VIENNA — Albania on Friday rejected Soviet condolences on the death of Enver Hoxha and refused to permit any foreigners to attend the funeral of the longtime Communist Party leader of the Stalinist Balkan state.
"We regard the Soviet Union as an aggressive state that endangers peace in the world," a spokesman at the Albanian Embassy here said in response to a question on a telegram of condolence sent by Moscow. "We have nothing to do with the Soviet Union. For these reasons, the message of condolences was turned back as unacceptable."
Western diplomats said the action was a clear rebuff to the Soviet leadership, which over the past year has sought to improve ties with Tirana.
It provided clear evidence that Hoxha's death Thursday at the age of 76 would not lead to any immediate improvement in ties with the Soviet Union.
Earlier, Albania said it would not be inviting foreign representatives to Hoxha's funeral Monday. Foreign journalists would also be barred, according to the embassy spokesman.
The official ATA news agency, in a dispatch received in Vienna, quoted the funeral commission as saying some countries had already said they wanted to send a delegation to the funeral.
The commission thanked the countries for their messages of condolence, but said: "The presence of foreign state delegations on such occasions is not compatible with the practice of our state."
The funeral commission is headed by the head of state and Hoxha's heir apparent, President Ramiz Alia, 59.
Radio Tirana said Alia and Premier Adil Carcani headed a guard of honor as Albanians filed past Hoxha's body as it lay in state at the People's Assembly building in the Albanian capital.
Albanian diplomats believed it likely that Alia would pledge loyalty to Hoxha policies in a funeral oration.
The Albanian authorities published their own tribute to Hoxha, giving no indication that they would change his hard-line Stalinist course.
The official news agency eulogized him as a man whose "life and blood is the living history of the present Albania." The agency also said people across the country were grieving deeply but would "turn their grief into strength."
Radio Tirana played classical music and marches all day, interrupted occasionally by messages of condolence from war veterans, worker brigades, peasants and youth representatives.
Maintaining the rhetoric of Hoxha's rule, ATA said: "He, more than anyone else, has defended the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin from opportunist distortions."
It was due to Hoxha that the Albanian Communist Party had "always pursued a correct revolutionary line," the agency said.
While the tribute repeated standard condemnations of the United States, the Soviet Union and neighboring Yugoslavia, it omitted any direct criticism of Albania's former ally, China.
Ties with Peking were close until 1978 but soured as China gradually dropped its Maoist militancy in the late 1970s.
Tirana has in the last 18 months restored trade links with Peking and toned down propaganda attacks on "revisionist and expansionist" China.