• Short Summary

    In Albania, there have been huge celebrations to mark the hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the first nationalist movement.

  • Description

    In Albania, there have been huge celebrations to mark the hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the first nationalist movement. Thousands gathered in the capital, Tirana, for the biggest rally of all on Sunday (11 June). Later Albanian leaders headed a mass procession that ended with the ceremonial re-burying of two of the country's most revered cultural figures.

    SYNOPSIS: The rally marked the hundredth anniversary of the movement for the Defence of the Rights of the Albanian Nation, called the League of Prizren. The League opposed the partitioning of Albania and annexing of territory by other Balkan states.

    Mehmed Shehu, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, addressed the crowd.

    Mr. Shehu outlined the history of the League and its significance for the independence movement in Albania. On the platform with him were other government leaders, including Haxhi Lldeshi, President of the People's Assembly and the First Secretary of the Albanian Labour Party, Enver Hoxha. In 1878, following the Russian -- Turkish war, the League's founder, Abdyl Frasheri, led Albanian nationalists fighting the terms of the peace settlement. The treaty split Albania, which was part of the Turkish Empire, between Greece, Serbia and Montenegro. The League was finally destroyed by Turkish forces in 1881. But it became the basis of the movement which led to Albanian independence in 1912.

    Abdyl Frasheri was one of the two important figures from Albanian history, reburied after the rally. His brother, Naim, a poet of the period known as the Albanian National Renaissance, was also honoured. The procession passed along the Martyrs of the Nation Boulevard towards the hills on the outskirts of Tirana. The coffins of the Frasheri brothers were carried to the new memorial, commemorating their lives and the League of Prizren.

    Enver Hoxha has recently criticised the government of China -- formerly Albania's closest ally. The rift developed over China's Three Worlds Theory -- which maintains the Soviet Union is the greatest threat to the spread of world Communism. The Albanians reject this.

    Mr. Hoxha has led Albania's Labour Party since 1946 and is the longest serving Communist leader in Europe after Yugoslavia's President Tito. Albania is firmly committed to Stalinist policies. The Albanians broke off diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union over 16 years ago and after the recent attacks upon China, have been developing their own brand of Communism. Now Albania is establishing tentative links with neighbouring Balkan states, notably Greece.

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