Albania: Fathers of the modern nation: Greenmantle, Zog, Hoxha & Norman Wisdom, with Ambassador Stephen Nash CMG

Stephen Nash CMG, former HM Ambassador to Albania on four key figures who influenced modern Albania

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The Hon Aubrey Herbert (b.1880) son of the Earl of Carnarvon, was a classic soldier/diplomat/spy, also Somerset landowner and latterly Conservative MP for Yeovil.

His adventures made him an Albanian national hero and he was twice offered the country's throne...

Aubrey Herbert was immortalised by John Buchan in Greenmantle and appears in Louis de Bernières' novel Birds Without Wings

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King Zog I - Ahmet Zogu (b.1895) proclaimed himself King Zog in 1928 after insufficiently satisfying spells as president and prime minister.

Though he attempted to modernize Albanian society, his rule lasted only until ‘39 when he fled the Italian invasion. Zog, his family and court decamped to London’s Ritz Hotel...

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Enver Hoxha (b.1908) During the 30s he studied in Paris and joined the French Communist Party. In 1941, he set up the communist Albanian Party of Labour and led the partisans against the Germans.

From 1945 until his death in ‘85, Hoxha imposed harsh dictatorship on Albania. Britain severed relations with Albania during this period. In fact, the only residual link between the two nations was...

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Norman Wisdom (b.1915) Charlie Chaplin’s own ‘favourite clown.’ When Stephen Nash took up his post in Tirana in 1993 - soon after the collapse of the Communist state - he learned of a lingering cultural bridge between Albania & Britain...

Norman Wisdom's films, though Western, were uniquely sanctioned by the regime, which saw ‘Pitkin’ as the little man fighting the capitalist yoke. In ‘95 Stephen helped to organize Norman's first visit to Albania where he was welcomed by the nation with remarkable love and pomp...

Stephen & Ebenezer will also show a short film by Anri Sala: “Intervista”, which encapsulates the contradictions of today's Albania.

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Stephen Nash

Stephen studied History and Economics at Cambridge University, Arabic at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, and Ethnology at Oxford.

His main career was in the British Diplomatic Service, latterly in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Between 1995 and 2002, he was Ambassador to Georgia (Britain's first resident Ambassador in Tbilisi), Albania and then Latvia. Prior to this he had postings in South and Central America, - Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua (Charge d'Affaires) and Belize. He also worked as Director-General of Canning House in London. In the '60s, he worked with the British Council in Baghdad, and in the '70s, was with the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) in Bangkok.

Between 2002 and 2010, Stephen took part in election observation missions in Europe, North America and Latin America. In 2004, he headed OSCE election missions to Serbia and Romania and was deputy head of the observer mission to the US presidential elections the same year. He also joined OSCE election missions to Russia, Latvia, Georgia and Ukraine (the 2010 Presidential election), and EU observer missions to Venezuela and Guatemala.

From 2004-2010, Stephen was founder Chairman of the British Georgian Society, and since 2012, has been Chairman of the Anglo-Albanian Association. He is also on the Board of the British Latvian Association.

He is married, with five children.

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2015Martin Keeley