Albania History: From Independence to The People’s Republic

In that singular situation, a provisional government proclaimed independence in Vlore (November 28, 1912). An international conference, meeting in London in December 1912, recognized, in July 1913, as a country located in Europe according to, Albanian independence under the protection of the European powers; later the principality entrusted to William of Wied was proclaimed (April 1914). The fragile London building was destroyed at the outbreak of the First World War. Italian troops occupied Valona (December 1914), while in 1915-16 Albania was invaded by Austrians, Montenegrins, Serbs, Greeks and French. The Pact of London (April 1915) provided for the assignment to Italy of Valona and the protectorate of a future Islamic State of central Albania, while the division of the remaining Albanian territory among the neighboring countries was planned. With the Proclamation of Gjirokaster (1917) Italy seemed to be promoting an independent Albanian national state, while in the immediate postwar period it oscillated between the protectorate, absolute independence and the partition of Albania. With the Treaty of Tirana (August 1920), Rome recognized the independence of Albania and withdrew the troops from Valona, ​​preserving the Conference of Ambassadors in Paris reconfirmed the country’s independence. The first experiment of a liberal regime in the country, officially erected as a Republic, was tormented by tribal particularisms and ended with the reactionary government of Ahmed Zogu who got himself elected president of the Republic in January 1925 (actually with dictatorial powers) and later, in 1928, proclaimed himself king. After a brief pro-Yugoslav period, Zogu made an alliance with Italy in November 1927. He later tried in vain to react to the Italian influence, which became extremely heavy between 1934 and 1936. Immediately after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, Mussolini decided to invade Albania (April 1939); Zogu was forced to flee and Vittorio Emanuele III was proclaimed king of Albania. In 1942 the first congress of the partisan movement entrusted the direction to Enver Hoxha who then became, in 1944, head of the National Liberation Front. At the end of 1944 the Front acquired control of the whole Albanian territory. The Provisional Government of Hoxha took office in Tirana in November 1944 and on February 11, 1945 the People’s Republic of Albania, closely aligned with the Soviet Union, was proclaimed. In 1949, it joined the COMECON and in 1955 the Warsaw Pact, but already from the death of Stalin relations with the USSR had deteriorated, up to the breaking point of diplomatic relations (1961) and the withdrawal in 1968 from the Warsaw Pact.

The crisis in relations between the USSR and China offered Albania the opportunity to find new important support: from 1961 to 1977 the country was considered China’s European ally, providing technical assistance and economic aid.. The ideological intransigence of the regime, contrary to the political orientation of the new Chinese course following the death of Mao, led to loosen and therefore to sever even these ties since 1978, accentuating international isolation in the following decade: while relations with some Third World countries, only limited commercial exchanges with the West were preserved. The promulgation of a new Constitution dates back to those years (1976), which in replacing that of 1946 proclaimed the acquired socialist character of the Albanian Republic, sanctioning the definitive abolition of private property, and the atheistic one of the State, in which it was banned. any religious faith. A cautious and progressive resumption of relations with foreign countries, inaugurated by the reopening of the border with Greece (after thirty years, in 1984), took place in the second half of the 1980s following the disappearance of Hoxha (1985) and the election as head of state of Ramiz Alia, formerly at the helm of the Presidium of the People’s Assembly. The pursuit of a more pragmatic policy led, in addition to the activation of new international connection lines and the consolidation of trade, to the search for formal relations with certain countries, mainly Balkans (Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey), but also outside the region (the two Germanys before unification). Relations with the Yugoslav Federation of the time also improved, despite the persistence in Kosovo of the ethnic tensions that had troubled them at the beginning of the decade. Despite the cautious opening towards Western countries, a strong hostility remained towards the powers that, at the time, still represented an ideological reference for international communism: the USSR and China. However, these choices stemmed from the dramatic economic situation in Albania which, only by breaking the isolation into which it had been pushed by the rigid application of Marxism-Leninism, could it hope to improve the conditions of the country.

From Independence to The People's Republic

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