Several factors contributed to Albania's foreign policy, but
nationalism was probably the single most important factor. Albanian
nationalism had developed over years of domination or threat of
domination by its more powerful neighbors: Greece, Italy, and
Yugoslavia. The partition of Albania in 1912, when Kosovo and
other Albanian-inhabited territories were lost, left the country
with a deep sense of resentment and hostility to outsiders. Traditional
fears of being dismembered or subjugated by foreigners persisted
after World War II and were aggravated by Hoxha's paranoia about
To offset the influence of Yugoslavia, Hoxha made an effort to
improve relations with the Western powers, but was largely unsuccessful.
Following the 1946 purge of Sejfulla Maleshova, the leader of
the party faction that advocated moderation in foreign and domestic
policy, Albania's relations with the West deteriorated, and both
the United States and Britain withdrew their foreign envoys from
Tiranė. Albania's application to join UN was also rejected (Albania
did join the UN in December 1955). Hoxha made peace with Josip
Broz Tito, Yugoslavia's president, and in July 1946 signed the
Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Aid with Yugoslavia.
Yugoslav influence over Albania's party and government increased
considerably between 1945 and 1948. Yugoslavia came to dominate
political, economic, military, and cultural life in Albania, and
plans were even made to merge the two countries.
Yugoslavia's expulsion from the Cominform (see Glossary) in 1948
gave Hoxha an opportunity to reverse this situation, making his
country the first in Eastern Europe to condemn Yugoslavia. The
treaty of friendship with Yugoslavia was abrogated; Yugoslav advisers
were forced out of Albania; and Xoxe, the minister of internal
affairs and head of the secret police, was tried and executed,
along with hundreds of other "Titoists." As a result of these
changes, Albania became a full-fledged member of the Soviet sphere
of influence, playing a key role in Stalin's strategy of isolating
Yugoslavia. In 1949 Albania joined the Council for Mutual Economic
Assistance ( Comecon--see Glossary) and proceeded with a program
of rapid, Soviet-style, centralized economic development.
Tiranė's close relations with Moscow lasted until 1955, when
the post-Stalin leadership began pursuing a policy of rapprochement
with Yugoslavia. As part of the de-Stalinization process, Moscow
began to pressure Tiranė to moderate its belligerent attitude
toward Yugoslavia and relax its internal policies. Hoxha managed
to withstand this challenge and to resist the pressure to de-Stalinize,
despite the fact that the Soviet Union resorted to punitive economic
measures that caused Albania considerable hardship. In 1960 the
Soviets attempted to engineer a coup against Hoxha, but were unsuccessful
because Hoxha had learned of their plans in advance and had purged
all pro-Soviet elements in the party and government.
By 1960 Albania was already looking elsewhere for political support
and improving its relations with China. In December 1961, the
Soviet Union, while embroiled in a deep rift with China, broke
diplomatic relations with Albania, and other East European countries
sharply curtailed their contacts with Albania as well. Throughout
the 1960s, Albania and China, countries that shared a common bond
of alienation from the Soviet Union, responded by maintaining
very close domestic and foreign ties. China gave Albania a great
deal of economic aid and assistance, while the latter acted as
China's representative at international forums from which the
Chinese were excluded. Although Tiranė's break with Moscow had
been very costly in economic terms, Albania made no effort to
reestablish ties with the Soviet Union. In an address to the Fifth
Congress of the APL in November 1966, Hoxha made it clear that
Albania intended to stay close to China.
The 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, however, marked the
beginning of a gradual estrangement between Albania and China,
primarily because Hoxha realized that an increased Soviet military
threat could not be offset by an alliance with a country that
was far away and militarily weak relative to the superpowers.
Hoxha sanctioned a cautious opening toward neighboring countries
such as Yugoslavia and Greece, although he continued to be concerned
about the domestic effects of moving too far from foreign policy
that excluded all countries except China.
Another cause of the estrangement was the realization that Chinese
aid was not enough to prevent Albania from having serious economic
problems. Albania's experience with financial assistance from
communist powers from 1945 to 1978 had begun to make it wary of
becoming so dependent on any outside entity. A chill in relations
with China began to occur following the death of Mao Zedong in
September 1976, and in July 1978 China terminated all economic
and military aid to Albania, an action that left Albania without
a foreign protector.
In the late 1970s, Albania embarked on a policy of rigid self-reliance.
Having broken ties with the two leading communist states, Albania
aspired to total economic independence and declared itself the
only genuine Marxist-Leninist country in the world. The government
was actually forbidden to seek foreign aid and credits or to encourage
foreign investment in the country. Hoxha rigidly adhered to Marxism-Leninism,
seeing the world as divided into two opposing systems--socialism
and capitalism. But he also led Albania in a two-front struggle
against both United States "imperialism" and Soviet "social-imperialism."
For example, Albania refused to participate in CSCE talks or sign
the Helsinki Accords (see Glossary) in 1975 because the United
States and the Soviet Union had initiated the negotiating process.
Data as of April 1992