Greater Albania: Explained

by Carl K. Savich


The so-called Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA), made up of veterans of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA or UCK, Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosoves in Albanian)), in February, 2001, began an infiltration and invasion of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), seeking to seize and occupy territory. The so-called Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac (LAPMB, or UCPMB) has been waging a year-long war in the so-called Security or Buffer Zone in Southern Serbia, occupying villages and territory and killing Yugoslav policemen and soldiers. In Kosovo, under NATO/UN occupation and "administration", the Albanians, who now control the Serbian province, have ethnically cleansed over 230,000 Kosovo Serbs and other non-Albanians, such as Roma, Slavic Muslims, Turks, Jews, creating an ethnically pure and homogenous region. During the NATO/UN occupation, Albanians destroyed over 100 Serbian Orthodox churches, shrines, and cemeteries. The NLA, driven from the Tanusevci area of northern Macedonia, moved to the Tetovo (Tetova in Albanian) area in the northwestern Sar Planina region and Polog Valley and attacked the city as NATO and the UN did nothing, being neutral observers as the NLA violated the sovereignty of Macedonia and crossed into the UN-recognized borders of FYROM as if they did not exist at all. So-called Western political analysts have concluded that the political goal and objective of the Albanians is the creation of a Greater Albania or what is the same thing, a "Greater Kosovo" or Greater Kosova. What is the origin and history of the Albanian objective to create a Greater Albania? The Albanian drive to create an ethnically pure and homogenous Greater Albania is not new, but is an ongoing process that emerged in 1878 with the League of Prizren in Kosovo. The aim and objective to create a Greater Albania has continued and evolved for over a hundred years, a century-long territorial and political aim and goal.

1878 League of Prizren

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, Albanian nationalist leaders convened a meeting on June 10, 1878 in Prizren in Kosovo, attended by 300 delegates, mostly from Kosovo and Western Macedonia, and Muslim leaders from Bosnia-Hercegovina and the Sandzak. They founded the Albanian League of Prizren, "the League for defending the rights of the Albanian people", the Prizren League, which had as its main goal and purpose "to organize political and military opposition to the dismemberment of Albanian-inhabited territory." The so-called League met in a Prizren mosque where a 60-member board headed by Abdul Bey Frasheri drafted a memorandum, which was submitted to the leaders convened at the Congress of Berlin. The Prizren League sought to unite the vilayets or provinces of the Ottoman Empire of Janina or Janjevo centered in Northern Greece, the Chameria region, Bitola or Bitolj (Monastir) centered in Macedonia, the Illirida region, Skutari or Shkoder centered near Montenegro, and Kosovo, Kosovo-Metohija, into a single administrative and political unit, a territory which united all the Albanian-inhabited regions of the Balkans into a Greater Albania. The Prizren League was crucial in uniting Albanian leaders in creating and establishing a political and nationalist ideology and political program and agenda to create an Albanian nation or state. Historically, there had never been an Albanian nation or state. Medieval attempts to forge a unified Albanian nation or state under Gjergj Kastrioti, Skanderbeg, had failed. The emergence of an Albanian nationalist ideology was in reaction to the nationalist independence and liberation movements of Orthodox Serbians, Greeks, Bulgarians, and Balkan Orthodox Slavs. The emergence of a nationalist ideology of Greater Albania was precipitated by the defeat of the Ottoman Turks in 1878, a defeat which endangered the Albanian position in the Ottoman Empire. The Orthodox Slavs, the rayah or subhumans, the second-class citizens, were gaining independence from the Ottoman occupation. In the Ottoman Empire, status and position had been achieved through religion and not through nationality. By converting to Islam, one could gain increased property rights and a higher and social position and gain dominance over the subhuman rayah, Orthodox Slav Christians. In 1877, British archeologist Sir Arthur Evans as an eyewitness personally observed how the subhuman rayah were treated in Bosnia: "They treated them like a herd of cattle". After 1878, nationality and nationalism became more dominant in the Ottoman Empire as ethnicity and nationality became decisive factors in unification. The Albanian population was made up of Roman Catholics, two sects of Islam, Sunni and Bektashi, and Orthodox Christians. Religion, Islam, could not be the sole unifying force. A nationalist ideology was required. The 1878 League of Prizren is significant because the Albanians now emerged with a nationalist agenda and ideology to create a united Albanian state.

The 1875 Insurrection or Revolution in Bosnia-Hercegovina by the Orthodox Serbian populations and the subsequent Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 created turmoil and upheavals in the Balkans. The Russian military forces defeated the Ottoman Turkish troops in the Balkans, endangering Albanian dominance in the region. Ethnic Albanians, Turks, and Cherkezes retaliated against the Serbian Orthodox populations in Kosovo-Metohija and the surrounding regions. Approximately 200,000 Orthodox Serbian refugees fled into Serbia to escape the massacres and terror. Following the 1878 Treaty of San Stefano, Albanian leaders from Pec, Djakovica, Gusinje, Ljuma, and from Debar and Tetovo in present-day Macedonia, convened a meeting wherein they discussed their positions and sought to establish a common strategy. Italy sponsored the Italian-Albanian Committee to promote Albanian national aspirations and to gain influence in the Balkans. In 1877 in Istanbul (Constantinople), Turkey sponsored the Central Committee for Defending Albanian Rights, which was established seeking the creation of an autonomous Albanian vilayet or province within the Ottoman Empire made up of the Janjevo, Scutari, Kosovo, and Bitolj or Bitola in southern Macedonia, and the Salonika vilayets. The Committee, made up of Zija Prishtina, Sami Frasheri, Jani Vreto, Pashko Vaso, and Abdul Bey Frasheri, sought to maintain the status quo in the Ottoman Empire.
The Prizren League outlined territories that were to be included in a unified, ethnic Albania, a Greater Albania. The Greater Albania envisioned by the League would consist of the following territories: 1) north and central Albania made up of the Scutari, Tirana, and Elbasan regions, including territory from southern Montenegro; 2) western Macedonia made up of the Tetotvo (Tetova in Albanian), Debar, Skopje (Shkupi in Albanian, Uskup or Uskub in Turkish), Gostivar, Ohrid, Bitolj or Bitola, Veles, Prilep regions, or "Illirida" in the Greater Albania lexicon; 3) southern Albania made up of the Epirus and Janina regions of northern Greece, or "Chameria" ; and, 4) the Kosovo-Metohija and Rashka region that was part of Stara Srbija (Ancient Serbia), made up of the Prizren, Pristina, Kosovska Mitrovica, Gnjilane, Pec, Djakovica, Presevo, Sjenica, Novi Pazar, and Kumanovo regions, "Kosova" or "Greater Kosovo". During the period 1876 to 1912, the approximately 150,000 Orthodox Serbs were ethnically cleansed or driven out of the Kosovo vilayet. During this period, Serbian Orthodox were murdered, their property was plundered, Orthodox churches and monasteries and cemeteries were desecrated and vandalized, Serbian women and girls were raped and kidnapped, and Serbian property was looted and robbed, a systematic and planned policy to create an ethnically pure Greater Albania. The members of the Prizren League were beys and agas, wealthy and privileged landowners who sought to maintain those privileges and status within the Ottoman feudal system. They opposed a multi-ethnic policy of ethnic tolerance and were anti-Serbian and anti-Slavic, anti-reformist, and anti-democratic. Many of the "Albanian lands" they claimed for "Greater Albania" or "Ethnic Albania" had never been a part of Albania and many parts of the territory were not majority Albanian areas. Indeed, before 1912, Albania or Shqiperia, had never existed as a nation or state. Albanians, or Shqiptars, themselves were divided into the Ghegs and the Tosks who did not speak an identical language, but different dialects of Shqip.

The Albanian beys and agas did not want to lose their privileges and properties, which a change in the status quo would entail.

In the Kararname, or The Book of Decisions, the statute of the League of Prizren, these Albanian leaders sought to preserve and maintain the territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans by supporting the Turkish Sultan, Islamic law as established in the Shariah or Sheriat, and "to struggle in arms to defend the wholeness of the territories" as enunciated in Article 1. In Article 6, the League opposed any territorial changes of Serbia and Bulgaria: "We should not allow foreign armies to tread our land. We should not recognize Bulgaria's name. If Serbia does not leave peacefully the illegally occupied countries, we should send bashibazouks (akindjias) and strive until the end to liberate these regions, including Montenegro." From the four vilayets of Kosovo, Scutari, Janjevo, and Bitola or Bitolj, they requested the formation of a united Albanian vilayet.

The pro-Ottoman Empire, pro-Islamic, pro-Turkish orientation of the Prizren League garnered support within the Ottoman Empire. According to a report by the Italian consul in Scutari, the Turkish political and military leaders supported and sponsored the formation of the League, paid for the transportation of the Albanian delegates to Prizren, and supplied them with weapons, ammunition, and supplies. An Austro-Hungarian diplomatic officer stated that the Turkish leaders "armed the local Muslim Albanians with excellent guns, provided them with ammunition and granted authority upon their leaders." He warned that the Turkish authorities "would no longer be able to induce the people to lay down their arms, and the consequences soon to arise will be situations on which the Porte will have to count." Turkey thus supported the Prizren League because such support advanced Turkish interests in the Balkans. The Albanian leaders supported Turkey because Turkey advanced the interests and aims of Albanians, of advancing the goal of a Greater Albania. But at the Congress of Berlin, Turkey was not able to promote a Greater Albania and Albanian interests. The Albanian leaders then turned on the Ottoman Turks and demanded complete autonomy. The Prizren League had 16,000 armed insurgents under its control who launched an insurgency against the Ottoman Empire. The Albanian insurgents were able to kill Mehmed Ali Pasha, the Turkish emissary, in Djakovica in August, 1878. The League took over control from the Turks in the Kosovo-Metohija towns of Vucitrn, Pec, Kosovska Mitrovica, Prizren, and Djakovica. Guided by the autonomous movement, the League rejected Turkish authority and sought complete secession from Turkey. Turkish commander Dervish Pasha re-occupied the areas seized by the Albanian insurgents and destroyed the League, arresting its leaders.

The Greater Albania political and nationalist ideology and aim would be revived in the Pec League of 1899. Moreover, the Greater Albania ideology would be taken up and advocated and sponsored by Austria-Hungary and Italy as a bulwark against Orthodox and Slavic influence in the Balkans. Like the Ottoman Empire before them, Austria-Hungary and Italy, and later Germany and the United States, would sponsor a Greater Albania to advance their expansionist and strategic geopolitical interests in the Balkans. Essential in the ideology of Greater Albania is the support of a ìGreat Powerî or a Superpower to achieve the aims. Why is foreign intervention and sponsorship vital? The aims of the Greater Albania ideology are territorial expansion at the expense of neighboring sovereign nations and states. Greater Albania is not a movement of national independence, in other words, but a shifting of borders. Albanians have a national homeland or national state, Albania or Shqiperia, established in 1912. What the Greater Albania strategy seeks to do, however, is to change internationally recognized and thus legal borders. Ipso facto the Greater Albania strategy is illegal and violates all international laws, agreements, and covenants. The Greater Albania ideology is, then, illegal, militant, aggressive, and, most significantly, requires outside foreign intervention to succeed, requires the intervention of a Great Power or Superpower, Ottoman Turkey, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Germany, or the United States. All of the above-mentioned foreign powers have in turn supported and sponsored a Greater Albania. The pattern, and the lesson for us, is clear. Foreign military and political intervention is crucial in the Greater Albania ideology. The 1878 Prizren League grasped this completely. Their expansionist and nationalist agenda required Turkish support. Without that support, Greater Albania would fail.

A second required element in the Greater Albania strategy is to create racial or ethnic polarization, to create ethnic and racial hatred and enmity, to create an ìusî versus ìthemî dichotomy based on race or ethnicity. The Kosovo conflict becomes one between the Albanian population and the non-Albanian populations, the Serbian Orthodox population, but also, Roma, Slavic Muslims, and Turks, ethnic/racial polarization or polarity results, needed to maintain enmity and conflict. In short, policies, political measures, political, social, or economic issues do not figure in this equation, they are secondary if not negligible and irrelevant. What motives the Greater Albania strategy is solely ethnicity, it is an ethnic conflict, not a political or economic or social conflict. The Greater Albania strategists demand an ethnically homogenous Albanian state. This is the only aim or goal or objective. The policy is very simple. But to achieve it, non-Albanian populations must be targeted to achieve enmity and to provide a justification or rationale for establishing an ìAlbanian stateî. A multi-ethnic and pluralistic approach is anathema. Ethnic diversity and tolerance are unacceptable. This is why over 100 Serbian Orthodox churches have been demolished and destroyed as part of the Greater Albania strategy. This is why 230,000 Kosovo Serbs were driven out since the NATO occupation or ìUN-ruleî. Multi-ethnicity and plurality defeat the purpose of the Greater Albania strategy, which is to create an ethnically homogenous, ethnically pure Albanian state or statelet. Co-existence with other ethnic groups and populations is not possible. Thus, non-Albanian ethnic groups are targeted for elimination, expulsion, or eradication. They are rationalized as ìrevenge killingsî or ìretaliatory killingsî. But they achieve the ultimate aims of the Greater Albania strategy, to create an ethnically cleansed Greater Albania.

A third salient feature of the Greater Albania policy is to establish ethnic homogeneity or ethnically pure territories. Ethnic homogeneity is required to establish a justification or rationalization for the territorial aggrandizement, for the change in borders to enlarge Albania. A third crucial element of the Greater Albania policy, then, is to target the original or indigenous population for expulsion and eradication. The policy of ethnic cleansing or the expulsion of the indigenous inhabitants of a region is a necessary component of the strategy. The British journalist and historian Nora Beloff visited Kosovo in 1980 while doing research for her book Titoís Flawed Legacy. She wrote that she ìvisited demolished churches, desecrated cemeteries, and the Kosovo villages ëcleansedí of Serbs.î She stated that ethnic cleansing in theory and practice was endemic in Kosovo, where hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Serbs were forced to flee when the province was under Albanian control: ìIndeed, it was in Kosovo in 1980, while writing my book, that for the first time since the Nazi era, I heard that epithet.î Beloff concluded that Albanian policy was motivated by a systematic plan to drive out the Serbian Orthodox population through ethnic cleansing and that the Albanians had ìnot the faintest interest in human rights.î The Greater Albania strategy thus targets a population for elimination through expulsions, i.e., ethnic cleansing. But how are Albanian leaders able to camouflage and mask the real objectives behind the strategy?

The fourth requirement is propaganda or information, infowar. This is where propaganda is all-important. The Great Powers and Superpowers have vast information or propaganda machines and media which they control and manipulate. No dissent or rational analysis can withstand this propaganda or information or infowar barrage. A fourth essential ingredient of the Greater Albania strategy then is propaganda or information warfare. Because, as we have seen, the Greater Albania policy is inherently illegal and violates all international laws, customs, and covenants, a propaganda justification must be created for the policy to continue and evolve. In short, propaganda is essential. Propaganda or information technology, the US-coined euphemism, falsifies and mischaracterizes the factual scenario. Information technology alters the conflict from an illegal land grab and change of borders into a conflict over the issue of human and civil rights and humanitarian concerns. In Macedonia, for instance, the ethnic Albanian minority has been given their own Albanian-language university in Tetovo, they can freely use their own language, guaranteed in the Macedonian Constitution, like in Quebec, Canada, where there is a dual language, and they are democratically and demographically represented in local political bodies and in the federal Macedonian government. Where are the human rights abuses and ìrepressionî and ìoppressionî the US information technology and information technologists clamor about? There are none. The issue has been reduced to meaninglessness or absurdity, a reductio ad absurdum. In the recent attack on Tetovo by Albanian guerrillas, veterans of the KLA, US media reports presented conflicting, ambiguous, and contradictory rationales for the attack. The Albanian guerrillas were attacking to achieve a ìGreater Kosovoî, to enlarge the territory of Kosovo, to achieve a ìGreater Albaniaî, to unite all areas inhabited by Albanians into a single state, to ìgain greater powerî, to ìgain greater rightsî, to ìseize the city of Tetovoî. The information technologist has yet to devise a common rationale and so we get contradictory rationales. But the pattern is clear: The ethnic Albanian ìinsurgencyî is motivated by a concern for human rights and greater freedom. This is the propaganda rationale ultimately. For the Greater Albania policy to succeed, a propaganda justification or rationale must be accepted to overcome its inherent illegality. For example, the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, an illegal act according to all international laws, guidelines, agreements, and covenants, was justified because it would ìprevent a genocideî, a genocide that subsequently was found not to have occurred. But the point is clear: The Greater Albania strategy requires a propaganda/ information technology rationale to overcome the inherent illegality.

A fifth crucial element of the Greater Albania strategy is the use of military force, of aggressive, physical, armed conflict. In the conflicts in Kosovo-Metohija, Southern Serbia, and Macedonia, a guerrilla insurgency was required; an armed military force was needed. In Kosovo, the Kosovo Liberation Army emerged, in Southern Serbia, the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac, and in Macedonia, the National Liberation Army, all relying on a common KLA core. These troops have been armed, trained, supplied, and sponsored by a foreign interventionist state, the United States. The Pentagon, the CIA, and MPRI, Inc., Military Professional Resources, Incorporated, have armed, trained, and supplied the Greater Albania insurgents and guerrillas. MPRI is a private firm of 2,000 retired generals and admirals, former Pentagon and NATO generals and personnel with close links to the US government, based in Alexandria, Virginia. They provide military training for fledgling democracies and armed insurgencies. Armed conflict is required for several reasons: 1) to create an imperative for intervention by creating a ìhumanitarian catastrophe or disasterî, by creating a conflict that an foreign intervention can resolve; 2) to put pressure on the government being attacked to negotiate with the Greater Albania ìrebelsî or ìinsurgentsî; 3) to establish control and occupation of the terrain by the insurgents; 4) to overcome the illegality of a border change, to create a war that masks this illegality; to ìinternationalizeî the conflict 5) to drive out the indigenous population; and, 6) to give the foreign interventionist power a surrogate physical and military presence in the region. In short, then, because the Greater Albania strategy is illegal under international law, its objectives cannot be achieved legally. Thus, a physical, military conflict is necessary, or a war.

The Greater Albania ideology emerged and crystallized with the 1878 League of Prizren. This policy has continued for over a century. The Greater Albania strategy seeks to annex and gain control of territories inhabited by ethnic Albanians even in areas where Albanians are a minority. These ìAlbanian landsî, the Serbian province of Kosovo-Metohija, the Southern Serbia region made up of the Medvedja, Presevo, and Bujanovac areas, southern Montenegro, northern Greece made up of the Janina area, Chameria in the Greater Albania lexicon, and, western Macedonia, Illirida in the Greater Albania nomenclature.

There are five essential requirements or elements in the Greater Albania ideology and policy: 1) there must be foreign intervention and sponsorship, a Great Power or a Superpower must intervene; 2) an ethnic group(s) or population(s) must be targeted as the ìenemyî, as the people who ìrepress/oppressî the Albanian ìvictimsî, in Kosovo, the targets were the Serbian Orthodox, Roma, Slavic Muslims, Turks, and Jews, in southern Montenegro, it is Montenegrins, in Macedonia, it is Orthodox Macedonian Slavs; 3) ethnic homogeneity and the establishment of ethnically pure regions is essential: 4) to overcome the illegality of the Greater Albania strategy which consists of violating the sovereignty of a neighboring state, propaganda or information technology is needed, such as the media of the free world or of the West; and, finally 5) an armed military conflict or insurgency is needed. The Greater Albania ideology and policy has not changed since it was established in 1878. The Greater Albania strategy is guided by the same aims and strategies.

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Goal of Communists and fasists - Greater Albania