Albania sets new style: 'unalignment'
Little Albania has decided it has had enough of "big brothers" and outside "protectors." It is setting out to be uniquely unaligned -- without adhering to the nonaligned movement.Skip to next paragraph
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Going it alone has been Albania's watchword since the 1978 break with China.
Albania has just brusquely dismissed a British offer to resume relations broken since 1946. Its own soundings toward a resumption of relations with West Germany have petered out.
Now it is charting a still more independent course in an economic development program for the 1980s based solely on its own resources. There is a constitutional ban on aid or credit from abroad.
As one of Albania's leaders said recently, they want to show that "just as in a large country like Russia, so socialism can also be built self-reliantly in a small country with fewer resources and surrounded by imperialists and revisionists."
The Stalinist phraseology apparently is not to be taken at face value. Another spokesman explained that self-reliance did not mean ruling out all trade with other countries or "shutting ourselves in our own shell."
Since breaking with China, in fact, Albania has expanded trade and "economic cooperation" with as many Western and other countries as possible on strickly commercial terms, buying and selling solely to meet its development needs.
Trade is growing with the Soviet Union's East European allies, though not with the USSR itself. Albanians still see the Soviet Union as the "revisionist" enemy that left Albania in the lurch for disagreeing with Stalin's "de-Stalinizing" successors.
Nearly 20 years later the Albanians found themselves abandoned by their new friend, China, when they opposed China's rapprochement with the United States.
Slowly, through the '60s, the Albanians completed industrial projects they had begun with Soviet aid. For two years they have done the same with projects initiated with China.
One, the big hydroelectric plant on the Drin River, will begin operation this year. Equipment for a second and larger plant on the Drin is being imported from Yugoslavia, Austria, and other West European states. Surplus electricity is to be exported to Greece and Yugoslavia, later to Austria.
But electricity is only one of the major local resources on which the 1981-85 plan is based. Others are:
* Oil. With an annual production of some 5 million tons, no private ownership of automobiles, and traffic confined to commercial vehicles, there is a large amount of oil available for export. At present it is sold to West Germany, Switzerland, and Romania. Newly discovered deposits are likely to attract more Western buyers as price pressures elsewhere grow.
* Chromium. Albania is the No. 3 producer in the world. Sales to Western countries are financing equipment of a new chromium enrichment unit to augment a former Chinese plant just finished.
Ideologically, Albania still considers Yugoslavia "revisionist." Albania no longer suspects Yugoslavia of hoping to become a "little big brother." Economic interests and mutual concern about security in an area apprehensive of future Soviet policies are promoting a "good neighbor" approach on both sides.