In an interview for the Albanian edition of Radio Deutche Welle, Kadare tells the reasons for his departure from Albania in September of the 1990, shortly before the fall of the communist regime.
Twenty years ago, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the velvet revolution that transformed Czechoslovakia, the Bulgarians dismissed Teodor Zhivkov and the Iraqis executed Nicolae Ceausescuel. Instead, the Albanian writer Ismail Kadare moved away from Albania in protest against the communist regime that was not taking any steps for the democratization of the country. Kadare called for political asylum in France with the hope of helping his country out of totalitarianism. Do you remember the moment when you decided to leave Albania? Was it difficult for her? Certainly, but I can't say that it was difficult compared to the dramatic or tragic escapes of those who tried to cross the border. Mine was pretty easy: I left with the plane and carried a passport. I stopped in Paris and never returned, making known the reasons why I was forced to leave Albania. I started off, morally it was difficult, I had to leave my people. Although my wife and my daughters already lived in France, in Albania I left my mother, my brother, my sister and other relatives.
She had tried even before leaving Albania, but she didn't. Why did you choose that period? I refer to the developments of that era as the meetings that together with other intellectuals he had with RAMIZ ALIA, asking them to start democratic processes.
My escape was almost obligatory. I thought it a thing to do in every way. Now 20 years have passed and we think differently. Then Albania was in a state of total hypocrisy, never seen in its history. To cope with the pressures, both internal and external, the Albanian state promised everything without looking for effective solutions, it always deceived the citizens, but in reality nobody was going to do something and I say it in full awareness. From the correspondence I had with the Head of State of that period, Ramiz Alia, I knew that they were all lies, nothing true, so I felt the duty to find a handiwork to let the Albanian people know it. As you well know in Albania this could not happen, there was not the slightest freedom of press. They had to stop with allusions and double meanings, they had to talk openly to the people and tell them the truth. It was time to let the people decide, so I thought it essential to leave Albania in any way.
At that time there were great changes in the Eastern Bloc. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, communist regimes have also fallen in other countries such as Romania and Bulgaria. As a writer and intellectual, with his colleagues, did he not believe that the dictatorship in Albania had its days numbered? Didn't he hope for the fall of the regime?
Of course, I hoped like most of the Albanian people and intellectuals. I hoped mapoi I regretted doing it, nothing was true, it was all a big lie. I repeat, my flight was forced. It was necessary to put an end to that biased trust because the Albanian state lied shamelessly. Such cynicism is unprecedented and rare throughout the history of humanity.
The politicians had managed to stage the biggest deception. They organized a meeting with all the intellectuals of the time who would obstruct the democratization process. One can well imagine how true such a thing was, especially in an eastern communist country: the Party, the Polit Byro and the Head of State that wanted the democratization of the country but were hindered by intellectuals. It has never been seen that it is philosophers, writers, artists who prevent it. All this happened in late August, two seventh before I left. A shameful meeting in which Ramiz Alia accused writers and intellectuals of being static.
After 20 years, how do you consider the events of July 1990, the fact that so many people entered the embassies of other states in search of a better life? Have they accelerated subsequent developments in Albania?
No doubt it was one of the factors that contributed to the fall of the dictatorship. Indeed the decisive one along with the December movement. The Albanians have shown that they no longer want the dictatorship. What was needed to overthrow such a regime, capable of using weapons and crime, could lead to similar or worse violence than the Romanian ones because in Albania it was more difficult to cancel the atrocities committed by the regime. This could have happened or the exact opposite: a drastic detachment with the old regime without violence that could have been perhaps more effective, but 20 years ago nobody could have foreseen the best alternative. I believe a general opinion was created and bloodshed was avoided.
According to statements by former President Ramiz Alia in an interview for DW, it was his merit that there was no bloodshed in Albania. Do you share your statement? Is the opposite. If the Communist Party had begun a real process of democratization, in particular the approach to Western Europe, it would certainly have been supported by Albanian citizens. Instead he used deception to prolong his power for a decade. The Albanian people could no longer wait. If they were sincere, approaching the West, accepting the aforementioned "German opportunity" would have been different, but they ruined everything with their hands. Even today they continue to deny this truth, saying that the Germans did not promise anything, but it is not true because I witnessed this problem, I know it well.Are you convinced that the West has extended its hand to Albania?
Absolutely yes. There was a period of indifference on the part of the West towards Albania, but through the latter's fault. After the death of Enver Hoxha, the West made an attempt through Germany, which however failed because of the Albanians.
After the fall of communism, what has changed for her as a writer and intellectual. The freedom that was lacking in the dictatorship of writers, artists and intellectuals is now present. How much do you feel this change?
In literature a lot of things are different, there are no such changes as in life, that can change the direction of things in a radical way. There are no writers who write in a way today and tomorrow change as if by magic. It can't happen like in banks, business or economics. The literature changes in a non-obvious way: on the one hand it is better this way. It has its own calendar, different laws and to return to normality it needs more time than any other kind of social structure.
In other words, is the freedom of the artist also different?
In literature, freedom has another meaning, it is inner freedom, not social freedom. If you don't have inner freedom, social freedom is worthless. Writers can be enslaved (rare) and slaves in freedom. This is the paradox of literature, which is why it has different rhythms and is independent of life. Of writers, there are those who give more and those who give less, but literature lives only in freedom, if it is not free, then it is forgotten and no longer exists.Interview by Mimoza Cika - Kelmendi. Published 20 September 2010 in the online Albanian edition of Deutsche Welle. Original title "Ismail Kadare: Njëzet vjet më parë Shqipëria ishte në një hipokrizi të pashembullt". Translated by AlbaniaNews by Blerina
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