the domination of communism in the world

Foreign relations

Equally turbulent was the position in international politics since Albania's internal situation
in the second half of the 1940s. The direction of development of Albanian communism was
significantly influenced by two powerful crises.
The first incident, which began in May 1946, was in the Strait of Corfu. Albania, already held
in the iron grip of KPA and its first Secretary Envera Hoxha at the time, claimed the right to
international waters in the Strait of the Greek island of Corfu, which are of considerable
importance in the context of transport shipping in the region. However, its rights were
asserted in an extremely subtle way, as in May 1946 British troops were firing at them, and
in October, with the help of the Yugoslavian navy, it mined the waters of the straits, which
were a frequently used waterway. On October 22, 1946, two British HMS Saumarez
destroyers fell victim to the mine in an attempt to help HMS Volage. This has led to a
massive international scandal, and Albania has been accused of violating international law.
While the blocking of the relevant resolution at the UN by the Soviet Union and Poland had
still avoided repercussions, the Court of Justice in The Hague ruled against the authorities in
Tirana and ordered the United Kingdom to pay appropriate reparations. Albania ignored the
Court's decisions and the British felt entitled to seize Albanian gold at the Bank of England,
which was first seized by the Italians in 1939, then by the Germans and finally by the Allies
themselves. Thus, Albania significantly deteriorated its relations with the West and
practically lost the possibility of recovering the gold deposited with the English bank until
1991.
The second crisis that dramatically changed the situation of the Albanian communists was
the so-called Yugoslavian crisis of 1948, which led to the breakdown of the traditionally close
relations with the Yugoslavian Communist Party and reversed the plans for a common
federation. In view of Josip Broz Tito's foreign policy, which was conducted by the ruling
Yugoslavia and which was independent of the Kremlin, as well as the discrepancies between
ideological and practical issues concerning the issue of trade and the alliance pact of the
socialist countries, the YCP was expelled from the Communist Party. Yugoslavia itself was
thus isolated by a block of states of popular democracy which, one by one, broke off their
political and economic relations with the other. This was no different in the case of Albania,
where, however, the break-up of contacts with Yugoslavian communists served as a pretext
for party cleansing.

The first secretary of Enver Hozha, who had almost unlimited power in the party and who
held the posts of prime minister, foreign minister, defence minister and chief commander of
the army under the guise of fighting the titans, unleashed terror, this time to the detriment
of the members of the party apparatus themselves. In March 1949, high-profile party
representatives were arrested and accused of being sympathetic to Trotsky and pro-Slavic.
Their victims included the second person in the state and the main of Hoxha's potential
rivals, Minister of Internal Affairs Koci Xoxe, who was sentenced to death in May 1949. The
break in economic relations with Yugoslavia was very severe for Albania, given the enormous
contribution made by Belgrade advisors to the country's economic development. Suffice it to
say that in the second half of the 1940s, Yugoslav loans accounted for almost 58% of
Albania's budget. Nevertheless, the enormous economic influence of Yugoslavia, as a
prelude to the country's actual integration into the Yugoslav Federation, also contributed to
the marginalisation of Tirana in its relations with other countries of the bloc, especially the
Soviet Union. Their breakdown, although costly in terms of economy, brought considerable
political benefits to Hoxha, the best example of which was the invitation of CPA to the
Cominform and the launch of an economic aid programme for Albania by the Soviet Union,
which somewhat mitigated the severe effects of the crisis.
The tightening of relations with the Soviet Union, although politically beneficial, did not
translate into a significant improvement in the dramatic state of the Albanian economy.
Albania was the smallest and poorest country in the bloc, and at the same time represented
the most doctrinal and strict approach to the implementation of the Communist regime. In
this situation, the brutally conducted collectivisation of rural areas, which was almost
successful (in 1960 87% of food production came from collective and state farms) or the
rapid development of heavy and mining industry did not significantly improve the standard
of living of the inhabitants, but even worsened it. Although the government set itself the
main goal of its large-scale economic plans (the so-called five-year-olds) as self-sufficiency in
food production (it was announced triumphantly in 1976 that this goal had been achieved),
the fact that only 10% of the land was suitable for cultivation, and that collective production
was also used on it, meant that Albania never became independent from external aid.
However, this did not in any way limit its ambitious foreign policy, which was the
responsibility of Hoxha. In 1953, on the wave of thaw connected with the rise to power of

Stalin's successor, Nikita Khrushchev, and theses presented at the memorable 20th Congress
of the Civic Platform, Albanian communists began to accuse the Soviets of revisionism. The
fact that Albania was almost entirely dependent on the USSR economically did not ease their
position. This eventually led to the suspension of Soviet supplies and later, in December
1961, to the break-up of diplomatic relations by the Soviet Union with Albania, which served
as a pretext for another wave of purges in Albania's party apparatus. This time, its victims
were supporters of maintaining cooperation with the USSR.
At that time Albania found itself with a new protector in Mao Zedong, a Chinese idea more
doctrinal to the idea of communism. Confident of his new ally, Hoxha did not limit himself
only to criticising the armed intervention of the Warsaw Pact states in Czechoslovakia, but
also demonstratively withdrew from the alliance, in which membership was suspended
already in 1961. Delighted by the Chinese solutions introduced during the so-called cultural
revolution, he further tightened up the regime in his own country, introducing regulations
that recognise every Albanian who leaves his homeland as a traitor to the nation, or
prohibiting, under the death penalty, contacts with foreigners. The structures of the secret
political police, Sigurimi, were also expanded. Paranoidly afraid of the armed intervention of
the Warsaw Pact in Albania, a costly and ruinous programme of construction of hundreds of
thousands of shelters was also launched to cover the entire country.
However, the alliance with the People's Republic of China has not lasted long either and has
ended with the rise of Mao's successors to power, who decided after his death to liberalise
the system to a certain extent. The response from Albania at the time was to drastically
reduce diplomatic and economic relations and to find itself in virtually complete isolation on
the international stage.