Friday, January 19, 2007

What happened to Greater Albania?

Albania and Kosovo Jan 18th 2007 | PRISTINA AND TIRANA

From The Economist print edition

Nationalism is not nationality

SOON after Serbia's parliamentary election on January 21st, Martti Ahtisaari, a former Finnish president asked by the United Nations to produce a plan for the future of Kosovo, will present his ideas. Since 1999 Kosovo has been under UN jurisdiction. Technically it is part of Serbia, but 90% of its 2m people are ethnic Albanians who want full independence. Mr Ahtisaari's plan will suggest that Kosovo becomes independent, but only with conditions. One is clear: Kosovo will unite neither with Albania nor with Albanian-inhabited parts of Macedonia.

In the 1990s, when the old Yugoslavia collapsed in blood, Serbs and Croats tried to carve out a Greater Serbia and a Greater Croatia. Many Serbs feel that it is thus only a matter of time before Albanians seek a Greater Albania. Yet neither in Kosovo nor in Albania have politicians advocating union ever made headway. A poll in Kosovo in 2005 found that whereas more than 90% backed independence, fewer than 10% wanted union with Albania. This points to a conclusion that Albanian nationalists hate: younger Albanians in Kosovo have developed a Kosovar identity of their own. It is not that they do not feel Albanian; rather that they see no contradiction in feeling Kosovar as well.

Over the next few months this debate will intensify, not least because Kosovo will need a flag. Today Kosovo Albanians use Albania's; but if Kosovo becomes independent, it will need its own. Prominent in the discussion will be Migjen Kelmendi, who edits a paper written in Kosovo's Albanian dialect, as opposed to the standard literary form. He says that when Kosovo was oppressed by Serbia, “I had to identify with Albanianism.” Now, he feels proud about being a Kosovar as well.

The difference between Serbs and Croats on the one hand, and Albanians on the other, is that most Serbs and Croats lived in one country until 1991. Since the end of Ottoman rule in 1912 Albanians never have, and so they have grown apart. Politicians in Albania have never shown much interest in their kinsmen outside the country. With independence in sight, Kosovo's leaders have no intention of submerging their new state into another.

Albanian nationalists generally dislike the term “Greater Albania”, preferring to talk about “ethnic Albania”. This covers not just Albania, Kosovo and western Macedonia, but parts of Serbia and Montenegro too. Few Albanians, however, are interested in fashioning a new state out of this land. For most, joining the European Union is a far more pressing concern.

In any case, especially between Kosovo and Macedonia, a quarter of whose 2m people are Albanians, politicians and academics, students, businessmen—and criminals—all move around as if they lived in one country. A Macedonian Albanian, Teuta Arifi, argues that Albanians should emulate German-speakers, who have built separate identities in Germany, Switzerland and Austria while continuing to belong to the same German culture.

A pan-Albanian market of 6m consumers, is slowly emerging. But in terms of business there is some way to go. In 2005 Kosovo's exports to Albania were a mere €5.2m ($6.5m), and Albania did not even rank among its top ten importers.


Serbs In Kosovo are in Danger said...

How could they put so little emphasis and try to sweep under the rug the fact that Albanians in Kosovo use the flag of ALbania? So do the ALbanians in Macedonia and PResevo. It is clear the goal is a greater Albanian state. Kosovo will not have to change flags that much if at all. Look at Venezuela Columbia and Ecuador all basically the same. This much is clear-there will be absolutely no recognition of any minorites. They might as well put Serbs not welcome in Albanian on a flag. I think like the flag of Cyprus-it will just be an outline of the province with some peace symbol. LAME!

BalkanUpdate said...

Yes, we understand: The Economist and all other relevant International media are out to get Serbs.We heard it before in Bosnia,Croatia,Hague and now Kosovo. But why?

Ilyr said...

"The difference between Serbs and Croats on the one hand, and Albanians on the other, is that most Serbs and Croats lived in one country until 1991. Since the end of Ottoman rule in 1912 Albanians never have, and so they have grown apart."

This is not true, invalidating your conclusions. Albanians did live in one state from 1941-1944, the "original" Greater Albania, created by Hitler and Mussolini. It was the forging ground for Albanian nationalists, who for the most part cooperated with the Nazis, even got "the honor" to form their own SS division to harass "the others" in their enlarged "homeland".

After WWII, Communist Albania actively and covertly supported the Albanian separatism in Kosovo, and cultural exports were strong, because it was also the main resource of education in Albanian language.

Separatism and "reunification" to the situation of 1941 (!) has had a strong role in all Albanian nationalist movements, both in Kosovo and Macedonia. It was, however for "internal consumption", while the PR effort directed outside the community focused on "human rights".

Get your facts straight.

Balkan Update said...

The Economist got the "facts" wrong, and you got them right? Nice one!

The Serbian myths have been shattered in recent years, and you need to catch up. All polls done in the last 15 years show that the vast majority of Albanians, wherever they live,oppose the creation of an Ethnic Albanian state. In the meantime, you can continue to hold on to your myths.The rest of us are focusing on the world as is.

Anonymous said...

BalkanUpdate-The west is not out to get Serbs as you say they are using the Serbs to do what they want because Serbs were evil in Kosovo and evil in bosnia and have no international support and international laws can be waved because Serbs are evil. Create a muslim state in Europe out of Serbian territory to show middle east governments that they are not hostile to muslims just terrorist muslims. This is all in Bill Clinton's book my life.

Balkan Update said...

I disagree with that wholeheartedly. The fact of the matter is that most Muslim states don't really care about Kosovo.Saddam Hussein supported Milosevic in his wars against people of Bosnia and Kosovo. The United States knows very well that it cannot carry favor with the Muslim world by supporting the Independence of Kosovo. I never seen any Muslim organization mentioning Kosovo as one of their causes. To carry favors with Muslims the U.S needs to do something about the Palestine/Israel conflict. The reason most western states support the Independence of Kosovo is based on recent historical development as well as being a fair and a practical solution.There is nothing else to it!

Anonymous said...

Kosovo independence is not fair to the Serbs of Kosovo who will be in a state run by the KLA. But Serbs in Kosovo don't matter because they are evil.

Millions and millions of dollars are being poured into Kosovo by muslim nations who are building the newest and biggest masques in Kosovo.

BalkanUpdate said...

Stop the bull crap! If Serbs don't want to live in Kosovo that's their problem.They certainly have more rights then Albanians in the Presevo Valley(I know this because i been there-unlike you).

Nothing wrong with building Mosques in Kosovo-80% of the people of Kosovo are nominally Muslims.They are certainly not going to build Buddhist Temples.

Anonymous said...

i am an albanian and i love albanians in kosovo they are like my brothers like albanian are.I don't hate serbs becouse they are from serbia but i hate the serbs who hate us.This territory when now is kosovo lay forever in history was populated by albanians.And this isn't becouse i like this to say but is a fact.A thing is sure kosovo will be independent soon or late.I read a boolshit that we albanians came from little asia this ciertamly was written by a serbian.Foreigners like jason read this things and belive what they say.We are decendent of ilyrians.I want to say all people to read things that are true to read serious material not what we write on internet thesae is our opinion

Anonymous said...

i've heard some hypotesis that ilyrians aren't autocton of the territory they ocupied but that albanians aren't decendent of ilyrians never.We all now that macedonians arent decendents of old macedonians so do bulgarian of thraka so do all the slav countries becouse they came in balcan in the fifth century in balcan they are three countries who are autocton in balcan grecce romania and albania