Until Yugoslavia's expulsion from the Cominform (see Glossary)
in 1948, Albania acted like a Yugoslav satellite and Tito aimed
to use his choke hold on the Albanian party to incorporate the
entire country into Yugoslavia. After Germany's withdrawal from
Kosovo in late 1944, Yugoslavia's communist partisans took possession
of the province and committed retaliatory massacres against Albanians.
Before World War II, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia had supported
transferring Kosovo to Albania, but Yugoslavia's postwar communist
regime insisted on preserving the country's prewar borders. In
repudiating the 1943 Mukaj agreement under pressure from the Yugoslavs,
Albania's communists had consented to restore Kosovo to Yugoslavia
after the war. In January 1945, the two governments signed a treaty
reincorporating Kosovo into Yugoslavia as an autonomous province.
Shortly thereafter, Yugoslavia became the first country to recognize
Albania's provisional government.
In July 1946, Yugoslavia and Albania signed a treaty of friendship
and cooperation that was quickly followed by a series of technical
and economic agreements laying the groundwork for integrating
the Albanian and Yugoslav economies. The pacts provided for coordinating
the economic plans of both states, standardizing their monetary
systems, and creating a common pricing system and a customs union.
So close was the Yugoslav-Albanian relationship that Serbo-Croatian
became a required subject in Albanian high schools. Yugoslavia
signed a similar friendship treaty with Bulgaria, and Marshal
Tito and Bulgaria's Georgi Dimitrov talked of plans to establish
a Balkan federation to include Albania, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria.
Yugoslav advisers poured into Albania's government offices and
its army headquarters. Tiranė was desperate for outside aid, and
about 20,000 tons of Yugoslav grain helped stave off famine. Albania
also received US$26.3 million from the United Nations Relief and
Rehabilitation Administration immediately after the war but had
to rely on Yugoslavia for investment and development aid.
The Yugoslav government clearly regarded investment in Albania
as investment in the future of Yugoslavia itself. Joint Albanian-Yugoslav
companies were created for mining, railroad construction, the
production of petroleum and electricity, and international trade.
Yugoslav investments led to the construction of a sugar refinery
in Korēė, a food-processing plant in Elbasan, a hemp factory at
Rrogozhine, a fish cannery in Vlorė, and a printing press, telephone
exchange, and textile mill in Tiranė. The Yugoslavs also bolstered
the Albanian economy by paying three times the world price for
Albanian copper and other materials.
Relations between Albania and Yugoslavia declined, however, when
the Albanians began complaining that the Yugoslavs were paying
too little for Albanian raw materials and exploiting Albania through
the joint stock companies. In addition, the Albanians sought investment
funds to develop light industries and an oil refinery, while the
Yugoslavs wanted the Albanians to concentrate on agriculture and
raw-material extraction. The head of Albania's Economic Planning
Commission and one of Hoxha's allies, Nako Spiru, became the leading
critic of Yugoslavia's efforts to exert economic control over
Albania. Tito distrusted Hoxha and the other intellectuals in
the Albanian party and, through Xoxe and his loyalists, attempted
to unseat them.
In 1947 Yugoslavia's leaders engineered an all-out offensive
against anti-Yugoslav Albanian communists, including Hoxha and
Spiru. In May Tiranė announced the arrest, trial, and conviction
of nine People's Assembly members, all known for opposing Yugoslavia,
on charges of antistate activities. A month later, the Communist
Party of Yugoslavia's Central Committee accused Hoxha of following
"independent" policies and turning the Albanian people against
Yugoslavia. Apparently attempting to buy support inside the Albanian
Communist Party, Belgrade extended Tiranė US$40 million worth
of credits, an amount equal to 58 percent of Albania's 1947 state
budget. A year later, Yugoslavia's credits accounted for nearly
half of the state budget. Relations worsened in the fall, however,
when Spiru's commission developed an economic plan that stressed
self-sufficiency, light industry, and agriculture. The Yugoslavs
complained bitterly, and when Spiru came under criticism and failed
to win support from anyone in the Albanian party leadership, he
The insignificance of Albania's standing in the communist world
was clearly highlighted when the emerging East European nations
did not invite the Albanian party to the September 1947 founding
meeting of the Cominform. Rather, Yugoslavia represented Albania
at Cominform meetings. Although the Soviet Union gave Albania
a pledge to build textile and sugar mills and other factories
and to provide Albania agricultural and industrial machinery,
Stalin told Milovan Djilas, at the time a high-ranking member
of Yugoslavia's communist hierarchy, that Yugoslavia should "swallow"
The pro-Yugoslav faction wielded decisive political power in
Albania well into 1948. At a party plenum in February and March,
the communist leadership voted to merge the Albanian and Yugoslav
economies and militaries. Hoxha, to the core an opportunist, even
denounced Spiru for attempting to ruin Albanian-Yugoslav relations.
During a party Political Bureau (Politburo) meeting a month later,
Xoxe proposed appealing to Belgrade to admit Albania as a seventh
Yugoslav republic. When the Cominform expelled Yugoslavia on June
28, however, Albania made a rapid about-face in its policy toward
Yugoslavia. The move surely saved Hoxha from a firing squad and
as surely doomed Xoxe to one. Three days later, Tiranė gave the
Yugoslav advisers in Albania forty-eight hours to leave the country,
rescinded all bilateral economic agreements with its neighbor,
and launched a virulent anti-Yugoslav propaganda blitz that transformed
Stalin into an Albanian national hero, Hoxha into a warrior against
foreign aggression, and Tito into an imperialist monster.
Albania entered an orbit around the Soviet Union, and in September
1948 Moscow stepped in to compensate for Albania's loss of Yugoslav
aid. The shift proved to be a boon for Albania because Moscow
had far more to offer than hard-strapped Belgrade. The fact that
the Soviet Union had no common border with Albania also appealed
to the Albanian regime because it made it more difficult for Moscow
to exert pressure on Tiranė. In November at the First Party Congress
of the Albanian Party of Labor (APL), the former Albanian Communist
Party renamed at Stalin's suggestion, Hoxha pinned the blame for
the country's woes on Yugoslavia and Xoxe. Hoxha had had Xoxe
sacked as internal affairs minister in October, replacing him
with Shehu. After a secret trial in May 1949, Xoxe was executed.
The subsequent anti-Titoist purges in Albania brought the liquidation
of fourteen members of the party's thirty-one-person Central Committee
and thirty-two of the 109 People's Assembly deputies. Overall,
the party expelled about 25 percent of its membership. Yugoslavia
responded with a propaganda counterattack, canceled its treaty
of friendship with Albania, and in 1950 withdrew its diplomatic
mission from Tiranė.
Data as of April 1992