Albania's Cappuccino Coup

The Albanian ex-communists' victory represents a startling success for a coalition of interests that is sure to gain strength and momentum. Today, Albania; tomorrow, other European countries sleepwalking their way to self-destruction.

Issue: Winter 1997-1998

'Oh, I know all about the Albanians', cried a lady; 'they are those
funny people with pink eyes and white hair.' But the Albanian is not
so quickly explainable; and of all the Balkan peoples he is least
known to the English.

--Edith Durham in The Burden of the Balkans

To people only glancingly familiar with it, Albania is the country
that put the a's into Ruritania. With its all-too-familiar
pretensions to antiquity, a language that appears to have remembered
its p's and q's but not many other letters, and an interwar
ruler--King Zog--who can be considered the last word in eccentric,
self-styled (and in his case self-appointed) Balkan monarchs, it is
perhaps understandable that even educated audiences tend to think of
Albanians in terms of the outlandishly dressed impostors in Mozart's
Cosi fan Tutte.

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