Albania-usa Between Myth And Reality

Albania-usa Between Myth And Reality 
Tirana Times -

By Albert Rakipi Ph.D, 

While in the Czech capital, Prague, the US President is received by about two thousand citizens protesting against the American plan for a missile shield in Europe, in Albania, the capital, Tirana, is being frantically decorated as if for a magnificent festivity: portraits of President Bush, Albanian and American flags, and slogans posted throughout the entire centre of the capital welcoming the President. Meanwhile, ever since it became public that within the context of a European tour, the US President was to visit Albania too, the agenda of the Government, the Assembly, overwhelming space in the local media has been dominated by the first visit of an American President to Albania. 

For an earlier generation, the campaign of the Government, and not only of the government, to deck the city out with posters and banners, all the televised messages of welcome, as well as the extraordinary attention of the local media, resembles, to a substantial degree, the campaigns of the communist governments of Tirana, when Albania was visited, for example, by Khrushchev, at the end of the fifties’ or the beginning of the sixties’ when Tirana was festooned with very bright and gaudy Chinese colours when Albania was visited by Prime Minister Chou En Lai. 

Furthermore, a number of studies that observed and analyzed conduct in the foreign policy of a small country such as Albania, have time and again, concluded that Albania has always striven to lock itself into an alliance with a Major Power, if possible, a superpower: at the beginning it was the Soviet Union, then Communist China and after the end of the Cold War, it was the United States. 

However, a careful observation of Albania’s foreign relations is sufficient to reach the conclusion that, in essence, there is no similarity between Albania’s relations with the Soviet Union or China, on the one hand, and Albania’s relations with the United States of America, on the other hand. 

Even less so can it be maintained that looking for alliances with bigger powers was a distinguishing feature of Albanian foreign policy. 

History is far simpler: the fact that Albania ended up in the former Eastern Bloc was a mishap of history, and Albania’s relations either with the Soviet Union or with China were based first of all on the communist ideology. Suffice it to mention the fact that when the communist leaderships, first in the Soviet Union and then later on in China began to allow greater respiration and liberal ideas, the communist government of Tirana labeled both the Soviet Union and China as traitors of Marxism Leninism, steering the country towards an extreme isolation. 

But if the current relations of Albania with the United States of America have no resemblance and cannot be compared to Albania’s previous relations with the Big Powers, what is it that makes these relations unique today and the most important from a strategic viewpoint? Moreover, how do we explain the popular support the United States enjoys in Albania? This is not a question of the Albanian Governments that have replaced one another over the past fifteen years and backed every initiative or action of the United States in present day international policies. This is a question of why the Albanians love America, almost blindly? Is there a rational and reasoned explanation for this or are the love and support of the Albanians for the Americans merely threads of the myth that has been woven? Several arguments should be taken into consideration to comprehend why the relations of the Albanians with America are special. 

First, the Albanians owe their survival as an independent State to the United States of America. Albania’s making as an independent state coincides with the emergence of the United States as a world power on the international scene. It was the Doctrine of President Wilson, submitted to the Paris Peace Conference that inspired a New World Order. The principle of the Self Determination of Nations was cemented into the foundations of the League of Nations. Albania was one of the countries, the independence of which was defended with the Wilson Doctrine. This is not all however. Not only was President Wilson unwilling to support several proposals of the European Powers of the time, which foresaw the dividing up of Albania between its neighbours, but, quite on the contrary, he called for Albania to remain an independent State. 

Second, the political and cultural elite who, in a certain sense, led the creation and recognition of the Albanian State had been educated primarily in the United States. 

Third, like other peoples, the Albanians also identify the United States of America as the cradle of liberty and democracy. For more than half a Century under communism, the communist regime vilified the United States as the enemy of the Albanians and of the liberty of the peoples. This was one of the very few things that the Albanians never believed during the whole time of their extreme isolation. In 1991, the former US Secretary of State, James Baker was received in Tirana in the most incredible and unimaginable manner, as if he were God himself. And the reason was very simple. The Albanians identified the US with freedom . 

Four, the Albanians check their bearings, ensure that they are on the right road, by keeping a close watch on the barometer of the relations with the United States. As is known, one of the factors that led to the freezing and even the severing of relations between the USA and Albania straight after Word War Two was the violation of the first pluralist elections since the advent to office of the communist government on 2 December 1945. It was precisely these elections that led to the liquidation of the Albanian Opposition and the consolidation of a totalitarian regime. 

Fifth, when at the beginning of the Nineties the violent disintegration of Yugoslavia started, Albania’s national security came under threat, and the possibility had been there for Albania to have become embroiled in an inequitable war with the former Yugoslavia, over Kosovo. In these circumstances Albania based her security approach on an aggressive pro-western politics and strengthened her military relationships mainly with the United States, finding the necessary support and goodwill on the Washington side. 

Sixth, the intervention of NATO in the Balkans, especially in Kosovo in 1999, was decisive. For this reason, the Albanians of Kosovo, and not only of Kosovo, are very grateful to the decisive role and leadership of the United States. 

And last, but by no means least in terms of importance, the United States of America has unwaveringly supported Albania’s membership in NATO, but then again, so has the European Union. American support in the field of democracy, the economy, the armed forces, the judiciary, in essence, is direct support for Albania’s preparations towards its possible membership to the EU and NATO. 

In the course of a European tour, the President of the United States of America has decided to visit Albania. The Albanians here believe this is not just a random choice. The Albanians believe that every US President would naturally choose Albania as the first country of call on a tour of the Balkans. Where does all this tremendous self-assurance come from? 

What can clearly be said is that the Albanians have created a myth around the United States of America. A myth that is unique in the manner and factors that led to its creation. “The myth is a lie that says the truth” says a famous philosopher from antiquity. But the myth that the Albanians have woven around the United States of America, is a truth which now and again, like all myths, gets blown out of proportion and does include the occasional untruth.