1997 rebellion in Albania

1997 rebellion in Albania
970315-N-0000S-008 NEO Operations USMC.jpg
Evacuation of U.S. citizens during Operation Silver Wake
Date March 1997
Location Albania
Result New Parliamentary Elections[1]
Parties to the civil conflict
Albania Rebels Albania Government of Sali Berisha

ItalyItalian Armed Forces (Operation Alba)
GermanyGerman Armed Forces (Operation Libelle)
United States United States Armed Forces (Operation Silver Wake)
Greece Greek Armed Forces (Operation Alba) and humanitarian aid[2]

Units involved
AlbaniaUnknown Albania 30.000 soldiers

Italy 7.000 soldiers (ALBA) Greece 803 soldiers[3][4]
Germany > 100 soldiers (Libelle)

3800, civilians and members of army, police and secret police
During the riots in the city of Vlorë, men broke rocks to hurl them at police.
1997 in Albania

The 1997 unrest in Albania, also known as the Lottery Uprising or Anarchy in Albania,[5] was an uprising sparked by Ponzi scheme failures. Albania descended into anarchy and violence in which the government was toppled and some 2,000 people were killed.[6][7]



In 1992 the Democratic Party of Albania won the first free elections in Albania and Sali Berisha became president. In the mid-1990s, Albania was becoming a liberalized economy after years under a controlled economy. The rudimentary financial system became dominated by Ponzi schemes, and government officials endorsed a series of pyramid investment funds. By January 1997, the schemes (actually fronts for laundering money and arms trafficking) could no longer make payments once the number of investors grew to include two-thirds of Albanians,[6] who had been lured by the promise of getting rich quick.[8]


By January 1997 the inevitable end came, and the people of Albania, who had lost $1.2 billion (out of a small population of three million), took their protest to the streets.[9] Beginning in February, thousands of citizens launched daily protests demanding reimbursement by the government, which they believed was profiting from the schemes. On March 1, Prime Minister Aleksandër Meksi resigned and on March 2 President Sali Berisha declared a state of emergency.[9] On March 11, the Socialist Party of Albania won a major victory when their leader Bashkim Fino was appointed prime minister. However, the transfer of power did not halt the unrest, as protests spread to northern Albania. Although the government quelled revolts in the north, the ability of the government and military to maintain order began to collapse, especially in the southern half of Albania, which fell under the control of rebels and criminal gangs.[9]

All major population centers were engulfed in demonstrations by March 13, and foreign countries began to evacuate their citizens from Albania.[9] These evacuations included Operation Libelle and Operation Silver Wake.

The United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 1101, authorized a force of 7,000 on March 28 to direct relief efforts and to restore order to Albania. The UN feared the unrest would spread outside Albania's borders and contribute even more refugees to Europe. On April 15, the 7,000 troops launched Operation Sunrise, an Italian-led mission which helped restore rule of law to the country.[9]

After the unrest, over three million guns were transported to Kosovo and the guerrilla forces of Kosovo Liberation Army had received considerable armament.[10]

The political situation before the Rebellion

  • May 26, 1996: General elections held. Democratic Party wins by a large margin. The Socialists accuse the government and international fraud in this election. PS leave the counting process and boycott parliament. Shows arrogant government with the opposition, while extremely extremist opposition.
  • 20 October 1996: Local elections are held. Democratic Party wins again. Socialists still do not accept the result. The political situation is aggravated too. The country heads towards a multi-faceted crisis.


Pyramid schemes also known as rentier firms' started their operations in 1991. Their activity was based on obtaining a quantity of money and returning a greater amount based on a percentage. Although apparently functioning as a bank,Pyramids had no concrete investment from which to glean money and apparently did not lend. The first pyramid scheme, which opened in 1991, was that of Hajdin Sejdisë who later fled to Switzerland with several million dollars of Albanian businessmen. It was followed by 'Sudja' of Maksude Kadëna in 1993, a Gipsy who had previously worked as a worker in a shoe factory. By the end of 1996, pyramid schemes reached their peak. Interests that they offered were very tempting, where Sudja managed to provide 100% interest, which warned of imminent bankruptcy. Despite the advice of the IMF to close these schemes, the Albanian democratic government continued to allow their activities, often being involved in and personally profiting from them. In the period between 8–16 January 1997, the vast majority of the pyramids schemes collapsed, taking with them the life savings of Albanians. On January 22 the government froze the 'Xhaferri' firm. 'Gjallica', another firm, was half bankrupt while the 'Vefa' firm, which had managed to carry out some investment in the Albanian market in hotels, fuel and factories, continued normal activity. The social crisis that the collapse of the pyramid schemes brought, was arguably the worst in the history of Albania. A history which has often seen the very existence of Albania at risk.

The first protest held to resolve the crisis was that of 16 January in the South. On January 19 Tirana saw protest of the 'Sudja' creditors. On 24 January began the "de facto" rebellion with thousands of people in Lushnja who had lost money marching on the city hall in protest against the government's support of the schemes. The protest quickly decended into violence. Police forces were routed, the city hall and ajoining cinema burnt. One day later, on January 25, Tritan Shehu, chairman of the Democratic Party, was sent to Lushnje to resolve the situation, however on his arrival was held hostage for several hours at City Stadium and assaulted by the protestors. State Special Forces intervened in the city to extract Shehu. In the morning every government institution in the city was looted, destroyed and burnt down. On January 26th and 27th violence erupted in other southern towns such as Vlora on the coast. On 30th January the Forum for Democracy was formed by opposition parties with the role to lead the anti-government protests. Reason for the protests were originally economic, with nearly every family in Albania having lost money in the Pyramid schemes but naturally, anger was also directed against President Sali Berisha and against the government for allowing the schemes to continue despite the advice of the IMF. As allegations grew that Sali Berisha and others in government had personally profited from the schemes many became convinced that the democratic party must be removed by force. This was especially true in the city of Vlora. On 4th February distribution of a portion of lost money began at the counters of the National Commercial Bank, owned by the state. Rather than subduing the protests, this on the contrary increased peoples suspicion of government involvement. On 5th February the 'Gjallica' firm declared bankruptcy, and on 6th February violent protests resumed in Vlora. On 9 February State Police were attacked in Vlora, and a day later, also in South, fifty Special Force soldiers attacked and brutally despersed protestors. Delivery footage aired by the EuroNews shattered the authority of the state.

Hunger strike of students of the University of Vlora

Students of the Univercity of Vlore began a hunger strike on campus on 20 February. About 50 students join the hunger strike. Their demands were the resignation of the government and the full return of invested money. This strike is considered by some to have been the main driver of the escalation of the situation into armed conflict. On 22 February the Forum for Democracy came out in support of the strike. Students from Gjirokastër and Elbasan came to give their support. They were then driven by the students FRESSH Vlorë to Tirana. In contrast were the students of the University "Luigj Gurakuqi" in Shkodra, who through the Students Union declared: "The students share the pain of the citizens of Vlora in losing money in pyramid schemes, but on the other hand, think that freedom and democracy, homeland and nation have a higher price". On 26th February thousands of people surrounded the building of the University to defend from feared attack by The National Intelligence Service SHIK (Shërbimi Informativ Kombëtar.), The same day a group of strikers requested more medical help, putting in doubt the group of doctors near them. On 27 February in Vlora Shkodra comes the mayor, Bahri Borici of the United Right, in support of the hunger strike. 28 February 1997, will remain a black date in the history of Albania. After strengthening their protection against the building of the University, the rebel forces on the evening of 28 February, without warning attacked SHIK building. In efforts between the rebels and officers of stylish, very few in number, remain killing nine people, six officers and three civilians. The massacre of 28 February marks the start of a 10-day Civil War, and the beginning of anarchy in southern Albania for about a year.

10 Civil War Days

  • 1 March 1997, finds Vlora with no state authority left standing. The news of the massacre on SHIK officers have shaken the state. Rebels take control of the Pashaliman base, the state symbol of resistance. Government declares a state of emergency and more troops surround Vlora and Tepelena. In axis rebels put balls at the entrance of the city and direct from the North.
  • On March 2, the Alexander Meksi government resigns, after failing to resolve the crisis. The event celebrated by thousands shooting Kalashnikovs in the South. Meanwhile the parliament approves the chief of surgery to restore order, the chief of the stylish Gazideden Union. Immediately Gazidede orders closure of schools throughout the country indefinitely and also places restrictions on the press and to consumer goods supplies to the population.
  • On March 3 re-elected President Sali Berisha of the Republic with the votes of the members of DP. An uncontrollable rage explodes in the South and axis, the main centers of rebellion. Saranda also falls into the hands of rebels, where the gunmen came from Vlora to the boat, burn every institution including the city library. They also break into the detention facility and receive over 400 guns. The gunmen burn the Vocational Training Centre in Vlora, which had cost $ 7 million Americans. SHIK try to isolate Vlora, Saranda and rebellion Delvinën in order not to spread to the rest of the country.
  • On March 4, the Public Salvation Committee of Vlore known simply as the Committee of Salvation is formed in the South. This committee begins to act as a parallel structure, performing de facto a coup. On the same day in the South snipers are placed on every building and every street puts up barricades to prevent entry of SHIK, the only enemy insurgents. The Mifolit Bridge is blocked and undermined. This bridge will become a symbol of rebellion by becoming the bridge that separates Albania. While the students end their hunger strike. In Saranda the navy attacked and abducted thousands of weapons. Gangs patrol the sea with the Navy ships. Saranda posted stating that autonomy in this area live 20,000 Greeks. In the neck-shik an agent Six burnt alive, and one taken hostage. Two others escaped. 50 soldiers join the rebels. Two Air Force pilots deserted and flew over to Italy. They claimed they were ordered to hit the civilian population. Bands come on stage before. Gazidedes plan fails to isolate the insurgency in Vlora, as it spreads across the south of the country. In Delvin after fierce fighting the rebels prevail, forcing the army to withdraw. In Saranda the rebels put roadblocks on the road.
  • Theories begin to spread over the North-South division of the country. Protesters in the South begin to degenerate into invective against Berisha, with no lack of women also known as shamizezat. They also use massively three fingers, a symbol of Serb chauvinism. On March 6, Sali Berisha holds a meeting with representatives of political parties and sign a statement condemning the blasts of warehouses and calls for surrender of weapons. 6 hours later, officially the SP and DAP leaders deny any responsibility and obligation to the statement that they had considered "political success." Rebels in Saranda Gjirokastra leave to take.
  • On 7–8 March, the rebels came from Saranda, in collaboration with those local army shpartallojnë in Gjirokastra. Special forces are taken hostage. On top of revolt in Gjirokastra out of PAD members, Arben Imami and Ridvan Pëshkëpia. With the fall of Gjirokastra in the hands of rebels, all south of the country is out of control. Weapons continue to spread in the country. The international Rinas Airport was attacked by villagers from the surrounding areas, and the Agricultural University of Tirana was looted.
  • March 9 formed Government of National Reconciliation Union headed by Fino, the mayor of Gjirokastra. This government was formed as a result of political will of the majority and opposition. The new government calls on former army effectives contribute to restoring peace and order. President goes on VAT in a statement to the nation where he calls for "reconciliation, faith, unity and calmness."
  • Faced with unopposed on the battlefield, as government and opposition were united in a joint government, southern rebels launched a wave of extraordinary destruction. In Gramsh rebels attacked the police building, go to Fier and take control of the streets. Berat fell into the hands of gangs and become the main centers of rebellion after Vlora. Along with the fall of Polican, Këlcyra and Skrapari. In Kuçovë rebels took control of 19 combat aircraft type "MiG". Vlora Rescue Committee welcomes the agreement of 9 March. While the rebellion spread to the north, ending the Civil War and paving the way for anarchy and the rule of armed gangs, particularly in the south of Albania.

International Intervention

On March 28 the United Nations adopt resolution no. 1101 for humanitarian aid to Albania. On April 15, Operation Alba forces began to arrive in Albania. About 7000 soldiers under the direction of Italy come to Albania to restore order and force of law. The first forces deployed in Durrës. Normality returned to Tirana.

June 29, 1997 Snap Elections

Under a tense atmosphere developed campaigns for elections. Democrat leadership is unable to develop a normal campaign in areas of southern Albania. On the other hand, Left leaders accompanied by kapobandat of these cities, leaving behind a tragic balance. More than 60 people were killed during the campaign of the Socialist Party in the south. On 29 June 1997 held early parliamentary elections. Socialist Party allies are winning. Democrats suffer a deeper loss in their history. In Tirana, where it was thought that DP would win, the result is quite different after the Socialists won convincingly. Many of the members of the "Rescue Committee" came out of left forces candidates to publicly though they promised they would not get any government position without resolving the crisis of usury. On the same day also held a referendum on the form of governance. With 65% of the votes wins the Republic against the monarchy.

The consequences of the crisis

Balance of rebellion is 200 million dollars and material damage and killed over 3700 to 5000 wounded. Filluan lawsuits against the bosses of firms rentier. Was sentenced in absentia a part of the major figures in the government of the Democratic State: Safet Zhulali, Agim Shehu, etc. Gazidede Union. Kapobandave began legal proceedings against the cities of southern Albania. The country's economy was completely destroyed.

North-South conflict

One of the main themes of Western media and analysts during the March riots was the North-South division. Various newspapers and TV stations claimed that the rebellion but a showdown between the two main political forces in the country, was also a clash between the northern (Ghegs) that supported Sali Berisha (even this Geg) and southern (Tosk) that supported the Socialist Party leadership its (mostly Tosk).


Civilians with military equipment from Communist Regime.

Taking advantage of difficult situations, criminal groups were armed and in an unexpected way was placed in charge of rebellion and took control of entire cities. Kapobandave Most had been imprisoned in the main prisons in Greece, and suddenly were able to escape, to come to Albania. The most famous is that of Zani Causey, who escaped from a high security prison of Larissa, in February 1997 and established in Vlora, the gang of Coles, with a group of friends. The rule of gangs was terrific. Typical cases remain Vlora, Berat and Lushnja. In Vlora was created 5 bands, but 2 were those who ruled the city, she and she Gaxhai Zani. Movement in the city starting from 10:00, when Flag's Square people gathered to hear the Committee of Rescue and close at 13:00. After that hour the streets were deserted and the only ones that moved were gangs. Gangs announce the speakers flyers or people not to go out tomorrow, as there would be fighting. Each night had attempted attacks with explosives and numerous shots in the air, along with dozens of dead. In Berat Dardha Altin rule was even more severe. Just as in the South, the movement was up at 13:00, but the killings were uncontrolled. Self Altin Pears was a killer expert. In Lushnje rule of Aldo Bare banda. The worst crime of this gang was a beheading his opponent and walk around the city. Cities were ruled by gangs Vlora, Berat, Tepelena, Memaliaj, Ballshi, Saranda, Gjirokastra, Lushnja, Pogradec, Cerrik, Tropoja.

Chronology of events

January 1997

  • 8-16 Jan 1997:[11] failing on pyramid schemes, "Kamberi", "Cenaj", "Silva", "Malvasia", "Kambo", "Grunjasi", "Dypero", "Bashkimi", "Beno", "Pogoni", "B&G", "Kobuzi", "Arkond", "Adelin", "A.Delon", "Agi", "M.Leka Company", "Global Limited Co.", "Çashku" dhe "Sudja". City of Vlora is hit, as there had their main center of most of these schemes. Government rushing and freezes the assets of the remaining schemes "Vefa Holding" and "Gjallica" (these two are larger schemes). Figures that all pyramid schemes at their disposal is huge: U.S. $ 1.6 billion.
  • 15 January 1997:[12] Several hundred people gathered at the palace where you live Maksude Kadëna, owner of "Sudes. Among them included the leaders of the opposition. They confronted the police.
  • 16 January 1997:[13] Arrested Maksude Kadëna, owner of "Sudes. The newspaper "Voice of the People" states: "From Tirana to Vlora across the country in revolt" referring to about 6000 vlonjate protest held in the Flag Square and "Government thieves.
  • 18 January 1997:[14] In an emergency meeting of the Democratic National Council, decided Creating a parliamentary committee on transparency of usury.
  • 19 January 1997:[15] Held a protest of creditors "Sudes" in the Square. Opposition leaders attempt to lead the protest against the government.
  • 20 January 1997:[16] bankrupt scheme "People-Xhaferri Democracy." 1500 people gather at windows firm to get their money.
  • 22 January 1997:[17] Trial begins against "charitable donations" (in fact pyramid schemes) "People's Democracy-Xhaferri" and "People" both directed by people with close ties to the Communist State Security (Rrapush Xhaferri and Bashkim Driza) . Earn arrested Kërxhaliu, administrator of "Gjallicës.
  • 23 January 1997:[18] Police arrested 50 employees of "People" and "Xhaferri. The newspaper "Albania" after making a brief history of the pyramid schemes in Albania writes: "Surely that is the work by Hajdin Sejdia. He left with several million dollars in 1991 but returned unexpectedly in 1996 and began to distribute money to creditors him. The truth is that he received $ 3 million from "Xhaferri" and "People" and this led to increased confidence of citizens in these schemes. As a result of Sejdisë arrival had an increase of some tens of millions of dollars in deposits of citizens to these schemes within 2–3 months. This avoided the premature failure of these schemes. "
  • 24 January 1997: Burn Hall Lushnja by demonstrators angry about the arrest of Xhaferri. Cinema also burned the city.
  • 25 January 1997:[19] demonstrators came from surrounding villages Lushnja burn and destroy any state institution Lushnje from Police Station to the Savings Bank. Tritan Shehu held hostage for several hours at the City Stadium. Xhaferri demonstrators seeking release. City of Portland burned by the crowd led by local SP leaders. Other clashes take place in Elbasan, Memaliaj, axis, Lac, Kuçovë and shines.
  • 26 January 1997:[20] A demonstration of the Socialist Party in downtown Tirana degenerates into a violent clash between police and opposition supporters. Some of the leading socialist leaders injured by police forces. Destroy the opposition "National History Museum", "Palace of Culture", "Et'hem Bey Mosque" and the Municipality of South Tiranës.Në angry mob burn the city hall. The Albanian flag fall to the ground. In Kamal Ismail portrait painted with a knife Orthodox cross. Start and spread maps Vorio 3 Epirus and the symbol of Serb fingertips. Albpetrol was burned in Patos by terrorist groups.
  • 27 January 1997:[21] An angry crowd burns the hall of Peshkopi. Also burned Police Station. Seriously injured four policemen.
  • 29 January 1997:[22] Police arrested 140 people in Berat and 20 in Poliçan of involvement in violent demonstrations and illegal.
  • 30 January 1997:[23] Formed Forum for Democracy by opposition parties to support the American Embassy. In his head placed Daut Gumeni recommended by Soros, Fatos Lubonja from the Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC was known for anti-Berisha positions) and Kurt Kola was president of the Association of the politically persecuted (also indebted to "the people"). Soon this "Forum" begins organizing anti-government protests.
  • 31 January 1997:[24] Newspaper Koha Jone asked the creditors of "Gjallicës" go to the firm to get money on February 6. The aim is to promote violent demonstrations as "Gjallica" is half the bankrupt.

February 1997

  • 4 February 1997:[25] Start the distribution of part of the money to creditors with government decision. The opposition and many criticize Democrats for delaying the start of this process. "Forum for Democracy proposes the creation of a technical government to resolve the crisis.
  • 5 February 1997: pyramid bankrupt firms Gjallica run by the former State Security effective. The cities most affected by the bankruptcy of the firm are Flora (145 million $ U.S.) and Kukes (16 million $ U.S.). Begin protests in Vlora.
  • 6 February 1997:[26] Thousands come to violent protests in Vlora. In contrast to Kukes formed a "Committee" with the firm's creditors are seeking a legal solution to this issue. They seek to become shareholders of this firm. Similar committees established in Gjirokastra and Berat.
  • 7 February 1997:[27] Protesters block road in Memaliaj.
  • 8 February 1997:[28] Continues anti-government protests in Vlore.
  • 9 February 1997:[29] Gone are the days of Vlora. Police Station attacked by armed crowd. 1 dead and injured. Forum for Democracy declares that the only solution of the crisis is through protests against the government.
  • 10 February 1997:[30] Continues the violence in the South. DPA headquarters burned by armed groups. Now required the resignation of President and Government. A group of about 50 Special Forces ranks viciously attacked by an angry mob of thousands of people. EuroNews broadcasts footage of the police siege around the world. Failure of state to restore order is great. The rebellion spread throughout southern Albania under the example of Vlora. Proposed state of emergency in the South.
  • 11 February 1997:[31] Artur Rustemi buried in Vlora, the first victims of the rebellion. His funeral turns into an anti-government demonstration. In this case, burning the headquarters of ADP of Vlora. Alarm sprayed the lack of bread in the city. "Forum for Democracy," calls for dialogue with President Berisha kuzhtëzuar.
  • 12–15 February 1997:[32] The tragic events occurring in the South. Kidnappings occur several persons. Starts traffic through the boats. Schools closed and shops are allowed to sell up to 9 o'clock.
  • 13 February 1997:[33] Committee ex-persecuted Kurt Cola accuses of democracy as a traitor and collaborator of communist executioners.
  • 14 February 1997:[34] developed in anti-government protests in Fier.
  • 17 February 1997:[35] Legality Movement condemns the violence and declared against dialogue with the "Forum for Democracy." Ministers meeting in Tirana where intellectuals discusses the resolution of the crisis.
  • 18 February 1997:[36] President Berisha meets with citizens Lushnja. He promises to do everything to resolve the crisis. National Front seeks resignation of the government.
  • 20 February 1997:[37] Hunger strike begins at University "Ismail Kamal" of Vlora. Approximately 50 students entering the hunger strike and demanding the resignation of the government. Forum for Democracy organized a violent demonstration in Tirana. 5 policemen seriously injured. A group of students meet with President Berisha, Vlora and agree to resolve the crisis peacefully.
  • 22 February 1997: Trial begins against leaders of the "Gjallicës. Forum for Democracy supports student hunger strike Vlora.
  • 24 February 1997:[38] attacked state institutions in the South by angry crowds.
  • 26 February 1997:[39] As part of the presidential tour areas affected by the crisis of usury, Berisha meets citizens of Gjirokaster and promises that will make all efforts to resolve the crisis. Thousands surround University "Ismail Kamal" to protect against "attack" state forces.
  • 28 February 1997:[40] 46 students entering the University of Gjirokastra hunger strike. Their requirements are similar to those of students in Vlora. Crowds of armed attack in South shik branch and set fire. 3 agents die by the flames and the snipers, while 3 others are massacred by the crowd. ALL Qoku, effective shik, masakrohet with ax in the lobby of the "University." 3 others were killed in the ranks of the crowd.
  • 29 February 1997: Socialists proclaim as "undesirable" leadership of the Democratic Party in South Albania. The newspaper "Koha Jone" writes that "Flora" is enjoying the freedom for which he received the goods." Disrupt the BBC and VOA broadcasts to Albania.

March 1997

  • 1 March 1997: Flora is the power of gangs and traffickers. Mass exodus begins. In Lushnje some police brutally beaten. Declared emergency. Rebels take Pashaliman base, the state symbol of resistance. The massive explosion begins arms storage. In Himarë burning city. Police buildings burned in Gjirokastra. Hundreds of prisoners are free.
  • 2 March 1997: Alexander Meksi government resign. In Vlora with thousands of weapons hit the skies in a sign of victory. Parliament approves the chief of surgery to restore order, the chief of stylish Gazideden Union. Immediately Gazidede order closure of schools throughout the country indefinitely. Also placed restrictions on the press and to supply consumer goods to the population. In Kavaja, bastion of PD, over 5000 people voluntarily armed to defend the city from a possible attack by armed gangs. Italian news agency ANSA commented: "The whole scenario is emerging as a politico-military strategy and not as a manifestation of spontaneous popular. To gather people in the Flag Square are available for days special machines."
  • 3 March 1997: Re-elected President Sali Berisha of the Republic with the votes of the members of DP. An uncontrollable rage explodes in South and axis, the main centers of rebellion. Committees military and explode the remaining bands of warehouses and a new wave of destruction and killings went on throughout southern Albania. Burn Vocational Training Centre in Vlora, which had cost $ 7 million Americans. Spoiled by a group of approximately 100-member compound "Adipetrol" Gjirokastra. Persons with masks take over a warship and attacking Saranda, where police and burning buildings stylish. Prison break free leaving hundreds of criminals. Seize 400 weapons and set fire to the town library. In Kuçovë alarm is issued to the lack of bread. Recovered control of Fier. Begins to disarm the city's population.
  • 4 March 1997: In South depot explosion continues. Through the mansions placed snipers, and lock and bridge Mifolit undermined. Raised over barricades to prevent entry of the military and SHIK. In Shkodra army capitulate. The striking students end strike celebrating with champagne at the disco. Thousands of students feel frustrated by them. In Saranda navy attacked and abducted thousands of weapons. Gangs patrol the sea with the Navy ships. Saranda posted stating that autonomy in this area live 20,000 Greeks. In the neck-shik an agent Six burnt alive, and one taken hostage. Two others escaped. 50 soldiers join the rebels. 2 Air Force pilots dezertojnë and go to Italy. Formed Public Salvation Committee of Vlore. He begins to act as a parallel structure by performing a de-facto coup. Its leader is Albert Shyti. The main collaborator "Committee" is Myrteza Caushi, known as Zani "The strongman of Vlora". Under the example of Vlora start and created "Salvation Committees" anywhere in Albania.
  • 5 March 1997: Explode warehouses in Memaliaj and axis. Burn police buildings in these cities. Greek TV "Mega" in the 14:00 pm news (13:00 in our time) states: "Today armed groups in southern Albania for the first time raised the banner of Vorio Epirus. They require sharing the southern part of the rest of the country ranging from Tepelena, thus proclaiming the autonomy of southern Albania. Albania early problem was that North-South. Albania is divided between the river Shkumbin who has made division of the country based on religious affiliation, and language. So the current crisis in Albania is concentrated in the south of the country where the population is greqishtfolëse".
  • 6 March 1997: President Berisha and the political parties gather at a table and sign a statement condemning the blasts of warehouses and call for surrender of weapons. 6 hours later, officially the SP and DAP leaders deny any responsibility and obligation to the statement that they had considered "political success". Greek TV "Sky" 17:00 News (16:00 our time): "A few minutes have emerged from the meeting the leaders of armed groups of Saranda, who have decided to attack tonight at dinner Gjirokastra. They will not leave postoblloqet and anxiously await today's popular trial will be done three prisoners captured in the main square of Sarande who allegedly SHIK employees and northern ethnic". Increases the balance of victims in Vlora.
  • 7 March 1997: shpartallojnë Army rebels in Gjirokastra. Military assets fall into the hands of gangs and the military committee of the city. With the fall of Gjirokastra in the hands of rebels, all south of the country is out of control. Weapons continue to spread in the country. Attacked National Rinas Airport by villagers surrounding areas. Spoiled so barbaric Agricultural University of Tirana.
  • 8 March 1997: President Berisha organizes a meeting with all parties concerned with the creation of the new government. Completely defeated division of Gjirokastra. Leaders of the division were vetëdorëzuar and had taken the lead of rebellion in this city. Gangs have kidnapped a number of auxiliary military forces of Tirana and had blocked several tanks and a helicopter. Mobs attack the most private units in the city. At midnight attack and spoiled milk processing factory in Libohova.
  • 9 March 1997: Formed Government of National Reconciliation Union headed by Fino, mayor of Gjirokastra. The new government calls on former army effectives contribute to restoring peace and order. President goes on VAT in a statement to the nation where he calls for "reconciliation, faith, unity and calmness".
  • 10 March 1997: In Gramsh rebels attacked the police building, go to Fier and take control of the streets. Berat fell into the hands of gangs and become the main centers of rebellion after Vlora. Along with the fall Polican, Këlcyra and Skrapari. In Kuçovë rebels take control of 19 combat aircraft type MiG. "Vlora Rescue Committee" welcomes the agreement of 9 March. American Foundation for Eastern Europe is directing a letter to the Albanian Embassy in America stating: "It's great naivety not understand that the Committee of Vlora and its leaders are inspired by communist mafia-type the KGB." Letters to the conclusion stated: "Mr. Berisha must decide by any means the rule of law, using military force may even". On the evening of 10 March, the U.S. Embassy welcomed the agreement late March 9.
  • 11 March 1997: Birth of the "Committee of the South" that requires the rejection of Berisha and the return of money lost. If the Committee proposes to declare the country's capital city of Vlora and the formation of a new state separate from Tirana. The revolt spread to the north, the army capitulate everywhere and a huge weapons depot opened in Shkodra.
  • 12 March 1997: President Berisha decrees Government of National Reconciliation. Riots erupt in Kukes. State institutions looted and damaged. The citizens of the Kukes town abandon due to an announcement that the Serbian army has crossed the border. Revolt breaks out in the South, the bastion of the Democratic Party. Open prison, attacked shops and a bank thrown into the air.
  • 13 March 1997: President Berisha and Prime Minister Fino you require international military assistance to resolve the crisis. Tirana is on the verge of invasion by the rebels. Declared curfew. Several hundred volunteers mainly from the North, protect capital. Attacked presidency. Berisha experiencing the most dangerous night of his life. Prison break out of the country more secure, prison 313. The last to emerge from prison are Fatos Nano and Ramiz Alia. Revolt breaks out in the South. In Lezha rebels burn police building. Ismail Kadare' appears in a message to the Albanians in the VOA. He states that "The clock was turned back in Albania's civil war between the nationalists and communists in the years 1943-44". Also criticizes foreign media and political elite, and calling on his compatriots to calmness and composure to overcome the crisis. The French news agency AFP notes that: "The riots in Albania were a military coup."
  • 14 March 1997: Franz Vranitski is appointed to solve the Albanian crisis. U.S. Ambassador to the screen of VAT appears stating that the U.S. diplomatic mission will not leave. It also states that the American people is the Albanian people in these difficult moments. In Tirana, the population begins to disarm. Attacked a tobacco plantation worth U.S. $ 10 million. Attacked Coca-Cola factory, by the few multinational investments in Albania. SHIK chief resigns, Gazidede Union. Rebels occupy the port of Durrës. VAT is displayed on the screen all day to call "homeland at risk !".
  • 15 March 1997: recovered control of the airport of Rinas. Parliament approved the "Government of National Reconciliation." A "Committee for the Protection of Durres.
  • 16 March 1997: A massive rally in Tirana calls for peace and cooperation between the warring forces. With the government decision announced March 16 day of national mourning in honor of victims of the rebellion. In Fier looted radioactive military material. President Berisha decrees amnesty for 51 prisoners.
  • 17 March 1997: By presidential decree released Fatos Nano, opposition leader jailed since 1993 on charges of corruption. Mother Teresa pray for Albania and Albanians. President of the "People" leaves the country with a U.S. military helicopter. Fatos Nano holds a press conference stating his support for the new government.
  • 18 March 1997: A Committee for the Rescue of North and Middle Albania threatens new government if it recognizes the committees of the South will face the military resistance in the whole Northern country. As a result the government does not recognize any of the committees formed in the North, South or Middle Albania.
  • March 19, 1997: The Russian government is concerned about the serious situation in Albania.
  • 20 March 1997: Held on axis Assembly of Public Salvation Committee. Their main demand is constant and the removal of Berisha. Also proposed the creation of Federation of South. Resume job Rinas Airport.
  • 21 March 1997: The political situation is very dangerous. Greece seeks to enter the Albanian territory on the pretext of protecting minorities. Sali Berisha urges Turkey military aid. The Turkish government emerges in a statement said that if Greek troops enter Albania, then within the day will be captured Athens. The Turkish government also claims it can not be done in Albania the same mistake that was made with Bosnia. Head of stylish, Gazidede Union, at a hearing in the Albanian Parliament accuses anti-Albanian Greek circles, Albanian Socialists, military and criminals to the situation. He made the fateful statement that "The integrity of Albania no longer exists". He also stated that "the rebellion was directed towards the destruction of any historic and cultural facility, with long-term goal to eradicate any historical evidence autoktonitetit the Albanians".
  • 22 March 1997: The situation in Saranda and Gjirokastra remains very serious. Armed gangs rule in these cities under a regime of violence and terror. Dozens of people are killed daily.
  • 23 March 1997: recovered control of the Port of Durrës. Resumes work on it. Berat is ruled by fearsome gangs. Movement of people allowed up at 13:00. Made numerous attempted attacks with explosives.
  • 24 March 1997: As of March 12, 46 people were left injured or killed in Kukes by the shooting.
  • 25 March 1997: 3 policemen killed in Vlore. In Saranda efforts to restore law and order. Aggravated the situation continues in the Gjirokastër Berat.
  • 26 March 1997: Called back to parliament, former chief of stylish, Gazidede Union points to a Greek government plan called "Lotos" which had the goal of "Liberation Vorio-Epirus by the Albanian side rule of an armed rebellion". He accuses the Greek regions in Greece and the U.S. as well as Nicholas Gage (person non-grata in Albania and accused of financing the massacre of Pëshkëpisë) as sponsors of this plan. He also accuses Kico Mustaqin, former commander of the army and Gramoz Ruci to have given secret information to ASFALISË (the Greek Secret Service) concerning the organization of the Albanian Army.
  • 27 March 1997: The Democratic Party claims that relations between Greek and Albanian peoples have always been excellent and the Greek extremist groups can not represent all Greek people.
  • 28 March 1997: Day of tragedies: the Otranto channel in an Albanian ship run by a gang of Vlora rammed and sunk by an Italian naval vessel by mistake. Balance is 82 refugees dead. Held in the South "National Assembly of Committees South. Participate many opposition political figures. Their demand is the resignation of the president. They also reject the "Government of National Reconciliation." The leaders of these committees are former exponents of the Hoxha regime. In the village of Levan, Fier is the biggest massacre of the events of 1997. 24 people killed by clashes between arixhinjve and one of the most dangerous gangs in the country. The balance of this day is over 110 dead. United Nations adopt resolution no. 1101 for humanitarian aid to Albania.
  • 29 March 1997: 5 killed three people in South and Berat. Continue critical situations in several cities of the country. Leaders of the Albanian Navy Otranto accident claim could have been avoided.
  • 30 March 1997: President Berisha and Prime Minister Fino you send their condolences to the families of victims Otranto. Albania seeks to place an international investigation of this tragedy and be part of the inquiry committee.
  • 31 March 1997: Proclamation of national mourning in honor of victims of the Otranto Channel. The Italian government sends its condolences over the tragedy. Ismail Kadare states in an Italian media that "it is shocked by this tragedy and that the authority of government and the President need to Resume in place."

April 1997

  • 1 April 1997: the meeting of the Chairmanship of the Democratic Party. It is characterized by intense debate. Many members of the leadership demanding the resignation of Sali Berisha and Tritan Shehu. PM urges Socialist Party to withdraw from the Agreement of 28 March the Committee of the South.
  • 3 April 1997: the willingness of police to restore order in Tirana is exceptional. Special Forces take control of Berat, Vlora city troubled by.
  • 4 April 1997: U.S. Embassy states that do not meet with any Salvation Committee "rebel." The U.S. embassy also states that the only legitimate institutions are the government and president.
  • 5 April 1997: The situation remains grave in Pogradec. Armed gangs rule the city being robbed and killed people.
  • 7 April 1997: Continued heavy situation in Fier. Dozens of people have been wounded since the unrest and 5 were killed, among them two children. On top of the riots is Haklaj family. 3 people killed in Durrës.
  • 8 April 1997: Continue the grave situation in Gramsh. Clashes between local gangs evolve with the band coming from Laçi. The city has become a center of arms sales.
  • 12 April 1997: Leka Zog arrives in Tirana, along with the royal court. Elbasan explodes psychiatry. Dozens of mentally ill escape.
  • 13 April 1997: Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi visits Vlore. Zani Çaushi is his bodyguard.
  • 15 April 1997: Internationals alerted by the crisis. Begins "Alba Mission, an international army of 7000 troops under the direction of Italy coming to Albania to restore order and force of law. The first forces deployed in Durres. Normality returned to Tirana. Held a successful operation to apprehend criminals Gramsh and collecting looted weapons.
  • 17 April 1997: Political parties agree on the date June 29 to hold the elections.
  • 18 April 1997: Continue the grave situation in Gramsh nicknamed "Vlora no sea." A bomb explodes in the courtyard of the University of Portland.
  • 19 April 1997: a repository rocket explodes in Gjirokastra. Fino meet Leka Zog.
  • 21 April 1997: multinational forces deploy in Vlora. Attacked and spoiled the city of Gramsh by criminal groups. Criminal gangs terrorize citizens on the road that passes in Çorovodë.
  • 22 April 1997: A bomb explodes near ex local "Flora" in Tirana.
  • 23 April 1997: International forces choose not to belong to any "committee of the South."
  • 24 April 1997: Police Station Attacked in Elbasan. Leka Zog visiting Vlore.
  • 26 April 1997: Council of Europe calls illegal Salvation Committees and their disarmament demands. 4 children injured by the explosion of a bomb in Gjirokastra. Shpërthehen with explosives 35 meters of the train tracks.
  • 29 April 1997: Resumes teaching in the North of the country. Continued violence and terror in the South. Vlora once again the power of the gangs and criminals.
  • 30 April 1997: 27 people left dead by the explosion of a weapons depot in Burrel. Explode 3 warehouses in Berat.

May 1997

  • May 4, 1997: Increased balance of victims. Dozens killed in Shkodra, Berat, Tirana and Durrës.
  • May 10, 1997: Special Forces struggle with armed gangs in Gramsh. Around 100 gunmen opposed to the state. Gramsh Rescue Committee prevents distribution of newspapers in the city.
  • May 11, 1997: robbed and killed passengers in the neck-Mali in Kukes. South crime intensifies.
  • May 14, 1997: Kakavisë attacked the border. Remains blocked road Berat-Lushnje. Post attacked in Berat.
  • May 15, 1997: a warehouse in Gjirokastra explodes injuring 14 people and killed four others. Kill an entire family of 5 persons in Pogradec.
  • May 19, 1997: Continued violence in the south. Explosion of the bridge intended Kardhiqi in Gjirokastra. Killings continue in Vlora. In Memaliaj police and Rescue Committee join forces against one of the gangs of the city.
  • May 21, 1997: Continued attacks against bridges in Gjirokastra. Aggravated the situation continues in Saranda, Vlora, Shkodra and Durrës.
  • May 23, 1997: In Cerrik city gangs attacked a Special Forces armored vehicles. Balance: 6 effective Special Forces killed by grenade attacks. 3 others captured hostage. Cerrik is the closest city to the capital that is the power of gangs.
  • May 24, 1997: In Cerrik armed a bunch of controls throughout the city. Schools are closed.
  • May 26, 1997: A bunch of initials N.M.T. threatens traders of Kukes.
  • May 27, 1997: Burned Kurbin library. Attacked a police car in the South.
  • May 29, 1997: Hall Tepelena spoiled by strangers.
  • May 31, 1997: Armed gangs terrorize the citizens of Cerrik.

Victory of the Socialists and the removal of Berisha

  • June 1997: The campaign for elections was run in a tense atmosphere. The Democrat leadership was unable to develop a normal campaign in areas of southern Albania. On the other hand, the left campaign was accompanied by riots of these cities, leaving behind a more than 60 people killed during the campaign of the Socialist Party in the south.
  • 29 June 1997: Parliamentary elections are held. Socialist Party allies won while the Democrats sufferd the biggest loss in their history. Many of the members of the "Rescue Committee" came out for the left forces candidates to publicly though they promised they would not get any government position without resolving the crisis of usury. On the same day of the votings a referendum was held for the form of governance in Albania. Republic prevails over monarchy with 65% of the votes.
  • 3 July 1997: Leka Zogu I organized a demonstration accusing CEC of rigging the result. Five people were killed in a clash between demonstrators and police.
  • July 1997: Gangs continue to rule the country under an atmosphere of fear and terror. Increase in the number of murders, robberies and trafficking of weapons, people and drugs.
  • 24 July 1997: Sali Berisha resigns from the Presidency. He had promised that if the Socialists' victory he will leave because they can not make "institutional cohabitation" with them. Rexhep Meidani is elected President of the Republic of votes the Socialists and other forces in the coalition government.

Massive gunfire in Tirana in celebration of the resignation of Berisha, which was the main demand of rebels. The insurgency ends.

  • 11 August 1997: International forces leave the country.


In elections in June and July 1997, Berisha and his party were voted out of power, and the left coalition headed by the Socialist Party won. The Socialist party elected Rexhep Meidani as President of the Albanian Republic. All UN forces left Albania by August 11.

See also

  • List of massacres in Albania


  1. ^ [1] Albanian Parliamentary Elections in 1997
  2. ^ Tayfur, M. Fatih (2003). Semiperipheral development and foreign policy : the cases of Greece and Spain. Aldershot: Ashgate. pp. 138. ISBN 9780754619642. http://books.google.gr/books?id=UkhxcNy_KIEC&pg=PA138&dq=greek+albania+1997+alba&hl=el&ei=1ssUTsj-AsKY8QPI_9H7Bw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CF4Q6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=%22the%20Greek%20army%20participated%20in%20the%20international%20ALBA%20operation%20with%20a%20full%20regiment%20during%20and%20after%20the%201997%20Albanian%20crisis%22&f=false. 
  3. ^ Merriman, John (2010). A history of modern Europe : from the Renaissance to the present (3rd ed. ed.). New York: W.W. Norton. pp. 1206. ISBN 9780393934335. http://books.google.gr/books?ei=fMkUTsHLIJSo8APYxvH6Bw&ct=result&id=CZ0sAQAAIAAJ&dq=%22greek+troops%22+albania+1997+pyramid&q=%22Greek+troops+had+to+intervene+to+maintain+peace.+Despite+some+periods+of+relative+political+stability%2C+Albania+has+changed%22#search_anchor. 
  4. ^ "Επιχειρήσεις στα Πλαίσια του NATO & της Ε.Ε. » Αλβανία". Hellenic Army General Staf. http://www.army.gr/default.php?pname=Albania&la=1. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Anarchy in Albania: Collapse of European Collective Security?
  6. ^ a b Christopher Jarvis, The Rise and Fall of Albania's Pyramid Schemes, Finance & Development: A Quarterly Magazine of the IMF, March 2000.
  7. ^ Crisis in Albania. Public Broadcasting Service
  8. ^ "On War article". On War article. 2003-11-27. http://www.onwar.com/aced/data/alpha/albania1997.htm. Retrieved 2010-06-14. 
  9. ^ a b c d e John Pike. "Albanian Civil War (1997)". Globalsecurity.org. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/albania.htm. Retrieved 2010-06-14. 
  10. ^ "Kosovo: Background to crisis (March 1999)". Archived from the original on 15 May 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080515143411/http://www.janes.com/defence/news/kosovo/misc990301_03_n.shtml. Retrieved 17 June 2010. 
  11. ^ *Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :13 Janar 1997
  12. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :15 Janar 1997
  13. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :16 Janar 1997
  14. ^ *Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :18 Janar 1997
  15. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :19 Janar 1997
  16. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :20 Janar 1997
  17. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :22 Janar 1997
  18. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :23 Janar 1997
  19. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :25 Janar 1997
  20. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :26 Janar 1997
  21. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :27 Janar 1997
  22. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :29 Janar 1997
  23. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :30 Janar 1997
  24. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :31 Janar 1997
  25. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :4 Shkurt 1997
  26. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :6 Shkurt 1997
  27. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :7 Shkurt 1997
  28. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :8 Shkurt 1997
  29. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :9 Shkurt 1997
  30. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :10 Shkurt 1997
  31. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :11 Shkurt 1997
  32. ^ *Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :12 Shkurt 1997
  33. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :13 Shkurt 1997
  34. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :14 Shkurt 1997
  35. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :17 Shkurt 1997
  36. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :18 Shkurt 1997
  37. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :20 Shkurt 1997
  38. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :24 Shkurt 1997
  39. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :26 Shkurt 1997
  40. ^ Agjencia Telegrafike Shqiptare :28 Shkurt 1997

Further reading

  • Krasniqi, Afrim. Rënia e demokracisë. Tirana 1998.
  • Rënia e Demokracisë”, Afrim Krasniqi, 1998, Eurorilindja
  • Shqipëria jashtë Veriut dhe Jugut”, Ibrahim Kelmendi, 1997, Zëri i Kosovës
  • Unë e pashë kush e dogji Vlorën”, Gëzim Zilja, 2000, Pelioni
  • Viti ‘97, Prapaskenat e krizës që rrënuan shtetin”, Mero Baze, 2010, Toena
  • Baze, Mero. Viti '97: Prapaskenat e Krizës që Rrënuan Shtetin, Tirana: Toena, 2010. ISBN 978-99943-1-650-2
  • Lubonja, Fatos. Nëntëdhjeteshtata, Apokalipsi i Rremë, Tirana: Marin Barleti, 2011.

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