Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Isolated from the world for decades behind an Iron Curtain of its own communist devising, under the despotic rule of Enver Hoxha (pronounced Hodger), it is now a parliamentary democracy established under a constitution (which actually makes it a republic, not a democracy). It managed to avoid getting caught up in the Balkans catastrophe of the 1990s, despite its geographical proximity to all the participants, and in spite, too, of its cthnic and religious mix - 20% Christian versus 80% Moslem being the obvious ingredients, and denominationalism within both Christianity and Islam adding to the recipe, even before you start exploring the complexities of an Albanian majority which is itself divided between northern Ghegs and southern Tosks, living alongside Greek, Vlach, Roma, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Egyptian and quite a number of other self-identifications into the pluralist bargain. Yet Albania did not join the Battle of the Balkans when Yugoslavia fell apart, and this is remarkable when you look at a map of the region, and even more remarkable when you learn that half a million Kosovan refugees fled into Albania when NATO bombed Yugoslavia in 1999.

Today's Albania is staggeringly poor, with public debt, according to the BBC, standing at 60% of the country's GDP, and unemployment and corruption vying for the title of "Europe's Highest". Given these conditions, the EEC would have to be both stupid and mad, as well as imperially-obsessed, to even consider an Albanian application for EU membership; given that the politicians who run it have proven themselves repeatedly to be all three, it comes as no real surprise that, in January 2014, it not only considered it, but approved such an application. Albania, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Romania, several other impoverished countries, now expecting the rich(ish) three - Germany, France and the UK - to serve as their permanent bail-out bank and subsidy provider; or will it be France and the UK who bail out, like rats from a sinking ship, when Marine Le Pen and Nigel Farage win elections in their respective countries? Germany, of course, will never leave the EU.

For the tourist there is much to see of beauty in this Ionian-Adriatic land that was anciently Greek and geographically central to the development of European culture at the point of intersection of Christianity with Islam. Sadly, little appears to have worn off, to the extent that one cannot name a single writer, composer, artist, politician, philosopher, scientist or any other contributor to the betterment of humanity whose name is known outside the country's borders.

Marks For: 3

Marks Against: 3

which, given that the aim is to divide the two sides on a scale of 10, really says everything there is to say about Albania.

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker

All rights reserved

The Argaman Press

No comments:

Post a Comment