Albanian Rebellion of 1997

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Albanian Rebellion of 1997
970315-N-0000S-008 NEO Operations USMC.jpg
Evacuation of U.S. citizens during Operation Silver Wake
Date March 1997
Location Albania
Causes Pyramid schemes failure, economic crisis
Result New Parliamentary Elections[1]
Parties to the civil conflict

Albania Rebels

Units involved
AlbaniaUnknown

Albania 30,000 soldiers


Italy 7,000 soldiers
Greece 803 soldiers[3][4]

Germany > 100 soldiers
Casualties
3,800, civilians and members of army, police and secret police
During the riots in the city of Vlorë, men broke rocks to hurl them at police.

The Albanian Rebellion of 1997, also known as the Albanian Unrest of 1997 (Albanian: Rebelimi i vitit 1997), or the Pyramid Crisis or improperly known as the Albanian Anarchy of 1997,[5] was an uprising sparked by Ponzi scheme failures. Albania descended into civil disorders and violence in which the government was toppled and 2,000 people were killed.[6][7]

By January 1997, the inevitable end came, and the people of Albania, who had lost $1.2 billion (out of a small population of three million), took their protest to the streets.[8] Beginning in February, thousands of citizens launched daily protests demanding reimbursement by the government, which they believed was profiting from the schemes. On 1 March, Prime Minister Aleksandër Meksi resigned and on 2 March, President Sali Berisha declared a state of emergency.[8] On 11 March, the Socialist Party of Albania won a major victory when their leader Bashkim Fino was appointed prime minister. However, the transfer of power did not halt the unrest, as protests spread to northern Albania. Although the government quelled revolts in the north, the ability of the government and military to maintain order began to collapse, especially in the southern half of Albania, which fell under the control of rebels and Socialist forces.[8]

All major population centers were engulfed in demonstrations by 13 March and foreign countries began to evacuate their citizens from Albania.[8] These evacuations included Operation Libelle and Operation Silver Wake. The United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 1101, authorized a force of 7,000 on 28 March to direct relief efforts and to restore order to Albania. The UN feared the unrest would spread outside Albania's borders and contribute to even more refugees throughout Europe. On 15 April, the 7,000 troops launched Operation Sunrise, an Italian-led mission which helped restore rule of law to the country.[8] After the unrest, over 25 000 guns were transported to Kosovo and the guerrilla forces of the ethnic Albanian, Kosovo Liberation Army received considerable amounts of armaments .[9]

Causes[edit]

In 1992, the Democratic Party of Albania won the first free elections in Albania, and Sali Berisha became president. In the mid-1990s, Albania was becoming a liberalized economy, after years under a controlled economy. The rudimentary financial system became dominated by Ponzi schemes, and government officials endorsed a series of pyramid investment funds. By January 1997, the schemes (actually fronts for laundering money and arms trafficking) could no longer make payments. The number of investors who had been lured by the promise of getting rich quick grew to include two-thirds of Albanians.[6][10] It is estimated that close to $1.5 billion was invested in companies offering monthly interest rates ranging from 10 to 25 percent, while the average monthly income was around $80. People sold their homes to invest the proceeds, and immigrants working in Greece and Italy transferred additional resources to the schemes back home.[11]

Political situation before the Rebellion[edit]

On 26 May 1996, general elections were held, and the Democratic Party won by a large margin. The Socialists accused the government of fraud and rejected the results. PS left the counting process and boycotted the parliament. On October 20, 1996, local elections were held. The Democratic Party won again, the Socialists still did not accept the result. The political situation was aggravated, and the country headed towards a multifaceted crisis.

Usury[edit]

Pyramid schemes, also known as Rentier firms, started their operations in 1991. Their activity was based on obtaining a quantity of money and returning a greater amount based on a percentage. Although, apparently functioning as a bank, pyramids had no concrete investment from which to glean money and apparently did not lend. The first pyramid scheme, which opened in 1991, was that of Hajdin Sejdisë, who later fled to Switzerland with several million dollars. It was followed by Sudja of Maksude Kadëna in 1993, a Gypsy who had previously worked as a worker in a shoe factory. Then foundations "Populli" run by an opposition politician and "Xhaferri". By the end of 1996, pyramid schemes reached their peak. The interest rates that they offered were very tempting; Sudja managed to provide 100% interest, which warned of imminent bankruptcy. The reason why the existence of pyramid scheme firms was not criticized earlier was a banking law adopted by the Albanian parliament in 1994, which – on International Monetary Fund (IMF) advice – contained no provision that the National Bank of Albania to act as a supervisor of commercial banks, or of a money lending enterprise. The IMF changed its tune two years later, after the consequences of its misjudgments had become obvious. Despite the advice of the IMF to close these schemes, the Albanian democratic government continued to allow their activities, often being involved in and personally profiting from them[citation needed]. In the period between 8 and 16 January 1997, the vast majority of the pyramid schemes collapsed, taking with them the life savings of Albanians. On 22 January, the government froze the "Xhaferri" and "Populli" firms. Gjallica, another firm, was half bankrupt, while the Vefa firm, which had managed to carry out some investment in the Albanian market in hotels, fuel, and factories, continued normal activity. The social crisis caused by the collapse of the pyramid schemes was arguably, the worst in the history of Albania,[citation needed] a history which has often seen the very existence of Albania at risk.

The first protest held to resolve the crisis, was that of 16 January in the South. On 19 January, Tirana saw a protest of the Sudja creditors. On 24 January, the de facto rebellion began. Thousands of people in Lushnja, who had lost money marched on the city hall in protest against the government's support of the schemes. The protest quickly descended into violence. Police forces were routed, and the city hall and adjoining cinema were burnt. One day later, on 25 January, Tritan Shehu, chairman of the Democratic Party, was sent to Lushnje to resolve the situation; however, on his arrival, Shehu was held hostage for several hours at City Stadium and assaulted by the protesters. State Special Forces intervened in the city to extract Shehu. In the morning, every government institution in the city was looted, destroyed and burnt down. On 26 and 27 January, violence erupted in other southern towns such as Vlora on the coast. On 30 January, the Forum for Democracy was formed by opposition parties to lead the anti-government protests. The reasons for the protests were originally economic, with nearly every family in Albania having lost money in the pyramid schemes. Naturally, however, anger was also directed against President Sali Berisha and against the government for allowing the schemes to continue despite the advice of the IMF[citation needed]. As allegations grew that Sali Berisha and others in government had personally profited from the schemes[citation needed], many[who?] became convinced that the Democratic Party had to be removed by force. This was especially true in the city of Vlora. On 4 February, distribution of a portion of lost money began at the counters of the National Commercial Bank, owned by the state. Rather than subduing the protests, this action increased people's suspicion of government involvement. A check of $550,000 paid by "Gjallica " firm on 7 January to the Socialist Party accelerated collapse of "Gjallica". On 5 February, the Gjallica firm declared bankruptcy, and on 6 February violent protests resumed in Vlora. On 9 February, State Police were attacked in Vlora, and a day later, also in the South, fifty Special Force soldiers attacked and brutally dispersed protesters[citation needed].

Hunger strike of students of the University of Vlora[edit]

Students of the University of Vlore began a hunger strike on campus on February 20, 1997 with about 50 students joining the movement. Their demands were the resignation of the government and the full return of invested money. This strike is considered by some to have been the main driver of the escalation of the situation into armed conflict. On 22 February, the Forum for Democracy declared its support of the strike. Students from Gjirokastër and Elbasan came to give their support. They were then driven by the FRESSH (Youth Wing of Socialist Party) activists of Vlorë to Tirana. In contrast were the students of the University "Luigj Gurakuqi" in Shkodra, whose Students Union declared: "The students share the pain of the citizens of Vlora in losing money in pyramid schemes, but on the other hand, think that freedom and democracy, homeland and nation have a higher price". On 26 February, thousands of people surrounded the building of the University to defend from feared attack by The National Intelligence Service SHIK (Shërbimi Informativ Kombëtar). The same day, a group of strikers requested more medical help, raising doubts about the group of doctors near them. On 27 February in Vlora Shkodra, mayor Bahri Borici of the United Right, declared his support for the hunger strike. February 28, 1997 was a decisive moment in the history of Albania. After strengthening their perimeter around the building of the university, the rebel forces, without warning, attacked the SHIK building. In fighting between the rebels and government forces, nine people were left dead – six officers and three civilians. The killings of 28 February marked the start of a ten day civil ar and the prosecution of violence in southern Albania for about a year.

Ten-day civil war[edit]

Angry protesters throwing stones at law enforcers

Demonstrators would never have succeeded in overpowering the forces of police in Vlora, if they had not been armed and organized by a combination of local mafia bosses, dismayed about their financial losses in pyramid schemes and former members of the communist-era secret police, Sigurimi, who saw this as their chance to take revenge on the new political system. Typical of the latter was Albert Shyti, who returned from Greece with an impressive private arsenal and set himself up as the head of the Vlora "Committee of Public Salvation" – a pattern replicated in several other towns and cities in southern Albania.

  • 1 March 1997, found the city of Vlora with no state authority left standing. The news of the massacre of SHIK officers had shaken the government. Rebels took control of the Albanian Navy Pasha Liman Base. The Albanian government reacted by declaring a state of emergency and sent more troops to areas around Vlora and the town of Tepelena. In response, rebels set up cannons at the entrance of the city of Vlora and pointed them north towards the capital Tirana.
  • 2 March 1997, Alexander Meksi's government resigns after failing to resolve the crisis. The event was celebrated in the south of the country with thousands of people coming out in the streets and firing AK-47s in the air. Meanwhile, the parliament appointed Bashkim Gazidede to try to restore order. Immediately, Gazidede ordered closure of schools throughout the country and imposed restrictions on the press and on the supply of consumer goods.
  • 3 March 1997, The DP re-elected Sali Berisha as President of Albania with votes of DP members of the parliament alone. This led to massive riots, which erupted in southern and central Albania, the strongholds of rebellion. The city of Saranda was also captured by rebels, with fighters based out of Vlora arriving by boat and burning every government building in the city including the city library. They also broke into the local detention facility and took more than 400 guns. Gunmen burned down the Vocational Training Centre in Vlora. Meanwhile, SHIK is trying to contain the rebellion to Vlora, Saranda and Delvina to stop it from spreading to the rest of the country.
  • On 4 March, the Committee of Public Salvation is formed in Vlore. The head of this Committee was Albert Shyti, a former member of communist-era secret police Sigurimi. This committee begins to act as a parallel government in the south of the country. On the same day, snipers are placed on every building in Vlore and every street puts up barricades to prevent attacks by SHIK. The Mifoli Bridge over the river Vjosë is blocked and mined. This bridge will become a symbol of rebellion by becoming the bridge that separates two parts of Albania. As students decide to end their hunger strike, in Saranda gunmen use navy boats to plunder caches with thousands of weapons. Gangs patrol the sea using Albanian Navy ships. Outside the city of Saranda, a member of SHIK was burnt alive, and one was taken hostage while two others escaped. Fifty soldiers defect and join the rebels and two Albanian Air Force pilots defect and fly to Italy. The pilots claimed they were ordered to attack civilians. Gazidede's plan to isolate the insurgency in Vlora fails, as it continues to spread across the south of the country. After fierce fighting in Delvina, the rebels force the army to pull back. In Saranda, the rebels put up roadblocks.
  • On 6 March, Berisha holds a meeting with representatives of political parties who all sign a statement condemning the massive plunder of military warehouses and calling for surrender of weapons. Six hours later, leaders of SP and DAP refute that they have any responsibility and obligation towards the statement that they had earlier described as a "political success."
  • On 7–8 March, the rebels from Saranda, in collaboration with local army forces, enter Gjirokastra, and take members of special forces as hostages. Leaders of the revolt in Gjirokastra are members of PAD, Arben Imami (later appointed by Berisha as Defense Minister in 2009) and Ridvan Pëshkëpia. With the fall of Gjirokastra, the entire south of the country is out of government's control. Weapons continue to spread around the country. Tirana's Rinas International Airport was attacked by villagers from the surrounding area, and the Agricultural University of Tirana was looted.
  • 9 March, Government of National Reconciliation Unity is formed in Tirana, headed by Bashkim Fino, the mayor of Gjirokastra. This government was formed as a result of a political consensus of the party in power and opposition. The new government calls on former army member to contribute towards restoring peace and order. President goes on television in a statement to the nation where he calls for "reconciliation, faith, unity and calmness."
  • Unopposed on the battlefield, rebels in the south launch a wave of extraordinary destruction. In Gramsh, the rebels attacked a local police station, in Fier, they take control of the streets. Berat falls into the hands of gangs and becomes one of the main centers of rebellion along with Vlora. Polican and Këlcyra also fall into the hands of criminals as well. In Kuçovë, rebels took control of 19 Soviet-made MiG combat aircraft. The rebellion spreads to the north.
  • Prominent crime figures have already escaped from prisons and organize gangs effectively taking control of many areas. Gangs make money through bank robberies, taking of hostages, and forceful taking over of businesses. The chaos is total and the whole country (with the exception of the capital Tirana) is completely paralyzed.

Opening of the depots[edit]

The Opening of the depots (Albanian: Hapja e depove) was the opening of weapon depots in the north, for protection against the violence of the south.[12] The decision was taken by Sali Berisha. When in southern Albania the army bases were looted, it was estimated that, on average, every male from the age of ten upwards possessed at least one firearm and ample ammunition.[13] In order to protect the civilians in the north and central Albania, the government allowed the opening of the depots for the population of those areas too. During the rebellion 656,000 weapons of various types, along with 1.5 billion rounds of ammunition, 3.5 million hand grenades, and 1 million land mines were looted from army depots.[14]

International intervention[edit]

On 28 March the United Nations adopted Resolution 1101 for humanitarian aid to Albania and on 15 April Operation Alba forces began to arrive in Albania. About 7,000 soldiers in the multinational Italian-led UN mission came to Albania to restore order and rule of law. The first forces were deployed in Durrës. Normality returned to Tirana.

29 June Snap Elections[edit]

Under a tense atmosphere developed campaigns for elections. Democrat leadership is unable to develop a normal campaign in areas of southern Albania. On the other hand, Left leaders accompanied by kapobandat[clarification needed] of these cities, leaving behind a tragic balance. More than 60 people were killed during the campaign of the Socialist Party in the south. On 29 June 1997 held early parliamentary elections. Socialist Party allies are winning. Democrats suffer a deeper loss in their history. In Tirana, where it was thought that DP would win, the result is quite different after the Socialists won convincingly. Many of the members of the "Rescue Committee" came out of left forces candidates to publicly though they promised they would not get any government position without resolving the crisis of usury. On the same day also held a referendum on the form of governance. With 65% of the votes wins the Republic against the monarchy.

Consequences of the crisis[edit]

Balance of rebellion is 200 million dollars and material damage and killed over 3700 to 5000 wounded. Lawsuits were filed against the bosses of firms rentier. Was sentenced in absentia a part of the major figures in the government of the Democratic State: Safet Zhulali, Agim Shehu, etc. Gazidede Union. Kapobandave[clarification needed] began legal proceedings against the cities of southern Albania. The country's economy was completely destroyed.

North-South conflict[edit]

One of the main themes of Western media and analysts during the March riots was the North-South division. Various newspapers and TV stations claimed that the rebellion but a showdown between the two main political forces in the country, was also a clash between the northern (Ghegs) that supported Sali Berisha and southern (Tosk) that supported the Socialist Party leadership its (mostly Tosk).

Gangs[edit]

Taking advantage of difficult situations, criminal groups were armed, and in an unexpected way, were placed in charge of rebellion and took control of entire cities. Most had been imprisoned in the main prisons in Greece, and suddenly were able to escape and come to Albania. The most famous case is that of Zani Caushi, who escaped from a high security prison of Larissa in February 1997 and, with a group of friends, established the gang of Coles in Vlora.

The rule of gangs was terrifying. Typical cases remain in Vlora, Berat and Lushnja. In Vlora, five gangs were created, but two ruled the city: the gang of Zani and the gang of Gaxhai. Movement in the city started at 10:00, when people gathered in Flag's Square to hear the Committee of Rescue, and ended at 13:00. After that hour the streets were deserted and the only people who moved were gang members. Gangs announced through speakers, flyers and other people not to go out as there would be fighting. Each night brought attempted attacks with explosives and numerous shots in the air, along with dozens of dead. In Berat, Altin Dardha's rule was even more severe. In Lushnje, Aldo Bare's gang had control. The worst crime that this gang committed was to behead an opponent and walk around the city. Cities ruled by gangs were Vlora, Berat, Tepelena, Memaliaj, Ballshi, Saranda, Gjirokastra, Lushnja, Pogradec, Cerrik, and Tropoja.

Committees of Public Salvation or Salvation Committees (Albanian: Komiteti i Shpëtimit Publik) were alleged criminal organizations set up during the rebellion. They were set up in many regions of the country, particularly the south. Public salvation committees were set up and periodically de facto usurped the functions of the Albanian state.[15]

Chronology of events[edit]

January 1997[edit]

  • 8–16 January 1997:[16] failing on pyramid schemes, "Kamberi", "Cenaj", "Silva", "Malvasia", "Kambo", "Grunjasi", "Dypero", "Bashkimi", "Beno", "Pogoni", "B&G", "Kobuzi", "Arkond", "Adelin", "A.Delon", "Agi", "M.Leka Company", "Global Limited Co.", "Çashku" dhe "Sudja". City of Vlora is hit, as there had their main center of most of these schemes. Government rushing and freezes the assets of the remaining schemes "Vefa Holding" and "Gjallica" (these two are larger schemes). Figures that all pyramid schemes at their disposal is huge: U.S. $ 1.6 billion.
  • 15 January 1997:[17] Several hundred people gathered at the palace where Maksude Kadëna, owner of "Sudes", lived. Among them, included the leaders of the opposition. They confronted the police.
  • 16 January 1997:[18] Arrested Maksude Kadëna, owner of "Sude". The newspaper "Voice of the People" of Socialist Party states: "From Tirana to Vlora across the country in revolt" referring to about 6000 vlonjate protest held in the Flag Square and "Government thieves.
  • 18 January 1997:[19] In an emergency meeting of the Democratic National Council, decided Creating a parliamentary committee on transparency of usury.
  • 19 January 1997:[20] Held a protest of creditors "Sudes" in the Square. Opposition leaders attempt to lead the protest against the government.
  • 20 January 1997:[21] bankrupt scheme "People-Xhaferri Democracy." 1500 people gather at windows firm to get their money.
  • 22 January 1997:[22] Trial begins against "charitable donations" (in fact pyramid schemes) "People's Democracy-Xhaferri" and "People" both directed by people with close ties to the Communist State Security (Rrapush Xhaferri and Bashkim Driza) . Earn arrested Kërxhaliu, administrator of "Gjallicës.
  • 23 January 1997:[23] Police arrested 50 employees of "People" and "Xhaferri. The newspaper "Albania" after making a brief history of the pyramid schemes in Albania writes: "Surely that is the work by Hajdin Sejdia. He left with several million dollars in 1991 but returned unexpectedly in 1996 and began to distribute money to creditors him. The truth is that he received $ 3 million from "Xhaferri" and "People" and this led to increased confidence of citizens in these schemes. As a result of Sejdisë arrival had an increase of some tens of millions of dollars in deposits of citizens to these schemes within 2–3 months. This avoided the premature failure of these schemes. "
  • 24 January 1997: Burn Lushnja City Hall by demonstrators angry about the arrest of Xhaferri. Cinema also burned the city.
  • 25 January 1997:[24] demonstrators came from surrounding villages Lushnja burn and destroy any state institution Lushnje from Police Station to the Savings Bank. Tritan Shehu held hostage for several hours at the City Stadium. Xhaferri demonstrators seeking release. City of Lushnje burned by the crowd led by local SP leaders. Other clashes take place in Elbasan, Memaliaj, Laç, Kuçovë.
  • 26 January 1997:[25] A demonstration of the Socialist Party in downtown Tirana degenerates into a violent clash between police and opposition supporters. Some of the leading socialist leaders injured by police forces. Destroy the opposition "National History Museum", "Palace of Culture", "Et'hem Bey Mosque" and the Municipality of South Tiranës.Në angry mob burn the city hall. The Albanian flag fall to the ground. In Kamal Ismail portrait painted with a knife Orthodox cross. Start and spread maps Vorio 3 Epirus and the symbol of Serb fingertips. Albpetrol was burned in Patos by terrorist groups.
  • 27 January 1997:[26] An angry crowd burns the hall of Peshkopi. Also burned Police Station. Seriously injured four policemen.
  • 29 January 1997:[27] Police arrested 140 people in Berat and 20 in Poliçan of involvement in violent demonstrations and illegal.
  • 30 January 1997:[28] Formed Forum for Democracy by opposition parties to support the American Embassy. In his head placed Daut Gumeni recommended by Soros, Fatos Lubonja from the Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC was known for anti-Berisha positions) and Kurt Kola was president of the Association of the Politically Persecuted (also indebted to "the people"). Soon this "Forum" begins organizing anti-government protests.
  • 31 January 1997:[29] Newspaper Koha Jone asked the creditors of "Gjallicës" go to the firm to get money on 6 February. The aim is to promote violent demonstrations as "Gjallica" is half the bankrupt.

February 1997[edit]

  • 4 February 1997:[30] Start the distribution of part of the money to creditors with government decision. The opposition and many criticize Democrats for delaying the start of this process. "Forum for Democracy proposes the creation of a technical government to resolve the crisis.
  • 5 February 1997: pyramid bankrupt firms Gjallica run by the former State Security effective. The cities most affected by the bankruptcy of the firm are Flora (145 million $ U.S.) and Kukes (16 million $ U.S.). Begin protests in Vlora.
  • 6 February 1997:[31] Thousands come to violent protests in Vlora. In contrast to Kukes formed a "Committee" with the firm's creditors are seeking a legal solution to this issue. They seek to become shareholders of this firm. Similar committees established in Gjirokastra and Berat.
  • 7 February 1997:[32] Protesters block road in Memaliaj.
  • 8 February 1997:[33] Continues anti-government protests in Vlore.
  • 9 February 1997:[34] Gone are the days of Vlora. Police Station attacked by armed crowd. 1 dead and injured. Forum for Democracy declares that the only solution of the crisis is through protests against the government.
  • 10 February 1997:[35] Continues the violence in the South. DPA headquarters burned by armed groups. Now required the resignation of President and Government. A group of about 50 Special Forces ranks viciously attacked by an angry mob of thousands of people. EuroNews broadcasts footage of the police siege around the world. Failure of state to restore order is great. The rebellion spread throughout southern Albania under the example of Vlora. Proposed state of emergency in the South.
  • 11 February 1997:[36] Artur Rustemi buried in Vlora, the first victims of the rebellion. His funeral turns into an anti-government demonstration. In this case, burning the headquarters of ADP of Vlora. Alarm sprayed the lack of bread in the city. "Forum for Democracy," calls for dialogue with President Berisha kuzhtëzuar.
  • 12–15 February 1997:[37] The tragic events occurring in the South. Kidnappings occur several persons. Starts traffic through the boats. Schools closed and shops are allowed to sell up to 9 o'clock.
  • 13 February 1997:[38] Committee ex-persecuted Kurt Kola accuses of democracy as a traitor and collaborator of communist executioners.
  • 14 February 1997:[39] developed in anti-government protests in Fier.
  • 17 February 1997:[40] Legality Movement condemns the violence and declared against dialogue with the "Forum for Democracy." Ministers meeting in Tirana where intellectuals discusses the resolution of the crisis.
  • 18 February 1997:[41] President Berisha meets with citizens Lushnja. He promises to do everything to resolve the crisis. National Front seeks resignation of the government.
  • 20 February 1997:[42] Hunger strike begins at University "Ismail Kamal" of Vlora. Approximately 50 students entering the hunger strike and demanding the resignation of the government. Forum for Democracy organized a violent demonstration in Tirana. 5 policemen seriously injured. A group of students meet with President Berisha, Vlora and agree to resolve the crisis peacefully.
  • 22 February 1997: Trial begins against leaders of the "Gjallicës. Forum for Democracy supports student hunger strike Vlora.
  • 24 February 1997:[43] attacked state institutions in the South by angry crowds.
  • 26 February 1997:[44] As part of the presidential tour areas affected by the crisis of usury, Berisha meets citizens of Gjirokaster and promises that will make all efforts to resolve the crisis. Thousands surround University "Ismail Kamal" to protect against "attack" state forces.
  • 28 February 1997:[45] 46 students entering the University of Gjirokastra hunger strike. Their requirements are similar to those of students in Vlora. Crowds of armed attack in South shik branch and set fire. 3 agents die by the flames and the snipers, while 3 others are massacred by the crowd. ALL Qoku, effective shik, masakrohet with ax in the lobby of the "University." 3 others were killed in the ranks of the crowd.
  • 29 February 1997: Socialists proclaim as "undesirable" leadership of the Democratic Party in South Albania. The newspaper "Koha Jone" writes that "Flora" is enjoying the freedom for which he received the goods." Disrupt the BBC and VOA broadcasts to Albania.

March 1997[edit]

  • 1 March 1997: Flora is the power of gangs and traffickers. Mass exodus begins. In Lushnje some police brutally beaten. Declared emergency. Rebels take Pashaliman base, the state symbol of resistance. The massive explosion begins in an arms storage facility. In Himarë, the city was burning including police buildings in Gjirokastra. Hundreds of prisoners are then set free.
  • 2 March 1997: Alexander Meksi's government resigns. In Vlora, thousands of weapons were hitting the skies in a sign of victory. Parliament approves the chief of surgery to restore order, the chief of stylish Gazideden Union. Immediately Gazidede order closure of schools throughout the country indefinitely. Also placed restrictions on the press and to supply consumer goods to the population. In Kavaja, bastion of PD, over 5000 people voluntarily armed to defend the city from a possible attack by armed gangs. Italian news agency ANSA commented: "The whole scenario is emerging as a politico-military strategy and not as a manifestation of spontaneous popular. To gather people in the Flag Square are available for days special machines."
  • 3 March 1997: President Sali Berisha is re-elected with the votes from the members of the DP. An uncontrollable rage explodes in the South and axis, the main centers of rebellion. The remaining warehouses explode and remaining bands of the military form committees and a new wave of destruction and killings went on throughout southern Albania. The Vocational TrainingCentre in Vlora was burned, which had cost the Albanian government seven million dollars. A group of approximately 100-member "Adipetrol" was held responsible and their compound in Gjirokastra was raided. Persons with masks take over a warship and rebels were attacking Saranda, where police and government buildings were burned. Criminals also masterminded a prison break, releasing hundreds of prisoners, seized 400 weapons, and set fire to the town library. In Kuçovë, alarm is issued to the lack of bread. The army recovered control of Fier and begins to disarm the city's population.
  • 4 March 1997: In the South, the depot explosion continues. Rebels placed snipers in mansions, locked the Mifolit bridge, and raised up barricades to prevent entry of the military and SHIK. In Shkodra, the army capitulates and the striking students end the strike, celebrating with champagne at the disco. Thousands of students feel frustrated by them. In Saranda, organized gangs raided an Albanian Navy base and captured thousands of weapons. Gangs patrol the sea with the Navy ships. Saranda posted stating that autonomy in this area lived 20,000 Greeks. In the neck-shik an agent was burnt alive, and one taken hostage. Two others escaped. 50 soldiers join the rebels. 2 Air Force pilots dezertojnë and go to Italy. Formed Public Salvation Committee of Vlore. He begins to act as a parallel structure by performing a "de facto" coup. Its leader is Albert Shyti. The main collaborator of the "Committee" is Myrteza Caushi, known as Zani "The strongman of Vlora". Under the example of Vlora, Shyti created "Salvation Committees" everywhere in Albania.
  • 5 March 1997: Warehouses in Memaliaj and other places explode. Rebels burn police buildings in these cities. Greek TV "Mega" in the 2:00 PM news states, "Today, armed groups in southern Albania for the first time raised the banner of Vorio Epirus. They require sharing the southern part of the rest of the country ranging from Tepelena, thus proclaiming the autonomy of southern Albania. Albania's early problem was that of the North-South autonomy that is divided between the river Shkumbin.".
  • 6 March 1997: President Berisha and the political parties gather at a table and sign a statement, condemning the blasts of the warehouses and call for surrender of weapons. 6 hours later, officially the SP and DAP leaders deny any responsibility and obligation to the statement that they had considered "political success". Greek TV "Sky" 17:00 News (16:00 our time): "A few minutes have emerged from the meeting the leaders of armed groups of Saranda, who have decided to attack tonight at Gjirokastra. They will not leave and anxiously await today's popular trial will be done with three prisoners captured in the main square of Sarande, who allegedly attacked SHIK employees and northern ethnics that increases the balance of victims in Vlora."
  • 7 March 1997: Albanian Army soldiers defect to rebels in Gjirokastra. Military assets fall into the hands of gangs and the military committee of the city. With Gjirokastra in the hands of rebels, the entire south of the country is out of control. Weapons continue to spread in the country. National Rinas Airport was attacked by villagers in the surrounding areas. Spoiled so barbaric Agricultural University of Tirana.
  • 8 March 1997: President Berisha organizes a meeting with all parties concerned with the creation of the new government. Completely defeated division of Gjirokastra. Leaders of the division were vetëdorëzuar and had taken the lead of rebellion in this city. Gangs have kidnapped a number of auxiliary military forces of Tirana and had blocked several tanks and a helicopter. Mobs attack the most private units in the city. At midnight attack and spoiled milk processing factory in Libohova.
  • 9 March 1997: Formed Government of National Reconciliation Union headed by Fino, mayor of Gjirokastra. The new government calls on former army effectives contribute to restoring peace and order. President goes on VAT in a statement to the nation where he calls for "reconciliation, faith, unity and calmness".
  • 10 March 1997: In Gramsh rebels attacked the police building, go to Fier and take control of the streets. Berat fell into the hands of gangs and become the main centers of rebellion after Vlora. Along with the fall Polican, Këlcyra and Skrapari. In Kuçovë rebels take control of 19 combat aircraft type MiG. "Vlora Rescue Committee" welcomes the agreement of 9 March. American Foundation for Eastern Europe is directing a letter to the Albanian Embassy in America stating: "It's great naivety not understand that the Committee of Vlora and its leaders are inspired by communist mafia-type the KGB." Letters to the conclusion stated: "Mr. Berisha must decide by any means the rule of law, using military force may even". On the evening of 10 March, the U.S. Embassy welcomed the agreement late 9 March.
  • 11 March 1997: Birth of the "Committee of the South" that requires the rejection of Berisha and the return of money lost. If the Committee proposes to declare the country's capital city of Vlora and the formation of a new state separate from Tirana. Army depots in Kukës are looted, and scores of armed looters damage state institutions. The citizens of the Kukes town abandon the town for one day due to an announcement that the Serbian army has crossed the border. The revolt spread to the north, the army capitulate everywhere and a huge weapons depot opened in Shkodra.
  • 12 March 1997: President Berisha decrees Government of National Reconciliation. Revolt breaks out in the South, the bastion of the Democratic Party. Open prison, attacked shops and a bank thrown into the air.
  • 13 March 1997: President Berisha and Prime Minister Fino you require international military assistance to resolve the crisis. Tirana is on the verge of invasion by the rebels. Declared curfew. Several hundred volunteers mainly from the North, protect capital. Attacked presidency. Berisha experiencing the most dangerous night of his life. Prison break out of the country more secure, prison 313. The last to emerge from prison are Fatos Nano and Ramiz Alia. Revolt breaks out in the South. In Lezha rebels burn police building. Ismail Kadare' appears in a message to the Albanians in the VOA. He states that "The clock was turned back in Albania's civil war between the nationalists and communists in the years 1943–44". Also criticizes foreign media and political elite, and calling on his compatriots to calmness and composure to overcome the crisis. The French news agency AFP notes that: "The riots in Albania were a military coup."
  • 14 March 1997: Franz Vranitski is appointed to solve the Albanian crisis. U.S. Ambassador to the screen of VAT appears stating that the U.S. diplomatic mission will not leave. It also states that the American people is the Albanian people in these difficult moments. In Tirana, the population begins to disarm. Attacked a tobacco plantation worth U.S. $ 10 million. Attacked Coca-Cola factory, by the few multinational investments in Albania. SHIK chief resigns, Gazidede Union. Rebels occupy the port of Durrës. VAT is displayed on the screen all day to call "homeland at risk !".
  • 15 March 1997: recovered control of the airport of Rinas. Parliament approved the "Government of National Reconciliation." A "Committee for the Protection of Durres.
  • 16 March 1997: A massive rally in Tirana calls for peace and cooperation between the warring forces. With the government decision announced 16 March day of national mourning in honor of victims of the rebellion. In Fier looted radioactive military material. President Berisha decrees amnesty for 51 prisoners.
  • 17 March 1997: By presidential decree released Fatos Nano, opposition leader jailed since 1993 on charges of corruption. Mother Teresa pray for Albania and Albanians. President of the "People" leaves the country with a U.S. military helicopter. Fatos Nano holds a press conference stating his support for the new government.
  • 18 March 1997: A Committee for the Rescue of North and Middle Albania threatens new government if it recognizes the committees of the South will face the military resistance in the whole Northern country. As a result the government does not recognize any of the committees formed in the North, South or Middle Albania.
  • 19 March 1997: The Russian government is concerned about the serious situation in Albania.
  • 20 March 1997: Held on axis Assembly of Public Salvation Committee. Their main demand is constant and the removal of Berisha. Also proposed the creation of Federation of South. Resume job Rinas Airport.
  • 21 March 1997: The political situation is very dangerous. Greece seeks to enter the Albanian territory on the pretext of protecting minorities. Sali Berisha urges Turkey military aid. The Turkish government emerges in a statement said that if Greek troops enter Albania, then within the day will be captured Athens. The Turkish government also claims it can not be done in Albania the same mistake that was made with Bosnia. Head of stylish, Gazidede Union, at a hearing in the Albanian Parliament accuses anti-Albanian Greek circles, Albanian Socialists, military and criminals to the situation. He made the fateful statement that "The integrity of Albania no longer exists". He also stated that "the rebellion was directed towards the destruction of any historic and cultural facility, with long-term goal to eradicate any historical evidence autoktonitetit the Albanians".
  • 22 March 1997: The situation in Saranda and Gjirokastra remains very serious. Armed gangs rule in these cities under a regime of violence and terror. Dozens of people are killed daily.
  • 23 March 1997: recovered control of the Port of Durrës. Resumes work on it. Berat is ruled by fearsome gangs. Movement of people allowed up at 13:00. Made numerous attempted attacks with explosives.
  • 24 March 1997: As of 12 March 46 people were left injured or killed in Kukes by the shooting.
  • 25 March 1997: 3 policemen killed in Vlore. In Saranda efforts to restore law and order. Aggravated the situation continues in the Gjirokastër Berat.
  • 26 March 1997: Called back to parliament, former chief of stylish, Gazidede Union points to a Greek government plan called "Lotos" which had the goal of "Liberation Vorio-Epirus by the Albanian side rule of an armed rebellion". He accuses the Greek regions in Greece and the U.S. as well as Nicholas Gage (person non-grata in Albania and accused of financing the massacre of Pëshkëpisë) as sponsors of this plan. He also accuses Kico Mustaqin, former commander of the army and Gramoz Ruci to have given secret information to ASFALISË (the Greek Secret Service) concerning the organization of the Albanian Army.
  • 27 March 1997: The Democratic Party claims that relations between Greek and Albanian peoples have always been excellent and the Greek extremist groups can not represent all Greek people.
  • 28 March 1997: Day of tragedies: the Otranto channel in an Albanian ship run by a gang of Vlora rammed and sunk by an Italian naval vessel by mistake. Balance is 82 refugees dead. Held in the South "National Assembly of Committees South. Participate many opposition political figures. Their demand is the resignation of the president. They also reject the "Government of National Reconciliation." The leaders of these committees are former exponents of the Hoxha regime. In the village of Levan, Fier is the biggest massacre of the events of 1997. 24 people killed by clashes between arixhinjve and one of the most dangerous gangs in the country. The balance of this day is over 110 dead. United Nations adopt resolution no. 1101 for humanitarian aid to Albania.
  • 29 March 1997: 5 killed three people in South and Berat. Continue critical situations in several cities of the country. Leaders of the Albanian Navy Otranto accident claim could have been avoided.
  • 30 March 1997: President Berisha and Prime Minister Fino you send their condolences to the families of victims Otranto. Albania seeks to place an international investigation of this tragedy and be part of the inquiry committee.
  • 31 March 1997: Proclamation of national mourning in honor of victims of the Otranto Channel. The Italian government sends its condolences over the tragedy. Ismail Kadare states in an Italian media that "it is shocked by this tragedy and that the authority of government and the President need to Resume in place."

April 1997[edit]

  • 1 April 1997: the meeting of the Chairmanship of the Democratic Party. It is characterized by intense debate. Many members of the leadership demanding the resignation of Sali Berisha and Tritan Shehu. PM urges Socialist Party to withdraw from the Agreement of 28 March the Committee of the South.
  • 3 April 1997: the willingness of police to restore order in Tirana is exceptional. Special Forces take control of Berat, Vlora city troubled by.
  • 4 April 1997: U.S. Embassy states that do not meet with any Salvation Committee "rebel." The U.S. embassy also states that the only legitimate institutions are the government and president.
  • 5 April 1997: The situation remains grave in Pogradec. Armed gangs rule the city being robbed and killed people.
  • 7 April 1997: Continued heavy situation in Fier. Dozens of people have been wounded since the unrest and 5 were killed, among them two children. On top of the riots is Haklaj family. 3 people killed in Durrës.
  • 8 April 1997: Continue the grave situation in Gramsh. Clashes between local gangs evolve with the band coming from Laçi. The city has become a center of arms sales.
  • 12 April 1997: Leka Zog arrives in Tirana, along with the royal court. Elbasan explodes psychiatry. Dozens of mentally ill escape.
  • 13 April 1997: Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi visits Vlore. Zani Çaushi is his bodyguard.
  • 15 April 1997: Internationals alerted by the crisis. Begins "Alba Mission, an international army of 7000 troops under the direction of Italy coming to Albania to restore order and force of law. The first forces deployed in Durres. Normality returned to Tirana. Held a successful operation to apprehend criminals Gramsh and collecting looted weapons.
  • 17 April 1997: Political parties agree on the date 29 June to hold the elections.
  • 18 April 1997: Continue the grave situation in Gramsh nicknamed "Vlora no sea." A bomb explodes in the courtyard of the University of Portland.
  • 19 April 1997: a repository rocket explodes in Gjirokastra. Fino meet Leka Zog.
  • 21 April 1997: multinational forces deploy in Vlora. Attacked and spoiled the city of Gramsh by criminal groups. Criminal gangs terrorize citizens on the road that passes in Çorovodë.
  • 22 April 1997: A bomb explodes near ex local "Flora" in Tirana.
  • 23 April 1997: International forces choose not to belong to any "committee of the South."
  • 24 April 1997: Police Station Attacked in Elbasan. Leka Zog visiting Vlore.
  • 26 April 1997: Council of Europe calls illegal Salvation Committees and their disarmament demands. 4 children injured by the explosion of a bomb in Gjirokastra. Shpërthehen with explosives 35 meters of the train tracks.
  • 28 April 1997: Around 10 a.m. in Lushnje, a crowd of roughly 4,000 gathered at the town center in protest of financial losses from the ponzi scheme. The protest was initiated by the Committee of Public Salvation. Demands included: the resignation of Sali Berisha as President, a reform of the electoral process, emergency parliamentary elections which were scheduled for 2001, and that the new governing body would reimburse the people 100% of all financial loses. Leaders of the Committee joined the rally through the streets of Lushnje.
  • 29 April 1997: Resumes teaching in the North of the country. Continued violence and terror in the South. Vlora once again the power of the gangs and criminals.
  • 30 April 1997: 27 people left dead by the explosion of a weapons depot in Burrel. Three warehouses exploded in Berat.

May 1997[edit]

  • 4 May 1997: Increased balance of victims. Dozens killed in Shkodra, Berat, Tirana and Durrës.
  • 10 May 1997: Special Forces struggle with armed gangs in Gramsh. Around 100 gunmen opposed to the state. Gramsh Rescue Committee prevents distribution of newspapers in the city.
  • 11 May 1997: robbed and killed passengers in the neck-Mali in Kukes. South crime intensifies.
  • 14 May 1997: Kakavisë attacked the border. Remains blocked road Berat-Lushnje. Post attacked in Berat.
  • 15 May 1997: a warehouse in Gjirokastra explodes injuring 14 people and killed four others. Kill an entire family of 5 persons in Pogradec.
  • 19 May 1997: Continued violence in the south. Explosion of the bridge intended Kardhiqi in Gjirokastra. Killings continue in Vlora. In Memaliaj police and Rescue Committee join forces against one of the gangs of the city.
  • 21 May 1997: Continued attacks against bridges in Gjirokastra. Aggravated the situation continues in Saranda, Vlora, Shkodra and Durrës.
  • 23 May 1997: In Cerrik city gangs attacked a Special Forces armored vehicles. Balance: 6 effective Special Forces killed by grenade attacks. 3 others captured hostage. Cerrik is the closest city to the capital that is the power of gangs.
  • 24 May 1997: In Cerrik armed a bunch of controls throughout the city. Schools are closed.
  • 26 May 1997: A bunch of initials N.M.T. threatens traders of Kukes.
  • 27 May 1997: Burned Kurbin library. Attacked a police car in the South.
  • 29 May 1997: Hall Tepelena spoiled by strangers.
  • 31 May 1997: Armed gangs terrorize the citizens of Cerrik.

Victory of the Socialists and fall of Berisha[edit]

  • June 1997: The campaign for elections was run in a tense atmosphere. The Democrat leadership was unable to develop a normal campaign in areas of southern Albania. On the other hand, the left campaign was accompanied by riots of these cities, leaving behind a more than 60 people killed during the campaign of the Socialist Party in the south.
  • 29 June 1997: Parliamentary elections are held. Socialist Party allies won while the Democrats sufferd the biggest loss in their history. Many of the members of the "Rescue Committee" came out for the left forces candidates to publicly though they promised they would not get any government position without resolving the crisis of usury. On the same day of the votings a referendum was held for the form of governance in Albania. Republic prevails over monarchy with 65% of the votes.
  • 3 July 1997: Leka Zogu I organized a demonstration accusing CEC of rigging the result. Five people were killed in a clash between demonstrators and police.
  • July 1997: Gangs continue to rule the country under an atmosphere of fear and terror. Increase in the number of murders, robberies and trafficking of weapons, people and drugs.
  • 24 July 1997: Sali Berisha resigns from the Presidency. He had promised that if the Socialists won he would leave because they can not make "institutional cohabitation" with them. Rexhep Meidani is elected President of the Republic due to votes of the Socialists and other forces in the coalition government.

Massive gunfire occurs in Tirana in celebration of the resignation of Berisha, which was the main demand of rebels. The insurgency ends.

  • 11 August 1997: International forces leave the country.

Aftermath[edit]

In elections in June and July 1997, Berisha and his party were voted out of power, and the left coalition headed by the Socialist Party won. The Socialist party elected Rexhep Meidani as President of the Albanian Republic. All UN forces left Albania by 11 August.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Albanian Parliamentary Elections in 1997
  2. ^ Tayfur, M. Fatih (2003). Semiperipheral development and foreign policy : the cases of Greece and Spain. Aldershot: Ashgate. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-7546-1964-2. 
  3. ^ Merriman, John (2010). A history of modern Europe : from the Renaissance to the present (3rd ed. ed.). New York: W.W. Norton. p. 1206. ISBN 978-0-393-93433-5. 
  4. ^ "Επιχειρήσεις στα Πλαίσια του NATO & της Ε.Ε. » Αλβανία". Hellenic Army General Staf. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Anarchy in Albania: Collapse of European Collective Security?
  6. ^ a b Christopher Jarvis, The Rise and Fall of Albania's Pyramid Schemes, Finance & Development: A Quarterly Magazine of the IMF, March 2000.
  7. ^ Crisis in Albania. Public Broadcasting Service
  8. ^ a b c d e John Pike. "Albanian Civil War (1997)". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  9. ^ "Kosovo: Background to crisis (March 1999)". Archived from the original on 15 May 2008. Retrieved 17 June 2010. 
  10. ^ "On War article". On War article. 27 November 2003. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  11. ^ http://conflict-prevention.net/page.php?id=40&formid=73&action=show&surveyid=29
  12. ^ http://www.historyofnations.net/europe/albania.html
  13. ^ http://www.chuckstewartphd.net/Greenwood_Womens_Alba.pdf
  14. ^ UNDP, Albanian Human Development Report 1998. Tirana: United Nations Development Program, 1999.
  15. ^ http://www.da.mod.uk/colleges/arag/document-listings/special/S42/view?searchterm=%20%20Albania%201997-1998
  16. ^ *Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :13 Janar 1997
  17. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :15 Janar 1997
  18. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :16 Janar 1997
  19. ^ *Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :18 Janar 1997
  20. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :19 Janar 1997
  21. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :20 Janar 1997
  22. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :22 Janar 1997
  23. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :23 Janar 1997
  24. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :25 Janar 1997
  25. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :26 Janar 1997
  26. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :27 Janar 1997
  27. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :29 Janar 1997
  28. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :30 Janar 1997
  29. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :31 Janar 1997
  30. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :4 Shkurt 1997
  31. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :6 Shkurt 1997
  32. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :7 Shkurt 1997
  33. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :8 Shkurt 1997
  34. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :9 Shkurt 1997
  35. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :10 Shkurt 1997
  36. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :11 Shkurt 1997
  37. ^ *Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :12 Shkurt 1997
  38. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :13 Shkurt 1997
  39. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :14 Shkurt 1997
  40. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :17 Shkurt 1997
  41. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :18 Shkurt 1997
  42. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :20 Shkurt 1997
  43. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :24 Shkurt 1997
  44. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :26 Shkurt 1997
  45. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :28 Shkurt 1997

Further reading[edit]

  • Krasniqi, Afrim. Rënia e demokracisë. Tirana 1998.
  • Rënia e Demokracisë”, Afrim Krasniqi, 1998, Eurorilindja
  • Shqipëria jashtë Veriut dhe Jugut”, Ibrahim Kelmendi, 1997, Zëri i Kosovës
  • Unë e pashë kush e dogji Vlorën”, Gëzim Zilja, 2000, Pelioni
  • Viti '97, Prapaskenat e krizës që rrënuan shtetin”, Mero Baze, 2010, Toena
  • Baze, Mero. Viti '97: Prapaskenat e Krizës që Rrënuan Shtetin, Tirana: Toena, 2010. ISBN 978-99943-1-650-2
  • Lubonja, Fatos. Nëntëdhjeteshtata, Apokalipsi i Rremë, Tirana: Marin Barleti, 2011.