(en) Albania Supplement - SPIEGEL Interview

Tue, 15 Apr 1997 21:44:20 GMT

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The following interview has been published in DER SPIEGEL (The mirror) issue no 13/March 24, 1997, an renowned German news magazine. Translation by A-Infos group Germany.

catkawin (for A-Infos Germany) _______________________________________________

"Release from the dictator" - Interview with Fatos Nano, head of Albanian Socialist Party, on ways out of the crisis

Nano, aged 44, had been sentenced to 12 years in prison in a show trial in 1994. President Sali Berisha accused him of embezzlement of public money and high treason. Last week, Nano was amnestied [after his escape from prison some days earlier, c.]. His Socialist Party, follow-up organization of former Communist Party, broke with Marxism only in August 1996.

SPIEGEL: An increasing number of Albanians see you as the successor of President Berisha. Are you willing to succeed him into this office?

NANO: I'm no deserter, I will not shy back from this responsibility if my party demands this task of me. If Berisha resigned, the parliament's president will succeed him for two weeks. After this time, the parliament will elect another president. But the parliament is dominated by Berisha's Democratic Party, and a vast majority of these members of parliament are afraid to lose their priviledges.

SPIEGEL: Elections will be held in June. Will they clear the way for a new president?

NANO: Real free and fair elections will not be possible as long as Berisha doggedly clings unto power. We had agreed upon with the international community that Berisha will no longer mingle into the government's politics, but he does not stick to this agreement. The head of Berisha's secret service has stepped down but still sits behinds his desk in his office. Berisha still controls radio and TV stations, as well as the prefects of Albania's districts and the mayors.

SPIEGEL: Do you mean to say that the new all-parties-government are no more than Berisha's puppets?

NANO: Last week, the opposition suggested to reform secret service Shik and to appoint new prefects and mayors according to the new balance of political power. Berisha's democrats refused.

SPIEGEL: Don't you think that international supervisors could prevent manipulations during elections?

NANO: We had enough international supervisors during the latest elections in spring 1996 and they failed. We will not put our trust in them again. In 1996, citizens were forced to vote at gunpoint. If the monopoly of power is to stay in Berisha's hands, the entire opposition will boycott the elections.

SPIEGEL: Couldn't this increase the possibility of a civil war?

NANO: There never has been a danger of civil war. It is a vast majority of the populace revolting against injustice, corruption, and being at the mercy of the system. The insurgents do not want communism to return, they want to put an end to dictatorship. Berisha's secret service Shik controls the entire opposition.

SPIEGEL: Now, most of Shik agents are said to have fled abroad.

NANO: I still do not sleep in my house. Each day, I receive threats that I and other opposition leaders will be liquidated. And believe me, I'm no coward. It was Shik agents who shot at US helicopters during evacuation operations. Behind a facade of pretended stabilization, Shik agents are still planning terrorist attacks. Berisha wants to keep the situation in a critical stadium to be able to stay in power.

SPIEGEL: Still you opposed OSCE's suggestion to send in a military mission.

NANO: Whom will these foreign troops defend, then? Berisha? Almost all Albanians are armed, and foreign troops always have been regarded as occupants, so there's a traditional resistance to this in the population. What we need are military and security councillors to build up again the state which has broken down.

SPIEGEL: The insurgents in the south only want to lay down arms after Berisha's resignation, and they have become a third power in the country. Will the government succeed in mediating between you and the president?

NANO: The government does not accept any ultimatum. In the south, armed citizens' councils demand Berisha's resignation. In the north there is a comitee which supports Berisha and demands the government's resignation. I assume that the old power structure still tries to impose a violent solution to the conflict.

SPIEGEL: And what would be a way out of the crisis?

NANO: The armed people in the south are not controlled by Socialist Party. These people also do not want to seek refuge abroad, they are prepared to defend their houses with their own lives, if need be. We do have to talk to them urgently, and they have a right to a dialogue on Albania's future.

SPIEGEL: The delegates sent by European Union last week also talked to you. Which topics were being discussed then?

NANO: They promised co-operation. But EU shouldn't be naive and realize who in fact is the trouble-maker. There is only little time left. Food supplies will only last another week. Financial minister Malaj has declared Albania bankrupt, the state cannot pay wages anymore. An entire country waits to be released from its dictator to start anew. I can only agree to the Pope's appeal: we need reconciliation and love, no further hostilities. " ## CrossPoint v3.11 ##

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