Albania in the Context of the European Economic and Political Crisis

By Pavjo Gjini

A research paper developed in the Summer School “Teaching the crisis – Geographies, Methodologies, Perspectives”
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To understand and analyze the Albanian situation – more specifically its importance in relation to global politics and within the context of the European Union – one could use three lenses:

1. One can analyze Albania through a lens of psychoanalytic theory and perceive the country’s situation as a symptom of global and more specifically European traumas. This approach could help us understand the problems not only of Albania, but of Europe itself.

2. A lens of Hegelian dialectics would render the country as the necessary opposite, an irreducible part of no part of the European Union. This suggests that eastern European countries aren’t outside of the European Union, but actually the constitutive part of it by simply being outside. (An exemplary thought experiment would be to ask where the European Union can seek for legitimacy through referendums; inside or outside the Union?).

3. And lastly, one can perceive Albania as a residue of the global economics and politics. This approach, in turn, suggests that there is nothing to understand or hope for from a quasi-failed states like Albania, and so one should not get caught in the idea that universal truth can be found in Albania’s economy and/or politics.

Yet, I do not propose using any of these three lenses here. Regardless of what method one chooses to approach the Albanian problem, I believe we should first – once and for all –  depart from the popular myth of the Balkans as a remote backward region caught up in its own tribal, national and ethnic strife. As I learned during the conference and through exchange with other presenters, the problems my country faces are nearly identical to the problems of other countries in Europe. The importance of understanding this cannot be underestimated.

I wish to argue that that the Albanian catastrophe, starting with the pyramid schemes in 1997, traumatically constituted a certain ideology that would stay unchallenged as the country’s only reality. It is this very ideology that purported itself suitable to deal with the upcoming crisis – an ideology that was itself constituted through a crisis. It presents the European Union as the subject supposed to know, the ultimate master whose suggestions – in collaboration with the IMF and the USA – will lead to a stable and developed Albania. This conference helped me see much more clearly the sharp contrasts between Europe in crisis as presented by other participants, and Europe as the “promised land” that is being presented to the Albanian public.

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