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Context of 'April 8, 1981 and After: Albania Expresses Support for Kosovar Demonstrators'

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The First Conference of the National Liberation Council for Kosovo and Metohia meets at Bujan, Albania, and proclaims that the way to Kosovar Albanian self-determination is to unite with the Yugoslav Partisans. The Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia for Kosova, the Communist Party of Albania’s branch in Tropoja, and the “Perlat Rexhepi” Battalion of Shkodra (Albania), which is operating around Gjakova, organized the conference. The National Liberation Council has 51 members, including 42 Albanians. The Council unanimously endorses a resolution that “Kosova and the Dukagjin Plateau [Metohia] is a province inhabited for the most part by an Albanian population, which today, as always, wishes to be united with Albania… the only way for the Albanian people of Kosova and the Dukagjin Plateau to be united with Albania is to fight together against the blood-thirsty Nazi occupiers and those in their pay.” The signers, from the Council’s Presidium, include Mehmet Hoxha, Pavle Jovicevic, Rifat Berisha, Xhevdet Doda, Fadil Hoxha, Hajdar Dushi, and Zekerija Rexha. According to Enver Hoxha, General Secretary of the Party of Labor of Albania, the Yugoslav Communist leadership will subsequently cover up the resolution; that “Kosovo should be restored to Albania” was endorsed by the Yugoslav Communists in 1928 and 1940, at the 5th Party Conference. [Prifti, 1978, pp. 227-228; Hoxha, 1982, pp. 117-118]

Entity Tags: Xhevdet Doda, Hajdar Dushi, Fadil Hoxha, Enver Hoxha, League of Communists of Yugoslavia, Mehmet Hoxha, National Liberation Council for Kosovo and Metohia, Party of Labor of Albania, Yugoslav Partisans, Pavle Jovicevic, Zekerija Rexha, Rifat Berisha

Timeline Tags: Kosovar Albanian Struggle

Communist official Velimir Stoinic arrives to lead the Yugoslav military mission to Albania’s general staff and to represent the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. He immediately recalls Miladin Popovic back to Yugoslavia. Popovic is blamed for alleged mistakes by the Communist Party of Albania (CPA), such as the Mukje agreement with the Balli Kombetar and statements that Yugoslavia will allow Kosova to determine its future. He also says the CPA’s policies are wrong and that the leadership must change. The CPA will later accuse Stoinic of conspiring with a pro-Yugoslav faction against leading Albanian communist Enver Hoxha so Yugoslavia can take control of Albania. [PLA, 1971, pp. 227; Kola, 2003, pp. 58]

Entity Tags: League of Communists of Yugoslavia, Enver Hoxha, Balli Kombetar, Albanian Partisans, Miladin Popovic, Velimir Stoinic, Party of Labor of Albania, Yugoslavia, Yugoslav Partisans, Albania

Timeline Tags: Kosovar Albanian Struggle

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY), joined by communist leaders Fadil Hoxha and Miladin Popovic, meets to decide Kosova’s status within Yugoslavia. Shortly before the meeting, Popovic answers a query from the Communist Party of Albania about the future status of Kosova by saying that it would be part of Yugoslavia. The meeting decides to give Kosova to Serbia. Hoxha reportedly says that the Kosova Committee had given the region its political existence and that he and Popovic thought it would be politically damaging to split the region between Yugoslavia and Albania. Some commentators will later theorize that this was done in part to compensate Serbs for the Serbian areas given to Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. [Kola, 2003, pp. 62, 64]

Entity Tags: Party of Labor of Albania, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Fadil Hoxha, Serbia, Miladin Popovic, League of Communists of Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia

Timeline Tags: Kosovar Albanian Struggle

The Party of Labor of Albania’s newspaper, Zeri i Popullit, prints an article on April 8, condemning Yugoslavia’s police actions and the treatment of Yugoslav Albanians, and supporting the protest demands. It also says, “The London and Versailles Treaties, which settled the frontiers between Yugoslavia and Albania, can no longer be imposed to the detriment of the Albanian people.” PLA First Secretary Enver Hoxha may be the anonymous author of the article. A Zeri i Popullit article two weeks later says hundreds were killed, wounded, missing, or arrested, and that it is Albania’s right to condemn Yugoslavia’s repeated actions, which it has not done officially. Zeri i Popullit points to Yugoslavia’s charges about the treatment of Croats and Slovenes across its border in Carinthia, which the article compares to Albanian concerns about Kosovar Albanians. Albania denies seeking to annex Kosova. The Yugoslav government sees these articles as evidence that Albania is behind the demonstrations, after initially blaming domestic and Western sources. As a result, previously increasing economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries will be reduced. On April 29, Lazar Kolisevski, a member of the Yugoslav Presidency, presents a report to a meeting of the Presidency and the Federal Council for the Protection of the Constitutional Order, charging that the PLA caused the demonstrations, which were “hostile and counter-revolutionary,” and sought unification with Albania. Kolisevski calls nationalism the greatest threat to Yugoslavia and says “economic nationalism,” economic divisions between groups in Yugoslavia, is the main cause of friction, which a Zeri i Popullit article also pointed out.
Allegedly PLA-Linked Kosovar Groups - Several allegedly PLA-linked organizations will be blamed for the protests: the Revolutionary Movement of Albanian Unification (whose leader, Adam Demaci, has been in jail since 1975), the Red Popular Front (considered closer to the PLA), eight “irredentist” groups arrested before the events, and the Albanian Communist Marxist-Leninist Party in Yugoslavia (represented at the 8th Congress of the PLA, in September 1981, and having almost the same program as the PLA). Besides these “extremists,” Kosovo President Xhavid Nimami blames “Ballists” led by Abaz Ermeni and “Zogists” led by Leka Zog, Zog I’s son, and equates calls for “united Albanians” to “United Serbs,” etc., saying they would destroy Yugoslavia. In 1997 an anonymous high-ranking official will allege that a meeting of officials and professors was held in Tirana to propose inciting Kosovars to seek more rights. Albanian anti-communist scholar Paulin Kola will suggest that this was done to distract Albanians from economic problems caused by the break in relations with China in the late ‘70s. Others will allege that Albania’s Sigurimi security agency organized the demonstrations, through ties with Albanians in Western Europe, especially Switzerland. Some Kosovars will say they received support from Albanians, but not from the Albanian government. Kola will point to the alleged role of the ex-communist Socialist Party of Albania in the formation of the KLA in the ‘90s as evidence that Albania was behind the 1981 events. In 1992-1993 and 2001 interviews, Xhafer Shatri will tell Kola that he thought the March 1981 demonstrations were unplanned. On the other hand, Albania benefits from trade with Yugoslavia and Yugoslavia acts as a buffer against the USSR. Albania will repatriate 249 Kosovar Albanian asylum seekers back to Yugoslavia from 1981 to 1983.
Alleged Soviet Involvement - In late April, Yugoslavia’s Fadil Hoxha says “Greater Albanian nationalism” would destabilize the Balkans as much as other nationalisms, and implies that the USSR wants to destabilize the Balkans to undermine the Non-Aligned Movement. In June, Zeri i Popullit will accuse the USSR of trying to use Serbia’s crackdown to cause problems in the Balkans and NATO. [Vickers, 1998, pp. 202-207, 211-212; Kola, 2003, pp. 158-160, 163]

Entity Tags: North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Non-Aligned Movement, Leka Zog, League of Communists of Yugoslavia, Lazar Kolisevski, Kosovo Liberation Army, Adem Demaci, Enver Hoxha, Fadil Hoxha, Party of Labor of Albania, Red Popular Front, Revolutionary Movement of Albanian Unification, Yugoslavia, Zeri i Popullit, Abaz Ermeni, Albania, Xhavid Nimami, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Xhafer Shatri, Sigurimi, Socialist Party of Albania, Ahmet Zog I

Timeline Tags: Kosovar Albanian Struggle

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