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date: 09 July 2020

Summary and Keywords

Albania’s peaceful exit from the communist world, the adoption of NATO-guided changes in its military institution, the establishment of closer ties with the European Union in conjunction with the strong presence of political leaders in the country’s domestic and internal affairs and its latest economic growth offer the impression of a successful transformation of a former Communist state to a Western-type democratic political model and civil-military relations. However, what is often overlooked is that the country’s political elites, emerging from a lengthy, deeply rooted tradition of clan and tribal power structures, have dominated Albanian politics and its civil-military relations, whether under a monarchical or a communist regime. By combining a pro-Western civilianization profile with an efficient control over Albania’s sociopolitical culture and economic development, these traditional elites permitted the officer corps to take the Western-prescribed necessary steps, during the post–Cold War period, as long as their interests were not deeply affected. The small size of the officer corps, the absence of semiautonomous economic power, as well as of corporate unity in conjunction with the existence of a servile political culture and ideology toward the domestic political elites have forced the country’s civil-military relations to resemble the Western ones only in appearance. The inability/unwillingness of these elites to take some steps towards the country’s social, economic and political advancement raises the question of whether both domestic and external forces are truly committed to democracy or are going to be totally satisfied with only the process of putting “old wine in new bottles.”

Keywords: Albania, civil-military relations, political culture, political elites, patron-client relations, military in politics

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