Studies
THE THREE ALBANIAN COMMUNITIES AND THEIR PROSPECTS – 
SIX MONTHS LATER
by Antonina Zhelyazkova 
  
 
 

III. The Perception ot the "other" Albanian or the three Albanian identities 
  
Albanians as whole – a look from outside and historical-psychological comments 
During the past 10-15 years Albanians from the three communities were passing through a period of national identification, self-discovery and national maturity. At present, the Albanians are determined to win recognition as a nation, sand are managing to overcome the centrifugal forces of the clan and territorial division. As a Macedonian political scientist said, “the Albanian society is experiencing now what the Macedonians experienced 50 years ago, and the Bulgarians, the Serbs and the Greeks during the Nineteenth Century”. Albanians can be called by the term “the teenagers” in the Balkans, a term conventional for our team. This term encodes all the intricacies of the complex transition to maturity. “If Macedonians have no other option except Europe’, the same scientisit says, ‘Albanians do have, i.e. their reunification, winning recognition as a nation and then integrating with Europe. They have an intermediate phase, which they would like probably to achieve before joining Europe.”  

These all-Albanian strivings are complicated by the differences among the three communities. An Albanian intellectual summarized, “Albanians from Albania have already got a perception of the Kosovars as scoundrels, liars and Mafiosi who are haughty and inhospitable, but still, these are rich Albanians. Kosovars, on their part, perceive the Albanians from Albania as wild and uncontrollable gangsters, who have been reduced to beggary”. Both communities accept the Macedonian Albanians as fanatically religious, illiterate and conservative. The inconsistency between the lack of xenophobia among the Albanians in Albania, the Kosovars’ fierce xenophobia and the complete ethno-capsulation of the Albanians in Macedonia was really surprising.  Three different directions and three different levels of relations with the “others”. 

The vendetta has been revived and it is waged by Albanians against Albanians in Albania. When we put questions to the respondents, we made great efforts to get an answer. One of the respondents, an educated person, scolded our interpreter-mediator and said, “You should not translate everything, each home has its own secrets and you have to keep the secrets of our home”. The explanation of most respondents is that the Kanun and the vendetta as part of the common law have been inevitably revived, due to the fact that the state is weak and the institutions do not function. What worries the educated respondents is that the Kanun has been revived in a distorted form in Albania.  

Enver Hoxha solved the problem of the common law in a drastic way, similarly to the complete banning of religion. He killed or removed the clan Elders who knew the principles and applied the Kanun. Fifty years later there really exist blanks in the historical memory of the Albanians. They try to restore the customary traditions but they do that by changing or supplementing the Code due to lack of continuity. Old people-respondents said horrified that there were gross violations in the today’s enforcement of the Kanun, especially in its blood feud part.  

In Kosovo the vendetta has been revived by the extreme political situation and it is applied in everyday practice without any hesitation or attempts to restore the requirements of tradition. For example, according to deep seated tradition women cannot be killed, or if a woman covers up a man or a male child with her body they should be reprieved. Now this practice has been forgotten. 

In Macedonia blood feud is not applied, but this issue requires some additional research. For the time being, the team’s conclusion is that this conservative and close community has its leaders who usually settle disputes and impose punishments. 

For the researcher, who observes the revival and observance of the Kanun from outside, this is an obvious tendency to some primitive form of an alternative state and of parallel social and legal institutions.  

How could they carry out the national formation and the national unification with these significant differences and with the feeling of mutual mistrust and sense of superiority? This simply cannot happen unless it is a common decision and a platform of the political elites of the three communities, imposed aggressively and, of course, supported by external factors. Consequences are unforeseen. 
 
 
 

  
  

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