Mon, Nov 19, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Albania holds ceremony for exiled king’s remains

ROYAL SEND OFF:Ahmet Zog I proclaimed himself Albania’s monarch in 1928 and ruled until 1939 when he fled the country after it was occupied by fascist Italy

AP, TIRANA

People carry a portrait of Albanian King Ahmet Zog I as they pay their last respects during a reburial ceremony in Tirana, Albania, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Albania’s top leaders and thousands of people paid their last respect on Saturday to the country’s only post-independence monarch, King Ahmet Zog I, half a century after he died and was buried in exile.

Television stations broadcast the burial ceremony in the capital, a day after Zog’s remains were returned from France. He was buried in the family’s mausoleum, alongside his Hungarian wife, Queen Geraldina, his son Leka I and his wife Susan.

Zog proclaimed himself Albania’s monarch in 1928 and ruled until 1939 when he fled Albania after it was occupied by fascist Italy. Albania’s post-World War II communist regime abolished the monarchy in 1946.

Albania is now a parliamentary republic after the fall of communism in 1990.

The royal family returned to Albania in 2002, leading a quiet life though never relinquishing the claim to the throne.

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha said that Albanians honor Zog “for his historic contribution in building up this country.”

Berisha was joined at the ceremony by Albanian President Bujar Nishani and Kosovar President Ahtifete Jahjaga at the ceremony which was ignored by the country’s opposition parties.

Nishani said Zog “is one of the most important figures of the Albanian history.”

After Albania’s Communist regime fell in 1990, Zog’s son, Leka I Zog, made two disastrous attempts to return home — first in 1993 when Berisha’s government threw him out and in 1997 when he was charged with leading an armed uprising after failing to convince Albanians to vote for monarchy in a referendum.

Since then, the family has been given back some of its old royal properties and granted diplomatic passports. Zog’s grandson, Leka II Zog, has since served as an adviser to several Albanian governments.

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