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The case of ALBANIA

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The case of ALBANIA

Located on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, Albania was ruled from ancient times successively by Rome (to A.D. 535), the Byzantine Empire (535–1444), and the Ottoman Turks (1446–1912). It was then, and remains today, one of the poorest European nations. A ravaged battlefield in World War I,Albania emerged from that conflict to declare itself a republic, but Muslim strongman Ahmed Zogu proclaimed himself president in 1925 and then switched his title to king (Zog I) three years later. He ruled until 1939, when Benito Mussolini’s fascist government annexed Albania. Near the end of World War II, in 1944, Communist guerrillas led by Enver Hoxha liberated Albania from Italian occupation.

Unfortunately for natives who expected liberty, Hoxha was a devotee of Soviet dictator JOSEPH STALIN and emulated Stalin’s brutal methods of suppressing dissent. In 1961 Hoxha broke with RUSSIA over personal and political differences with Nikita Khrushchev, forging a new alliance with the Chinese government of MAO ZEDONG. With Mao’s death in 1978, Hoxha was set adrift, pursuing his own dead-end policies that left Albania the most impoverished and isolated country in Europe.
Ramiz Alia succeeded Hoxha in 1985, and public faith in COMMUNISM remained strong, despite the nation’s failed economy.

Reds won a decisive victory in the March 1991 elections, even as the Soviet Union collapsed, but a general strike and riotous street demonstrations soon forced the ruling cabinet to resign.
A change of names and public policy failed to carry 1992’s election for the former Communist (now Socialist) Party, as Dr. Sali Berisha became Albania’s first elected president.
Unfortunately, Albania’s democratic experiment failed in early 1997 when a series of shady pyramid schemes collapsed, robbing gullible investors of $1.2 billion in savings.
The furious dupes turned their wrath on the government, which had naively endorsed the swindlers. Rioting destroyed Albania’s fragile infrastructure, while rebels and organized gangsters turned the country into a free-for-all shooting gallery.
A multinational force of 6,000 peacekeepers arrived to restore a semblance of order and supervise elections that ousted President Berisha from office.
Trouble continued for Albania at the turn of the new millennium. Ethnic cleansing in neighboring SERBIA drove 440,000 Albanian expatriates back to their ancestral homeland. Since then, a witch’s brew of political dissension, minority rebellion, organized crime, and economic instability has frustrated efforts to create a functioning democracy in this troubled land.


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