Steel unity in the Party and our people. The Soviets want to occupy the Vlora base. Tense situation at the base. Admiral Kasatonov goes off with his tail between his legs. The enemies dream of changes in our leadership. The 4th Congress of the PLA. Pospyelov and Andropov in Tirana. The Greek and Czechoslovak delegates get the answer that they deserve to their provocations. Khrushchev’s envoys to Tirana fail in their mission. Why do they “invite” us to go to Moscow again?! Khrushchev’s public attack on the PLA at the 22nd Congress of the CPSU. The final breach: in December 1961 Khrushchev cuts off diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of Albania.
The whole Party and the people were informed of the events and the situation created especially after the Moscow Meeting. We knew that the attacks, provocations and blackmail would be increased and intensified as never before, we were convinced that Khrushchev’s anger would be poured upon us, our Party and people, to force us to submit. We spoke to the Party and people with open hearts, explained everything that had occurred, and made the dangerous activity of the Khrushchevite revisionists clear to them. As always, the Party and the people displayed their high level of maturity, their brilliant revolutionary patriotism, their love for and loyalty to the Central Committee of the Party, and the correct line we had always followed. They thoroughly understood the difficult situation we were going through, therefore, they strained all their mental and physical energies to the maximum, mobilized themselves totally, further tempered their unity, and the Soviet revisionists found themselves up against a concrete wall. The year 1961 was turned into a year of glorious tests. Everywhere, in every sector, the provocations, insinuations and sabotage of the Khrushchevites were fearlessly and resolutely repelled. Nothing was allowed to pass. Moscow, followed immediately by the capitals of its satellites, began economic pressure on us. As the first serious pressure, the revisionists suspended action on the signed contracts and agreements of every kind, and later tore them up in Hitlerite style. They began to withdraw their experts, thinking that everything in our country would come to a standstill. But they were gravely mistaken.
The question of the Vlora base was the pretext for a quarrel. There was no doubt that the base was ours. We would never allow even an inch of our territory to be under the control of foreigners. By clear, official agreement signed by the two governments, without leaving the slightest ground for equivocation, the Vlora base belonged to Albania and, at the same time, was to serve the defence of the camp. It was stated in the agreement that the Soviet Union would provide twelve submarines and a number of auxiliary ships. We were to train the cadres and we trained them, were to take over the ships and we did so, as well as four submarines.
Our crews were trained and were waiting ready to take over the remaining eight.
However, the ideological differences between the two parties had begun, and with Khrushchev, they were bound to have repercussions on such a sensitive spot as the Vlora naval base. He and his men would distort the official agreement for two aims: first, to put pressure on us, to make us submit, and second, if we did not bend the knee, they would try to seize the base themselves, as a powerful starting point from which to occupy the whole of Albania.
Especially after the Bucharest Meeting, the Soviet experts, advisers and other militarymen at the Vlora naval base stepped up the frictions, quarrels and incidents with our sailors. The Soviet side stopped all supplies of the materials they were supposed to provide for the base according to the agreement concluded; all the work commenced was suspended unilaterally and the provocations and blackmail were increased. The staff of the Soviet Embassy in Tirana, as well as the main representative of the General Command of the Armed Forces of the Warsaw Treaty, General Andreyev, placed themselves at the head of this savage anti-Albanian and anti-socialist activity. Countless acts of the filthiest vandalism were carried out by the Soviet personnel at the base on orders from above, and despite this, “to be in order”, they tried to accuse our people over the acts of hooligans they committed themselves. Their shamelessness and cynicism reached the point that the “chief representative”, Andreyev, sent a note to the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People’s Republic of Albania in which he claimed that “unpleasant acts were occurring at the base” from the side of the Albanians. And what were these “acts”? “Such and such an Albanian sailor threw his cigarette butt on the deck of the Soviet ship”, “the children of Dukat tell the Soviet children ‘Go home’”, “the Albanian waiter in a club told our officer, ‘I am in charge here and not you’”, etc. General Andreyev even complained to the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Albanian state that an unknown child had allegedly relieved himself secretly near the building used by the Soviets.
With completely just indignation one of our officers answered Andreyev:
“Comrade General,” he said, “why do you not take up the key problems, but involve yourself with such trifles, which do not come within the authority even of the ships’ commanders, but of the boatswains and the volunteers of the Front organization in charge of the residential blocks?!”
Keeping cool, we vigilantly watched the development of the situation and continually instructed our comrades to act cautiously and patiently, but never to submit and never fall for the provocations of Khrushchev’s agents.
“In order to avoid disorder and incidents, the Vlora base should be placed completely under the command of the Soviet side!” proposed the Soviets.
We would never, never accept such a solution. It would be signing ourselves into slavery. We firmly opposed them and referred them to the agreement, under which the base was ours and ours alone.
In order to give their proposal the colour of a joint decision, in March 1961, they exploited a meeting of the Warsaw Treaty, at which Grechko insisted that the Vlora base should be left entirely in Soviet hands, and placed “under the direct command” of the General Commander of the Warsaw Treaty, that is, of Grechko himself.
We firmly and indignantly opposed this proposal and, although the decision was adopted by the others, we declared:
“The only solution is that the Vlora base must remain in the hands of the Albanian Army. We will not permit any other solution.
Then the Khrushchevites decided not to hand over to us the eight submarines and other ships which, according to the agreement, belonged to Albania. We insisted that they were ours and demanded that the Soviet crews should be withdrawn and everything handed over to our sailors, as had been done with the first four submarines. Besides the “chief representative”, Andreyev, the Soviet revisionists also sent a certain rear-admiral to Tirana. This whole team was comprised of officers of the Soviet security service, sent to organize disturbances, sabotage and diversion at the Vlora base.
“We shall not give you the ships,” they said, “they are ours.”
We confronted them with the state agreement and they found another pretext.
“Your crews are not ready to take them over, they are not completely trained.”
These were all pretexts. Our sailors had gone through the respective schools, had been training for years and had always proved they were completely capable of taking over the submarines and the other ships. Just a few months before the situation became tense, the Soviets themselves had declared that our crews were ready to take over the vessels that belonged to us.
On this, too, we gave them the answer they deserved. Our officers and sailors at the base carried out all the orders we gave them coolly, with determination and iron discipline. The Soviet provocations at the base were stepped up, especially at the time when we were in Moscow at the Meeting of the 81 parties. The comrades of our Political Bureau kept us informed from Tirana about everything that occurred, and from Moscow we gave them guidance and advice to keep cool, to guard against provocations and to strengthen their vigilance, as well as on the military measures they had to take in Vlora and throughout the whole country to ensure that the army was in full readiness.
The orders to the Soviet officers in Albania on how they should behave came from Moscow, where we were holding fierce debates with Khrushchev, Mikoyan, Suslov, etc., during those days.
At the first meeting we had with Mikoyan and his colleagues in Moscow, on November 10, as soon as he started speaking, he tried to frighten us:
“Your officers are behaving badly with ours at the Vlora base. Do you want to leave the Warsaw Treaty?”
We immediately gave Mikoyan the reply he deserved. After years of filling us up to the neck with his “criticisms” and “advice”, now he was threatening us. We mentioned the unworthy behaviour of Soviet officers at the Vlora base, especially the villainous actions of one of the Soviet “rear-admirals”, who, I told Mikoyan, “might be anything, but certainly not a rear-admiral.” I mentioned the statements of Grechko and Malinovsky, who had also threatened that they would expel us from the Warsaw Treaty, etc.
My reply made him wriggle and squirm, trying to dodge any responsibility, but two days later Khrushchev made the same threat.
“If you like, we can dismantle the base,” he shouted, while we were talking about the major disagreements created.
“Are you trying to threaten us with this?” I said.
“Comrade Enver, don’t raise your voice,” Khrushchev interrupted, “the submarines are ours.”
“Yours and ours,” I said, we are fighting for socialism. The territory of the base is ours. We have a signed agreement about the submarines, which recognizes the rights of the Albanian people. I defend the interests of my country. Therefore, take good note that the base is ours and will remain ours.
When we returned from Moscow, the provocations at the base were increased and in order to exert pressure on and impress us, the Soviet deputy foreign minister, Firyubin, came to Tirana with two other “deputies”: the first deputy-chief of the General Staff of the Soviet Army and Navy, Antonov, and the deputy chief of the Supreme Staff of the Soviet Navy, Sergeyev.
They came allegedly “to reach agreement”, but in fact they brought us an ultimatum:
The Vlora base must be put completely and solely under Soviet command, which was to be subordinate to the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Warsaw Treaty.
“We are the masters here,” we told them clearly and bluntly. “Vlora has been and is ours.”
“This is the decision of the Command of the Warsaw Treaty,” threatened Firyubin, the former Soviet ambassador in Belgrade, at the time of the Khrushchev-Tito reconciliation.
We gave him the reply he deserved and, after trying to frighten us by saying, “We shall take the ships and the imperialists will gobble you up,” he left, accompanied by the two other generals.
After them, the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Kasatonov, came to Tirana with the mission of seizing not only the eight submarines and the floating dock with Soviet crews, which were also the property of the Albanian state, but even the submarines which we had taken over earlier. We told him bluntly: Either you hand the submarines over to us according to the agreement, or within a short time (we set the date) you must withdraw immediately from the bay, with only those ships on which your crews serve. You are violating the agreement, you are stealing our submarines, and you will pay for this stand.
The admiral wriggled and tried to soften us, but in vain. He did not hand over the submarines, but went to Vlora, boarded the command submarine and lined up the others in fighting formation. We gave orders to close the Sazan Narrows and to train the guns on the Soviet ships. Admiral Kasatonov, who had wanted to frighten us, was frightened himself. He was caught like a rat in a trap and if he attempted to implement his plan he might find himself at the bottom of the sea. In these conditions the admiral was obliged to take only the submarines with Soviet crews, and he sailed out of the bay back home with his tail between his legs. A great evil was removed from our land, once and for all.
In the last year in particular, the Soviets at the Vlora base committed innumerable vile and revolting acts. However, at those delicate moments the group of our officers at the base capably and intelligently defended the Party against the plotters, provocateurs and chauvinists, who corrupted the feelings of the Soviet sailors to the ultimate degree. They holed the reservoirs, smashed the beds and windows in the buildings where they lived and worked, etc. They tried to take away everything, down to the last nut and bolt, but did not succeed in their aims. We took a stern stand, defended our rights properly and replied to the attacks and provocations with cool tempers, while they lost their heads.
The Soviet revisionists were furious. They committed every act of sabotage and broke the agreements. They were compelled to recall ambassador Ivanov and sent a certain Shikin in his place. He was to try to prepare the final act of the hostile work of the Soviet revisionists—to split the Party. The Khrushchevites hoped to bring about the split at the 4th Congress which we were preparing. They deceived themselves that what they had failed to achieve in other ways, might occur at our congress. They expected that the congress would denounce the line pursued by the leadership of our Party in Bucharest and Moscow. At that period, the bourgeoisie and reaction, informed and directly and indirectly incited by the Khrushchevites, Titoites and their agents, had launched a campaign of slanders against our country and Party. They hoped that the revisionist cataclysm would occur in Albania, too. “Enver Hoxha chief of the Albanian Communist Party will soon be relieved of his post, as a result of the conference of communist leaders of the world which was held last month in Moscow, reported a Western news agency, in a commentary stemming from Belgrade, on the eve of the opening of our 4th Congress.
“Observers of Eastern Europe say that Moscow will use its influence to bring about changes in the Communist Party of Albania, which took a hard line at the Moscow Conference,” said the imperialist news agencies during those days, and continued: “Although even communist China accepted the Soviet line, the Albanians have persisted in their stand.”
We read these reports of the sooth-sayers of imperialism with scorn and knew very well who had a hand in compiling them.
At the meeting which was organized on November 25, 1960, between the delegations of the PLA and the CPSU, Mikoyan personally, told Comrades Mehmet and Hysni:
“You will see what difficult situations will come about within your Party and people with this change you are making in your relations with the Soviet Union.”
We heard such threatening statements, sometimes open, sometimes camouflaged, from all directions.
Nevertheless we calmly continued our course: we invited delegations from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and from other communist and workers’ parties. From the Soviet Union came Pospyelov and Andropov, from Czechoslovakia a certain Barak, who was minister of the interior and was later jailed as a thief, etc. Let them come and see with their own eyes what the Party of Labour of Albania and the Albanian people were, let them try to achieve their secret aims. They would catch their own fingers in the trap.
The congress opened in an atmosphere of indescribable enthusiasm and unity of the Party and our people. The opening day was turned into a real people’s celebration. The people, singing, dancing and carrying flowers, escorted the delegates to the entrance of the building where the congress was to be held and while the work began within, the celebration continued outside. This was the initial reply which the Khrushchevite, Titoite and other revisionists received right at the start. They would continue to receive other crushing blows inside.
It had never crossed the minds of Pospyelov, Andropov and their lackeys that they would find themselves in the midst of such a fire, which warmed and strengthened our hearts and seared and blinded them. Throughout all the days of the congress, the steel unity of our Party around its Central Committee, the high degree of maturity and keen Marxist-Leninist sense of the delegates, the vigilance, keen-wittedness and readiness of every delegate to give the proper reply to any provocation on the part of revisionist “friends”, were outstanding.
Pospyelov’s speech, with which the revisionists hoped to create the split in our congress, was not applauded at all. On the contrary, it was received with silence and contempt by the delegates to the congress. From his box, Andropov openly directed his puppets as to when they should clap, when they should remain seated, or rise to their feet. It was a ludicrous spectacle. They discredited themselves completely, both with the stands they adopted and with the base things they did.
The representative of the Communist Party of China at the congress was Li Xiennien, who sat in stony silence through the sessions when he saw the enthusiasm of the delegates. From the tribune he said some good words addressed to our Party, but “advised” us to be patient and cautious and not break off the talks with Khrushchev. We went about our own business.
When they saw that our ranks were very solid, without any sign of a breach, the Khrushchevites intensified their interference, pressure and blackmail. They provoked us everywhere.
“What is this?!” Andropov angrily asked one of our comrades, a functionary at the apparatus of the Central Committee of our Party who was accompanying him. “Why do the delegates cheer so much for Enver Hoxha?!”
“Go and ask them!” said our comrade. “But tell me,” he continued, “for whom should they cheer, apart from Marxism-Leninism, the Party and its leadership?! Or do you intend to propose that we should put someone else at the head of the Party?!”
The blow went home and Andropov pulled in his horns. The Greek delegate and Rudolph Barak of Czechoslovakia were brought into action. Apart from other things, the Greek delegate considered incorrect the reply which we had given to the anti-Albanian talk which Sophocles Venizelos had held with Khrushchev about “Northern Epirus”. “Venizelos is not a bad man, he is a progressive bourgeois democrat,” the Greek delegate told our comrade accompanying him. Our comrade replied that the views of the “democrat” Venizelos about “Northern Epirus” were no different from those of the rabid chauvinist and anti-Albanian, Eleutherios Venizelos. Apart from other acts, even the speech which the Greek delegate was to deliver at our congress was in an openly provocative spirit, and Mehmet, becoming angry, gave the Greek the reply he deserved in front of everybody, by describing him with this true name: provocateur.
Khrushchev’s other agent, Barak, also exploited the occasion along with others, who, through actions worthy of the dirtiest scoundrels, tried to vent their spleen, but only discredited themselves and those who had sent them even more. They operated from the boxes, or in the intervals between sessions. In the meantime, the Soviet journalists had also gone into “action”.
What did they and those who commanded them not do in order “to discover” some shortcoming at which they could grasp to launch their attack! But they achieved nothing. The congress went like clock-work. With a profound sense of responsibility, the Albanian communists drew up the balance of the past and defined the tasks for the future. However, the revisionists could not go away entirely “empty-handed”, because they would have to render account to their masters. And they found the “shortcoming”:
“There are many ovations and consequently the sessions go on for more than one hour and a half,” an alleged journalist of TASS, just arrived from Moscow to follow the proceedings of the congress, “protested” angrily.
“What can we do? Should we tell the delegates not to applaud?!” asked our comrade accompanying him, in a sarcastic tone.
“The time-table should be respected, an hour and a half and tochka,1 said the “journalist”.
“However, it’s not the journalists, but the elected presidium that presides over the congress,” replied our comrade. “Nevertheless, if you consider it reasonable, make some protest against ovations. . .”
Before they departed after the congress, Pospyelov and Andropov sought a meeting with us.
“We want to talk about some matters which have to do with our mutual comradely relations,” said Pospyelov, who spoke first. “We want to strengthen the friendship between us, to have a strong friendship.”
“This is what we have always wanted, too,” I said, “but don’t think that this close friendship will be strengthened through the ‘holy spirit’. This friendship can be achieved by applying the principles of Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism correctly and consistently.”
I went on to list to Pospyelov some of their anti-Marxist and anti-Albanian actions, and I stressed that there could never be friendship on the course which the Soviet leadership was following.
“You are interfering in the internal affairs of the Soviet leadership,” he said.
I told Pospyelov: “To say that this or that view or action of this or that leader is not right, is not in any way interference in the internal affairs of a leadership. We have never intended to interfere in your internal affairs. However, you must understand clearly that neither have we permitted, nor are we going to permit the Soviet leadership to interfere in the internal affairs of our Party in any way. Every party is master of its own house.
“It is true,” I continued, “that there are major ideological differences between our two parties. We told you of our opinions about these things openly and according to all the Leninist norms. You reacted angrily to this, and apart from other things, extended these ideological differences to other fields. Mikoyan wanted to frighten us with ‘the difficult situations’ which would emerge for us in the Party and this was a threat. You have seen our situation,” I said, “therefore tell Mikoyan what you saw at the 4th Congress of our Party and tell him to what degree our Party is ‘split’!”
The aim of these scoundrels was to tell us that, among other things, all the agreements and protocols on credits, which they had accorded us for the five-year plan, would have to be re-examined. To this end they demanded that I should go to Moscow.
We resolutely rejected these hostile demands, which concealed sinister plans.
“The economy is another field to which you have extended the ideological differences which exist between us,” we told Pospyelov and Andropov. “This is not Marxist, nor is it befitting a party and state such as yours.”
“We do not understand you,” interrupted Pospyelov. “In what do you see this?”
“There are scores of facts,” we said. “But let us look at your stand towards our economic delegation, which went to the Soviet Union last November. This delegation was kept hanging around in Moscow for months on end. No one received it, no one listened to it. Apart from other attempts, our economic delegation sent more than 20 letters and telegrams to the respective organs of your side, just during the days of its stay there, but no reply came, nothing was discussed and nothing was signed. Do you think that we don’t understand these stands of yours, which have the smell of blackmail?”
“When the Yugoslavs go there you finish the talks with them in 10 days,” said Mehmet.
“The war minister of Indonesia went to Moscow and agreements were signed immediately. You gave him big credits for armaments,” I said, “while you neglected little socialist Albania, with which you have agreements.”
“You must come to Moscow for talks,” they said, repeating Khrushchev’s constant demand that I should go there.
“We have replied to you in writing,” I told them. “There is no reason for me and Mehmet to go to Moscow to discuss problems which have been discussed and decided long ago. As you are well aware we have discussed and jointly drafted the agreement on credits for our coming five-year plan, not just in principle, but giving details of all the projects. On the basis of this agreement, Soviet experts came here, drew up the designs, etc. While now you want us to go back there to re-examine the agreements! Why?! We cannot agree to remove one comma from all those very detailed documents, which have been signed at the top level by the two sides,” I replied to the revisionists, and went on:
“There is no reason for me to go to Moscow and I do not want to go. As for the agreements, there are two ways open to you: either you respect them or you violate them. It depends on you which way you choose. If you violate the agreements and continue your hostile anti-Marxist course, the world will judge you and condemn you. We told you openly, like Marxists, everything we had against you. Now you must choose: either the road of Marxist-Leninist friendship or the road of hostility.”
As was natural for them, the Khrushchevites chose the road of hostility to the People’s Republic of Albania and the Party of Labour of Albania. They became more furious and more shameless in their actions. As is known, at that period we discovered and smashed the plot of several imperialist and revisionist foreign powers, which, in collaboration with their agents in our ranks, wanted to launch a military aggression against our country and people. At the 4th Congress of the Party we announced that the plot had been discovered and that the conspirators, Teme Sejko and others, would render account to the people’s court. The conspirators admitted everything with their own mouths.
Precisely at this time, our “friends”, members of the Warsaw Treaty, headed by Khrushchev, apart from their threats, declared to us: “A special commission of the Warsaw Treaty should come to Albania to verify how well-founded were the things you said about the plot”! Their perfidy had gone as far as this. They wanted to come to Albania to achieve what the others were unable to achieve. For this, too, we gave them the reply they deserved.
Khrushchev was left without another move. He tried all his manoeuvres, cunning, traps and blackmail on us and none of them yielded results. Then he came out openly against us. At the 22nd Congress of his party, in October 1961, Khrushchev publicly attacked and slandered the Party of Labour of Albania.
We replied at once, openly, to his base anti-Albanian attacks and through the press made known to the Party and the people both Khrushchev’s accusations against us and our stand towards those accusations and attacks.
Khrushchev immediately received not only our reply but also that of the whole Albanian people: in thousands of thousands of telegrams and letters which came to our Central Committee from all corners of the country, from the most varied strata of the population, the communists and our people, while expressing their profound and legitimate indignation at the treacherous actions of Khrushchev, supported the line of the Party with all their strength and pledged that they would defend and apply this correct line to the end in the face of any test or sacrifice.
Then Khrushchev undertook his final act against us—the only thing left undone—unilaterally, he broke off diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of Albania. This was his final desperate gesture of revenge: “Since they did not want to stay under my wing, let the imperialists gobble them up,” he thought. But he was terribly wrong, just as he had been wrong all his life. We gave a resolute reply to his hostility and that of the Khrushchevite lackeys. Heroically and with Marxist-Leninist maturity, the Party of Labour of Albania resisted the attacks of modern revisionism led by Khrushchev and counter-attacked hard, with exemplary solidarity, with great Marxist-Leninist clarity and with indisputable and undeniable arguments and facts.
The revolutionary words and opinions of the Party of Labour of Albania were listened to with respect everywhere in the world. The proletariat saw that this small party was successfully and gloriously defending Marxism-Leninism against the revisionist cliques that were in power. Modern revisionism, headed by Soviet revisionism, was exposed and is still being exposed with revolutionary courage by our Party.
The revisionist Soviet Union has suffered colossal defeats in every field. Its pseudo-Marxist disguise was torn from it and it lost the prestige and authority which had been forged by Lenin, Stalin and the Bolshevik Party which they led. The communists, the revolutionaries and fighters for people’s liberation were not to be deceived by the demagogy of the Khrushchevite revisionists. Our Party has made, is making and always will make its contribution to this revolutionary work.
Thus the relations of socialist Albania with the revisionist Soviet Union came to an end. However, our struggle against the treacherous, fascist, social-imperialist activity of the Khrushchevite and Brezhnev revisionists did not cease and will not cease. We have attacked them and will go on attacking them until they are wiped from the face of the earth, until the joint struggle of the peoples, revolutionaries and Marxist-Leninists all over the world triumphs everywhere, including the Soviet Union.
One day the Soviet people will sternly condemn the Khrushchevites and will honour and love the Albanian people and the Party of Labour of Albania, as they loved us in better times, because our people and Party fought unflinchingly against the Khrushchevites, who are our common enemies.
1. “Full stop” (Russian in original).