Albania Could Do With a Royal Restoration!

I’ve never set foot on Albanian soil, but many were the late ’60s and early ’70s summers I’d gaze at its mysterious shores from the ferry slowly making its way from the Italian port of Brindisi to Corfu, where the joys of Kontokali Beach awaited me and hundreds of other young travellers.

Having done my post-grad in Soviet and East European Studies, I knew something of its history, and would have given a lot to have a closer look. But in those days it was pretty much ‘forbidden territory,’ Mao’s only ally on the European Continent, a place where God was outlawed, places of worship of every creed desecrated and the harsh Hoxha regime held the populace in a reign of terror.

 Enver Hoxha

I also knew that this sad situation was a direct result of British Communist treason.

When the exiled monarchy sent in teams of resistance fighters, as WW II ended and the Reds took power without any democratic mandate, the brave royalists would disappear without trace,  captured and murdered thanks to the Cambridge traitor Philby in the Foreign Office, who relayed their every move to the enemy. see

Finally the Captain of King Zog’s personal Guard went in to investigate. Nobody came back.

King Zog died in France, but his son Leka continued the patriotic struggle, and would surely be on the throne of Albania today, ahd not the referendum been fixed against him.

As the Sunday Telegraph reported 13/7/97 , the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe reneged on its own rules and refused to monitor the referendum in Albania…. ‘freedom and fairness require absence of organised violence, intimidation and no-go areas…those conditions were not met.’

 King Leka

And now look at the mess Albania’s republicans have created.

The EUObserver told us this week that ‘someone from (the EU) enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele’s close entourage remarked that if he had gone to Tirana the next day as planned he would have yelled at Prime Minister Sali Berisha: “Enough – you have to retreat!” Fuele never took that flight.

Instead Catherine Ashton, in need of some kind of success for her newborn European External Action Service, sent her special envoy Miroslav Lajcak. The Albanian leader, in his first meeting with the Slovak former foreign minister said “Please tell me what to do and I will do as you say.” But Lajcak, during three rounds of talks, said nothing and did nothing of substance and went home.

Sale Berisha has a lot to answer for. When it was time to see about a focus ofr anti-communists, in the dying days of the Red regime, Julian Amery and other sensible British figures had been promoting the King. But for no clear reason, Berisha was hoisted into the leadership position. Had he not diverted loyalties, had the referendum not been side-lined by ‘Europe,’ abuses left unchecked, the monarchy could now be exactly the unifying force Albania needs.

Leka has renounced political activity. Perhaps it’s time for him to reconsider.

As the EuObs article comments, Ashton’s envoy ‘returned to Brussels with the same idea that eurocrats had about Albania all along – that both Berisha and the leader of the opposition, Edi Rama, are not credible and that the EU should leave them to it.’  What is the current political situation in Albania like? A few examples tell the story.

In 2008, 26 people died in a blast at an ammunition depot. After three years of work, a judicial enquiry has not found anybody guilty. The then minister of defence, responsible for military facilities, is now minister of environment.

A few weeks before the 21 January shootings, our deputy prime minister was captured on camera offering €700,000 in a dodgy deal to our minister of economy.

The minister of interior – in office at the time of the killings and implicated in the vanishing of €220 million back when he was minister of transport – is the new mayor of Tirana. Just one person – a protestor – has so far been found guilty for his part in the events. The international community has long forgotten about calls for justice.

And the election? The incumbent stole Rama’s narrow victory – in full sight of the EU and the US….Nobody is asking for French jets to fire missiles at Berisha’s degraded regime. But – and I choose my words carefully – we should not let him become a mini-Gaddafi in Europe by closing our eyes to abuses in the name of fake stability.

So time passes but electoral malpractice still continues. Just as in 1997, when Europe let the people down and denied them their king.

A regime which shoots protesters, rigs elections, neglects reforms and allows politicians to merrily steal the country’s money is not in our national interest and not in the EU’s interest either. It is a regime destined to create a black hole in the western Balkans and to leave the people of Albania on the crossroads of EU integration for decades to come.

We can disagree with the Albanian writer’s interest in entangling his country with the EUSSR. That would be no good news for any patriot. But it is clear that the republic has failed the nation. Why not give the King the chance stolen from him nearly twenty years ago?