by Antonina Zhelyazkova
The Balkans Revival in the 19th century and the Albanian patriotic ideas... (4)

The Albanian leaders and the Sublime Porte took the course of mutual concessions because of the pending war in the Balkans. By means of concessions, the ruling circles in Istanbul were trying to win over the Albanians to take their side in the looming war. On their part, Albanians feared a partitioning of the territories populated by Albanians among the countries of the Balkan Alliance. The Albanian national leaders believed it was better for Albania to remain within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire faced with the prospects of its division among Serbia, Greece and Montenegro. Thus, immediately before the outbreak of World War I, with the assistance of the Sublime Porte, steps were made in the Albanian territories to institute autonomy within the framework of the empire.90

With the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in 1912 there emerged an immediate danger of Albania's being partitioned among Serbia, Greece and Montenegro. This was in conflict with the interests of Austria-Hungary and Italy, which had their own plans and supported the establishment of an independent state. The diplomacy of Vienna and Rome, as well as London, gave a signal to Ismail Qemal that the outright proclamation of the Albanian independence would not encounter resistance. At the same time, there were feverish preparations in Albania of calling together an all-Albanian congress. On 28 November 1912, delegates from all over the country gathered in Vlora and officially proclaimed Albania's independence. Albania was not recognised in its ethnic boundaries, but as dictated by the international political conjuncture: Kosovo and Metohija were left outside the borders of the Albanian state, but Serbia's claims to Northern Albania, and Montenegro's to Shkodra, were rejected, Korça and Gjirokastër were given to Albania, while the region of Çameria was annexed to Greece. In July 1913, the Great Powers signed in London the Organic Statute of Albania which made its independence nominal. Albania acquired the status of an independent neutral state under the patronage of the Great Powers, and a commission of representatives of these powers, including an Albanian too, assumed control over the civil and financial administration.91  Dutch officers took charge of the Albanian gendarmerie, and the German prince Wilhelm de Wied was appointed prince of Albania by the Great Powers and was enthroned in the spring of 1914. Established was also the capital of the new principality - Durrës; thus the too familiar status witnessed in the Kosovo of today took its final shape - from a province of the Ottoman Empire Albania turned into a protectorate of Great Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, Germany, Italy, and Russia. 

During that period the traditional, as well as some new, internal Albanian contradictions emerged again. On the one hand, pro-Ottoman big feudal lords like Esad Pasa Toptani, and Turhan Pasa Përmeti joined the government and practically held the whole country in their hands. At the same time, under the cover of defending Islam and the social interests of the Albanian petty owners, a kind of primitive Bolshevik ideas thrived in Albania, declaring a "holy war" on both Prince Wied and the big feudal lords in the government, enthralling the masses, and gaining control over all of Albania. This regime, which lasted for several months, was named after its leader - Haxhi Qamil, and compelled Esad Pasa to sign a contract with the Serbs and, in practice, betray the national Albanian interests.

90 Ibid., p. 132.
91 Ibid., p. 142.
Historical background. Ethnogenesis
The Albanian identity and the geographical environment.
George Kastrioti - Skanderbeg's resistance to the Ottomans. Heroicity as part of the Albanian individuality.
Ottoman colonisation and establishment of the new administration.
The Islamisation of the Albanians and its impact on the Albanian religious identity.
The Balkans Revival in the 19th century and the Albanian patriotic ideas
The two world wars, the occupation periods and the frustration of the Albanian national strivings and anticipations for independence.
The survival of the Albanian identities under Enver Hoxha. The role of the isolationist policy of the regime in Tirana.

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