875.00/4–2949: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Caffery) to the Secretary of State

top secret

1746. ReDeptel 1349, April 27.2 Foreign Office has limited detailed or statistical material Albania and regards it as being developed into strategically important Soviet outpost between Yugoslavia and Greece, with complete political, economic and military Soviet control of country through 4000 Soviet civilian technicians and 1300 Soviet military, latter to train Albanian army of 25–30,000 men which is receiving extensive Soviet equipment.

Political control is exercised through Hoxha regime, Moscow’s man being Shehu,3 Interior Minister and official successor to Hoxha,4

Soviet economic control, which prior to Tito’s break with Cominform had been exercised by Yugoslavia, is total. All Yugoslav technicians have been removed and their Russian replacements total 4000. Furthermore, USSR has practical monopoly Albanian foreign trade, supplying latter by sea not only with necessary food imports without which she would starve but also apparently with fertilizers, tractors, railway and other industrial equipment denoting a real effort, whether propaganda or substantive, to create modern state entirely dependent on USSR. Regular liaison with USSR other than by sea limited to one fortnightly Soviet airplane passing over and hence subject control of Yugoslavia.

Cultural and educational control hi hands USSR which replaces [Page 299] Yugoslavia, which replaced Italy. Russian is principal foreign language taught in schools and most Albanian students studying abroad at state expense have been transferred to Russian universities.

To the 1300 Soviet officers resident in Albania for purpose organizing and training Albanian army must be added unknown number attached Greek rebel forces which use Albanian territory as base. Latter, however, have no internal function in Albania.

French consider Albanian population as whole largely hostile to regime and increasingly anti-Russian. However, they are under complete control and no dissident or resistance movements exist except potentially.

Former French Minister Menant5 now in France awaiting reassignment (probably to Panama) and succeeded by Chartier, former Consul General, Milan, who arrived Tirana February. …

Foreign Office prepared allow us study recent despatches from Tirana most of which we glanced at yesterday but do not believe much more detailed information than that summarized here will be available. If Department has specific questions believe conversation with Menant (who is not now in Paris) would be most productive. Endeavoring also to contact Mr. Walling, American citizen and UNICEF representative in Albania, now in France and his views, if obtainable, will be cabled.

  1. Not printed; it requested the Embassy in Paris to obtain from the French Foreign Ministry as soon as possible such information as was available from the French Legation in Albania regarding the current economic, military, and political situation in Albania with specific details as to the degree of Soviet control (875.00/4–2749).
  2. Maj. Gen. Mehmet Shehu, Albanian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; Member of the Politburo and Secretary of the Secretariat of the Albanian Workers’ Party.
  3. General Enver Hoxha, Albanian Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defense, and Commander in Chief; Secretary General of the Albanian Workers’ Party (the Communist Party of Albania).
  4. Guy Menant, French Minister in Albania, August 1946–December 1948; appointed French Minister to Panama in April 1949.