Albania Contemporary History Part II

By | December 15, 2021

With regard to the program of Italy during this period, the statements of Count Francesco Guicciardini and the Marquis of S. Giuliano, on their return from trips to Albania in 1901 and 1902, in favor of Albanian national law and the just aspiration of this people to autonomy. The tradition already established by Giuseppe Garibaldi, who in 1866, in a letter to Princess Elena Ghica, summarized his feelings in the sentence: “The cause of the Albanians is the my”. But above all the work of the Albanians who had settled for some time in southern Italy influenced (see Albaniansof Italy) which had formed flourishing colonies and, despite having become excellent Italian citizens, kept the memory of the homeland of origin and keen interest in its fate. Indeed, in 1903 they had founded an Albanian Council, under the presidency of General Ricciotti Garibaldi, with the program “Albania to the Albanians”. And this program, on which Austria-Hungary also agreed for the aforementioned reasons, was implemented, albeit within narrow limits, during the Conference of Ambassadors in London (December 17, 1912 – July 15, 1914).

The creation of the new state, however, did not happen without difficulty. In December 1913 the border delimitation commission finished its work in Florence, leaving out of independent Albania the territories of the Hoti, the Gruda, and part of that of the Clementi, the plain of Podgorica, the ports of Ulcinj and Antivari, the Metohija of Ipek and Giakova, occupied by Montenegro; the plain of Còssovo, Prizren, the right bank of the Black Drin and Dibra released to Serbia, all Epirus and Ciamuria remained in Greece. In the meantime, the Albanian provisional government, spontaneously constituted in Valona under the presidency of Ismail Qemal Vlora, saw the rise of emulators in local governments, soon after being established in Mirdizia by Dib Doda and in Tirana by Esad pascià Toptani. On April 10, 1914, the international commission delegated to this by the Conference of Ambassadors and to which Qemal Vlora had ceded his powers, finally approved in Vlora the statute of Albania erected as a principality under the guarantee of the six great powers. Prince William of Wied was called to the throne of Albania. For Albania 2015, please check

Esad Toptani, whose government had arisen in part as a protest against the reduced borders of Albania, acceded to the statute by recognizing the new sovereign, who arrived in Albania on 7 March 1914, enthusiastically received. But, almost at the same time, an autonomous government was established in Gjirokastra chaired by Zografos, former minister of foreign affairs of Greece. The government of Athens, which in the meantime was interposing any delay and pretext to evacuate southern Albania, against the commitment made in December 1913, denied any connection with the Gjirokastra government; but the Epirot battalions supporting the latter were nevertheless composed of Greek regulars and Cretan volunteers. Southern Albania was put to fire and sword by these troops: the cities of Tepeleni and Leskovik were destroyed; almost all the villages (about 300) in the regions of Gjirokastra, Leskovik, Skrapari and Còrizza set on fire. The population largely abandoned southern Albania taking refuge in Berat, Elbasan and Valona; those who could not escape were largely slaughtered.

William of Wied, renouncing the collaboration of the Control Commission, had meanwhile appointed Turhan Pasha, former Turkish ambassador to Petersburg, as president of the Council of Ministers. Esad pasha Toptani, minister of war, immediately had to set about putting down the revolts organized by Greece in southern Albania. The Albanian gendarmerie, placed under the command of Dutch officers, managed to free Corizza by beating the Greeks at Berat and at the Guriprerë hill. In May 1914 the Control Commission was able, promising the immunity of the Epirote bands, to obtain the promise of evacuation of the Greeks from southern Albania, an evacuation that subsequent international events had yet to delay.

Meanwhile, the troubles in southern Albania had other repercussions on the weak Albanian government. Esad pasha was accused of failing to get weapons and reinforcements to the Còrizza region in time. On the night of May 19, his home was bombed. Having saved his life, his sentence of exile was enough to raise a revolt of his partisans in Tirana. The use of weapons made against the population of Shijak by the gendarmerie who went to tame the movements of Tirana, was considered as a breaking of the pacts by the prince and rebellions broke out throughout central Albania. The prince took refuge on an Italian warship on May 23 and resumed power shortly afterwards. But his prestige had now expired, and on 3 September, besieged in his own palace and abandoned by Austria, Measured. The only legal power in Albania then remained the International Control Commission, which was also placed almost impossible to act as its members belonged to nations now at war with each other. The Greeks could resume Corizza undisturbed; the Montenegrins descended to Scutari, occupying the Tarabosh; the Serbs advanced into northern Albania. Italy then, to halt the Greek advance towards central Albania and to protect its own interests in that region, occupied Vlora on December 28, 1914.

Albania Contemporary History Part II