The roots of the Albanian crisis

The roots of the Albanian crisis

The throwing of Molotovs, the smoke of tear gas, and the tensions between demonstrators and police. The images of the assault on the Albanian government building last February have travelled around the world. Despite calls for calm from the international community, the clash between the majority and the opposition forces were exacerbated, from the squares to the top institutions and even prejudicing Albania’s future in Europe. Yet the crisis that the country is going through has much deeper roots and goes back in time.

Four different stories that tell the present of the young Balkan democracy in the light of its controversial relationship with the past. For instance, the communist regime of Enver Hoxha, read through one of its most peculiar traits, where over 7000 bunkers were built during the seventies and eighties to give shelter to the population against an imaginary attack by Western imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism. These bunkers have now become part of the genetic heritage of the country that destroyed, preserved and converted them. Among her legacy of the communist regime is the Metalurgjiku, the monumental smithy of heavy metals, the flagship of the industrialisation plan initiated by Hoxha. An industrial site, now largely abandoned, with a devastating environmental impact that has made Elbasan the most polluted city in Albania. In addition to the contamination of land, water and air, the uncertain developments of a capitalism that is distorting the face of the country are now being added. Then a stop in Kucova, central Albania, known as Petrolia at the time of the fascist occupation and renamed the city of Stalin during the years of the communist dictatorship. Now Kucova is preparing for yet another metamorphosis. Among the skeletons of the oil refinery of the Italian Albanian Oil Company and the scrap of the aircraft made in the USSR, will rise the first NATO airbase in the region. An investment of 50 million euros aimed at making Albania the outpost of the Atlantic Alliance in the Balkans.

Finally, a report on the influence of Turkey of Recep Tayyp Erdogan in Albania, land of conquest of the Ottoman Empire. A political, economic and religious alliance shaken by the failed coup d’état in Turkey on July 15th 2016. From ally to special guard, the country of eagles is accused of being the centre of the activity of Fethullah Gulen, Turkish preacher number one suspect of the coup, in the Balkans. A pain in the neck that risks undermining the relationship between Ankara and Tirana.

  • PART 1

    The Wounds To Be Told From Albania’s Bunkers

    In the city suburbs, along country lanes, in mountain villages and on the Adriatic coast, between playground swings and cemetery tombstones. In Albania, bunkers are everywhere, sprouting like reinforced concrete mushrooms. They are the fruit of Enver Hoxha’s paranoia. «Every...

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  • PART 2

    Elbasan: The Contaminated City

    In Elbasan, there are no smells or sounds. It is an aseptic hybrid, half-city half-countryside. Goats graze in the contaminated fields. They also make no noise. By its mere presence, the Metalurgjiku silences everything that gravitates around it. The monumental...

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  • PART 3

    Disputed Albania, Erdogan’s Pain in the Neck

    “There are three million of us and we are all cousins, we know everything about everyone here”. It is like a collective mantra which you hear often when travelling through Albania. And yet, even in the best of families, there...

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  • PART 4

    Petrolia’s Broken Dreams: The City of Black Gold

    Walking down the streets of Kucova is like taking strides through Albania’s history. A history made of countered invasions, betrayed ideals and shattered hopes. There is all this amongst the ruins of what once used to be one of the...

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This report has been funded by the readers. Here below are all the reporter's receipts of the expenses