Courtesy Reuters

Albania and the Sino-Soviet Conflict

The conflict between little Albania and the Soviet Union is today at the center of the Soviet-Chinese rift. This first became apparent at the Bucharest Congress of June 1960, when of all the heads of Communist Parties of Eastern Europe only Enver Hoxha was absent. However, the clash between the two countries had been proceeding undercover for a long time. To understand its roots, let us first turn to Albanian-Jugoslav relations.

Contrary to what has recently been published in some American newspapers, the Albanian Communist Party was founded and organized in November 1941 by the Jugoslav Communist Party. It was brought under the control of the latter during the war, and there it remained until the Tito-Cominform break in 1948. When the Albanian Communist Party was freed from the Jugoslav grip, it began attacking Tito and the Jugoslav leaders as "deviationists" and "traitors." This continued up to Khrushchev's visit to Belgrade in June 1955. The Soviet leader's efforts to reëstablish friendly relations with Jugoslavia acutely disturbed the Albanian Communists. They feared that this might lead to a restoration of Jugoslav control in Albania, endangering not only their positions but perhaps also their lives. They moderated their attacks, but were cautious in expressing satisfaction at the reconciliation.

Then in February 1956 came Khrushchev's de-Stalinization speech. It was a great blow to the Albanian Communists, for it had been through Stalin's action that they had won independence from Jugoslavia and it was through Stalinist methods that they ruled the country. Soon they began to feel Khrushchev's pressure. In April-May 1956, according to Hoxha's later testimony, the Soviet leadership, through important persons like M. A. Suslov, principal theoretician of the Soviet Communist Party, and P. Pospelov, a member of its Central Committee, tried to persuade the Albanians to rehabilitate Koci Xoxe, who had been executed in 1949 as a Titoist. But Xoxe's case was not the same as that of the Hungarian Rajik or the Bulgarian Kostov. Xoxe, Hoxha's powerful rival, had in reality been a man of the Jugoslavs.

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