Imperialism and the Albanian National Question

Laver Stroka


This article reminds us that the Kosovar Albanians of Yugoslavia have been denied the democratic right to self-determination to the point of secession. In his discussion with Enver Hoxha on the question of Kosova Stalin had affirmed this basic right in November 1949.1 Yugoslavia under Tito and his successors denied it and oppressed the Kosovar Albanians in a multiplicity of ways which have been documented in the Marxist literature.2 However, the right to self-determination is not unrestricted. Lenin noted that it was but a small part of the general democratic and socialist movement which in individual, concrete cases, where the part contradicted the whole, must be rejected.3

It is the tragedy of the Kosovar Albanians that their just demand to decide their own future coincided with the requirements of U.S. imperialism and its allies – the greatest enemies of mankind today – to complete the destruction of the Yugoslav Federation and subject it to their deeper financial, economic and political domination. The Kosovar Albanians through the KLA linked their fate with US and German imperialism and thus found themselves in an analogous situation to the Czechs and South Slavs in the 1840s who became the outposts of Russian absolutism. Marx had opposed their national movements, as to have supported them would have been tantamount to indirect support for tsarism which was the most dangerous enemy of the revolutionary movement in Europe at the time.4

The formation of the United Communist Party of Albania (UCPA) held out great promise for the working people of that country, yet this hope has been belied by the support of the party to the NATO aggression on Yugoslavia which was allegedly designed to free Kosova from Serbian oppression. The UCPA fostered the illusion that the KLA cleverly exploited the contradiction between the rival imperialist powers to gain ‘short-term allies’ for the emancipation of the long-suffering Kosovar Albanians. In reality, the KLA by allying itself with US and German imperialism in its opposition to the Yugoslav Federation, which was supported by the Russian Federation, helped to pave the way for the transformation of Kosova into a NATO protectorate.

The policies of the UCPA cannot be said to be in correspondence with the views of Enver Hoxha who considered:

‘The attitude to imperialism, in the first place, to U.S. imperialism, is the ‘touch-stone’ for all the political forces of the world. This is not just a tactical question, or a temporary solution in the existing circumstances. The attitude towards imperialism is a question of the content of the political line. It serves as a gauge for assessing political actions, and in the end, a demarcation line which divides two warring camps, dividing those who defend the vital interests of peoples and of the future of mankind from those who trample them underfoot, dividing revolutionaries from reactionaries and traitors.’5

The impermissibility of allying with German and U.S. imperialism to achieve the national liberation of the people of Kosova should have been suggested by the words of Enver Hoxha in 1971:

‘You cannot rely on the one imperialism to oppose the other.’6

The KLA lined up with US and German imperialism against the Yugoslavian state which is a small capitalist country and not an imperialist power. The above words of Enver were a clarion call for those who were opposed to the rapprochement of the People’s Republic of China headed by Mao Zedong and the United States of America led by Richard Nixon. Surely it is not possible to forget that the Party of Labour of Albania in those years condemned before the court of world opinion the dangerous policy pursued by China:

‘At the time when the whole of Vietnam, from south to north, was in flames by the bombs of the giant ‘B-52’ aircraft, Nixon was welcomed with great honours in Beijing, and Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai made deals with the president of the United States to the detriment of the Vietnamese people’.7

And what was the position of the United Communist Party of Albania when Yugoslavia was being bombed by missiles and projectiles coated with depleted Uranium 238 as well as cluster bombs by NATO in 1999 for 78 days? They greeted the NATO attack ‘on the side of the liberator Albanians of Kosova.’ They forgot that which Enver taught the communists that the attitude to U.S. imperialism was the touchstone for all the political forces of the world. In 1999 they placed the sectional interests of the Kosovar Albanians over and above the over-riding general democratic requirement to oppose the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia.

The UCPA further forgot the declaration of the Party of Labour of Albania and Enver Hoxha that in the event of any aggression against Yugoslavia by the imperialist powers the Albanian people would stand by the people of Yugoslavia. In January 1980 when Yugoslavia was subjected to threats by the Soviet Union and Bulgaria for having opposed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan an editorial of ‘Zeri i Popullit’ declared:

‘In the face of the threats of the Soviet, American and other imperialist aggressors against Yugoslavia, the Albanian people adhere to what Comrade Enver Hoxha said at the Seventh Congress of the Party of Labour, that in the case of an eventual attack by the Soviet Union or any other power against Yugoslavia, the Albanian people will stand by the Yugoslav people.8

‘Thus everyone can rest assured that if the question arises of the defence of freedom and independence from imperialist aggressors of no matter what kind, the Albanians and Yugoslavs will once more fight together against the common enemies as they fought in the past’.9

With the NATO intervention in Yugoslavia, the KLA and their supporters in Albania and elsewhere, fell into the trap prepared for them by U.S. and German imperialism. The end result was not the emancipation of the Kosovars but their subjugation afresh by the imperialist powers.


1. Enver Hoxha, ‘With Stalin’, Tirana, 1979, p. 141.

2. See: ‘Why were Police Violence and Tanks used Against the Albanians of Kosova?’ and ‘The Status of a Republic for Kosova is a Just Demand’ in Enver Hoxha, ‘Selected Works,’ Volume VI, Tirana, 1987, pp. 146-158, pp. 169-204.

3. Cited in J. Stalin, ‘Works’, Volume VI, Moscow, 1953, p. 148.

4. Ibid., p. 147.

5. Enver Hoxha, ‘Report on the Activity of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour’. Submitted to the 6th Congress of the Party of Labour, November 1, 1971, Tirana, 1971, pp. 21-2.

6. Ibid., p. 30.

7. Enver Hoxha, ‘The Chinese Leadership Headed by Deng Xiaoping have Launched a Military Attack on Vietnam, ‘Works,’ Volume V, Tirana, 1985, p. 722. See also: ‘Socialist Albania’, No. 6, July 1979, Delhi, pp. 22-29.

8. Enver Hoxha, ‘Report on the Activity of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania’. Submitted to the 7th Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania, November 1, 1976, Tirana, 1977, pp. 202-203.

9. ‘The Soviet-Bulgarian blackmail and threats will not go down in the Balkans’, ‘Socialist Albania’, No. 14, July 1980, Delhi, pp. 3-6.

Vijay Singh

One argument that is used by the Serbian chauvinists to justify the neo-colonization of Kosova, is that the Albanians are a minority in Kosova. Albanians in Yugoslavia are 2.5 million inhabitants; 90% of the population in Kosova are Albanians and only 10 % are a minority like Serbians, Romanies, Turks, etc. For centuries the Albanians lived in a compact territory with their antique and original culture, tradition and language being intact. They made the 3rd nation, by number of the population in the Yugoslavian Federation, and were by the constitution of this federation – even a constitutive element in the Yugoslavian legislature itself. They were not treated as a minority in the constitution, but were identified as a nation in itself, even in the Yugoslavian constitutional rights. As such, they were put on an equal footing with the other subjects of the Federation.

In a multi-national states it is natural that numerically a nation may be great or small, but it is not correct that the judicial aspects of a constitution expect differences between a minority and a majority. Objectivity requires that all the nations and nationalities in the multi-national states must have equal rights in all fields. They must be left to self-govern, to have the right to solve in an independent way their own problems.

This right was refused to the Kosova people for more than century, turning it into a colony of Serbia with an economic development very backward compared with the industrialisation of other regions of Serbia. The desertion of Serbs from Kosova – who left voluntarily in order to get a better job in the cities of Serbia – has been labelled as ‘expelling them by force’. This distortion is done purposely and is used to justify the expulsion by force of Albanians from their lands. Simply in the years 1945-1981 hundreds and thousands of Albanians were forcibly expelled to Turkey.

What has been the Stand of the Other Nations of the Yugoslavia Federation Towards the Kosova Cause?

The deafening silence on the crimes of anti-Albanians forces is not simply a political naivety; nor simply a stand aimed to direct the nationalistic barbarian hordes towards the south in order to have the north quiet. The other nations thought that giving support to Serbian nationalism would bring Serbia into accepting a division of power. By abandoning Kosova in memory of Serbian nationalism, instead of protecting the principles of Federalism, (i.e. the practice of social and state existence fixed in the constitution of 1974), Serbo-Slovenia returned the arms with which they could defend themselves, when they would be attacked by Serbian hegemony aiming at a unitarian state. It was this Serb hegemonism that created the objective bases for inter-ethnic bickering and the division of the Federation. This makes clear the final disrespect of the principle of the proletarian internationalism, and the final abandonment of Marxism-Leninism by the Yugoslavian Communist League. By abandoning the Albanian people of Kosova in their war for national and social rights, the Yugoslavian nations damaged themselves, because they found themselves within days under the same enemy fire of Serbian nationalism.

What was the Attitude of International Organisations to the Kosova Cause?

The wild oppression that was wrought on the Albanian people of Kosova following the fascist platform of Cubrilovics (a pre Second World War Minister – ed. R.D.), the ethnic cleaning of Kosova, obliged the European Parliament even very late on April 12th 1989, to stress in a resolution the dangers if Yugoslavia continued such violent nationalist feeling. The EEC warned that such a thing would not be without consequences to Europe. The European parliament reminded the Yugoslavian government of their duties, and the covenants that had been signed. It recommended Yugoslavia to let free the political prisoners, who had remained incarcerated for 10 years.

Another declaration came from the State Department of America to stop the violence and bloodshed in Kosova, but the situation became daily more dangerous. After the Dayton agreement the geopolitical map of the Federation changed. The separation occurred of Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and finally Bosnia. But this agreement left out the Albanian matter of Kosova, where it was well known that her people had already declared for independence in 1990. Again Kosova was to be sacrificed like all previous times, by the Western imperialist powers. In this moment of life or death, the Albanians of Kosova supporting their best traditions, created the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA) in order to protect themselves from intolerable Serbian terror and massacres. These were being perpetrated with the objective of the creation of a ‘Greater Serbia’. The fascist policy of the Milosevic clique was more blatant than ever before. The reprisals of the years of the 1960s, were repeated: massacring civilians, women, old men, children; destroying houses; burning villages and provinces; violating girls and killing them; opening massive burial grounds; expelling by force to Albania.

We who have seen, been near or heard these scenes will at no time forget them.

The world’s peoples could see only one millionth of them because Milosevic excluded reporters of television stations and journalists from Kosova. However the massacres by Serbian chauvinism in Kosova will be a perpetual shame for the Serbian people that allowed it free hands. It will be a perpetual shame for those pretenders of peace in the imperialist period that duped the peoples. It is a shame for all of those that supported – in whatever manner the fascist clique of Milosevic.

It was the Albanians’ verdict to organize the KLA to fight the Serbian oppressor up to the point of victory which obliged the different imperialist powers to offer a ‘solution’. It was not from a ‘humanism’ that imperialism stepped up, as pretends H. Milloshi (leader of the Communist Party of Albania, ed. R.D.).

Although coming from opposite interests, they came to an agreement to put off the liberty war of the Kosova people. The KLA took part in the Rambouillet conference for these purposes:

1. To unify the Albanian factor in Kosova which was splintered, and this thing was apparent to all peoples. Rugova and his supporters were against the struggle of the KLA.

2. To obtain allies in a difficult war, an important element in every struggle.

In this case, as during the previous recent years, with his attitude Demac took a position against the interests of his people.

The Albanian Communists greeted the NATO-attack on the side of the liberator Albanians of Kosova without feeding illusions about the imperialist powers. They are free from the responsibilities that rest on the shoulders of those who denied the Albanian national question of the divided territories and their population. We consider now the first step is to denounce these treaties that made this criminal parcelling. On contrary we have the right to think that this pro-KLA line, was done only for another aim that has its origin in an expansionist imperialism.

What was the Attitude of the World Communists and Pseudo-Communists to the Kosova Peoples’ War?

‘Every war was violence over the nations but this did not stop the socialists to be for revolutionary war" (Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. 2, Tirana, 1958, p. 423).

If when a people demands the same rights as the other nations in a multi-national state, it is oppressed and refused everything, must it rise up in a liberation war? We say: ‘YES’ and this war must be helped by all the means.

‘Class character of the war – that was the principal matter which appeared before the socialists’ (Lenin, op. cit., p. 432).

As the war of the KLA was in the interests of the wide masses of people; and it touched only the interests of the dominating nation and of a small group (the big bourgeoisie of the country that had created many relations with the oppressor-nation, as Rugova’s class had, which sabotaged the liberation war) it must be greeted and encouraged as a correct war.

‘But as regards the... countries which are colonies or semi-colonies, the right of nations to secede is a revolutionary slogan, and to abandon it would mean playing into the hands of the imperialists.’ (Stalin, Works, Vol. 5, Moscow, 1953, p. 43). Why then are liberators accused of being the ‘players of imperialism’; while the preachers against the war have to be called ‘Marxist Leninist’?

‘....most of the peoples have taken a big step forward towards independence by creating their own national states, and when, following this step, they are aspiring to go further. They want the liquidation of the neo-colonial system, of an imperialist dependence and any exploitation by foreign capital. They want their complete sovereignty and economic and political independence.’ (Hoxha, E. ‘Imperialism and Revolution’ (English edition), Tirana, 1979, p. 174.)

Under these inspirations, the people of Kosova followed the KLA, filling its ranks with workers, peasants, revolutionary intellectuals and others. Rugova and his followers of the discredited peacible way tried to isolate the KLA from the people. Rugova made accusations of the KLA being ‘a tool of the Yugoslavian secret police (UDB)’, but over time the contrary was shown. Despite tens of accusations from Eurocommunists, Titoists, Khrushchevists, Mao-Tse-Tung-ists, etc., the freedom fighters with uncounted sacrifice and proletarian discipline are obtaining repeated success.

If some great powers supported the KLA, and others supported the Serbian aggressor – that speaks of how touched their interests were by this war. If cleverly, the liberty fighters exploited these contradictions to obtain short-term allies, why must they be blamed? ‘These contradictions need to be used by the people, to deepen them in order to profit from them’ (Hoxha, ‘Imperialism and Revolution’ (Albanian edition), Tirana, 1978, p. 174).

Another accusation against the KLA has been that ‘It was transformed into a tail of NATO’. The facts are contrary to this disinformation. Firstly, the KLA had started the frontal battle against the Serbian aggressor at least a year before the western governments with USA at the head, approved the air attack of NATO against Serbia. Secondly, the war of KLA was determined to obtain victory. This is an axiom in military art by which the victory belongs to that force that dominates actions in the ground. Thirdly, the defiance in war of the best sons and daughters of the people of Kosova, did not happen because it came to the head of Clinton or Blair, but because national oppression had arrived at a critical point where it is was a matter of discussing either liberty or death.

‘Human beings always find the solution, only when the material conditions to solve it exist, or at least, when these conditions are possible’; (Marx-Engels, Selected Works, Vol. 1, Tirana 1975, p. 377).

Another accusation is that the KLA was formed by the Albanian anti-communist anti-YCL who had emigrated in West. But: firstly the YCL, according to Tito (himself) mentions, had degenerated and transformed in to an educative propagandistic association, thieves, serviles’. Can this be called anti-Communist? To be against such a party that was nothing M-L except for the name? Secondly, the Kosovars never at any time renounced the wish for their motherland. We regret that even the alias of Serbia was made ‘red’ in front of the unprecedented genocide. This fostered criticism towards NATO attacks. The revisionists and their rascals didn’t stop their street barking, taking on a stigma of shame as the people’s enemies, as resolute opponents of liberty and independence.

The Albanian United Communist Party denies such attitudes, including even this one of H. Milloshi that entered in this ‘antiwar’ chorus, when martyred Drenica was in flames; and its legendary sons – such as Adern Jashari – sacrificed their lives to stop the bloody hand of the Serbs. We have and will support such war for national and social liberty of the peoples because: ‘...the national liberation movements, also, are component parts of a single revolutionary process, the world proletarian revolution...’ (Hoxha E. ‘Imperialism and Revolution’ (English edition), Tirana, 1979, p. 173).

Long live the immortal work of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Enver!

Long live the international communist movement!

This is an excerpt from an article which was written for the United Communist Party of Albania. Courtesy ‘Alliance’ No. 40.

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