Albania Refuses Russia, Ilir Kulla: History Should Be Remembered
Albanian Daily News
Published April 11, 2015

commemorating parade on the 70th anniversary of the victory over
Nazism will be held on May 9, 2015 in Moscow. But it seems that the parade is
not going to be so enthusiastic. Official Moscow has sent invitations to
European leaders, but most of them have not accepted paying a visit to Russia.
Albania has also refused Russian request to participate in this parade. "In
such occasions the head of the countries are invited. However, Albanian
government has condemned the Russian intervention in Ukraine and has positioned
itself along the Euro-Atlantic community regarding the stances held on this
matter. We are on the same side with our strategic partners," announced
Ministry of Defense. Serbian president, Tomislav Nikolic, and the Chief
Commander of the Armed Forces as well, has accepted the invitation of the
Russian Defense Minister, Sergey Shoigu, and has agreed that Serbian soldiers
participate in the military parade of May 9. Meantime, it is being rumored in
media that European leaders will not visit Moscow due to the Russian
intervention in Ukraine. portal has conducted an interview with Ilir
Kulla regarding the commemoration of this historical date and the political trend
related to this commemoration. Below the excerpts of the interview:

- Albania will
not participate in the parade of the 70th anniversary of the victory
over Nazism organized by Russia. The reason of the refusal lies in the fact
that Albanian government condemns the Russian intervention in Ukraine,
positioning itself alongside its Euro-Atlantic strategic partners. What's your
opinion about this stance of Albanian government?

I think that the commemoration of the victory over Nazism should not be linked with
Ukraine and the events there. Of course Albania did well to condemn Ukrainian
conflict and the Russian intervention there, but it has nothing to do with the
biggest event of the last century. Nazism would have prevailed in that war if
it wasn't for the Soviet army and the Russian martyrs. Of course even in this
case we must distinguish Stalin regime, Stalin and that glorious history of
that war. In diplomatic plan although Russia is not a strategic partner of
Albania and has maintained a stance against Kosovo, it still remains one of 10
major powers of the world, a large country and most importantly a permanent
member of the UN Security Council , that is a very important actor of the
current world order.

- Ministry of
Interior of the Republic of Albania has stated that the Albanian government
condemns Russia's intervention in Ukraine and therefore this invitation has
been rejected. On the other hand, it is said that Albania stands alongside the
Euro-Atlantic partners. Do you think that Albania has already taken an
irreversible path in its relations with countries, which have been defined as
strategic partners?

I think that statement is naive. There is no connection between May 9 and Albania
strategic alliances, which have changed several times in about 2 years. Albania
has proved what was able to do for its strategic partners in the case of the
chemical weapons. If seeing it through the same prism, then there should be no visits
to Beijing either, but meantime we ask them for investments. If we use the same
logic and see the present Germany as a successor of the former Germany, that sounds
very absurd. It is just a commemorating ceremony, Albania is a small country
and therefore the peoples need to commemorate Second World War same way as the
martyrs are commemorated on November 29 and the May 5.

- Albania has
been an ally of the forces that prevailed in World War II and it was listed in
the anti-Hitler coalition. Albanians in Albania have fought both fascism and
Nazism. The day of resistance against fascist Italy, April 7, just passed. Do
you think that Albanian state commemorated this day properly?

written on April 7 in my profile in Facebook that April 7, 1939 is a day that
should never be forgotten. It should not be forgotten, because it was the worst
day of 103 years of independence. Albania was as good as disappeared, it was conquered.
Obviously there were Albanian soldiers that fought and gave their lives and
they should be remembered. Is this related to Italy today? No, because the
present Italy condemns the invasion, those crimes, that regime and the then
Italy has closed accounts with Mussolini, after hanging him upside down in
Milan on 1945. But it is an obligation to remember history. Should there be no
commemoration of war victims in Kosovo even after 50 years only because we
might have good relations with Serbia?! The dead with the dead and the living
with the living, but the history does not disappear, otherwise Albanians would have
disappeared long time ago. 

- The news that
Albania has refused Russian invitation to participate in the parade of 70th
anniversary of the victory over Nazism seems to have mostly pleased the
Albanians of Kosovo. Do you believe that Albanians of Kosovo have strong reasons
to celebrate the refusal of the official Tirana to Moscow, given the conditions
they were during World War II?

Even the joy of Kosovo Albanians is naive. It wasn't the red army who led
Albanians of Kosovo into captivity, but it was the SS division called
Skanderbeg. This gave the opportunity to Serbian ultranationalists, such as
Rankovic, to justify their actions at the Bar massacre as allegedly fighting
against Nazi collaborators. Bar massacre victims could not possibly comprehend those
intrigues at the time. A pure patriotism feeling ran through their blood,
against which Serbian ultra nationalism collided cruelly. Albania
neo-communists were weak and powerless and Albania was therefore almost
swallowed by the Yugoslavia of Tito. Thank god that Mr. Stalin broke with Tito
and Enver Hoxha skillfully sheltered himself under Soviet protection, otherwise
things would have gone a lot differently with Greece in the South with the
provocation of August 1949 and Tito's Yugoslavia in the north, willing to bring
its divisions to Albanian border. There should be no misunderstanding regarding
history. No Soviet soldier has ever stepped as an invader on Albanian soil or even
Kosovo. Albanians today are linked inseparably with the West, but that does not
mean that there should be hostile relations with the East.

- Not only
Albania, but also several European countries of EU have refused joining the
parade of Moscow. The problem lies at Russian intervention in Ukraine. Do you
think that the intervention of Russia in Ukraine is the main reason that
European leaders refuse Moscow's invitation?

Yes, there are European leaders that have refused going, but there are those
who are going at any rate such as Czech president, despite what soviets did to
Prague on 1968. Hungarians will join, despite what soviets did in Budapest on
1956 etc. May the 9th should not be confused with other historical dates. 

- Many Russian
leaders have accused EU officials for "Nazism" regarding the situation in
Ukraine. Do you think that Russia even nowadays was not able to distance itself
from the ideology of the previous 70 years, using same speech in several

I believe that Russian intervention in Ukraine has violated the trust, the security
in that region and has shaken the relations between EU and Russia. I also
believe that the negative emotions between the parties need to be put to an end
and the Russian role regarding the issues such as nuclear power with Iran
should be considered. Of course there should be a clear detachment regarding
this matter. Albania is part of NATO with the West, but that doesn't mean that
it is in enmity with the East and Russian nation, Russian culture, with the
poets, musicians, writers etc. People should learn even nowadays from Tolstoy
at his book "War and Peace".   

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