Dictionary of East European History since 1945

By Joseph Held | Go to book overview
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matched by the recovery of Albanian self-esteem and Albanian history as well as the will to rebuild the ruined country. Without such a change, Albania will remain a society of angry, alienated people, a perpetual powder keg ready to explode at the slightest provocation, a danger to the peace of the Balkans and to that of the entire European continent.


Bibliography

Zanga Louis, "Albania Between Chaos and Democracy," Radio Free Europe Research Reports, 1.1 ( January 3, 1992), pp. 74-77; "Albania: Fall of Government Plunges Country into Chaos," Radio Free Europe Research Reports, 1.2 ( January 10, 1992), pp. 17-19; "Albania's Local Etections," Radio Free Europe Research Reports, 1.35 ( September 18, 1982), pp. 75- 78.

Post-Cummunist Albanian-Greek Relations. After the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, there was a temporary improvement in Albanian-Greek relations. Already in 1987, the Papandreou government of Greece unilaterally declared that the status of war between Greece and Albania, in existence since the Albanian support of Greece communist insurgency in the 1940s, was ended. In 1989, the two countries signed an economic cooperation agreement. But matters soon changed for the worse. Papandreau's socialist government was ousted, and his party suffered defeat in the Greek elections. Simultaneously, the Albanian economic situation deteriorated. This opened the floodgates of Albanian refugees seeking a better life in Greece.

The Prime Minister of Greece, Georgikos Mitsotakis, and his government, were perplexed; consequently, the prime minister visited Tirans. It happened for the first time in modern history, that such a visit took place by a Greek prime minister. He tried to settle the issue of refugees. Mitsotakis appealed to ethnic Greeks in Albania to stay put and he promised economic aid of $20 million to help Albania improve the economic conditions of the country.

However, Greece is not a rich country despite being a member of the European Common Market. Its economy was seriously impacted by the flood of Albanian refugees. It was simply unable to absorb even the initial wave of 60,000 people. The number of refugees soon swelled to 200,000, and Greece simply had no choice but to send most of them back to Albania. Albanian refugees caused problem by moving to Greek cities where work was not always available. Many of them reported to crime in order to maintain themselves. This inflamed Greek public opinion and forced the government to take strong measures.

When the Greek government strengthened its control over its border with Albania, the Albanians protested. Greek economic aid promised by Mitsotakis, was slow in coming and when it did it usually went to ethnic Greek communities. Albanians in the southern cities of Delvine and Saranode went on a three-day pogrom against ethnic Greeks, looting their stores and burning the Greek party's headquartes. In Greece, talk over the issue of Northern Epirus was revived. The declaration of independence by the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, with its sizable Greek and Albanian

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