Albania. At the beginning of the year, violent riots
broke out in Shkodėr, northern Albania, which is a
stronghold for former President Sali Berisha's Democratic
Party, Partia Demokratike tė Shqipėrisė (PDS). The riots
were turned down after armed men released 60 prisoners -
half of them charged with murder - and burnt down the town
hall as well as looted shops and banks. The uprising was
triggered by all judging by the fact that a large number of
PDS supporters had been arrested. In the spring, a wave of
violence followed, which according to the authorities,
required at least 350 lives. The situation remained tense
during the summer, not least because of the ongoing fighting
in the Kosovo province of southern Serbia between Yugoslav
security forces and the Kosovo Albanian guerrilla. The
battles led, among other things. to tens of thousands of
Kosovo Albanians flee to Albania The situation was further
sharpened in September when the opposition with Berisha at
the head called for large government hostile demonstrations
despite the government's ban. The demonstrations degenerated
into riots and raids in the capital Tirana.
Countryaah, Prime Minister Fatos Nano, who led a coalition government
with four other parties besides his Socialist Party, Partia
Socialiste e Shqipėrisė (PSS), resigned and was succeeded by
the mere 30-year-old Pandeli Majko.
A proposal for a new constitution was adopted late in the
fall in a referendum following some political quarrels.
Life in Albania was characterized by crime, and the mafia
could spread. Domestic production was almost non-existent,
and most of it was imported with money from foreign aid,
from Albanians who emigrated and from criminal activities.
Where corn, cereals and vegetables were previously grown,
cannabis was smuggled out in many places that were smuggled
out of the country for illegal sale in the rest of Europe.
Human trafficking was another lucrative income for various
criminal leagues. It was conducted mainly from the port city
of Vlorė, from which Albanian, Asian, Arab and African
refugees were transported across the Adriatic to Italy.
Another illegal source of income was arms smuggling, mainly
to the violence-stricken province of Kosovo in southern
Serbia on the northeastern border of Albania. Thousands of
Kosovo Albanian refugees have fled across the mountains to
Albania, where they live in refugee camps. International aid
broadcasts are rarely robbed before they reach the refugee
During the 1997 uprising, nearly 1 million automatic
weapons were looted from military and police stations around
the country. Those who have not been smuggled abroad are
still in civilian hands. The Albanian government therefore
asked the UN at the end of the year for assistance in