Over the summer, with Belgrade’s capitulation of the red (and black) herring known as Kosovo in its final stages but not yet complete, the never-weary multi-tasking Albanians advanced the next stage of their end game, which we first were warned of in 1999 by ‘Serbian propaganda’: Greater Albania.
Appropriately enough, this high-profile move to put internationalize this out-of-the-bag cat and legitimize yet another formerly disallowed Albanian demand, has taken place in Munich. (Which is significant not only because of the Munich-Kosovo parallels, but because Czech Republic’s regretted decision to recognize Kosovo took place on the territory of the former Sudetenland.)
Here were the summer’s developments toward bringing Western governments on board the next phase of the full Albanian agenda that they’d officially rejected for decades, complete with more of the usual (intellectuals and press reports downplaying the reality):
Call For Greater Albania Launched in Munich (BIRN/Balkan Insight, July 23)
An initiative to collect signatures for a petition supporting the unification of all Albanians in the Balkans has been launched among expatriates in Germany.
According to German media reports Koco Danaj intends to collect a million signatures from Albanian expatriates living in Europe in order to convince Western governments of the need to unite all Albanians in one state.
Danaj, who served as an adviser to several Albanian prime ministers, says the creation of a “Natural Albania would [be] the last step in the national unification of Albanians in the region”.
Danaj argues that a “natural” Albania should include all areas inhabited by Albanian speaking people, both where they are the ethnic majority today, and areas where they were a majority in the past but were expelled over the past century.
He says a “Natural Albania” is different from a “Greater Albania,” because the latter term is used negatively by Albania’s neighbours to suggest that Albanians are seeking some form of territorial expansion.
[And because if something is “natural,” who can dispute it? Are you going to argue with Mother Nature about Albanians’ natural entitlements? And, of course they don’t want to call it ‘Greater Albania” since that sounds aggressive, and the “greater” moniker would have shades of what they’d successfully projected onto Serbia in the 1990s. (Even though neither “Greater Serbia” nor “Natural Serbia” was ever uttered by Milosevic, Karadzic or Mladic at the time.)]
As a consequence of the Balkan wars of 1912-13 and the subsequent rearrangement of borders, large numbers of Albanians live outside the country, in neighbouring Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
The Albanian government’s stance over the past decade has been that the unification of Albanians can come about only through the broader process of regional integration into the European Union. [Oh really ???]
Despite the media hype that Danaj’s petition has received in the German press, he does not have many supporters among Albania’s cultural and political elite.
[Never mind the part above where it says that Danaj has been an adviser to several Albanian prime ministers, and so he can’t exactly be out of synch with them.]
Albania’s new Prime Minister, Edi Rama, who will take office in September, has stayed clear of the idea of national unification, arguing that such nationalist ideas “could destabilize the region”. [But stay tuned.]
The outgoing Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, who toyed with the pan-Albanian sentiment during the 100th anniversary of Albania’s independence last November, did so mostly to garner support ahead of the parliamentary elections. [Let’s just take the journalists’ word for it.]
The only party in Tirana that clearly backs national unification is the Red and Black Alliance, which won little more than 10,000 votes during the general election, less than 0.3 per cent of the electorate.
The Alliance had proposed a similar petition to hold a referendum in Albania and Kosovo seeking national unification.
Berisha’s efforts to stoke Albanian nationalism “provided him with no electoral advantages”, [Professor Florian Bieber] added.
Ardian Vehbiu a popular Albanian commentator agrees. The fact that Danaj is seeking signatures from expatriates shows that Albanians at home have other priorities, he says. […]
One wonders, then, why such a non-event should be causing any tensions. And all the way in Montenegro, no less:
Tensions over petition for “Natural Albania” in Balkans (B92, Tanjug, Večernje Novosti, Aug. 22)
PODGORICA — A petition for the establishment of a “Natural Albania” has created tensions in the political public sphere in Montenegro.
The petition was launched by the Director of the Tirana-based Institute for Regional Forecast, historian Koco Danaj.
Tensions have mounted after Vaselj Sinistaj, leader of the Citizens Initiative, a party to the Montenegrin government, said he would sign the petition.
According to Podgorica-based daily Dan, Sinistaj may face 15 years in prison for making the statement…Sinistaj explained that his statement that he would sign Danaj’s petition does not mean he supports any redrawing of borders.
Sinistaj believes that two ethnic Albanian MPs, Fatmir Djeka and Genci Nimanbegu, who said that they would not sign the controversial petition, “think differently in their hearts.”
That’s an Albanian admission that Albanians have two faces. Recall this Aug. 12, 2007 Albanian editorial:
Throughout their history, [the Albanian people] have learned how to ignore the phrases of the great powers a thousand times a day…That is how the Albanians read Ahtisaari’s phrase banning Kosova’s unification with Albania or Macedonia. They know that the West soon tires of the problems of their area….Deep down, the Albanians do not think that a long time will pass between the recognition of Kosova’s status and its joining Albania. Not only ordinary Albanians who spend much of their time talking nationalist politics, but also their senior politicians want that…
The same year, the Albanian prime and foreign ministers told the visiting Slovak president that Kosovo would be part of Albania, and PDK member Nait Hasani told a Polish newspaper that “after declaring independence, a referendum to join Albania is a distinct possibility because citizens of Kosovo and Albania are one nation.” That same week a Gallup poll showed that “62 per cent of respondents in Albania, 81 per cent in Kosovo and 51.9 per cent of respondents in Macedonia supported the formation of a Greater Albania.”] Back to the current article:
The ‘Natural Albania’ project, launched by Danaj in 2010, calls for establishing the borders as prescribed in a declaration of a century ago, adopted at the Assembly of Vlora on November 28, 1912.
The declaration projected an Albania which was to include four Ottoman vilayets with an all-Albanian population and substantial ethnic Albanian population within the borders spanning from Preševo in Serbia to Preveza in Greece and from Durres in Albania to Skopje, Macedonia.
The petition for the forming of a “Natural Albania” has reportedly been signed by about forty government and opposition officials in the region.
Mirko Stanić, spokesperson for the Social Democratic Party (SDP)…said on Wednesday that…Danaj is a marginal politician “desiring of media attention,” and also claims that Danaj’s idea has the support of only 0.6 percent of the people in Albania.
The daily Večernje Novosti writes that the movement was political in the past, and had the goal of bringing all the territories where Albanians live — or have supposedly lived in the past — into a single entity.
The self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo is one phase of this, according to the authors of the project. The project flourished during the Second World War, with the fascist program of “Greater Albania” under the protectorate of Mussolini’s Italy.
“…The cover of Danaj’s pamphlet has 2013 as the year Greater Albania becomes reality. I wrote about him back in 2006. Ironically, at the time, Albanians began writing angry letters calling me a liar [and claiming] Danaj was a marginal figure. Interestingly enough, they never actually disagreed with what he was advocating. And now it turns out Danaj isn’t marginal at all…”
In August 2006 Danaj provoked a strong reaction from Serbian foreign minister Vuk Draskovic, when he told Kosovo newspaper Epoka e Re that Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro were “unnatural creations” in their current borders and “that all Albanians living in the region should unite to form a ‘natural Albania’ by 2013,” as the AKI news service reported.
When he made the comments, Danaj was prime minister Sali Berisha’s political adviser, and so Draskovic understood that this was a direct message being sent by Berisha, recalling that Albanian foreign minister Besnik Mustafaj had made a similar statement some months earlier.
On July 18th, the news portal Europe Online carried a DPA interview with Danaj. From Google Translate:
“Wir verlangen die Vereinigung aller Albaner ohne Krieg” (”We Demand the Unification of All Albanian Lands Without War” [i.e. ‘Give it to us, and no one gets hurt.’])
Question: Why require the Albanians their union?
Answer: [To] the Albanians has happened [by] the great powers of 1913 in London [a] great injustice. The conference has prevented the unification of all Albanians, although they had a year earlier advocated [it]. Today we demand the unification of all Albanians without war.
Question: What effect would the creation of a “Greater Albania” [have]?
Answer: We prefer to say “Natural Albania” because the term “Greater Albania” was coined by the Nazis during World War II. This is the guarantee that there is on the Balkan peninsula no more violence. Otherwise there is a new Balkan war…
Question: How should a unified Albania be achieved for all Albanians?
Answer: It must be organized an international conference that makes the decisions of the London Conference of Ambassadors of 1913 reversed. Then Albania and Kosovo should form a confederation. Finally, the Albanians in Macedonia and Montenegro should be included. Greece needs after the mass expulsion of Albanians at the end of the Second World War, these people allow their return. In the end, is the unification of all Albanians in one state. This project is already codified in the preamble to the constitution of the Republic of Albania.
So, another reason that “Natural” Albania is preferable to “Greater” Albania is that the latter was used by the WWII Nazis, which Albanians would prefer you forgot. That is, the term was used by the Albanians’ benefactors, whose torch Albanian nationalists carry today. Danaj is trying to distance Albanian ambitions from anything Nazi-connected, which is ironic, given that Albanians saw the Fascists as their liberators, and indeed the 1990s “liberators” of Kosovo, the KLA, was a fascist legacy. Recall: “Many Kosovo Albanians saw the Axis powers as guarantors of their ambition to create a greater Albanian state in Kosovo. In order to realize this goal, many Kosovo Albanians volunteered for service in the Nazi SS.”
The Serbian-language Kurir also reported on the Danaj interview; translated by InSerbia:
Albanian politician Koço Danaj said that Montenegro should leave [lose] eastern parts of its territory, mainly inhabited by Albanian population, so that territory would belong to “Natural Albania”, reported Serbian daily Kurir. If “Natural Albania” is not formed, there will be [a] new war [in] the Balkans, he said.
When asked what sort of effect would [be caused by the] forming of “The Great Albania” he said that… “The effect is the guarantee that there will be no more violence on the Balkans. Otherwise, new Balkan war is pending. If we have Albania in its natural borders, this will not happen,” said Danaj.
Danaj…said that the creation of the new state can be done peacefully and through negotiations with neighbors. Danaj also asked the Government of Montenegro to organize a referendum which would allow Albanians to say whether they would like to continue living in Montenegro or to have their territories set aside.
In January this year, leading Kosovo and Albanian media wrote about the existence of [a] future map of Europe, which predicts that the Great Albania will be created by 2035. This was prognosis made by, as said at the time, American CIA analysts. [Note that this is all despite the continual statements by statesmen that ‘the Balkan map is settled…there will be no redrawing of borders.’]
Milovan Drecun, chairman of the board for Kosovo and Metohija of the Serbian Parliament, said recently that the signing of the agreement of military cooperation between Kosovo and Albania, as well as having Albanian military forces on the Kosovo territory, is [a] heavy and unacceptable provocation that contributes to destabilization of peace in the region and sends the message of great Albanian pretensions.
Another impotent protest to Albanians “toying” with the Greater Albania idea came from Serbian presidential adviser Marko Djuric on September 17th:
The statement of former president of [Albania] Alfred Moisiu that the time has come to unite Kosovo and Albania should be a reason for concern for the international community, Serbian president’s advisor Marko Djuric said.
Djuric said in Gracanica that Moisiu was not alone in his belief and that many dream of re-drawing the map of the Balkans at Serbia’s expense.
“All we can tell them is that they cannot divide our country, not here nor anywhere else in our territory,” Djuric told reporters.
Former president of Albania Alfred Moisiu said that the time has come to discuss uniting Kosovo and Albania and that there are no more obstacles left on this path, adding that this should come true in the future, first in the mode of a confederation….Moisiu advised politicians in Pristina, Tirana and Skopje to unite in solving the problem of Albanians in the Balkans regardless of their mutual disagreements and problems.
More recent signs of Albanian ‘non-seriousness’:
Montenegrin Albanians Demand Municipality Referendum (BIRN/Balkan Insight, Aug. 9)
Two ethnic Albanian parties have threatened to leave the ruling coalition if they don’t get a referendum on splitting the Podgorica municipality of Tuzi from the capital.
The two parties, Forca and Civic Initiatives, which represent ethnic Albanians in the Montenegrin parliament, said they would quit the coalition if the referendum is not held in the autumn.
Under a previous agreement between the coalition partners, August 15 was the deadline for the referendum to be called.
A recent study commissioned by the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists suggested that the new municipality would not be economically sustainable if it was independent of Podgorica as a whole, indicating that the referendum should be postponed.
But the Albanian parties have dismissed the study’s results, saying that an independent municipality of Tuzi would diminish the DPS’s chances to win the next municipal elections due in spring 2014.
“Three previous studies show something else. The incomes of the municipality will be around 2.6 million euro,” Vaselj Sinistaj of Civic Initiatives told Montenegrin public service broadcaster RTCG.
Podgorica serves as the administrative and political capital of the country and is divided into three municipalities.
One of them is Tuzi, which has a population of 13,000 people, mostly ethnic Albanians. Podgorica’s total population is about 160,000.
PRISTINA – [A] new law came into force on August 1. The law [offers] dual citizenship and with the act “begins Albanization of the region”, reported Tanjug quoting Pristina daily Zveri, which also says that this is not possible for Kosovo Albanians.
Outgoing Prime Minister Salji Berisa initiated several months ago allowance of the Albanian citizenship to all Albanians in the region and citizens living in Kosovo, but [a] few weeks later Kosovo Albanians were removed from the list of those who can apply for the dual citizenship. [i.e. Too soon, as the world still needs to be fooled about “Kosovo independence” as the ultimate goal of that land theft, still in a delicate stage.]
Daily [Zveri] criticizes the decision of Berisa to disable dual citizenship for Kosovo Albanians and states that [the] impression is created in Pristina that Kosovo Albanians are discriminated [against].
MP of the movement “Self-determination” [in Kosovo], Redzip Seljimi, said granting Albanians in the region Albanian citizenship is good, but he believes that a “great injustice” was done to Kosovo Albanians.
He said that injustices to Kosovo Albanians are continuously being done for the last 100 years. Since Albanians have paid for their freedom, and that their will is respected, he said, they do not have [either] their freedom [or] the respect of their will. The will of Albanians, said Seljimi, is that all of them are united and to have the same rights.
According to [the] MP, Kosovo leadership is to blame for the situation, as it…laid the foundations for the creation of Kosovo nation and [therefore this] degradation of Albanian[s].
Flashback to Albanian non-seriousness in November 2010:
Plans are being drawn up for all Albanians in the Balkans to live in a “greater Albanian state” by 2015, Orhan Rexhepi, an ethnic Albanian official from south Serbia, told Balkan Insight.
“We [Albanians from south Serbia] are preparing to realise the idea of a greater Albania to be formed by 2013 or 2015 at the latest,” Rexhepi, the vice president of the Presevo assembly, said on Tuesday.
Talks on such a project were held over the weekend in Tirana, where the List for Natural Albania [consisting of groups and individuals supporting the idea of one state for all ethnic Albanians,] was presented for the first time. Rexhepi attended the meeting along with the mayor of Presevo, Ragmi Mustafa, and the leader of the Movement of Democratic Progress, Jonuz Musliu.
“I was in Tirana over the weekend to support the project and announce that my party [Albanian National Movement] will become part of the List [For Natural Albania] and take part in the next elections in Presevo,” Rexhepi said.
In an unofficial referendum held in 1992, a majority of ethnic Albanians in the Presevo Valley expressed their desire to join Kosovo.
And who can forget February 2001, when it all was being called what it is — a threat: NATO Forces Face New Threat in Balkans (UK Telegraph, Feb. 24, 2001)
The worry is that Kfor’s “soft” policing techniques are allowing militants to use Kosovo as a base to destabilise neighbouring areas with Albanian minorities — Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro — with the aim of creating a “Greater Albania” or at least a “Greater Kosovo”.
After months of ever more serious clashes in the Presevo Valley in Serbia, Kfor was alarmed this week when armed Albanians crossed into Macedonia, the Balkan state that provides Nato with its main supply route…
Which brings us back to current news:
The war in Macedonia is not over yet, but there is just a “time-out”, Menduh Thaci, head of the Albanian Democratic Party in Macedonia told the paper [Zeri]. This state will be destroyed if it does not approach the decision-makings of both peoples [who live there], he added.