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Natural Albania

In a recent interview with a Kosova based newspaper Koco Danaj, a political advisor to the Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, advocated the creation of a Greater Albania by 2013.

The idea of a Greater Albania goes back to the League of Prizren, established in 1878 to campaign for autonomy for Albanian territories within the Ottoman Empire. These territories had previously been divided up by the Great Powers at the Congress of Berlin the same year.

Danaj himself did not use the term 'Greater Albania' speaking instead of a 'natural Albania'. The idea of a Greater Albania has generally been used by its opponents rather than by Albanians themselves. However expressed, the older aspiration became tainted as a result of its advocates supporting Italian and German occupiers during WW II in the hope that these powers would help them realise their goals.

In more recent years, the war and chaos that followed the pursuit of a Greater Serbia and, to a lesser extent, a Greater Croatia, have also made people wary expressing Albanian aspirations in this language.

In fact, Albanian political leaders have generally made great efforts to assure other countries in the region and the wider world that they have no interest in redrawing the borders of Albania. So it is all the more surprising that someone in Danaj's position should speak in this way.

His comments seem to have been intended primarily as a response to recent political developments in Macedonia. A potential civil war pitting the Albanian minority - around 25% - against the Slav majority was only averted by the signing of the Ohrid Agreement in 2001, which gave the Albanian population greater rights and greater political representation.

Following the Macedonian election earlier this year, the biggest party formed a coalition government which included the Democratic Party of Albanians, but excluded the larger Democratic Union for Integration - another Albanian party.

Danaj warned that if the Ohrid Agreement was not fully honoured by the Macedonian government Macedonia might be partitioned:
In politics it's easier to face the painful truth, than the painful lies...Therefore, I emphasise again that disrespect of the Ohrid Agreement would mean partitioning Macedonia.
Citing the example of Montenegro which chose to split from Serbia, Danaj suggested that Albanians in Macedonia and Montenegro should also have the right to choose whether to live as minorities in those countries or to join with Albania.

Danaj also contrasted what he called 'natural Albania' with Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia, none of which were 'natural creations.

What is going on here? Albania's policy towards Kosovo and towards its neighbours with minority Albanian communities has been a foreign policy success for the country, and has provided a welcome contrast to the destructive nationalist rhetoric from other countries that has done so much damage to the region.

The price for Albania of advocating the redrawing of borders would be great. The twin aspirations of NATO and EU membership would be dead. The resulting instability would drive away foreign investment in the country. The 'threat' of an enlarged Albania would energise ethnic nationalists across the Balkans. And once the logic of ethnicity as the basic of political boundaries was established the border conflicts that would follow would be unstoppable.

More likely, Danaj is engaging in a political shot across the bows, rather than advocating a real policy. It is a reminder to the new government of Macedonia, and those involved in negotiating the future of Kosova, not to take Albanian acquiescence for granted. It is also an assurance to Albanians beyond Albania that the Albanian government is looking out for their interests.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Alwyn,

Koco Danaj is not an advisor of the Prime Minister of Albania. He used to be advisor of Meta I think; back in 2000 or so. As such his opinion is just a personal opinion.

Here is a statement from Berisha's staff about the issue
http://www.keshilliministrave.al/english/lajm.asp?id=6559
Anonymous said…
Vuk is an idiot. Nobody takes him serious anymore, not even the Serbs themselves.
Danaj guy does not work for the government. Media propaganda at its best for the masses. They want to believe the perverted truth coming from Vuk and Serb tabloids.
Anonymous said…
Not"Natural Albania"
but Real Albania.
YES.
Anonymous said…
The price of 'natural Albania' is really not that great. The EU/NATO bullshit that is fed to Albanians like antibiotics to factory farm cattle, will be exposed as just that BULLSHIT. Once that happens Albanians have no other choice but to

1) create their 'natural' Albania, thus fomenting regional war and perhaps world war

2) once that is done they will start cutting each other's throats

3) once that threshhold of pain is reached they will start interbreeding, no more dialects, regional loyalties etc etc.

4) foreign investment in Albania, while it has been compliant is a pittance anyway. Who cares if it disappears. The real money is in immigrant remittances and the drug trade.
bytyqis said…
Alwyn,
You got the main thing wrong here. The Idea of Greater Albania did not begin with the League of Prizren. The League of Prizren was meant to defend the integrity of Albania which at that time included all the Albanian inhabited lands as a concept. The term Greater Albania was used only after Albania was actually made smaller. So this "greater Albania" in fact would only be the real Albania. (Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating any change of borders)

Now it is used as a bogeyman by Serbs mainly.

Peace

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Welcome to Our Man in Tirana. I moved to Tirana, capital of Albania, in October 2005 and left in October 2007. This blog is a mix of photographs, reports, links, impressions and, undoubtedly, prejudices relating to the city and the country.

Since I am no longer in Tirana I am no longer updating this blog. However, there are over 300 posts covering this two year period and I hope that they are still of some interest.

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