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Albanian Imlosion
Supplement I

Tirana-Prishtina


If a Kosovar comes to the ìmotherlandî and makes a questionnaire among his fellow-nationals, consisting of a few simple questions about the geography and history of Albanian lands in Kosova, Montenegro and Çamëri, I am afraid that only a very few would be able to give accurate answers.

The Kosovar would certainly feel bad about this and would by very upset if the degree of difficulty of his questions were increased.

Poverty begets evil, people say. The poverty of the mind and soul begets a sort of evil which divides a nation.

The chopping-up of the Albanian trunk in 1912 among the Southern Slavs and the Greeks is the first major national rift which cut the Albanians asunder. Further on, in 1944, the split was deepened and accepted by the Albanian-Serb communists who sealed it with their day to day activity . The split was finally sanctioned by the Hoxha-Tito meeting in 1946. This sequence of events, which came to an abrupt end with the break with Yugoslavia in 1948, helped to build up the wall of silence between Albanians and Kosovars on either side of the state borders.

Silence not just about Kosova but also about the Albanian question in the Balkans became the standard accepted line in the political publications of the leadership of the Party of Labour of Albania.

Whereas the Belgrade propaganda kept producing thousands of articles and hundreds of ìscientificî and ìhistoricî treatises, Red Tirana never made its voice heard about the question of the Albanian population in Kosova, Montenegro and Western Macedonia; Red Tirana was silent about the question of Çamëri. This situation continued for nearly half a century.

Only in 1981, Tirana broke its long silence. Since the publication on the Demographic Situation in Kosova, by Hamit Kokalari in 1941, the Party of Labour of Albania published just ten newspaper articles which protested against the suppression of the peaceful demonstrations of the students of the Prishtina University.

In 1985, the top circles of Tirana politicians allowed rumours to spread that a serious publication on the national question and the rights of the Kosovars in Serbia was being prepared. It was not untrue. The Institute of International Studies, with Sofokli Lazri as director, was in charge of collecting the appropriate writings. When the material was ready, work began a the ì8 Nëntoriî Publishing House in complete secrecy, where we, the translators and editors, were heavily guarded by plainclothesmen of the Ministry of the Interior.

The ìbookî was translated into English, French and Italian. Finally both the Albanian original and the translations were duly handed over to the Institute of History on the eve of the social changes of 1991-1992. The manuscripts were pigeon-holed there for many more years.

Had it not been for the generous sponsorship of the Albanians in Macedonia, it would never have been put in print.

Ten articles in the newspaper ìZëri i popullitî and a half-hearted attempt by the Institute of International Studies to put together a book were all that the ìmotherî country could show by way of its efforts in support of the national question and the destiny of our brothers outside the state borders of the Peopleís Socialist Republic of Albania in the fifty years of its existence.

As communist Tirana was too preoccupied with its own interests - which implies the national security that had been reduced to the safety of the single party system and the building of the ideological temple of the Enverist clan - Kosova and all Albanians outside of the state borders had put their faith in Tirana, had their eyes turned to Tirana, had based all their hopes and aspirations on Tirana.

The propaganda of the Party of Labour of Albania, on the one hand, and the natural inclination of the Albanian expats to consider Red Tirana as the bulwark of nationalism, combined to produce a typical frame of mind amongst Kosovars in general that would take anything for granted from Tirana.

To Tito in Belgrade, who was the master of Kosova de jure and de facto , the Kosovars willingly preferred Enver Hoxha. To the Titoite system in Kosova they were naturally predisposed to seek their salvation from Enverist Tirana. The resentment against Miloshevichís Serbian oppression drove them relentlessly towards Tirana, regardless of the ideological colouring that tainted the life in the ìmotherî country. They would invariably side with Tirana, rather than with Titoí and Miloshevichís Belgrade.

The ties with the motherland, the dreams of united territories that belonged together, were their only hope of escaping the Serbian yoke. In their opinion, the colour of the rulers in Tirana is unimportant, the style of government is not their concern. In Tirana they see the only future for themselves. If they were deprived of this dream they would feel rootless and with nothing to hold on for their future.

This Kosovar dream never ceases to surprise the Albanian in the mother country. This attitude of the Kosovars raises quite a few eye-brows amongst Albanians, who have an inside view of our country under the dictatorship. They wonder at the naiveté and candour of their Kosovar brethren. They find the beliefs of the Kosovars and the expats rather unacceptable for their taste and experience. In the eyes of an Albanian in Tirana the dream of the Kosovars borders on blind acceptance of everything, any lies and whitewash, that the communist propaganda dished up for them.

Kosovars, for their part, have difficulty in understanding the full dimension of the hatred of the Tirana people against communism. They cannot make the distinction between the love of country and ideological loyalty which replaced patriotism under Enver Hoxha.

The Albanian who spent half his adult life in the prisons of the Peopleís Socialist Republic of Albania, and then another five or ten years in labour camps in the fields and in the chrome and copper mines, cannot accept the unqualified devotion of his Kosovar compatriots to Enver Hoxha and to everything that he and his formidable propaganda instilled into their minds and hearts.

Three hundred thousand Albanians (one tenth of the population of the country) who were treated like slaves in their own home cannot and could not in any way accept this type of loyalty, which sounded worse than the abject expression of loyalty to the Party and its leader by all the lackeys of the dictatorship. The Albanian fresh from the communist jails could only sympathise with the pathetic expressions of the Kosovarsí devotion and praises for the old regime. Most of his brethrenís sincere expressions of devotion to the cause of Albania sounded farcical to the former prisoners and labour camp inmates.

Just as we Albanians in our Republic cannot condone our brethrenís expressions of devotion to Enver Hoxha, so our compatriots cannot understand our aversion to him. This is a sad fact of history and we cannot change it.

The fifty years of living apart from each other are responsible for these consequences and we cannot alter them.


...


In the early days after Albaniaís opening-up to the world, the border crossing points lifted the old restrictions on foreign visitors.

Many Albanians in exile and numerous Kosovars rejoiced at the news. The day had dawned when people from the same family, from the same trunk could no longer be kept apart by artificial barriers raised for political reasons. Albanians who had received death penalties in absentia returned to their abandoned homes only to find that they had been raised to the ground. The distant and close relatives, who had never met before, hastened to see their own kith and kin in Albania only to see graves or, at best, jail-scarred faces.

Amongst the visitors there were also the second generation of Albanian expats who came out of curiosity to see what was this country which until a month before would not allow them to visit their ancestral homes.

One September evening of 1991 a family friend came round and told me that he wanted to introduce me to a distant relative of his from Kosova.

With pleasure, - I said. - But why me, if I may ask?
Because I want you to hear his story.
I guessed what he was up to. He had heard me express my displeasure openly about a rascally kind of Kosovar businessmen who had taken possession of central Tirana to set up their shops and cafés. Some of them were so unscrupulous that they tried to sell coloured tepid water for soft drinks.

These little sharks were not the great evil. They are a prolific species, but they can do only limited damage. I was upset with what I heard about a certain Hajdin Sejdia, who had arrived unexpectedly in Tirana in his limousine and had walked straight into Fatos Nanoís office shouting his promises and commitments with a lordly air.

What he had said immediately hit the streets and became the talk of the town. The Albanian television and radio were reporting the big news that Mr. Sejdia had signed the contract with the government which covered everything.

An unusual contract indeed.

Do you want roads? Hajdin can build them for you.
Do you want tourism? Hajdin can develop it for you.
Do you want to modernise the mines? Hajdin can do just that for you.
Do you want trade with the world? Hajdin can manage that for you.
Do you need money? Hajdin can give you as much as you need, provided you give me first what you have, and later Iíll return it with a hundred per cent net profit to you!

My friend knew that I was not pleased with all this and wanted to demonstrate that it was wrong to dismiss all Kosovars as a money-grabbing lot.

I met him, and when I came in London in 1993 I met many more Kosovars and Albanians from Western Macedonia, who stand high in my opinion.


...


It is only natural for Prishtina leaders to hasten in meeting the Nano III government and congratulate the SP on its victory. With the same natural urge they hastened to congratulate President Sali Berisha for the victory of his DP in 1992. Albanians in Prishtina will always obey the call of the blood of the Arbër.

Like tireless riders they will hasten towards Tirana until the day arrives when the world accepts that Albanians cannot live divided in four different states and that the advantages of allowing Albanians to unite in one home are much greater than the disadvantages. The Balkan region will be much better and safer with the Albanians no longer divided by the old European policies.

The same chancelleries which drew the Albanian state borders where they are today know the advantages that will come with united Albanians; the political circles in Belgrade, who are at the forefront of the opponents of the final settlement of the Albanian national question, are aware of this; the politicians in Shkup are aware of this too.



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