ALBANIA: RACING TOWARDS EUROPE, BUT PAST IS NOT FORGOTTEN (ANSAmed) - VLORA (ALBANIA) - The tears come at the end of a conversation held in front of aMessage 1 of 1 , Oct 30, 2010View SourceALBANIA: RACING TOWARDS EUROPE, BUT PAST IS NOT FORGOTTEN(ANSAmed) - VLORA (ALBANIA) - The tears come at the end of a conversation held in front of a microphone and a video camera. Just a few words, choked by emotion: ''Italy was our window onto hope.'' Laureta Petoshati is an Albanian journalist who has returned to work in Vlora after spending ten years in New York. It is Laureta who points out how Italy and its information were something that made Albanians living under one of the harshest and most obtuse communist dictatorships understand that there was a world beyond their sea. Or else behind their mountains, which are still beautiful despite the general building frenzy everywhere, which often defies even the most elementary safety rules, let alone the rules of aesthetics. Albania in 2010 is a country which, despite it all, is unable to erase the past, to set aside the fears of a regime that laid siege to their minds, even before their bodies, as the generations that make the decisions in the country are the children of communism who have a disjointed and indirect knowledge The coast and the countryside are still marred by the hundreds of bunkers that were built, often in places that were entirely devoid of logic, lying in wait for an enemy that never came. And as dismantling these monuments of idiocy would cost a fortune, these small, horrendous constructions remain where they are, perhaps right next to a charming house that has been built with the remittances of an emigrant. In Vlora, which stands by a sea that could be its Eldorado, no-one has forgotten, no-one over the age of 30 can sweep away the constant, suffocating fear that broke up families, that set up each one against the other. The omnipotent Sigurimi watched over everything. The Sigurimi, the secret police of the dictator Enver Hoxha, weaved an extremely tight system of controls around the Albanian people's lives (with over 800,000 people on the payroll, it employed a quarter of the population). It took hold within families, where anyone who had a radio and who managed to tune in to Italian broadcasters had to do so when they were home alone. The prefect of Vlora, Halili, bitterly points out, that to end up in prison, all it took was for a child of just a few years to say at nursery school or whilst playing with his friends that Grandma and Grandpa or their big brother had been listening to programmes in a language they didn't understand. And, when television arrived and people worked out that all that was necessary to make an aerial was a piece of electrical wire in order to receive ''grainy'' images, but which were however still images, the kids of the era, remembers Rinald Bezhani, director of the Pavarsia University board, took huge risks, for example, to watch the San Remo music festival. Law 55 punished these things as if they were subversive acts. And the sentences were heavy, with up to eight years in prison and the certainty that the sentence would also be served by family members, in terms of harassment, threats and hardships. Albania is therefore still paying the extremely heavy toll of its past dictatorship because even today it is a topic that hovers over everything: politics, the economy, social relations, culture. Now the country seems to struck by a bulimia of knowledge: it hungers for contacts and experience. It wants to have a dialogue, to enter Europe - not as an accepted party but to enter it with full dignity. The country is focussing above all on its young people, says the Minister for Innovation and Information Communication Technology, Genc Pollo, who does not hide his great ambitions and projects that are based on the awareness that his people are ready to set goals and who are in fact already on the road to achieving them. (ANSAmed).