Bibl.: «Balkanistica», University of Mississippi, University, XVI (2003), April 2nd, pp. 207-209
Edited by Andreas Maria de Guttry and Fabrizio Pagani, La
crisi albanese del 1997. Lazione dellItalia e delle organizzazioni
internazionali: verso un nuovo modello di gestione della crisi? is a rather
large (349 pages) recent offering from the Franco Angeli publishing house of
Milano. De Guttry, a Professor of International Law, is the Director of the
International Training Programme for Conflict Management at the Scuola Superiore
di Studi e di Perfezionamento S. Anna di Pisa and was the lead observer
during the Albanian legislative elections of June 29th and July 6th, 1997. Pagani
is a researcher from Pisa University.
La crisi albanese gathers together the contributions of a number of scholars who participated at the Pisa seminar of the same name held in March 6th-7th, 1998. Contributions include essays by the most important and authoritative among Italian and European scholars on these matters: Franco Batzella (World Bank, Italian Treasury Ministry), Enzo Cannizzaro (University of Macerata), Luisa Chiodi (European University Institute), Sophia Clèment (Western European Union), Adm. Giampaolo Di Paola (Italian General Staff), Stefano Grassi (S. Anna HSSS), Ettore Greco (Italian International Affairs Institute), de Guttry, Bruno Haller (Council of Europe), John Hartland (Council of Europe), Giovanni Jannuzzi (Italian Ambassador to Argentina), George Katsirdakis (N.A.T.O.), Roberto Morozzo della Rocca (University of Rome), Pagani, Emmanuela C. del Re (European University Institute), Clare Roberts (Western European Union), Col. Bart Rosengarten (Western European Union), Tullio Scovazzi (University of Milan) and Marc Weller (University of Cambridge).
The book is divided into four parts, one of which is devoted to conclusions: (I) The Roots and Development of the 1997 Albanian Crisis; (II) The Forza Multinazionale di Protezione: Judicial Grounds, Mandates and Organization; (III) The Role of International Organizations in the Management of the Albanian Crisis; (IV) Italy Facing the Crisis; and (V) Conclusions. Also included in the volume is a list of 58 documents contained in a file on a 3.5 floppy disc attached to book. The list, containing a large number of sources relevant to the present discussion, is edited by S. Grassi.
It is fair to say that the international community took a quick interest in what transpired in Albania in 1997. The United Nations Security Council, for example, passed two resolutions (Numbers 1101 and 1114) which called for the creation of the Forza Multinazionale di Protezione (its official name in Italian the Multinational Protection Force, hereafter the FMP), with Italy as one of the foundation members. Italy traditionally has maintained strong political support in Balkans and Near East regions, and the Albanian Parliament welcomed the FMP, with Italy at the forefront, almost unanimously. As mentioned earlier, the Italians were later to become known for serving efficaciously also as international observers during the Albanian elections of June 26th and July 6th, 1997.
So what had been going wrong? Plenty. On January 15-16th, 1997, virtually all of Albania had erupted in protest. Albanians who had been defrauded in western-type pyramid scams began rioting with police. This fallacious expectation of earning money in financial pyramid schemes had become the obsession of all Albanians. Albanian farmers in both the north and south chose to leave their uncultivated fields and to invest all their money in such schemes. Many Albanian citizens sold their real estate on the promise of deposited sums which ultimately never materialized. The awakening was brutal. The Albanian economy collapsed.
Albanian president Berisha maintained western support for quite a while during this crisis, primarily because of his moderate position politically between the secessionist aspirations of Kosovar and Macedonian Albanians. But his international support eventually waned, and the spirit of the Albanian people sank deeper and deeper into the morass.
Another big problem facing the Albanians were the guns, holdovers from the Hoxha régime and the feudalist nature of the historical Albanian society. A large number of rebel groups strengthened and para-military forces were formed during these years. Many of these were later disbanded by the FMP whose mission it was to ensure for the arrival to Albania of humanitarian help; the FMP fought back only if it was attacked. The FMP was a peacemaker, and its presence in Albania had a calming effect.
Those who come to Tirana today found that the Albanians survived the crisis of 1997, but just barely. They have their little kiosks, international humanitarian organizations and money made abroad in countries like Greece, the United States and Switzerland to thank for this. But conditions in the country remained grim. The promises made through western democratic ideals never materialized. Factories remain closed after the fall of communism, and unemployment was rampant. In some places there were neither light, nor water, nor ... hope.
La crisi albanese del 1997. Lazione dellItalia e delle organizzazioni internazionali: verso un nuovo modello di gestione della crisi?, with its internationally renowned cast of contributors, examines many of the issues plaguing the Albania of the 1990s. I recommend this volume to students and scholars of foreign affairs and international relations, as well as amateurs interested in the topic. It is my hope that the volume will soon be translated into English, so that it will find a greater, international audience.
© Giovanni Armillotta, 2003