Fatos Lubonja

    is an Albanian intellectual and writer. He lives in Tirana, where he edits the quarterly journal Përpjekja [Endeavour]. He is a member of the Forum for Democracy, and a leading figure in Albania’s political life. At twenty-three, Lubonja was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for “agitation and propaganda” after the secret police found his diaries, which contained criticism of Enver Hoxha. He was re-sentenced without trial and spent a total of 17 years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement, and was released in 1991. Lubonja’s books have been translated into Italian, German, English and Polish. His first book in English, Second Sentence: Inside the Albanian Gulag, was published to great acclaim in 2006 and the latest, False Apocalypse, From Stalinism to Capitalism, appeared in 2014. Among many literary prizes he received the Alberto Moravia Prize for International Literature in 2002 and the Herder Prize for Literature in 2004. “Albanians perceive European integration as bloodless unification with their compatriots in Kosovo and Macedonia. The debacle of the European project has resulted in increased anxiety in the whole region. The mythologisation of European integration and, on the other hand, the pragmatic significance of such a myth for the balance in the region, are the most crucial reasons for the fact that the European crisis is not frequently, or indeed at all, spoken about in Albania. Nevertheless, insecurity over the future and fear of decline are palpable. The number of Albanians seeking emigration has increased so much that almost one million of Albania’s 3.5 million citizens now live abroad. For Kosovo, the figures are half a million out of 2 million, respectively. The battle between the ruling and opposition parties revolves around the fact that Albania has not yet obtained the status of EU candidate that its neighbours have. But the voices of those who do not see Albania’s fate only through the lens of European integration are getting stronger. A Kosovo youth movement, Lëvizja Vetëvendosje (Self- assessment), organized an action under the slogan: ‘Eat Only Albanian Food’ and they destroyed food from Serbia. In Albania a new party has recently emerged called the Black-Red Alliance (Aleanca Kuq e Zi); its ultimate goal is the unification of all Albanians under the banner of the current Albanian state. The Alliance stirs up national hostility, speaking of the Greek danger, or attacking Albanian-Slav marriages in FYROM. Its immediate economic program envisions a merger between the Albanian economy and that of Kosovo. They are against globalization and a corrupt ruling class, as well as the international peacekeepers in Kosovo. Their national interest defence program assumes national unification, which is more important to them than EU integration.”