Chronology of Albanian Immigration to Italy
15th -16th centuries: Albanians fled to Italy when the Ottoman Empire invaded Albanian lands. These fifteenth and sixteenth century emigrants and their descendants are known as "Arberesh." Today in southern Italy, Sicily and Calabria, t here are about 300,000 Arberesh speakers and about 70 Alberesh townships (The Italo-Albanian Homepage). The Ottoman Empire occupied Albania for about five hundred years.
1912: Albania declared its statehood.
1939: Italy invaded Albania with the primarily purpose of gaining control over 200 kilometers of Albanian road, in preparation for an attack on Greece.
1944: Enver Hoxha came to power. Under Hoxha's socialist dictatorship Albania was almost entirely isolated from the rest of the world.
Mid 1970s: Northern European countries initiated tougher immigration policies and immigration to Italy increased.
1985: Hoxha died and was succeeded by Ramiz Ajia.
August 1989: Jerry Masslo, a South African tomato picker and local activist for immigrant rights was shot to death in the southern Italian town Villa Literno. Although the national debate provoked by the murder initially focused on raci sm, immigration reform came to be considered pivotal in combating racism (Stille, 32). Claudio Martelli, then Deputy Prime Minister, led a movement to legislate immigration.
January 1990: The "Martelli" law went into effect, closing the country to further immigration. The law was an attempt to control and monitor immigration and thus to pave the way for the institution of a quota system. It stipulated that any immigrant - legal or illegal - who could prove that he or she had come into the country before the end of 1989 be granted a two year residency permit.
July 1990: Over 4,000 Albanians sought refuge in Italy (Veugelers, 46); the Martelli law was suspended to accommodate 800 refuge seekers (Campani, 526).
November 27, 1990: Italy signed the Schengen Treaty, which allows European Community citizens unrestricted travel within the Community. Because signatories of the Schengen Treaty are required to implement strict immigration legislation, Italy signed only after having passed the Martelli law.
December 1990: Albanian students protested against the one-party system led by Hoxha's heir Ajia.
March 1991: The first democratic elections were held in Albania, and Aija's socialist dictatorship crumbled. 24,000 Albanian refugees arrived in Italy within the span of three days, and the Martelli law was suspended again to grant the m asylum.
April 1991: Ministry for Italians Communities Abroad and for Immigration was formed. The Ministry placed the Albanians who arrived in March throughout Italy and provided them with work permits. The initial enthusiasm with which the Alba nians were welcomed waned. The Ministry declared that "Italy is not a country of immigration" (Campani, 527), and modified the Martelli law facilitate the expulsion of immigrants.
August 7-8, 1991: More than 15,000 Albanians docked at Bari and were met by riot squads. They were detained in a stadium with no bathrooms. Helicopters dropped off food and water. The Albanians rioted and destroyed the stadium. Five day s later most were given $40, and a new T-shirt and pants and were airlifted back to Albania (Economist, Aug.17, 1991). Altogether, 17,466 Albanians were deported during the third week of August 1991 (Economist, Aug. 17, 1991). Italy promised $70 in aid to Albania (Veugelers, 46).
June 1992: The Ministry for Italian Communities Abroad and for Immigration was dissolved (Campani, 526).
1992: Berisha was elected president of Albania. The economy, based largely on Western aid and money from emigrants, began improve.
1996: Italy was struggling to achieve the economic requirements for admittance into the European Monetary Union.
January 1997: Albanian financial pyramid schemes collapsed. In the political protests that followed armories were looted. Rebels seized control over cities in southern Albania. Western countries used military tactics to withdraw their nationals. Italy, anticipating another influx of Albanians, increased border patrol and requested that the European Community to address the crisis in Albania.
March 1997: Italy instituted a tough patrol of the Adriatic. Albanians who reached Italy and could prove that they would be in grave danger should they return to Albania were granted two months in Italy. On Good Friday an Albanian ship, the Kader I Rades, sank after colliding with an Italian patrol ship. Eighty Albanians were killed.
1997: Italian led the United Nations "military humanitarian mission" in Albania.

Italy's Conflicted Responses to Albanian Immigration
and Lamerica's Transitive Historical Consciouness


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