The governments of most small countries spend a hefty proportion of their time and energy complaining that the world doesn't pay them enough attention. Not so the Albanians, whose obsession with keeping the outside world at arm's length makes the Soviet Union look like a fishbowl society in comparison.
Imagine our surprise, then, at the announcement that Albania has opened its first railway link with the rest of Europe. Henceforth one train a day will run in each direction on a new 40-mile rail section connecting the Albanian town of Shkoder with Titograd, Yugoslavia.
An Albanian official, sipping a ceremonial goblet of local brandy, hastened to tell reporters that the trains won't carry passengers, only freight. But, he added, "Albania will continue to greet further steps such as this one in search of rapprochement" between Yugoslavia and Albania.
That's pretty heady stuff, considering.
Albanians have a long history of distaste for foreigners, and with reason. The small, mountainous country on the Adriatic has been occupied by Turks, Italians and Germans--among others. The Albanians also don't much like the Russians or the neighboring Yusoslavs--both of whom they have accused of meddling in their affairs. More recently they became disenchanted with the Chinese. And of course they can't find anybody in the West to like.