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Modern Albania: From Dictatorship to Democracy

  • When
  • June 9, 2015
    2:00–8:00 p.m. (EDT)
  • Where
  • Open Society Foundations–New York
    224 West 57th Street
    New York, NY 10019
    United States of America
Modern Albania: From Dictatorship to Democracy (June 9, 2015)

Join us for a conversation with Fred Abrahams and Aryeh Neier about Abrahams’s new book, Modern Albania: From Dictatorship to Democracy.

In 1990, Europe’s most closed and repressive state began a process of transition from dictatorship. Tiny Albania, for four decades under the tyrannical rule of Enver Hoxha, could not resist the changes that were sweeping across the Eastern bloc. Twenty-five years later, Albania has undergone radical reform. It enjoys a dynamic pluralist system and a vibrant society that is open to the rest of the world, but it has also been plagued by intensely polarized politics, poverty, and social strife.

Fred Abrahams, a former fellow at Open Society, will talk about the communist regime’s collapse and efforts to rebuild Albania after decades of labor camps, thought police, and one-party rule. He’ll discuss Albania’s turbulent transition, the rise and fall of the massive pyramid schemes, and the war in Kosovo, all with an eye on the role of the United States. Too often, his book concludes, Washington has supported an Albanian leader over the country’s institutions in the name of regional stability.

Based on hundreds of interviews, declassified government documents, and personal observations from 20 years of work in Albania, Modern Albania gives readers a front-row seat to the last battle of Cold-War Europe.


  • Fred Abrahams is a special advisor at Human Rights Watch and a writer who has worked for 20 years in areas marred by political crises and armed conflict, including the Balkans and the Middle East. Most recently Abrahams has been covering the crisis in Syria and Northern Iraq, with a focus on children.
  • Aryeh Neier (moderator) is president emeritus of the Open Society Foundations, serving as president from 1993 to 2012. He was executive director of Human Rights Watch, of which he was a founder, for 12 years, and worked 15 years at the American Civil Liberties Union, including eight years as national executive director.

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