(en) Albania Supplement - 03/30 III

Sun, 30 Mar 1997 23.00 GMT

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The below interview is taken from the Thursday, 27. of March issue of the daily left-wing marxist newspaper "junge Welt" (Young World). Translation by the A-Infos Group in germany.

Robert (for the A-Infos Group in Germany)


*Are the councils governing the south of Albania?*

In Saranda, in the south of Albania, the situation since the weekend has calmed down. Kosta Barjaba was professor for sociology at the university of Tirana. After having problems with the heads of the university he finished his work in 1994. Barjaba is co-author of the book (Naufragi Alabnesi" (Albanian shipwrecked people)

jW: You are from the south of Albania, from Saranda. What aims do the insurgents have in this region?

KB: They are fighting for a representative democracy with functioning institutions. Today Albania finds itself practically in the situation of 1991 only that the resistance of the regime against a change of power is stronger today than it was then. Ofcourse criminals, terrorists and organised gangs are trying to use the crisis situation too.

jW: How are the insurgents organised?

KB: They have formed "councils for public rescue", alternative structures to bring the situation under control. The state institutions are no longer working. The town major of Sarande is said to have vanished. The councils are preventing the control over the revolt from falling into the hands of criminals. They are trying to take over the police power. Some people are making comparisons with the soviets, but the albanian "councils for public rescue" do not really have an ideologic model.

jW: In some media the crisis is being explained by innerethnical conflicts. Do you share this view?

KB: Thats is absolutely wrong. We are talking about political resistance against state institutions and an illegitimate parliament. The elections of the last year were faked. The comitees of the south have given neither ethnically or regionally motivated declarations. Nobody spoke of a "danger from the north". However, similar comitees in the north have given out signals with ethnical or regional claims.

jW: And with what aim?

KB: It was said, that the territorial integrity of the ocuntry needs to be saved. This happened, when the delegation of the European Union (EU) made contact with the comitees of the south. One was obviously trying to counter the demonstrations in the south by bringing up regionalism. Those ruling are trying to "prove" to the EU that there are very dangerous phenonema to be observed in Albania, that would not only endanger Albania but all of Europe: For example vendetta or lynchings, which have besides been encouraged by the government itself.

jW: Do the Europeans share this perception?

KB: The EU-representative have two criteria for the Albanian situation. On the one hand divergences and violations of democracy are being tolerated, as long as there is no war - despite of everything that was already happening in Albania. From this perspective, the Albanians are being looked upon like a tribe that neither knows or wants democracy. On the other hand there is the ethnical explanation, that serves to veil the weakness of the albanian democracy. In both cases it is not really the difficult political situation itself that is being seen, but one is viewing us as people who are inable to govern the freedom they have already won. That is how Berisha has explained the situation to the EU-Delegation and some of its members have adopted this picture.

jW: The albanian government is saying that the american secret service CIA is involved in the insurgents actions. Is that plausible?

KB: The regime spoke of a financial crisis after the break-down of the pyramid-associations, then it named the economical crisis as a cause and finally it made the incorrigible communists responsible for the "ideological" crisis. Now its supposed to be a regional and ethnical crisis, taht when you get down to it is supposed to be nothing more than the work of the CIA. Maybe this is a strategy to bring certain nationalist circles in Greece into the game. I think the regime is only trying not to recognise the fact that there are concrete political demands behind the revolt.

jW: For the Europeans Berisha seems to also guarantee that the Kosovo- Albanians will keep quiet. Does he really have that much power?

KB: The relationships between Berisha and the Kosovo-Albanians have changed a lot. While in 1991 the parole was the unification with Albania, it is now the greates possible autonomy of the region to keep the stability in the region. Berisha is trying to play the Kosovo-card against critics that accuse him of violations of democratic rules. In general Kosovo-president Ibrahim Rugova is following a pacifist line, though. And for the populace there, a peaceful Albania is far more important than the love for Berisha, too. Interview: Cyrus Salimi-Asl

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