Memorie.al/publikon the unknown story of Koço Kota, originally from the city of Korça, who after being educated at the University of Athens for Political Science, in 1912 returned to Albania, responding to the call of Ismail Qemali, who appointed him Secretary-General of the Ministry of Education. After the great support he gave to Ahmet Zogu for his return to power, in 1925 he appointed him to the post of Minister of Internal Affairs and then, as Prime Minister of Albania, functions which he performed with high loyalty to King Zog , whom he accompanied during his departure from Albania, in April 1939, after the fascist aggression of Benito Mussolini. The testimony of his granddaughter, Kristina Kote, about the placement of Koço Kota in Thessaloniki, where in 1945 three officers of the Albanian State Security, who with the help of the Greek communists, who then controlled a large part of Greece, kidnapped him forcibly put him in a locked car and brought to Tirana, to be later sentenced to the Special Court, with 30 years in prison. His tragic death in Burrell Prison and the subsequent persecution of the family of his brother, Ilia Kote, who not only had never been involved in politics, but he had been an ardent supporter of Fan Noli….
“My uncle Kostaqi, or Koço as we called him, in our family quickly left Korça and settled in Tirana, before 1920, because he was involved in politics. Unlike Koço, my father Ilia, who graduated in Istanbul with a degree in Law, not only did not get involved in politics, but he told Koço to give up politics. But Koço never listened to our father and he became involved in politics when he was young in the government of Ismail Qemali, where he was appointed Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Education. Although Koço worked and fought for a lifetime, for the good of Albania, since the Congress of Lushnja where he was elected Secretary and then, as Minister of World Affairs, and twice as Prime Minister of Albania, he was lucky tragic. After the end of the War, he left Athens, where he had settled after Zog’s departure, and settled in Thessaloniki, together with two of his companions, former high-ranking officials of the Monarchy. From the beginning of 1945, three State Security officers from Albania went to his house and met him, who reached there, assisted by the Greek communists who at that time controlled a large part of the territory of Greece, where Thessaloniki was included. They were removed as nationalists and lied to him, saying that he should return to Albania with them, as a coalition government would be formed, with the communists of Enver Hoxha. Although Koço did not believe their statements and refused to return, they forcibly took him in a locked car and brought him to Tirana, where they took him to the Special Court in March 1945. Unfortunately, Koço had his brother speak. and my father Ilias, who had told him not to get involved in politics. “After a life sentence in the Special Court, he died tragically in the dark cells of Burrell Prison.” This is how Kristina Kota remembers the story of her uncle, the former Prime Minister of Albania Koço Kota, who took an active part in Albanian politics at a very young age, in the Government of Ismail Qemali and later in the Congress of Lushnja where he was elected Senator. , to continue his long career as an MP, Minister of Interior, World Affairs and twice Prime Minister of Albania.
Continued from the previous issue
Mr. Oedipus, after Bucharest, on what itinerary did you travel to China?
From Bucharest we traveled to Tehran and from there to western China stopping in the city of Urumqi in the autonomous province of Xinjiang, where we were received by the highest local authorities. After staying there for two days, we boarded the same plane again and arrived in Beijing later in the day.
What was the main purpose of your delegation going to China?
The main purpose of our trip to China was to get from the Chinese the most modern weapons available to their army at that time, starting from tanks, planes, missiles, warships, heavy artillery, military plants, and any other military arsenal that they had and disposed of. According to the order we had from Tirana, we had to ask for as many weapons of all kinds.
Why exactly at that time were these requests made for all that arsenal of armaments?
In parentheses I wanted to say that the visit of our delegation to China, takes place after the visit of the American president, Richard Nixson, to that country and after the letter sent by the Central Committee of the ALP, the Communist Party of China, a letter in it which expressed great dissatisfaction with the rapprochement policy the Chinese were pursuing with the Americans. In that situation, it seems that Enver Hoxha intended to sever ties with China, and before doing so, he first sought to obtain large quantities of weapons which the Chinese provided us for free. So that was the purpose of our delegation going to China.
Who received you in Beijing and where were you accommodated?
Upon arrival at Beijing Capital Airport, we were taken to the government residences that the Chinese had for the reception of foreign delegations. The day after our arrival in Beijing, we had a plenary meeting with the delegations of the two countries, which took place at the Ministry of Defense of China. The Chinese delegation was led by the Minister of Defense himself, Marshal Ji Chen Ji, who had replaced Lin Biao and was considered one of the most trained military personnel of the Chinese army. Also with him were all the senior military with respective directors of all types of weapons. In that meeting, Beqir Balluku made a presentation where he presented all our requests regarding the needs of the Albanian army. Those demands were very ambitious because it was about the most sophisticated weapons that China itself produced and had at its disposal.
Specifically for what?
In addition to the conventional armaments I mentioned a little above, in the requests we submitted to them, there were also 18 military plants. We argued this with the fact that in a case of closure of the Suez Canal, we could produce the weapons ourselves in Albania.
What was the Chinese response when you asked for 18 military plants?
After that request we made, the Chinese advanced and said that they would give us 24 military plants and after their response, Beqir Balluku, immediately informed Tirana. But from Tirana we were told not to accept 24 factories, as Albania would turn into a militaristic country with a larger army budget than the economy.
How did the talks proceed?
The whole conversation lasted about six hours, as half of the time was spent translating Beqir Balluku’s speech by the Chinese translator. Since the conversation lasted a long time, according to the rules they had, the Chinese put in front of us yogurt dishes while eating themselves.
What was the response given by the Chinese after Beqir Ballluk’s speech?
After Beqir’s speech, the Chinese Minister of Defense took the floor, who immediately kept some small notes on a piece of paper. In his speech that did not last more than half an hour, among other things, the Chinese minister said: “Two years ago, Albania was in danger and we helped by giving them weapons outside the plan we had. (He was talking about the time when In Greece, the junta of colonels came to power.) But now the political situation in Albania and in your region is completely different, and we will soon send a government delegation to Greece. we will carefully study your requests “. This was the answer given to us by the Minister of Defense of China with which he more or less rejected all our demands.
After the meeting with the Minister of Defense, who was received?
One day after that meeting, our delegation was received by the Prime Minister of China, Chu En Lai. At that meeting we were 18 members of the delegation, as experts on various weapons did not attend. With us was the Minister of Trade, Kiço Ngjela, who had been waiting for us there for a month. At the beginning of his speech, Chu En Lai asked us what plane we had come to China with, and when he learned that we had traveled on the plane the Chinese had bought in Russia, he said: “The Soviet planes you came with are “But do not worry, we will now send you American Boeing planes, which your prime minister also likes very much.” These words of Chu En Lait fell on us like a bomb, but we were more impressed by the fact that he did not mention the name of Mehmet Shehu at all, but simply said: you’re prime minister.
What did Chu En Lai allude to with those words he said about the Albanian Prime Minister?
In parentheses I wanted to say that since the 60s when we broke up with the Soviets, there were rumors that in the Albanian high leadership there was a man of the Americans and it was about Mehmet Shehu, but this was very conspiratorial and was discussed in very narrow districts. Those words that had come out of Khrushchev at that time, now we were hearing them from the mouth of the Prime Minister of China and our biggest surprise was that at that time the problem was boiling everywhere in Tirana, but we could not discuss it with each other the other those things.
How did the talks go and what did Chu En Lai say next?
After the allusion he made to Mehmet Shehu, Çu En Lai told us: “Comrade Kiço Ngjela is here with you, who have been waiting for a month to meet with me, but I am waiting for him with you. He has come for her asked for wheat because there was a natural disaster in Albania, but the same thing happened to us, so we were forced to ask for wheat from Australia and Canada, because it is not a joke with the bread of the people, but they did not give it to us. we were forced and asked the French, who publicly announced that they would take wheat to the US to give it to us. “Do you want wheat or not? ‘Therefore, Albanian friends, we want, we do not want, you and we will eat wheat from America.”
Was there a reaction from the Albanian delegation regarding these suggestions of the Chinese Prime Minister?
We were very surprised by the words that Chu En Lai said to us and in a way it was an answer he was giving us about Enver’s letter to the Chinese, why they were related to the Americans. The Chinese Prime Minister then made a presentation on the new policy that China was pursuing after the Cultural Revolution, condemning the damage that Lin Biao had done with his policy. He told us that with the policy of opening up to the outside world that China was pursuing, it had entered a new stage of development. In his speech, Chu often used the expression: “Opening up to the outside world is a shortcut.” His words were a reflection of Nixon’s visit to China and with this he indirectly hit the policy of isolation with the world that Enver Hoxha was following. So in short, the subtext of Chu En Lai’s entire speech was this: “We are opening up to the world, open up to you.”
What else do you remember from Chu En Lait’s word?
He went on to say: “The Soviet Union has become a militaristic state that is intensively developing military technology, but it does so by oppressing its own people and to the detriment of its own well-being. But the smoke will you see later this policy that the Soviets are pursuing.America is also a militaristic state, but it does so without affecting the living standards of the people at all.It is surprising that you consider the Soviet Union a revisionist state and on the other hand, walk in his way, militarizing your country. “The allusion made by the Chinese Prime Minister was more than clear. In short, he was telling us, “Why are you looking for 18 military plants and not developing agriculture?” After that at one point he asked Kiço Ngjela telling him how many dollars was the per capita income in Albania, but Kiço did not know and he was forced to ask one of his assistants (in that meeting Çu had received 40 experts with him) and when he told him that Albania had a per capita income more than China, Chu En Lai told us: “What do you want from us”?! At the end of his speech, he made the conclusions of the meeting where, among other things, he said: “Your leadership is not implementing the sincere and fraternal messages that we have given to them for the development of the Albanian economy.” “This fell on us like a bomb and I remembered the words that Khrushchev had said to us during a meeting in Moscow in 1961 about the policy that Enver Hoxha was pursuing.”
What had Khrushchev told them?
That meeting took place in the framework of the Warsaw Pact and I was there together with some of the highest military of the Albanian General Staff. According to the agreements that Albania had signed within that Treaty, the protocol required that Enver and Mehmeti be present there, but they did not come. When Khrushchev took the floor, he said: “Where are Enver and Mehmet, why did they not come here, the parties are also removed from us like eagles. Eagles like them we have as many as you want in the Caucasus who makes noise all day.” Khrushchev then continued his speech, calling on us senior Albanian military not to allow the dangerous adventure that Enver Hoxha was pursuing with his policy and the subtext of his speech was that we should overthrow him. Khrushchev’s words came to my mind the moment Chu En Lai was speaking to us, and they differed only in one very small thing: if Khrushchev fell straight “with the pear ax”, Chu En Lai fell a little farther and farther away. While the other biggest change was that in 1961 when Khrushchev spoke, we senior military left the whole hall, there with Chu En Lain, did not speak and did not move any of us./Memorie.al
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