Studies
ALBANIAN IDENTITIES
by Antonina Zhelyazkova
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The two world wars, the occupation periods and the frustration of the Albanian national strivings and anticipations for independence... (2)

This achievement, was not a minor one, of course, but it was far from being a victory for the Albanian national movement. The unification of the entire Albanian ethnos in a single state had not been achieved, and it did not look like as if something would happen before long. After 1925 the government of Ahmed Zogu adopted a course of maintaining alliance with Italy which, in the long run, led to the liquidation of the Albanian independence in 1939.93

Soon after the occupation of Albania in the spring of 1939, its territories were annexed to the lands under the Italian crown, and Victor Emmanuel III became also the king of Albania. All international functions of the Albanian state were assumed by Mussolini's government, and Albania's administration was moved to Rome. This did not alleviate the occupation regime at all and a 100,000-strong army was deployed in this country, while the actual governor of Albania was the royal deputy Francesco Jakomini. The population was given a thirty-day term to surrender all arms, a fact which betrays some naiveté on the part of the occupation authorities, for traditionally Albanians would not give up their weapon. 

Today Albanians do not hold a bad memory of the Italian occupation, since for about four years more than 350 Italian enterprises were opened in this economically underdeveloped country, roads were built and administrative buildings were erected. That was also the short period of time when the debacle of Yugoslavia and Greece led to a redrawing of the Balkan frontiers, and the Albanians came closer to the ideal of national union and the dreams of Great Albania - Western Macedonia and the larger part of Kosovo were annexed to Albania.94 P. Chaulev characteristises the Albanian attitude to Italy in the following way: "In Albania there are Serbophobes, there are Hellenophobes, but there are no Italophobes. Albanians know the Italian people better than Italians know Albanians. They know that the Italian people, in spite of the new doctrine, cannot become imperialist and, therefore, no matter what the foreign policy of Italy to Albania may be, it does not scare them. Still, Albanians fear the Italian peaceful invasion".95

A key point in the Albanian resistance to the occupation, which had long-lasting historical consequences, was the formation of the Communist Party in November 1941. ACP put effort to take the lead of the independently acting detachments, a joint platform was worked out and the National Liberation Front was founded. Among the members of the general National Council was Enver Hoxha. Indeed, the fact that the Communist Party was established by people who came predominantly from the Albanian South, that is were of Tosk origin, as well as that Enver Hoxha himself was born in Gjirokastër, was not of least importance for the Albanian traditions. 

On the other hand, at the end of 1942 all Albanians who did not trust the ACP and called themselves "nationalists", founded another resistance organisation named Balli Kombëtar (National Front), at the head of which stood Midhad Frashëri, minister in the first Albanian government of Ismail Qemal and son of Abdyl Frashëri.



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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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