Alia resigned as president and was succeeded by Berisha, the first democratically elected leader of Albania since Bishop Fan Noli.
The change from communism to capitalism evidently had many challenges. The Democratic Party had to implement the reforms it had promised, but they were either too slow or did not solve the nation's problems, so people were disappointed when their hopes for fast prosperity went unfulfilled. Many Albanians were also frustrated by Sali Berisha's growing authoritarianism, including pressure on the opposition, media and civil society. In the general elections of June 1996 the Democratic Party tried to win an absolute majority and manipulated the results.
The government fell in 1997 after the collapse of a number of large "pyramid schemes" (more accurately, Ponzi schemes) and widespread corruption, which caused disorder and rebellion throughout the country. The government attempted to suppress the revolt by force but the attempt failed, due to low morale and corruption in the armed forces. With the help of international mediation led by OSCE special envoy Franz Vranitzky, the ruling and opposition parties agreed to form a Reconciliation Government and to hold new elections. To secure calm and to prevent an outward refugee flow, nine states contributed military forces to an international force called Operation Alba.
Elections in June 1997 brought the opposition Socialist Party (former communist party) to power, and it ruled under various prime ministers until 2005. The Democratic Party won parliamentary elections in 2005 and 2009, and Albania was governed again by Sali Berisha, this time as prime minister. The Socialist Party won the elections in 2013, and is governed by its party head and Prime Minister Edi Rama.
According to the constitution, approved by referendum on November 22, 1998, promulgated on November 28, 1998, and amended in January 2007, Albania has a democratic system of government with separation of powers and protection of fundamental human rights.
Since the end of communism, the country became more aligned towards the West than its, albeit unenthused, relations with Russia or China. Albania joined NATO in 2009 and is aiming to join the European Union in the future.
The Albanian Volleyball League is the top flight professional volleyball league competition in Albania, which currently features 7 clubs in 1 division. The league was founded in 1946, shortly after the formation of the Albanian Federation of Volleyball (FSHV) and it has remained the top flight men's volleyball competition in the country ever since. Dinamo Tirana have won the most championship titles with 25, but they have won just 2 titles since 1991, as Studenti have become the dominant club in the country, winning 13 titles out of a possible 18 since 2000.The league currently consists of 9 clubs in 1 division, but other formats have been used such as a division consisting of 7 clubs, as well as 2 divisions consisting of 12 clubs. Having started in 1946, it is one of the oldest and longest running volleyball competitions Balkans, and the sport experiences its peak in popularity during the Communist era in the 70s and 80s. Since the fall of communism in Albania in 1991 many volleyball clubs struggled to remain active due to a lack of funding, which led to the decline in the popularity of the sport as a whole in the country. However, since 1993 there has been some re-establishment of clubs that had previously folded, as private investment along with some state funded has allowed some of these clubs to continue functioning.Albania–United States relations
Albania – United States relations refer to the current and historical relations of Albania and the United States of America, first established in 1912, following its independence from the Ottoman Empire, ending in 1939 due to German and Italian occupation in the Second World War, and re-established in 1991 after the fall of communism in Albania and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
The countries are both members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).Azem Hajdari
Azem Shpend Hajdari (Albanian: [ˈazɛm hajdaˈɾi], March 11, 1963 – September 12, 1998) was the leader of the student movement in 1990–1991 that led to the fall of communism in Albania. He then became a politician of the Democratic Party of Albania (DP). He symbolizes the start of the democratic era in Albania. He was a member of the Albanian parliament and the Chairman of the Defence Parliamentary Commission. He was assassinated in Tirana on September 12, 1998.On October 2, 1998, Hajdari was posthumously awarded Honorary citizenship of Tirana, and in 2007 he was decorated with the Skanderbeg's Order by president Bamir Topi.A monument honoring Hajdari and Besim Çera was placed on the crime scene where both were killed (41°19′38″N 19°49′19″E).Cominform
Founded on October 5, 1947, Cominform (from Communist Information Bureau) is the common name for what was officially referred to as the Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers' Parties. It was the first official forum of the International Communist Movement since the dissolution of the Comintern and confirmed the new realities after World War II, including the creation of an Eastern Bloc.Gent Strazimiri
Gent Hysen Strazimiri (Albanian: [ˈɡɛnt straziˈmiɾi], born 6 October 1972) is a member of the Assembly of the Republic of Albania for the Democratic Party of Albania (DP). He was Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs from 2007 to 2009. Strazimiri is also member of the committee on Legal Affairs, Public Administration and Human Rights and Committee on Education and Public Information.Stazimiri is since 2009 the deputy leader of the DP in the Albanian parliament.Great Mosque of Tirana
The Great Mosque of Tirana (Xhamia e Madhe e Tiranës) or Namazgâh Mosque (Xhamia e Namazgjasë) is a mosque which is currently being built in Tirana, Albania. When completed, it will be the largest mosque in the Balkans.Hajdari
Hajdari is a surname. Notable people with this surname include:
Azem Hajdari (1963–1998), Albanian leader of the student movement in 1990–1991 that led to the fall of communism in Albania
Blerti Hajdari (born 1990), Albanian footballer
Gentjan Hajdari (born 1975), Albanian footballerIsh-Blloku
Ish-Blloku (English: Ex-Block), commonly Blloku (English: Block), is an upmarket area in Tirana, Albania. It widely known as an entertainment destination with its boutiques, shops, restaurants, trendy bars, pubs, and cafes. The area is part of the neighbourhood of Tirana e Re in southwestern Tirana. During the peak summer months, its trendy bars transfer along the Albanian Riviera.
It became very attractive after the fall of Communism in Albania, because during the communist period it was a restricted residential area for the members of the Albanian politburo, ordinary Albanians would not be allowed in. On most maps it was unmarked. In Blloku you can still find the residence of Albania’s communist leader Enver Hoxha.
Since the fall of communism in Albania, a dramatic growth of new developments has taken place, with many new exclusive flats and apartments. Ish-Blloku has been called the "playground of the young Albanian elite".Blloku is quite a small, walking neighborhood, easily accessible from different parts of Tirana. The entrance of Blloku is only 10-15 minutes by foot from the city centre of Tirana.
The first international fast food chain (KFC) in Albania, were also opened at Ish-Blloku and Tirana East Gate.
Landmarks in Tirana
Neighborhoods of TiranaIsuf Vrioni
Isuf Vrioni (1916–2001), also known as Jusuf Vrioni, was an Albanian translator, diplomat, and Albanian ambassador to UNESCO.
Vrioni was born in Corfu, Greece, on 16 March 1916. He spent his youth in Corfu and later in Berat. He was the son of Albanian politician Ilias Bey Vrioni, With the assignment of his father as Ambassador to France, he moved to Paris in 1925. Vrioni studied in the Janson de Sailly Lyceum, Paris, and later in the Grande école des hautes études commerciales de Paris, and Institut d'études politiques of Paris.
He returned to Albania in 1939, leaving again for Rome after the Italian invasion of Albania. He returned to Tirana in 1943. On 13 September 1947 he was arrested by the communists and finally in 1950 got a 15-year sentence with forced hard-labor. He was released in late 1958 and interned in Fier. In 1960, due to his knowledge of foreign languages he started working as translator in Tirana. He distinguished himself as a francophone and got respect through the intellectual and artistic circles of that time.
After the Fall of Communism in Albania, he started working as Director of the Albanian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights. Following the turmoils of 1997 in Albania, he left for Paris. In 1998 he was assigned as Representative of Albania at UNESCO. On 22 May 1998, he received the title Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur from the French authorities.
Isuf Vrioni died in Paris in May 2001.
On 18 June 2001, he was given the title "Honorary Citizen" of Berat.
As a sign of appreciation for Vrioni's work, Albanian Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Sports created a special prize named after him. A street in Tirana, Albania is named after him.Jack Shulman
Jacob (Jack) Shulman, (1914–1999), was an American anti-Revisionist Communist activist who fought in the Spanish Civil War and later moved to the People's Republic of China.
He was born and raised in Rochester, New York, to Jewish parents who had fled Tsarist Russia. His father was a housepainter and his mother a washerwoman. Shulman won a scholarship to college but had to leave due to the onset of the Great Depression. Shulman joined the Young Communist League in 1930 and went on in 1936 to serve with the Lincoln Brigade for 26 months during the Spanish Civil War and in United States Army during World War II. In the early 1950s he worked in the South as part of the Party's organizing efforts with African Americans. He was for several years William Z. Foster's secretary.
Shulman was dissatisfied by the Communist Party USA's turn away from Stalinism following Nikita Khrushchev's secret speech in 1956. Following his resignation from the Party, Shulman traveled to Albania and China in pursuit of his political objectives.
Shulman visited Albania then moved to China in 1968 and worked as an editor of English language publications during the Cultural Revolution in Beijing. As China itself began to display revisionist tendencies Shulman grew closer to the Albanian Party of Labor. He returned to the United States, published Albania Report and organized the USA-Albania Friendship Association. He had good relationships with the India-Albania Friendship Association and Indian Marxist-Leninists. After the fall of communism in Albania he participated in the Alliance Marxist-Leninist (North America) and supported International Struggle Marxist-Leninist (ISML). He was associated with the British Marxist-Leninist W. B. Bland. In 2008, former political associates of Shulman helped found the American Party of Labor.
He was married three times. The ashes of his third wife, Ruth, are buried in the Martyr's Hill in Tirana. Shulman died in 1999.
His son Norman, an American draft dodger who joined him in China during the Vietnam War, stayed behind in China for several years and met and later married Jan Wong, a Canadian student who later became a journalist.Mother Teresa Square (Tirana)
The Mother Teresa Square (Albanian: Sheshi Nënë Tereza) is the second largest square in Tirana, Albania. It is named after the Albanian Roman Catholic nun, missionary and nobelist Mother Teresa.The square was planned by the Italian architect Gherardo Bosio, and built together with the main Boulevard in 1939 to 1941, during the Italian occupation of Albania, in a Rationalist style.
When the square was first constructed, it was named Victor Emmanuel III Square in honor of Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.It is located on the north end of the Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard and important buildings are situated on this square. The building include the University of Tirana, the Polytechnic University, the University of Arts, the Archeological Museum and the Centre of Albanological Studies.
On 1980 a fountain was placed on the middle of the square and after the Fall of communism in Albania it was named after Mother Teresa and a statue of her was placed on the east side of the square. Both the statue and the fountain were later removed, after the restoration of the square in 2014 caused by the preparations for the Pope Francis visit in Tirana. Today it is a pedestrian zone, mostly used for different activities and concerts by the Municipality of Tirana.Novocherkassk massacre
The Novocherkassk massacre refers to events tied to the labor strike at a locomotive building plant in Novocherkassk, a city in the Russian SFSR, Soviet Union. The events eventually culminated into the protests of June 1–2, 1962 when reportedly 26 protesters were killed by Soviet Army troops, and 87 were wounded.Pirro Kondi
Pirro Kondi (born 1924) is a former Albanian politician of the Albanian Party of Labour (PPSh). Coming from a family with strong communist background, he became member of the Albanian Parliament and a candidate-member of the Politburo of the Party of Labour of Albania by the '80.Rilindja Demokratike
Rilindja Demokratike (English: Democratic Rebirth and short RD) is an Albanian newspaper founded and continuously published in Tirana. Rilindja Demokratike is the official newspaper of the Democratic Party of Albania. Its chief editor is Bledi Kasmi. Its first publication was on 5 January 1991 and was the first free newspaper since the Fall of communism in Albania, while it functioned against the state newspaper Zëri i Popullit what was the newspaper of the Communist Party and nowadays of the Socialist Party. RD still preserve the same values as on its first day of publication and is one of the most respected newspapers of the Albanian media, this is because its first issue was actually the first free media coverage in 46 years. RD was also the first media in Albania that openly criticized the regime of Enver Hoxha.RD still helds the record of most published newspaper in Albania, with a circulation of 125.000 copies in 1991. Together with Gazeta 55 it is the only right winged news paper, but RD is considered the main opposition newspaper.Simon Stefani
Simon Stefani (3 January 1929 - 2 August 2000) was an Albanian politician of the communist era. Stefani was born in Permet. He served as Chairman of the Assembly of the Republic of Albania from 25 December 1978 to 22 November 1982, as well as member of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania from 1976 to 1991. Stefani was partly of Greek origin.Soviet reaction to the Polish crisis of 1980–1981
The Polish crisis of 1980–1981, associated with the emergence of the Solidarity mass movement in Poland, challenged the Soviet Union's control over its satellite states in the Eastern Bloc.For the first time however, the Kremlin abstained from military intervention, unlike on previous occasions such as the Prague Spring of 1968 and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and thus left the Polish leadership under General Wojciech Jaruzelski to impose martial law to deal with the opposition on their own.Swedish–Albanian Association
The Swedish–Albanian Association (Swedish: Svensk-albanska föreningen) was a Swedish friendship association, founded during the Cold War to support the People's Socialist Republic of Albania and the Party of Labour of Albania, and to build Swedish-Albanian cultural relations. The group, among other activities, translated and published the works of Albanian leader Enver Hoxha - among them Imperialismen och revolutionen (1979) on the subject of the Sino-Albanian split - as well as books on Albanian culture, tourist guide books, and a novella by the author Dhimitër Shuteriqi. The Swedish-Albanian Association's Bulletin and Albania and Us were two regular publications.Members of the group made several visits to Albania during the 1970s and 1980s, meeting with Albanian party officials and touring the country. In early April 1976 the postal worker and member Bosse Jansson mysteriously disappeared, after attending an association meeting. Despite losing the basis of its existence with the fall of Communism in Albania in 1990, the group continued to exist for some years, publishing a brochure in support of the Kosovo Albanians during the Kosovo War in 1999.An organization using the name of the Swedish–Albanian Association still exists as of at least 2007, working primarily in propagating the issue of Kosovo, but it is unknown if it is a continuation of the original group.Telephone tapping in the Eastern Bloc
Telephone tapping in the countries of the Eastern Bloc was a widespread method of the mass surveillance of the population by the secret police.Vangjel Çërrava
Vangjel Çërrava (born 1941 in Korçë) is a former Albanian politician of the Albanian Party of Labour (PPSh). He was member of the Albanian Parliament, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Albania, and for a short time member of the Politburo of the Party.