Enver Hoxha’s figure sparks a debate between Albanian and US politics

Enver Hoxha’s figure sparks a debate between Albanian and US politics

IBNA Special Report

Tirana, November 24, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

These days, Albania has been celebrating the 70th anniversary of liberation from the Italian and German invaders. Different cities celebrate different dates, but the national day is celebrated on November 29, the day when Shkoder was liberated.

This atmosphere filled with celebrations has involved communist fanatics. Portraits of Enver Hoxha accompanied several celebrations, including those where senior state authorities have participated.

Opposition says that it’s normal for the left to “show off” with Enver, while stressing that to praise the dictator means missing a bad past.

The opposition has been backed by foreign diplomacy.  US embassy has considered this situation as unacceptable, while the ambassador has considered Enver as a “monster”.

On the other hand, communists from the Left Front are very critical against these declarations. Former political dissidents are against them.

USA criticizes Enver’s presence in the celebrations

US embassy to Tirana was not happy with the display of Enver’s portraits in the official celebrations. “Unfortunately, the dictator’s photos tainted today’s ceremony”, declared the US embassy referring to the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Tirana organized by the government.

Meanwhile, the US ambassador, Alexander Arvizu has considered the display of Enver’s portraits as “an insult for Albanians”. “He was a monster who has only caused indescribable suffering for millions of Albanians. It’s important to recall his historical role in Albania, but nothing must be done to glorify him.”

Edi Rama reacts

The direct criticism launched by USA led to the reaction of prime minister Edi Rama who quickly distanced himself: “I’m sorry about the uninvited ones who penetrated the activities held for the liberation day, by raising the portraits of Enver Hoxha. I feel sorry for those who use Enver Hoxha’s portraits for political arguments against us. Both sides are the past of this country, which doesn’t have time to waste with their insanities”,said Mr. Rama.

Berisha expresses his irony

Former PM Berisha has reacted against Rama’s declaration by considering it as an amateur like justification. “It’s clear that he’s happy with his spiritual cruel mentor, Enver, the Albanian Hitler, that was brought in the ceremony by the dissidents for him”, says Berisha.

Servet Pellumbi: Arvizu was wrong

Former speaker of parliament and one of the first leaders of the Socialist Party of Albania after 1991, Servet Pellumbi, criticizes the declarations of the acting US ambassador, Alexander Arvizu, by saying that he was wrong by calling Enver a monster.

“Arvizu was wrong when he said that Enver was a monster. Enver was also an ally of the Americans in the war”, says Pellumbi.

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Communists react harshly against Arvizu and Rama

The Socialist Party of PM Edi `Rama  is a direct successor of Albania’s Labor Party of dictator Enver Hoxha.  On June 11, 1991, ALP convened and decided to change its name. Several names were suggested, but at the end, it was decided to call it Socialist Party of Albania.  This party gradually saw the departure of some main figures. Throughout the years, this party got rid of almost all its communists, by turning it into a western like socialist party. This party later gave birth to SMI of the current speaker of parliament, Ilir Meta.

After ALP changed its name to SPA, communists felt that they were not welcomed there. They founded several parties of extreme left. Lately, these parties have been grouped into the Left Front. The head of this Front, Marko Dajti, talks to IBNA about this debated.

“The 70th anniversary of the liberation of Tirana was tainted, but not by honored veterans of the National Liberation Anti-Fascist War, who held in their hands the portrait of their commander. The celebrations were tainted by the declarations issued by the ambassador whose term in office has expired, Alexander Arvizu, who considered those Albanians who held on their hands the photo of the General Commander of the army which liberated the country, an insult”, says  Dajti.

He has something to remind to Arvizu: “The history of Albania doesn’t start in 1990 and the ambassador must know this. In the Second World War, Albanian partisans, led by the Albanian Communist Party and Enver Hoxha, inspired the people to fight against the Axis consisting of Japan, Germany and Italy and being alongside the winning coalition consisting of USA, Soviet Union, England. This is a contribute known world wide, even by Washington”.

Mr. Dajti goes even further with his criticism against Arvizu by not sparing Rama here: “The ambassador cannot disgracefully abuse with the friendly feelings that Albanians have toward USA. History is not written based on the desire of an ambassador or the whims of a prime minister. Otherwise, there will come a day when Edi Rama will end up like a political pensioner”.

Meta: The war must not be identified with an individual

After the “cold shower” that the majority received by the USA and Albanian opposition, what happened in Tirana was not repeated in Lezha. The speaker of parliament, Ilir Meta participated in the activity organized on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Lezha. It was made sure that no portraits of Enver circulated in the ceremony.

Mr. Meta talked about this topic which sparked debates and said that he distances himself from the portraits of Enver Hoxha.

Meta suggests that the war effort cannot be identified with single names. “The war effort cannot be identified with single names, whoever they may be, because it was a nationwide war, which involved all areas of Albania”.

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Opposition: Rehabilitation is being confirmed

The opposition says that government ceremonies “with photos and choirs of dictator Hoxha” have officially confirmed rehabilitation. The head of the democrat parliamentary group, Edi Paloka says that: “Edi Rama and Ilir Meta have officially confirmed that they have realized their project for the rehabilitation of the figure of dictator Enver Hoxha”.

Paloka says that this is an insult against many people. “By commemorating this 70th anniversary with dictator Hoxha, Rama and Meta have insulted the memory of tens of intellectuals, true heroes of the war, who were killed by the hand of Enver. With Enver Hoxha on the background, Edi Rama and Ilir Meta provoke all of our society and its painful wounds of the period which saw a desecration of human dignity, of the wounds of hunger that the dictator caused to this country for more than 40 years”.

Spartak Ngjela: Enver didn’t only kill his rivals

One of the most notable lawyers in Albania, Spartak Ngjela is critical about the nostalgia for the dictator. The former minister of Justice has been a former political prisoner during the communist regime. “History has proven that Enver Hoxha betrayed the ideals of his war, although he was announced its commander, without deserving it. Enver Hoxha betrayed the partisan war and betrayed the Anglo-American allies. Being an uneducated person and an anti-western, Enver Hoxha killed not only his political opponents, but also his closest collaborators”, says Ngjela.

The lawyer, who for several years supported the socialists, who were in opposition, is against them now and says that the left in power is secretly trying to rehabilitate the figure of dictator Enver Hoxha, by pretending that these portraits appear accidentally in several events.

“Public opinion cannot react against some activities which are held in secrecy, allegedly spontaneously, but the citizens are ready to object as soon as someone tries to officially rehabilitate the figure of dictator Hoxha”, Ngjela warns.

Ndrengjoni criticizes the “Enverist” phenomenon

The head of the former political dissidents association, Besim Ndrengjoni, says that “Enverism” is a phenomenon present in all Albanian parties. He warns that this phenomenon is becoming dangerous for Albania, who is a NATO member and a country which is expecting to become part of EU. He also criticizes the fact that officially, no government in two and a half decades officially condemned the crimes committed during the dictatorship period.

“During the 24 years of transition, no government officially condemned the crimes of the Communist Party and dictator Enver Hoxha. Nobody apologized to the victims and nobody distanced from those crimes. This is why nobody can find today the bodies of 4500 people who were executed with and without trial by the communist dictatorship”.

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In around 45 years, Albania was a communist dictatorship and during this time, around six thousand Albanians were executed through orchestrated trials or no trials. The regime also jailed 30 thousand others, while interning 60 thousand people. Hundreds of thousands of people suffered persecution for many years. Meanwhile, the regime also killed 100 Albanians of Kosovo and 64 foreign nationals. 1250 people of non Albanian nationality were also imprisoned in Albania.

During the dictatorship regime, religion was forbidden for 23 years in a row, 310 clerics and believers were jailed and 220 religious institutions were destroyed, mainly mosques and churches. /ibna/