In an arid hill in northern Albania there is an area that brings to mind the communist past of the country: behind a massive steel door, in fact, there is an ancient hidden air base, carved into the heart of the mountain.
Made up of an 600 meter tunnel that once teemed with military life, Gjadër's secret base is now a repository of dozens of MiG military aircraft.
Three decades after leaving the communist regime behind, the Albanian authorities are still trying to sell these Soviet aircraft.
"Aligning our equipment and weapons to NATO standards is part of Albania's new chapter with the Atlantic Alliance. ”- says the head of military defense, Bardhyl Kollçaku.
On MiG military aircraft:
"We will keep some in our museum. The rest will be treated according to national legislation, so they will be offered for sale or used for other purposes."- continued Kollçaku.
The aircraft of the communist era, including the MiG-19, MiG-17 and MiG-21, have been out of use for over a decade. However, museums, collectors and aviation enthusiasts in general have already expressed an interest in giving these relics a new home.
When Albania, in the 2016, discussed for the first time about the possibility of selling these military aircraft, requests arrived from the Museum of Air and Space in Paris and from a German flight school.
But, until now, no sales have been completed due mainly to legal documents that hinder the process.
The military base of Gjadër
Like the 7000 bunkers built in every corner of the country, Gjadër's secret base was part of the communist dictator Enver Hoxha's plan to fortify his state against the feared foreign invasions that never materialized.
More than 600 soldiers have worked over the years within the base, which has been closed in the 2000 and remains inaccessible to the public.
The MiG military aircraft used after the 2000, in fact, were transferred to a different military base, until the last aircraft was taken out of service after an accident in the 2004.
"The pleasure of working and flying in this base was unimaginable. ”- states Fatmir Danaj atFrance Media Agency, current commander of the base.
Today, the dozens of rooms within the base - including a cafeteria, a dormitory and a number of other offices - are empty and abandoned. In one of those that once was an office there is still a reminder hanging on the wall that reads as follows:
"Warning! Put the documents in their files and give them to the secret administrative office before leaving your job."