(en) Albania Report - 03/23 to 03/28

Sun, 30 Mar 1997 20.00 GMT

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Since I and the comrades of the Hamburg I-AFD group have been busy during the last week, there were no reports on Albania in that time. Therefore we are now publishing a summary of events for those days mainly taken from newspaper reports.

Robert (for the A-Infos Group in germany)


*Chronology of Events from the 23. to the 28. of March* by the A-Infos Group in germany c/o Barrikade, Bismarckstr. 41a, 47443 Moers, Germany Fax.: (+49)-2151-951806 E-Mail: i-afd_1@anarch.free.de

Saturday and Sunday, 22. and 23. of March 1997 The albanian government again rejected demands by the rebels who had called on president Sali Berisha to resign. Prime minister Bashkim Fino said that the "return to normality" could only be established by dialogue and not by an ultimatum. The german communist newspaper "junge Welt" (Young World) reported that the "leader" of the insurgents in Tepelena, Gscholeke Malaj, stated that he had sent 50 men to Tirana to kill president Berisha if he didn't step down. Meanwhile prime minister Bashkim Fino said infront of journalists that he was prepared to meet with comitees of single cities but not with organisations claiming to represent whole regions. Though it was reported that the overall situation had calmed down, 14 people are said to have been injured in the south of the country on Saturday, eleven in Vlora and a further three in Berat. Three prisons were put in use again at the weekend and according to the minister for the interior, Belul Cela, offenders and suspects had been arrested again since Friday. The inmates of the albanian prisons had used the unrests of the last weeks to escape from prisons. Also the first humanitarian transport reached Albania.

Monday, 24. of March 1997 To counter albanian refugees the italian foreign minister Lamberto Dini declared that he would have those albanian ports from which the refugee ships start into sea controlled by the italian navy. He would however need the approval of the albanian authorities he said. This should be no problem for Berisha who has already called for a european intervention several times. The foreign ministers of the EU meeting in Brussels said that single EU- states such as Italy and Greece should organise the "military escort" of "humanitarian transports". They also discussed "securing" the airport in Tirana - with military forces. The foreign ministers of Italy and Germany, Dini and Kinkel both seperately stressed that they were highly engaged to "find a solution" for Albania. Reports also said that the EU-foreign ministers could not agree on a common military action. While Italy, France, Austria, Rumania and Greece agreed to send in troops, England and Denmark spoke out against a quick deployment. Germany said it would not be sending troops. The EU had already decided on sending military or police forces a week before. Their official task would be to defend the EU consultants in Albania and any aid transports. The operation should be led by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). In the italian town Brindisi 1.500 troops - among them elite soldiers - had already been waiting for their deployment for several days. According to other reports the italian government has increased naval patrols at the italian coast and naval commanders have received orders to strictly send any refugee ships back to Albania. This already led to an escalation: People inside an albanian fishing boat shot at a boat of the italian coastal guard.

Tuesday, 25. of March 1997 The albanian prime minister Bashkim Fino visited Rome where he met with foreign ministers of the 15 EU-member states and asked the European Union for support in "ending the crisis" in Albania. There was no news on the outcome of talks. Meanwhile 40 Tons of french aid goods reached the albanian capital Tirana via plane. Reports today also said that there had been violence since the beginning of the week. Apparantly four policemen have been killed and the attacks of armed gangs have increased. Linked to this news one report stated that all 1309 albanian prisoners had managed to escape during the conflict. A boat carrying 500 albanian refugees reached the italian port of Brindisi who said they had to pay 1000 Marks for the transport. Italy has now taken up 12.000 refugees since the beginning of the conflict.

Thursday, 27. of March 1997 The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) decided on the deployment of up to 5000 soldiers to Albania. However, before this can take place, the agreement of the UN-Security Council is needed. It took up talks on the subject the same day. There were reports stating that violence in Albania has worsened. During an attack on a village in the south of Albania at least 18 people were killed, including almost all attackers. The greek embassy in Gjirokaster was also attacked by people who demanded entry visas for Greece - reports said none of the emplyees of the embassy were hurt, they did not say more about the attackers though or how they were stopped. The Albanian parliament decided on an extensive amnesty law, according to which all escaped prisoners who return to the prisons voluntarily only have to do two thirds of their total penalty. Sentences for murder, rape, bribal in the public sector and organised prostitution are not affected by this amnesty. Authorities said that so far, twelve of the 1309 prisoners who had escaped have returned freely. Three inmates have been arrested again by police.

Friday, 28. of March 1997 The UN Security Council agreed with the OSCE decision to send multinational military forces to Albania with the official task of guarding and securing humanitarian transports and EU consultants in Albania. Russia and China, who have a veto right in the security council did not reject the mission, but according to reports did not give their approval either. According to western politicians the force is to be put under italian control and should consist also of french, spanish and greek troops. Austria, Rumania and Turkey might also participate. The USA will not participate. The US foreign minister Madeleine Albright said in a radio interview that it was a european task to bring back law and order to Albania. According to OSCE members the multinational force will consist of 2500 soldiers first and later be enhanced to a strength of 5000. There were also statements that the deployment of troops could go ahead as soon as the albanian parliament has agreed to it also. This probably won't take long though, since all albanian parties had called on the EU to carry out a military intervention. The OSCE council also decided coordinate aid for Albania with a civil longterm mission that is to be stationed in Albania itself. About 20 albanian refugees managed to reach Italy from Vlora. According to italian police spokesmen they managed to bypass the blockade of the italian navy with an inflatable boat. ## CrossPoint v3.11 ##

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