Albanian Transition. The Contrast between Eastern Mentality and European Identity

Essay, 2014

8 Pages, Grade: A



PhD. Afrim Krasniqi

Executive Director

Albanian Institute of Political Studies


Keywords: parties, political behavior, identity, political discourse, West, East

During the last two decades leading Albanian political actors have developed political activity based on two parallel indicator: western formal models and marketing electoral programs, as well as eastern oriental model in the way they have designed and developed policy, elections, internal democracy and public discourse. Being correct to western formal models came as foreign imposition, as needed impersonation in terms of lack of experience and practical knowledge, as well as the response of major civic expectations.

The conclusion of this material is that we are dealing with continuous coexistence between Western model in programs and eastern model in practical implementation of these programs. Practical application of a parallel political system, in values, methods and political discourse was due to domestic consumption needs, fragility in the formation of political culture, local recognition of the dominant methods in politics and the pursuit of short-term political goals.

This thesis paper aims to analyze the formal western presentation of the two main political parties and their leaders during the transition, and to make this analysis in comparative relation to feeds and real features in daily political activity. Part of the study are the programs and the most important political positions, international relations associated with the level of democracy and the role of political parties in shaping a democratic, professional studies in the field of political behavior and political discourse.


In Albanian politics the concept "East - West" has a dual explanation: as a European political map split by ideological boundaries of the Cold War, and under the historical division between western and oriental cultures inherited from the division made during the beginning of the last century with the fall two great empires, the Ottoman and Austro Hungarian. In the first explanation there is no dilemma that Albania has been one of the most fanatical countries of the communist east, with a unique pattern within this part of Europe. In the second explanation exist different opinions but the most dominant one is that of western view of affiliation. The debate over the second identity began in the ‘30s with Konica, Maloki, Fishta, Frasheri, Noli, etc. and reached one of the roofs of the Albanian elite debate of the first half of the last century. Each of them defended the thesis that Albanians culturally, politically and geographically belong to Occidental Western civilization. These were harsh criticism of oriental models, in which "the politician sees the world as an inexhaustible source of tools, hobbies and prettiness and uses them in every way and method" that for his ideals has “armchair and chunks” and in order to reach them "he uses every tool" (Maloki, 2003).

After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the opening to the integration processes the debate about identity returned, now in an environment with different flows and interest. Even in this case dominant is the thesis protected by the most popular pens of public debate, Kadare and Xhaferi, on Western affiliation of the old and new Albanian identity. Kadare protects fully convinced Western identity, but meanwhile, does not hesitate to say that "our modest country is now in that area which is called as the outer court of Europe (Kadare, 2003, 20).

Another minority defended the position between two cultures and two identities, i.e. a society and nation of mixed identity, between East and West. At the core of these debates, despite the 70 to 80 years distance, the differences between public and historical argument are minimal, the arguments are the same and the Albanian case is seen as an exception case in other regional models, especially Slavic neighbors to the north, east and southeast.

Integrating aspirations vs. integrating culture

The debate over political identity was left out of the political changes that happened during the 1990. The dilemma of identity and the striving for a unique identity, outside two assumed identities, was unified with the view of the outgoing regime, according to which, "Albania was neither east nor west" (Alia , 1990), that’s why it deserved a special treatment by institutions and Western countries. Dilemma thesis was seen as an alibi of the regime for refusing democratization, liberalization and allowing multiparty system. By achieving pluralism this alibi fell and young politicians dominating the public rhetoric changed dictionary, trying to seek more and more Europe as an identity, as a project, as a community and belonging. This is the reason why in the first political programs of pluralism each political party referred to the European integration processes as long-term aspiration and national interest. This is why the main student’s slogans in 1990 was: "Albania like Europe”, implying that prohibited Europe in the image, system, behavior and culture, along the half- century period of the east communist regime.

All this process has a common indicator: the apparent lack of experience, democratic tradition and of clarity in concepts how Albania will become like Europe. More than two generations of citizens were born and raised in anti-European concept, the unity of the West with the enemy, the evil, threat and the source of the potential assimilation. The same generations would find it difficult to separate from this culture of thinking and being something that they were not and could not have been so as devotees of the West.

At the stage when the country was faced with the demands of the integration process, then emerged the big gaps and misunderstandings. Integration aspirations were not enough, achievement and standards were needed but Albanian politics was neither capable nor prepared to meet them.That’s why the integration process, in the first phase came in the form of imposed standards and projects, that were ready and imitated by other former communist countries, in an effort to meet the great expectations of citizens. The political actors imitated in details their counterparts in other countries. For example, the first programs of political parties are translations, phrases for foreign politics, human rights and rule of law are also similar, anticommunist political speeches were in fashion everywhere, rallies and militant behavior of the electorate were also expected.

The disappointment of local politics by citizens paradoxically, created a climate of dependency on integration , thus increasing integration myth , a myth that is not criticized , not rejected , not debated and there is no doubt on it. This made infinitely acceptable, the need for intervention from outside. Rarely could have happened in a former communist country, that western political, national or institutional forces have been so active, invited and decisive to important local political decisions as in Albania . The most pro-Western country in the region became the oasis of gross importing of the western model and counsel. Unlike the societies with highest democratic level, in the Albanian political society, this phenomenon did not come in the horizontal form, but vertical, i.e. from above, through decisions, through the imposition of official and political acts, through the constitution, laws, rules, etc. There were some cases where advice and western project was identified by local projects which created overlapping or displacement of priorities.


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Albanian Transition. The Contrast between Eastern Mentality and European Identity
University of Tirana  (Albanian Institute of Political Studies)
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Because the new political elites came from the old political elites as a product of the following or their political behavior and its tools in achieving the goals were almost identical. Need for public consumption and dignified international presentation imposed to political elite a formal correct behavior in relation to the slogans of European integration and commitment, the need for votes and power within the country imposed to the same political elite incorrect political behavior, contrary to Western standards and practices.
parties, political behavior, identity, political discourse, West, East
Quote paper
PhD Afrim Krasniqi (Author), 2014, Albanian Transition. The Contrast between Eastern Mentality and European Identity, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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