(en) Albania Supplement 03/30 I

Sun, 30 Mar 1997 13.28 GMT

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The interview below was published in the german daily "junge Welt" (young world), a left-wing marxist newspaper on the 22. of March. Translation by the A-Infos Group in germany.

Robert (for the A-Infos group in germany)


*"We need a radical new beginning"* jW talk with the Albanian oppositional Veiz Ceci

Veiz Ceci was arrested in Albania in 1967 unter the rule of Enver Hoxha on charges of formin counterrevolutionary subversive groups and had to spend more than 25 years in prisons and work-camps. After his release in Mai 1991 he had to expect further reppression by the government of the Democratic Party. Therefore, he emigrated from Albania andn ow lives as a accepted political refugee in Berlin.

jW: Many of your former fellow prisoners from the time of Enver Hoxhas government that have stayed in Albania have become victims of repression again by the Berisha regime. Although Albanias official structures have broken down within the last weeks, Sali Berisha still has international respect. No statesman of any "democratic country" has called on him to resign. What do you think about the pretty benevolent international behavior towards the president?

VC: Sadly it has to be said that Europe and the USA are playing an evil game towards Albania. The situation there is not being truthfully depicted. In comments it is often said that communists had spured on the insurgency, many people are being called terrorists and criminals. But in truth there is a peoples revolution taking place in Albania. The insurgency is directed against Berisha and the ruling party. Berisha has led the country into mafia-like channels, he has made a paradise for drug- and arms-smugglers out of Albania as well as for money laundering. This so- called democratic president was member of the communist party for more than 20 years. At that time he was known as a fanatic representative of their politics ...

jW: ... and could nevertheless make his way up in the Democratic Party.

VC: Yes. When things started happening very fast in the Winter of 1990/ 1991 and the end of the communist rule was forseeable, when the students were protesting everywhere, he became afraid and joined them. Through demagogy and autocratic governing methods Berisha then managed to put himself at the head of the Democratic Party. Now the people are demanding his resignation. He has unmasked and discredited himself infront of the whole global public. He is the main responsible for the condition today and has destroyed everything sensible, everything worth keeping from the time of the dictatorship. I do not udnerstand why Europe and the USA are supporting this person. He is no use either for Europe or the world. One should ask where the money went, those hundreds of million dollars that he received from there.

jW: It is known that the Albanian elections in Mai 1996 were faked under the eyes of the OSCE-observers. However, there were already enough indications for Berishas antidemocratic ambitions. Why was and is he still being supported by the west despite of all this?

VC: Albania was seperated from Europe for almost 50 years. Maybe european politicians thought, Berisha would lead Albania in the direction of Europe. But in reality, he has only developed criminal energies within the last five or six years. Although he often spoke in his demagogic way about how "we are now moving into the direction of Europe, are now economically and politcally a part of Europe" but factually he has never engaged in european politics. He was only looking for a strong master that would guarantee for his career. He found him sometimes in Europe, sometimes in the USA, sometimes in the muslim fundamentalist Regimes of the middle and near East, as well as in Saudi-Arabia, Kuwait and the Iran. This even went so far that fundamentalist tendencies that had never existed in Albania in the past were imported.

jW: It is often being said that the conflict is also a fight between the north and the south of the country. Can you verify this thesis?

VC: Sadly I have been a political prisoner for a quarter of a century, but I know the dissidents and I know the former rulers. If todays rulers are talking about a north-south-conflict, this is not correct. It is true that Albania has regional differences like any other country. Some villages in the north of Albania - for example Tropoja, the hometown of Berisha, or Dukagijn - are less civilised and in fact more underdeveloped than others. There are historic reasons for this. But these discrepancies can not lead to a national conflict. Maybe some people want to turn them into such but reports of a north-south conflict are absolutely tendentious. This is even more strange since Europe can not really have any interest in an inner-Albanian conflict. Because this would expand on the Balkan and grow to a european problem.

jW: Especially the italian government is demanding a military intervention in Albania. Albanian politicians are also demanding this. Is this an acceptable solution?

VC: No, an interference into Albanian matters demanded from abroad is a provocation. What the italian government has suggested was a fashist declaration that tramples on our souvereignity. One can accept the forming of a european comission that is capable of cooling down the boiled up blood. But Italy has already occupated Albania twice.

jW: The problem in Albania can not be seperated from the solution of the Balkan-conflict. The Albanians in the Kosovo that make up 90 percent of the population are being suppressed by the serbs, the albanian parties there are quarraling over strategies and tactics to solve the conflict. In Makedonia Albanians are also being suppressed. President thinks of himself as representative of all Albanians yet still he supplied Serbia with plenty of oil at the time of the embargo. So what side is he really on?

VC: Berisha played two cards to attain power. One was that of anticommunism, although we all know that he was part of the sinister stalinists. The other was that of Albanian nationalism, the call for the unification of all Albanians. But here too, he has lost. Albania has a sad history. Because of unjust treaties and agreements of the european superpowers the country was divided, parts of its former national territory given to other countries - Serbia, Montenegro, Makedonia and Greece. More than one million Albanians live in the Kosovo, more than a million in Makedonia and in Greece too. Approximately 3,5 Million live outside todays borders of the Albanian republic in the neighbouring states. When Berisha talks about the Albanian question he only does it in a demogagic way. All his decisions were directed against the Albanians in the Kosovo and in Makedonia. When almost the whole world had agreed on an embargo against Serbia, Berisha had albanian oil transported to Serbia. The serbian and the makedonian Soldateska killed Albanians, tanks were driving with Albanian fuel. Those are the deeds of the great patriot and democrat Sali Berisha. He openly tread on european laws and co-operated with every dubious and shady profiteer from Montenegro and the Kosovo.

jW: What then is Berishas concrete role in the fake of the pyramidfirms that kicked of the insurgency in the first place?

VC: As president of the country he ultimately supported the founding of credit institutes that promised 50 percent or more interest, although it was clear that they just wanted to steal money from the people. But I can also name a concrete example: One of the big pyramid firms called "Gjallica" was owned by an Albanian from the Kosovo who has emigrated to Turkey - a well known international smuggler. Berishas wife is the cousin of this guy. Now documents were foudn in Tirana according to which this man sponsored Berishas electoral campaign in 1996 with 100.000 US-Dollars. The Democratic Party and its leaders financed themselves with theft, arms trade, drug trade and oil smuggle to Serbia. And finally also by the pyramid system. We have to recall one fact: The majority in the two large albanian parties, the Socialist and the Democrat, are former communists. The Democratic Party consists of all those that Enver Hoxha had removed from the Communist Party and the public sector because of unmoral behavior, theft of public property, corruption and so on. After the brakdown of the communist system these people krept up again, called themselves victims of communism, went into the Democratic Party and occupied all the crucial posts there.

jW: Are there any democratic powers that could form a government to save Albania?

VC: Currently, the Albanian people have lost all trust in political parties and state institutions. It is hard to get Albanians to trust a government. Why? They were isolated for 50 years, almost caged in and have been kept in simple conditions. Now they were robbed, tortured and betrayed. It is necessary to build a government of people who were not involved in parties. There are enough independant and capable intellectuals that are mature for this task. And there are many former prisoners. I know plenty of them.

jW: Berisha himself claims that there are numerous former dissidents and political prisoners in his party, like the president of parliament Pjotr Abnori for example.

VC: No, former political prisoners are rare in Berishas party. On the contrary, Berisha fought against the former dissidents. He took the money from them that came from Europe to build houses for the former prisoners. The money was misused for other things. It is true that Abnori was in prison. He was freed when the communist regime fell. I know him well. It is a disgrace that he is presiding an albanian parliament. He was always a problem for us in prison. He was a provocateur. The quarrels that he broke off for years in prison were dreadful. He is a servile guy. Berisha took him because he comes from Shokodra, a large town in the north that has influence in the whole country. Furthermore Abnori is cathaloic which is another reason why Berisha likes him. But Abnori is not capable of playing a serious part in the parliament. He is not worth anything and absolutely disqualified since his prison time. There are a few other former prisoners in Berishas party. But those are unpleasent people. All of them were spies and helpers of the secret service Sigurimi in the past.

jW: But can Albania get out of this independantly?

VC: The situation is quite difficult. First we need a political solution. That implies Sali Berishas resignation. Ofcourse Albania needs sensible political support, to calm the blood of the different albanian political powers. Then there's the economic question. The country can not solve the economic crisis on its own. Albania has rich ressources. But to use them it needs support and investments. What was done so far was stolen by the Berisha government. We need a radical new beginning in every way. Interview: Giuseppe de Siati

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