NEWS

Law and order in Albania

One of the most popular songs in Albania at the moment includes the words, «Where are you Hoxha? Come and be our public order minister.» The Albanians look back to Hoxha’s time, not for democracy, but as the song indicates, for the fact that under the communist regime they felt safe, even if within a huge concentration camp. The post-communist political elite that since then has governed under various guises not only has not been able to impose law and order but has given people the impression that the government itself is rife with corruption. Organized crime, smuggling, prostitution and drugs are rampant, along with rumors that government ministers and other senior officials control vital sectors of supply for their own profit (petroleum, coffee and bananas, among other goods). People in the north of the country still settle their differences on the basis of the medieval code of honor, the Kanun, killing each other in the complete absence of any state intervention. The conclusion every Albanian citizen has reached is that «Albania will never be a state.» Under the circumstances, nostalgia for Hoxha’s regime is somewhat understandable. The walls of buildings in Tirana and other towns are scrawled with slogans praising Enver Hoxha; wristwatches and badges bearing his image are sold everywhere. «People don’t forget Enver and if it weren’t for the terrorism, people’s feelings would have been vented in the elections,» said Maxim Hasani, a fanatical admirer of Hoxha who was elected to Parliament under the Berisha regime as an independent communist. Hasani paid 600,000 lek to have the name «Enver» carved on a mountain near Berati, each letter 112 meters high. In the notorious bunkers, there are slogans reading «as long as the sun rises over the earth, Enver will live.» Every year on Hoxha’s birthday, October 16, people all around Albania gather at his grave and in Tirana’s central Skenderbey Square, where Hoxha’s statue used to stand, to lay flowers in his memory.