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The Central Committee for the Defense of the Rights of the Albanian Nationality is created in the Ottoman capital of Istanbul, and demands the creation of a single, autonomous Albanian administrative unit. The Albanian population is currently split into four units. (Kola 2003, pp. 9)
At a congress in Berlin, the Western powers divide the Balkans in the aftermath of the defeat of the Ottoman Empire by Russia that January. Under the Treaty of San Stefano, signed that March, Bulgaria received territory as far west as central Albania and Serbia took the northern part of Kosova. Western countries refuse to accept this settlement, and instead return Kosova and Macedonia to the Ottomans, Serbia gets only the area north of Nis, and Bulgaria’s territory also shrinks. Montenegro gets northern parts of the future Albania, including Peja, Ulqin, Pllava, Guci, Hot, Gruda, Tivar, Vermosh, Kelmend, Kraja, and Anamal, which had been part of Kosova under the Ottomans. This division angers Albanian leaders and sows hostility between Albanians and Serbs. According to Albanian scholar and diplomat Paulin Kola, Albanian anger comes from the way the congress exposes its powerlessness and divides the Balkans without concern for the ethnicity of its inhabitants. The settlement also sparks ethnic cleansing. According to Kola, up to 50,000 Albanians are expelled from Kosova, as government policy. Serbs are also expelled, but this is localized. Kola will come to believe fewer were expelled than the Serbian academic figure of 150,000, which is about the total Serb population of Kosova at this time. (Kola 2003, pp. 8-9)
A convention of the League of Prizren, meeting in Diber, votes to demand autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. The League formed on June 10, 1878, along with defense committees responding to the Berlin Congress, which had divided the Albanian population among different countries. The demands include the creation of an administrative unit encompassing all Albanian areas, with a centrally located capital, local administrators and Albanian as the language of government, the use of local taxes for local needs, the creation of schools, and the creation of an elected legislature. These demands will later be approved by an assembly in the city of Gjirokastra on July 23, 1880. (Kola 2003, pp. 9)
An Albanian government is declared under Omer Prizreni at Prizren. This comes about because the Ottomans refuse to grant Albanian autonomy, so the League of Prizren forms a parallel government and removes Ottoman officials. Earlier, the Ottomans had considered creating an Albanian unit, including Albania, Kosova, Macedonia, and Bulgarian areas, as a counterweight to Slavic demands. After the declaration, the Ottoman military restores control and the League’s leader Abdyl Frasheri is arrested in Elbasan and taken to Prizren in shackles. He will be sentenced to death, but, after three years of imprisonment there, he will be moved to Anatolia. However, he will also be elected to the Ottoman parliament. This mirrors the sentences given to other Albanian leaders. (Kola 2003, pp. 9-10)
A series of Albanian revolts between 1908 and 1912 ends when the Ottoman government accepts the Albanians’ 14 demands for autonomy. Albanian Ottoman legislator Hasan Prishtina leads the autonomy movement. The Albanian leadership, especially in northern Albania and Kosova, earlier supported the Young Turk movement, but this resulted in less autonomy, more taxes, and continuing military conscription, so Albanians revolted. Neighboring Slavic governments see the Ottoman concession as a sign of weakness, and subsequently invade the Ottoman Empire. (Kola 2003, pp. 10-11)
An alliance of the countries of Serbia, Bulgaria, and Montenegro, later to include Greece, demands that the Ottomans immediately grant autonomy to Christians. Serbia then invades Kosova and crosses northern Albania to the coast, Montenegro invades the same region, and Bulgaria invades Macedonia and part of eastern Albania. According to author Paulin Kola, the war is based on a policy called Nacertanije (meaning “draft”), created in the mid-1800s by Serbian foreign minister Ilija Garasanin. Nacertanije advocates annexing Kosova and northern Albania to Greater Serbia, connecting Serbia to the Adriatic. A Serb soldier describes a speech by his commander once they reached Kosova: “‘Brothers, my children, my sons!’ His voice breaks. ‘This place on which we stand is the graveyard of our glory. We bow to the shadows of fallen ancestors and pray God for the salvation of their souls.’ His voice gives out and tears steam down his cheeks and gray beard and fall to the ground. He actually shakes from some kind on inner pain and excitement.… We are the generation which will realize the centuries-old dream of the whole nation: that we with the sword will regain the freedom that was lost with the sword.” The war results in a heavy toll among Kosovar civilians. About 25,000 Albanians are killed, and only three survive the war in the town of Ferizaj. Subsequently, an international commission established by the Carnegie Endowment will say in 1914 that the civilian toll was an intentional policy. Before the war, Serbia denied that Albanians could be independent and dehumanized them, according to Kola. Former Prime Minister Vladan Djordjevic said Albanians were thin, short, and that their Roma and Phoenician traits made him think of primates who slept hanging in trees. After occupation, there are cases of Muslims being forced to convert to Orthodox Christianity, and in one case 500 Albanians are shot for their refusal. (Kola 2003, pp. 11-12)
In the city of Vlora, Albanian aristocrats led by Ismail Qemali, a member of the Ottoman legislature, declare Albania independent and establish a provisional government. (Kola 2003, pp. 13)
At a conference of their ambassadors, the six Great Powers (Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and the United Kingdom) decide to create an independent and neutral Albanian kingdom, with no ties to the Ottomans. Under a July 29 agreement, the Great Powers nominate the prince of Albania, run the government and budget of Albania for a renewable term of 10 years, and create an Albanian gendarmerie, under Swedish Army officers. The conference also decides Albania’s borders. In addition to demanding a commercial port on the Adriatic Sea, which the conference quickly accepts, Serbia wants its border to extend from Lake Ohri, along the Black Drin River to the White Drin River, which excludes Kosova and parts of Macedonia with an Albanian population. Montenegro wants its border to be on the Mat River, or at least the Drin River, giving it parts of northern Albania. Greece wants its border to begin at the city of Vlora and include Gjirokastra and Korca in southern Albania. The Albanian government in Vlora wants Albania to unite all Albanian populated areas, including Kosova, parts of Macedonia and Montenegro, and the Greek region of Cameria. Austria and Italy support the Albanian position, but lose to Russia, which supports Serbia. Instead of giving Shkodra to Montenegro, the conference leaves it in Albania, Montenegro keeps what it was given by the Berlin Congress in the summer of 1878, and Kosova is given to Serbia. Sir Edward Grey makes a five-part proposal to settle the border with Greece. A commission is empowered to go to the area and settle the border, and recommends that Korca and Sazan, an island near Vlora, be given to Albania. The occupation forces, especially the Greeks, hamper the commission. The Florence Protocol in December 1913 gives Cameria, which Greece calls Northern Epirus, to Greece. At the other end of Albania, a commission attempts to implement an agreement from March 22, and modified April 14. Serbia continues to occupy northern Albania, leading to an Albanian backlash there in September and October. Serbia says there is a need for its occupation forces in the region, but Austria-Hungary threatens military force if Serb forces do not leave within eight days. The commission leaves the issue there because of winter and then the start of World War I the next summer. (Kola 2003, pp. 13-16)
Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, Serbia, and the Ottomans sign a peace treaty to end the 1912 Balkan war, allowing the six major powers of Europe to decide Albania’s status. Proposals were discussed months earlier. In December 1912 a conference of ambassadors headed by UK Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey met in London. They decided to create an autonomous Albania still connected to the Ottomans, but then Macedonia was captured, cutting Albania off from the Ottoman Empire. (Kola 2003, pp. 13)
Serbia begins a program intended to colonize Kosova and Macedonia with Serbian settlers, issuing a Decree on the Settlement of Newly Liberated and Annexed Regions of the Kingdom of Serbia. However, the program is soon interrupted by World War I. (Kola 2003, pp. 20)
The provisional government of North Epirus, led by J Zographos, a former foreign minister of Greece, is formed in southern Albania. In response, Albania gives more rights to Albanian Greeks. Subsequently, Greece occupies the area around Berat and Korca. (Kola 2003, pp. 16)
Italy and Austria-Hungary nominate German prince Wilhelm zu Wied to rule Albania. Soon after he arrives on March 7, 1914 and creates a government, revolts start in central Albania against minister Esad Pasha Toptani and interference by other countries. (Kola 2003, pp. 16)
The outbreak of World War I leads to the formation of a new Albanian government backed by Serbia. After Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Serbia conquered Kosova and much of Albania from Austrian and German forces, as Albanian ruler Wilhelm zu Wied refused Austria-Hungary’s request that Albania join the war on the side of the Central Powers. Wied keeps Albania neutral, but leaves, without abdicating, in September when Austria-Hungary ends his remuneration. Therefore, the Serbs make former Albanian minister Esad Pasha Toptani the ruler of Albania. Following the revolt that spring, Esad lost his ministerial post for an alleged conspiracy and went to Italy and then the Serb capital at Nis. He makes a lone pact with Serb prime minister Nikola Pasic to create a pro-Serbia Albania. Their plan is to establish a customs union, joint military efforts, and joint diplomacy. Funds were given to Esad so influential Albanians could assemble to form an Albanian government, which would then give Serbia rights to create a rail link through Albania to the Adriatic. Allegedly Esad keeps the money for himself. (Kola 2003, pp. 16-17)
Bulgaria enters World War I on the side of the Central Powers and invades Kosova and Macedonia, in conjunction with Austro-Hungarian forces. Serbia’s army then loses hundreds of Albanians, many of whom join the Bulgarians. Later, a small Austro-Hungarian force leads the Bulgarian-armed Albanians in an attack on a Serb force in the Ibar Valley, in southern Serbia. The Serb military is cut off from the Entente forces in Greece and retreats through Albania to the Adriatic in early October. Much of Kosova is occupied by Austria-Hungary while Bulgaria occupies Pristina, Prizren, Kacanik, Gnjilane, and Urosevac. Austria-Hungary creates an Albanian government and schools. (Vickers 1998, pp. 89; Kola 2003, pp. 17)
A secret treaty is signed in London between the Entente—comprising Britain, France, and Russia—and Italy, giving Italy the port of Vlora, the nearby island of Sazan (Saseno), and whatever area Italy deems necessary to hold them. If Italy captures Trentin, Istria, Trieste, Dalmatia, and some islands in the Adriatic, France, Russia, and Britain’s plan to split Albania between Greece, Montenegro, and Serbia will go ahead. The border between Greece and Serbia would be west of Lake Ohri. Part of Albania would remain, but its foreign policy would be under Italy’s control. The four signatories are the same ambassadors who signed the treaty that created the Albanian state in 1913. The treaty will be made public by the Bolsheviks in 1917. (Vickers 1998, pp. 89; Kola 2003, pp. 17)
Italy decides to support Albania after all, since there is already an Albanian state under Austria-Hungary, France declares the southern city of Korca autonomous, and Greece demands that Korca be given to it. Giacinto Ferrero, commanding Italy’s forces in Albania, proclaims Italian support for an independent Albania in a document that will later become known as the Gjirokastra Proclamation. Just a few weeks later, Italian Foreign Minister Baron Sidney Sonnino will advocate this policy in the Italian parliament. On the contrary, Austria-Hungary wants to unite Kosova and Albania and give southern Albania to Greece. (Kola 2003, pp. 17-18)
The Committee for the National Defense of Kosova (Komiteti i Mbrojte Kombetare e Kosoves) is created in Shkodra, under Hasan Prishtina. Kosovars under Azem Bejta-Galica begin armed struggle, known as the Kachak (outlaw) movement. The Committee asks the Kachaks not to mistreat or rob Slavic inhabitants or destroy their property. At the same time, some Serbs continue to mistreat Albanians. The Kachaks are popular among Albanians, and support will increase in 1920 when Prishtina becomes a member of Albania’s parliament, Hoxhe Kadriu becomes minister of justice, and Bajram Curri becomes minister of war. All three are Kosovar Albanians. (Kola 2003, pp. 18-19)
Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Bulgaria are pushed out of Albania following an invasion by the Entente powers. Italy occupies most of Albania as well as Prizren, France takes Pristina, and the Serb army takes Kosova and moves north to liberate Serbia. (Kola 2003, pp. 18)
Albania is divided up at the peace conference in Paris that follows the end of World War I. The area around Prizren is given to the new Yugoslavia (the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes), southern Albanian areas are given to Greece, and Italy is made the defender of Albania’s territorial integrity. Albania is not represented at the Conference. (Kola 2003, pp. 18)
With Yugoslav support, Mirdita, a predominantly Catholic area northeast of Tirana, declares independence under Mark Gjoni. Under an agreement with Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia would represent the Republic of Mirdita diplomatically. The Mirditans attempt to occupy part of northern Albania with Yugoslav help, but are defeated by Albanian Minister of the Interior Ahmet Zog. (Kola 2003, pp. 19)
After being unseated by a coalition under Bishop Fan Noli, and supported by Bajram Curri, former prime minister and future king Ahmet Zog stages a successful coup with Yugoslav money and personnel. In return for their support, Zog supports Yugoslav control of Kosova. (Vickers 1998, pp. 100; Kola 2003, pp. 20)
Thousands of Kosovar Albanians are deported to Albania. Most settle in Fier, Kavaje, Berat, Elbasan, Durres, and Kruje, in marshy western Albania. (Vickers 1998, pp. 119)
Ahmet Muhtar Bey Zogolli proclaims himself Zog I, King of the Albanians, creating an Albanian monarchy. Yugoslavia sees Zog’s title as a claim on all areas populated by Albanians, though scholars believe Zog had given up on Kosova as far back as 1913. This marks Zog’s switch from the pro-Yugoslavia camp to the pro-Italy camp, in return for Italian economic aid. (Kola 2003, pp. 20)
The Regional Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) for Kosova is formed. It reports to the Central Committee of the CPY, since there is no Serb branch of the CPY. Eight of the 12 members of the Regional Committee are Slavs, as are four of the five members of its executive bureau. This upsets the Communist Party of Albania (CPA) leadership, but the CPA still sees the Committee as recognition of the national status of Kosova. (Kola 2003, pp. 48-49, 53)
Vaso Cubrilovic, a historian at Belgrade University and member of Belgrade’s Serbian Cultural Club, and participant in the terrorist Black Hand group in 1914, writes a memorandum, “The Expulsion of the Arnauts” (an archaic word for Albanian in Turkish), building on the Nacertanje plan. He sees Yugoslavia’s Albanians as a strategic threat, dividing Slavic areas and controlling key river routes, “which, to a large degree, determines the fate of the central Balkans.” Cubrilovic’s proposal is justified because of the risk that “a world conflict or a social revolution” in the near future could cause Yugoslavia to lose its Albanian majority areas and because, despite earlier colonization programs, Montenegro is still overpopulated for its hardscrabble farmlands. He says that, given the current world situation, “the shifting of a few hundred thousand Albanians will not lead to the outbreak of a world war.” He foresees opposition from Italy and Albania, but says Italy is preoccupied in Africa, while Zog’s government could be bought off with money. France and the UK are also potential opponents, but he says they should be told expelling Albanians will benefit them. Cubrilovic contrasts prior “Western methods” with his preferred strategy, under which occupation “confers the right to the lives and property of the subject inhabitants.” Cubrilovic believes slow transfer of deeds impeded the prior program. Paulin Kola will later describe the memorandum as “a fuller platform for the colonization of Kosova.” Cubrilovic calls for a range of measures, from enforcing “the law to the letter so as to make staying intolerable,” such as punishments for owning wandering dogs and smuggling, and “any other measures that an experienced police force can contrive,” denying professional permits, rejecting deeds, desecrating graves, and burning villages and neighborhoods, without revealing state involvement. He says clerics and influential Kosovar Albanians should be bribed or coerced to support transfer. He proposes that the new program be implemented by the Army General Staff, a new Institute of Colonization, and a multi-ministry inspectorate. These methods would lead to the deportation and migration of Albanians to Turkey and other countries. Then Montenegrins, who Cubrilovic describes as “arrogant, irascible, and merciless people” who “will drive the remaining Albanians away with their behavior,” would be settled in Kosova. Ethnic conflict would be fanned, to “be bloodily suppressed with the most effective means” by Montenegrin settlers and Chetniks. Yugoslavia’s parliament considers the memorandum on March 7, 1937. Once Turkey agrees to accept deported Yugoslav Albanians, Albanians are limited to an untenable 0.16 hectares for each member of a family, unless their ownership is proven to the satisfaction of the authorities. Two hundred thousand to 300,000 people leave Yugoslavia during this period. Officially, 19,279 Albanians emigrate to Turkey and 4,322 emigrate to Albania between 1927 and 1939, and a few go to Arab countries, while 30,000 Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes emigrate each year. Cubrilovic remains influential in Yugoslavia through World War II. (Vickers 1998, pp. 116-120; Kola 2003, pp. 21, 100-104)
Addressing the House of Commons, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain says that the UK has “no direct interests” in Albania. Later, Albanian leader Enver Hoxha will say this statement “gave Mussolini a free hand to carry out his plans towards our country.” The next day, Italy will invade Albania (see April 7, 1939). (Hoxha 1974, pp. 488; Kola 2003, pp. 22)
Italy occupies Albania, with 50,000 soldiers, 173 ships, and 600 bombers, facing some Albanian civilian volunteers and regular soldiers. The ruling family escapes to Greece and then the UK, though King Zog I does not abdicate. Early on the Italians face resistance from 15,000 Albanians along the coast at Durres, Vlora, Saranda, and Shengjin, as well as inland. Later, 3,000 guerillas seek refugee in the mountains and political resistance begins. Under Italian control, the Constituent Assembly soon proclaims the union of Albania with Italy and invites Italian King Emmanuel III to rule Albania. (Hoxha 1974, pp. 593-595; Kola 2003, pp. 22)
In accord with the Vienna pact, Germany takes Trepca for its mines, as well as the Lab, Vucitrn, and Dezevo (Novi Pazar) districts, creating a territory called the Kosovo Department. Security forces composed of, and led by, Albanians are formed—a gendarmerie of about 1,000 and about 1,000 irregulars, called the Vulnetara. Bulgaria annexes the Gnjilane, Kacanik, and Vitin districts. Italy takes much of Kosovo and the towns of Debar, Tetovo, Gostivar, and Struga, about 11,780 square kilometers and 820,000 people. In May this area is merged with Albania, occupied by Italy on April 7, 1939. Albanian forces are raised by the Italian army, Albanian is spoken in government and education for the first time, and the Albanian flag flies in Italian Kosovo. Albanians are able to freely travel through Albanian areas. Serbs and Montenegrins are imprisoned, deported for forced labor, or killed by occupation forces. Many are deported to Pristina and Mitrovica to labor in the mines of Trepca, or to Albania for construction. According to Serbs, Albanian attacks, generally against settlers, force about 10,000 Slavic families to leave Kosovo. Collaboration and resistance groups form throughout the occupied Balkans. (Vickers 1998, pp. 121-122; Kola 2003, pp. 22-23)
Abaz Kupi, a supporter of deposed former Albanian King Zog, begins to lead an armed struggle against the occupation of Albania. This is the first armed action since the initial resistance when the Italians invaded in 1939. (Kola 2003, pp. 27-28)
The Communist Party of Albania (CPA) is created at a conference of the main Albanian communist organizations, the Korca Group, Shkodra Group, and Youth Group. There are 15 Albanian communists and two members of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia at the meeting. A few months earlier, communist operative Dusan Mugosa arrived in Albania seeking help in liberating Miladin Popovic, a Montenegrin who leads the Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) for Kosova, from an internment camp set up by Italian forces in central Albania. Korca Group member Enver Hoxha led the successful rescue attempt and Popovic was asked to remain in Albania and the CPY agreed, also stationing Mugosa there. The CPA is formed on November 8 and a leaderless Provisional Central Committee is elected. The CPA pledges “to fight for the national independence of the Albanian people and for a people’s democratic government in an Albania free from fascism,” by armed struggle, united with “all the honest Albanians who want to fight fascism,” and promoting “love and close militant collaboration” with neighboring nationalities. The role of the CPY in creating the CPA will become an issue of contention. CPY sources and anti-communists will claim the CPA is created and run by Popovic. Hoxha will later say there is no interparty communication until 1942 and that Popovic will deny credit for the CPA in 1943 when Blazo Jovanovic, representing the Central Committee of the CPY, claims the CPY created it. On the other hand, CPA Political Bureau member Liri Gega will later say Popovic led the CPA, and member Pandi Kristo will say the two Yugoslavs created the CPA. Gega and Kristo will be in the pro-CPY faction after the war and lose their positions when Albania breaks with Yugoslavia. Koco Tashko, leader of the Korca Group, will later say he turned leadership of his organization over to Mugosa and Popovic. The CPA will later be re-named the Party of Labor of Albania. (Kola 2003, pp. 25-27)
The Foreign Research and Press Service at Balliol College, Oxford, publishes a memo, “The Albanian-Yugoslav Frontier,” suggesting where Albania’s postwar borders should be. They contrast national unification with what scholar Paulin Kola will later call “economic and political pragmatism.” Some examples of this contrast include using mountains as borders, even where they divide the same ethnicity, usually Albanians. They suggest giving Albania the northewestern city of Shkodra, but splitting Shkodra Lake with Yugoslavia, giving it the town of Ulquin. They suggest giving the Dukagjin Plateau, which Serbs call Metohija, to Yugoslavia, cutting Albania off from important commercial linkages. For regional stability, they suggest splitting Albania between Yugoslavia and Greece, since all Albanians could not be united in one country. They suggest an alternative, if that violation of “the principle of morality for which Great Britain has long stood” and the violation of Articles 2 and 3 of the new Atlantic Charter was too much: Albania could be made a protectorate of a country like Denmark or part of a regional federation. (Kola 2003, pp. 14)
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Greece sign an agreement to coordinate their foreign policy, defense, and economies after World War II. Britain supports the plan, and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden advocates including Albania and Bulgaria. Britain will oppose the plan by late 1944, because of the success of communist-led partisan armies in the region. (Kola 2003, pp. 83-84)
The Communist Party of Albania (CPA) organizes a conference in Peza, near Tirana, including nationalists, local leaders, Abaz Kupi representing former King Zog, the Communist Youth Organization, and female youth delegates. The conference elects a non-sectarian (Provisional) General National Liberation Council, and local councils to carry out government functions in liberated areas and organize guerrilla activities are planned. Nationalist guerrillas agree to fly the CPA’s red and black flag with a red star, as well as the Albanian double-headed eagle flag. Two months later, Yugoslav communist leader Josip Broz Tito will write to the CPA for the first time, saying the National Liberation Front should be re-formed with “different urban groups and tendencies” to broaden it. According to a Yugoslav source, in 1944 CPA leader Enver Hoxha will refer to the letter as “an historic event,” but in his 1982 memoir, The Titoites, he says the letter was too late to matter. (Kola 2003, pp. 27-28)
The Balli Kombetar (National Front) party is created under Mit’hat Frasheri and advocates a united Albania, including the Kosovars. A British representative to Albania during WWII, Julian Amery, will say the Ballists are “for ideological reasons, inclined towards the Western democracies, but their enthusiasm for the allied cause was severely constrained both by hatred of communism and by fears that an allied victory might once again deprive them of Kosovo as well as their southern provinces.” The Balli Kombetar includes former government members, and the Communist Party of Albania will later accuse it of being a cover for the parliamentarians who had agreed to offer Albania to Italy’s Emmanuel III after it was invaded, among other charges. (Kola 2003, pp. 29-31)
In an article, “The National Question in Yugoslavia in the Light of the National Liberation Struggle,” published in the newspaper Proleter, communist partisan leader Josip Broz Tito writes: “The question of Macedonia, the question of Kosovo and Metohija, the question of Montenegro, the question of Croatia, the question of Bosnia-Herzegovina will easily be solved to the general satisfaction of all only if resolved by the people themselves, and this right each people will win gun in hand, in the present national liberation struggle.… The words ‘National Liberation Struggle’ would be a mere phrase, or even a deception, if they did not, in addition to the all-Yugoslav meaning, have a national significance for each people separately.” This contrasts with Tito’s developing view that Yugoslavia’s territorial integrity should be preserved after the war, instead of allowing self-determination for each nationality. (Kola 2003, pp. 47-48)
Through communist leader Miladin Popovic, the Communist Party of Albania (CPA) tells the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) that it has a mistaken policy in Kosova and the Dukagjin Plateau and needs to allow the region to have “its own leadership, emerged from the war, of which the majority must at all costs consist of Albanians; they should have their own national liberation council, the composition of which should not be dictated.” The CPA also says Kosova should have its own partisan organization, under the Yugoslav General Staff. Also, the CPA wants the CPY to “clearly and frankly” tell Kosovars that, after the occupiers are driven out, “they, like the others, will enjoy the complete and undeniable right to self-determination up the secession.” The CPY refuses to change its position and communist leader Josip Broz Tito says the proposals “would in fact gratify the enemies of the Marxist-Leninist struggle in Yugoslavia and all the reactionary and fascist cliques, which are wanting to wrest piece by piece from the democratic movement of the peoples of Yugoslavia by bringing to the foreground not the question of fighting the enemy but delimitation, national antagonisms, etc.” (Kola 2003, pp. 50-51)
Following an initial meeting on July 23 in Zall i Herrit, representatives of the National Liberation Council meet with the Balli Kombetar leadership at Mukje, Kruja district, on August 1 and 2. CPA Political Bureau member Ymer Dishnica leads a 12-member delegation, including non-communists Abaz Kupi and Myslim Peza. The Ballist delegation includes their chair, Mit-hat Frasheri. According to Enver Hoxha, the NLC delegation is told that unity must be based on the Balli Kombetar fighting the occupation and not continuing to fight the NLC’s forces or the CPA, then there could be “a broad conference to lay on the table and discuss many problems concerning unity.” Hoxha’s goal is to persuade the Balli Kombetar to fight the Italians and join the NLC, at the same time preventing it from being a rival military and political force. The result of the meeting is a plan to create a Committee for the Salvation of Albania, with each side having six representatives, by August 8. The Committee is to lead the guerrilla war until an independent, democratic, and “ethnic Albania” (including Albanian areas left out of the 1913 borders) is established. The Committee plans to dissolve when a provisional government is established. An election with universal suffrage is planned, to establish a constitutional assembly to determine Albania’s post-liberation government. During this time, Mussolini’s government loses power in Italy, so the delegates also call for a declaration of independence. Each side signs, with final approval pending from their organizations, and a proclamation signed by the Committee and the Ballists, and not mentioning the NLC or fascism, is released. The NLC rejects the agreement. Hoxha later says “Our comrades [at Mukje] did not know how to defend the line of the National Liberation Front, but fell right into the lap of the ‘Balli Kombetar‘… what they talked about there was ‘independent Albania’ and ‘ethnic Albania,’ and the war of today was forgotten.” He sees the proclamation of independence as a Ballist grab for credit and a way to “blot out April 12, 1939, because three quarters of the Ballists had recognized the Accord of the Crown [giving it to Italy], while we had never recognized it.” Yugoslav sources claim Hoxha tries to prevent open armed struggle with the Balli Kombetar. Miladin Popovic reportedly says: “[T]his union [with the Ballists] cannot be accepted. We are being strengthened with each passing day.… Then, this ethnic Albania! Impossible!” Dishnica claims that he acts at Mukje on directives from the CPA leadership. Subsequently, Abaz Kupi abandons the NLC and creates the Legaliteti, arguing that Zog is Albania’s legitimate leader. (Hoxha 1974, pp. 172-189; Kola 2003, pp. 41-44)
A second Albanian National Liberation Conference is held and publicly states that the Mukje agreement (see August 1-2, 1943) is “an act that violated the fundamental principles of the Peza Conference and ran counter to the interests of the war and the unity of the Albanian people.” It also decides “to take a clear stand against [the pro-western Balli Kombetar], to expose its anti-national and anti-people policy.” The Ballists are accused of undermining the National Liberation Movement by calling it “a Communist movement,” fanning chauvinism by saying Serbia and Greece are threats, and obstructing the national liberation war. They allow the possibility of cooperation, as long as the Ballists “participate in the uncompromising and relentless war against the invaders” and agree that the national liberation councils are “the sole people’s power.” The Conference states that the way to self-determination for Kosova and Cameria, an Albanian-inhabited region in Greece, is through the national liberation war. The Conference also increases the General Council from the seven representatives elected at Peza to 62, creates rules with the goal of making the NLC into Albania’s legitimate government, and integrates new anti-fascist organizations, such as the Anti-fascist Youth Union. (PLA 1971, pp. 169-172; Kola 2003, pp. 57)
Italy surrenders to the Allies, but the Italian commander in Albania tells his forces to surrender to the German military. About 15,000 surrender to the Albanians, and about 1,500 are organized into the “Antonio Gramsci” Battalion of the 1st Storm Brigade of the Albanian National Liberation Army. Meanwhile, about 70,000 German soldiers invade Albania. According to the official PLA history, the Germans say they are liberating Albania from Italy and that they will protect Albanian independence in exchange for Albania joining their anti-communist war. (PLA 1971, pp. 173-174)
Communist leader Fadil Hoxha proposes that the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) use the name Dukagjin Plateau instead of Metohija for the western part of Kosovo, that Partisan operations in the region be split between a Kosova committee under Serb leadership and a Dukagjin Plateau committee under Albanian leadership, and that a conference be held to elect a Kosova and Dukagjin Plateau national liberation council. The Regional Committee of the CPY for Kosova approves the plan, but the CPY leadership rejects it. They say the region “is not a separate, compact region,” so it does not need a “provincial committee,” and they want “to avoid strife over ‘all sorts of demarcations.’” (Kola 2003, pp. 51-52)
The Second Session of the Anti-Fascist Council of the National Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ) releases a statement saying, “The peoples of Yugoslavia… proved in the course of the joint armed struggle their firm determination to remain united within Yugoslavia” and that, while “national minorities in Yugoslavia shall be ensured all national rights,” liberated Yugoslavia will be an equal federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia, without an Albanian republic or a statement that Kosova will be able to secede if it wishes. The Yugoslav communist party’s Kosova Regional Committee subsequently acts as if it is ignorant of the AVNOJ declaration, and Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha will later claim the CPA is never informed. (Kola 2003, pp. 52, 56)
The First Conference of the National Liberation Council for Kosovo and Metohia meets at Bujan, Albania, and proclaims that the way to Kosovar Albanian self-determination is to unite with the Yugoslav Partisans. The Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia for Kosova, the Communist Party of Albania’s branch in Tropoja, and the “Perlat Rexhepi” Battalion of Shkodra (Albania), which is operating around Gjakova, organized the conference. The National Liberation Council has 51 members, including 42 Albanians. The Council unanimously endorses a resolution that “Kosova and the Dukagjin Plateau [Metohia] is a province inhabited for the most part by an Albanian population, which today, as always, wishes to be united with Albania… the only way for the Albanian people of Kosova and the Dukagjin Plateau to be united with Albania is to fight together against the blood-thirsty Nazi occupiers and those in their pay.” The signers, from the Council’s Presidium, include Mehmet Hoxha, Pavle Jovicevic, Rifat Berisha, Xhevdet Doda, Fadil Hoxha, Hajdar Dushi, and Zekerija Rexha. According to Enver Hoxha, General Secretary of the Party of Labor of Albania, the Yugoslav Communist leadership will subsequently cover up the resolution; that “Kosovo should be restored to Albania” was endorsed by the Yugoslav Communists in 1928 and 1940, at the 5th Party Conference. (Prifti 1978, pp. 227-228; Hoxha 1982, pp. 117-118)
Yugoslav historian Vaso Cubrilovic writes another memorandum, The Problem of Minorities in the New Yugoslavia, and says that, to establish peace, Yugoslavia must be “ethnically pure,” because the issue of minorities creates conflicts with neighboring countries. Cubrilovic calls for the removal of Yugoslav Germans, Hungarians, Albanians, Italians, and Romanians, who “deserved to lose their civil rights in this country.” He says the military should be used to remove national minorities “from those territories which we desire to populate with our own national element in a planned and merciless way,” including denial of rights, taking of property, and internment, especially targeting intellectuals and the rich. Subsequently, Cubrilovic is given a post in the Yugoslav government. The Yugoslav government sponsored previous studies. In 1939 well-known Yugoslav writer Ivo Andric, at the time a diplomat, and Ivan Vukotic proposed that Albania be divided with Italy, so Yugoslav Albanians would not have a national state to focus on. In 1941, lawyer Stevan Moljevic released Homogeneous Serbia, calling for another round of deportations of Yugoslav Albanians to Turkey or Albania. Subsequently, from the 1950s to the 1970s, Yugoslav Albanians will be encouraged to identify as Turkish, through the establishment of Turkish language schools and media. The Albanian population will also be intimidated by the security forces. An agreement will be concluded with Turkey in 1953 under which Turkey will accept deported Yugoslav Albanians. (Kola 2003, pp. 103-105)
Communist leader Josip Broz Tito places the Partisan general staff of the Kosova region under the Serb general staff. Author Paulin Kola will later call this “the clearest indication yet of his plans to incorporate postwar Kosova into Serbia.” (Kola 2003, pp. 56)
For most of the war, Britain ignores Albania, and does not recognize a government in exile under Ahmet Zog. Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha will later say that Greece would have considered such a move a hostile act by the British. By 1942 at the latest, the British expected a Balkan Federation of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Yugoslavia to be formed after liberation. The War Office sends a memo to an office in Bari, Italy, in 1944 admitting that Britain cannot stop the partisans from winning political power and seeking Soviet assistance, so, “We must therefore aim at strengthening our position with partisans now in order that after the war we may be able to influence the partisan government.” By this point, envoys from the Special Operations Executive division, as well as some American envoys, are with the major Albanian political groups and they are receiving British aid. The envoys to the Partisans accept the War Office’s decision, but those with other groups believe more should have been done, up to a British or American landing in the fall of 1944 as happened in Greece. British army officer Julian Amery will later write: “Firstly, it was wrong to abandon the Albanians to Hoxha’s evil regime and Stalin’s imperial designs. Secondly, [Vlora] and [Sazan Island] control the Strait of Otranto, the entrance to the Adriatic, an important naval gateway.” (Kola 2003, pp. 67-70)
The Third and Fifth Brigades of the Albanian National Liberation Army enter Kosova to fight the Germans. They will later be sent north, which Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha will say allows “unrestrained mass terror against the Albanians” by Yugoslav Partisans. Others say that as many as 30,000 Albanian soldiers aid the Yugoslavs in fighting Albanian nationalists. (Prifti 1978, pp. 197-199; Kola 2003, pp. 61-62)
Communist official Velimir Stoinic arrives to lead the Yugoslav military mission to Albania’s general staff and to represent the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. He immediately recalls Miladin Popovic back to Yugoslavia. Popovic is blamed for alleged mistakes by the Communist Party of Albania (CPA), such as the Mukje agreement with the Balli Kombetar and statements that Yugoslavia will allow Kosova to determine its future. He also says the CPA’s policies are wrong and that the leadership must change. The CPA will later accuse Stoinic of conspiring with a pro-Yugoslav faction against leading Albanian communist Enver Hoxha so Yugoslavia can take control of Albania. (PLA 1971, pp. 227; Kola 2003, pp. 58)
Following the liberation of Yugoslavia, the Community Party of Yugoslavia resumes support for a Balkan federation, excluding Greece, which is in Britain’s sphere of influence. The Soviet Union pushes Yugoslav-Bulgarian coordination as the first step, which some see as an attempt to increase Soviet influence over Yugoslavia through more pro-Soviet Bulgaria. Yugoslavia sends Eduard Kardelj to Bulgaria in November, but Velimir Stoinic also brings up unification at the Second Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Albania this month in the southern Albanian town of Berat. (Kola 2003, pp. 84)
The Third and Fifth Divisions of the Albanian National Liberation Army pursue German forces into Yugoslavia, in coordination with Yugoslav forces. Author Peter Prifti will later say around 15,000 Albanians fight in Yugoslavia and 350 or more die there. They fight in Kosova (including Pristina and Novi Pazar), Montenegro, western Macedonia, a portion of Serbia, and the Sandjak region in southern Bosnia-Herzegovina, going as far as Visegrad, almost 80 miles away from Albania. Albania is alone among the European socialist states in liberating itself with only its own forces in World War II, which Front, a Yugoslav military magazine, will admit in the early 70s, breaking decades of unacknowledgment. (Prifti 1978, pp. 197-198)
The British envoys to the Partisans oppose the fighting between the Partisans and other groups, and threaten to cut off military aid to the Partisans. A circular from the Central Committee of the CPA to local groups says “the British mission is attempting to revive and reinforce the reactionary movement against the national liberation movement,” and “they should in no way be regarded as arbiters” and will be deported if they interfere in internal affairs. Rumors begin to circulate as early as September that an Allied army will land in Albania, and local communists are told to make sure any Allied force finds the National Liberation Council and Army “as the sole state power.” There are also fears of a government in exile or a government created after a landing. In response, the British and American envoys are watched and not allowed to roam at large. (PLA 1971, pp. 181 -182; Hoxha 1974, pp. 193 - 195; Kola 2003, pp. 69-70)
The Central Committee of the CPA convenes at Berat for its Second Plenum, along with CPY representative Velimir Stoinic. Sejfulla Maleshova and Pandi Kristo become CC members just before the meeting, apparently in a way that violates party rules. Along with organizational secretary Koci Xoxe, they are later accused of conspiring with Stoinic to attack the CPA. Some charges are that the CPA is not communist and that it acts both sectarian and opportunist. Liri Gega is removed from the Central Committee “for sectarianism and pronounced adventurism,” and those individual charges are said to come from the entire party’s policy. Maleshova says the CPA is becoming a terrorist “band of criminals,” for actions like the execution of Mustafa Gjinishi, one of the CPA’s representatives at the Mukje meeting. Xoxe says “a gang of four,” starting with Miladin Popovic, lead the CPA. Stoinic also criticizes the CPA and says: “You are small, a good bite for imperialism. You can’t hold power without Yugoslavia, especially present-day Yugoslavia.” Therefore, the two countries should have close links: “Their exact shape cannot be revealed at this conference, but let the link be confederal or closer than that. This is your perspective, this is what you should inculcate in people’s minds.” This is the first time the CPY’s wish to join the two countries is mentioned in public. Stoinic also says Tito should be praised more. Relying on documents published after capitalism is restored in Albania, Paulin Kola will later say that Hoxha and the rest of the CPA completely accepted the criticisms, and that Hoxha also blamed Popovic and Dusan Mugosa of the CPY, but Hoxha’s memoirs say that he rejected the charges against the CPA. The Central Committee is also enlarged by 18 at the Berat Plenum. (PLA 1971, pp. 227-231; Kola 2003, pp. 58-61)
The United Kingdom tells Bulgaria officially that it is against any alliance between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. As a result of this warning and because the Bulgarian government would prefer to federate with Yugoslavia as an equal rather than as a Yugoslav republic, Bulgaria does not immediately reply to Yugoslavia’s push for negotiations on federation. Yugoslav-Albanian unification negotiations progress, going against the USSR’s proposal that Yugoslavia and Bulgaria unify first. (Kola 2003, pp. 85-86)
Enver Hoxha, as Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Democratic Government of Albania, writes to the UK, USSR, and USA seeking formal recognition. In part he says: “Now that Albania is liberated, the Democratic Government of Albania is the sole representative of Albania both at home and abroad.… Today the authority of our government extends over all regions of Albania, and over the entire Albanian people.” He reiterates Albania’s dedication to “the great cause of the anti-fascist bloc,” and the government’s “democratic principles” and defense of “the rights of man.” A few months later Yugoslavia will recognize the Hoxha government, along with the USSR and Poland, but it will be years before the UK and USA do so. (Hoxha 1974, pp. 413-416)
Miladin Popovic, secretary of the Regional Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) for Kosova, is assassinated. Yugoslavia says that Haki Taha, a nationalist Albanian teacher from Tirana, is responsible, but Albania will later say it was done by the Yugoslav secret service, because Popovic advocates letting Kosovars decide whether to stay in Yugoslavia or not. Yugoslavia names Popovic a national martyr. (Kola 2003, pp. 62)
Yugoslavia is the first country to recognize the Albanian Democratic Government. Albania sends envoys to Yugoslavia’s embassies in 16 countries. By May 1946, Albania will begin conducting its foreign relations with other countries through Yugoslavia, with the reported approval of the USSR’s Josef Stalin. (Kola 2003, pp. 71, 76-77)
Velimir Stoinic, Yugoslavia’s envoy to Albania, tells provisional Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito that British envoy General D. E. P. Hodgson has expressed surprise that Enver Hoxha’s Albanian government is silent on Kosova, which Stoinic concludes is an attempt to raise the issue. Britain requests entry for 1,500-1,700 additional personnel of the Military Liaison to distribute aid prior to deployment of the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), but Albania only allows 80 to enter. Albania will later refuse to allow the UNRRA to send officials to distribute $26 million of aid, and expels all UN staff as saboteurs. (PLA 1971, pp. 248; Hoxha 1975, pp. 82; Kola 2003, pp. 72)
Following the new Albanian government’s request for diplomatic recognition, the Soviet Union joins Yugoslavia in formally recognizing the Democratic Government of Albania. Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and France recognize the government soon thereafter. (PLA 1971, pp. 272)
In a report to the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Albania (CPA), Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha calls for re-examination of the Central Committee’s Second Plenum, which met in the southern Albanian town of Berat in November 1944. He argues that the decisions were made by a faction in secret and for egotistic reasons, making it a “coup d’etat,” and that the decisions are wrong because they condemn the course of the national liberation struggle and threaten the CPA’s independence. Allegedly, Hoxha is still unaware of the Yugoslav role, so he only blames Communist Party of Yugoslavia envoy Velimir Stoinic and Sejfulla Maleshova, who joined the Central Committee and Political Bureau at the Second Plenum. He criticizes Organizational Secretary Koci Xoxe, Pandi Kristo, and Communist Youth Political Secretary Nako Spiru, all of whom are also in the Political Bureau, for going along with Stoinic and Maleshova. Xoxe and Kristo try to blunt the attack on the Second Plenum and block an enlargement of the Political Bureau. Spiru does not reveal his hidden role in the pro-Yugoslav faction, but will support Hoxha in the future. (PLA 1971, pp. 287 -290; Hoxha 1974, pp. 543-575)
Albania and Yugoslavia sign a 20-year Treaty of Cooperation and Mutual Aid, to protect their independence and territorial integrity, and promising a joint defense if either country is attacked. Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha and Stanoje Simic, Yugoslavia’s foreign minister, are the signers. (Kola 2003, pp. 77-78)
Albania is allowed to participate in the Paris Peace Conference, regarding the post-war settlements between the Allies and Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Finland, but is not a full participant, instead being classed with Austria. The Albanian government argues that it was a full member of the Allied effort, fielding 70,000 Albanian Partisans, including 6,000 women, against around 100,000 Italians and 70,000 Germans. It says Italy and Germany suffered 53,639 casualties and prisoners and lost 100 armored vehicles, 1,334 artillery pieces, 1,934 trucks, and 2,855 machine guns destroyed or taken in Albania. Out of its population of one million, Albania says 28,000 were killed, 12,600 wounded, 10,000 were political prisoners, and 35,000 were made to do forced labor. Albania says 850 out of 2,500 of its communities were destroyed by the war.
Disputed by Greece - To oppose Albania’s demands, Greece argues that Albania is at war with it. Greece also claims Gjirokastra and Korca, south of the Shkumbin River, and there is some fighting along the border. By 11 votes to seven, with two abstentions, the conference votes to discuss Greece’s territorial claims. Italian King Victor Emmanuel III blames Albania for the invasion of Greece, and Greece points to a declaration of war by the Albanian occupation government after Daut Hoxha was found murdered at the border in summer 1940.
Hoxha's Address - Enver Hoxha addresses the conference. He points to hundreds of Albanians conscripted by Italy who deserted or joined the Greeks, who then treated them as POWs. Many were later sent to Crete and joined British forces who landed there. Others joined the Albanian Partisans or were captured by Italy, court-martialed for “high treason,” and imprisoned in the Shijak concentration camp. There are other cases of attacks on Italian forces by Albanian soldiers. Hoxha also mentions attacks on Albania by Greeks, such as the over 50 homes in Konispol burned by German soldiers guided by a captain under Greek collaborationist General Napoleon Zervas on September 8, 1943. His forces also joined German forces in their winter 1943-44 Albanian offensive. They invaded and burned again in June 1944. Hoxha refutes Greek claims that Albania is treading on the rights of the Greek minority, which Albania numbers at 35,000. There are 79 schools using Greek, one secondary school, autonomous Greek local government, and Greeks in the government and military. Between 1913 and 1923, Hoxha claims there were 60,000 Albanians in Greece, 35,000 of whom were classified as Turks and deported to Turkey in exchange for Turkish Greeks. In June 1944 and March 1945 Zervas’ forces attacked Greek Albanians, and at least 20,000 fled to Albania. Hoxha will later say that what Albania terms the “monarcho-fascist” Greek government commits 683 military provocations against Albania from its founding to October 15, 1948. Hoxha claims the Greek prime minister tells a Yugoslav official at the Peace Conference that he is open to dividing Albania with Yugoslavia, but Yugoslavia refuses. Hoxha tells the conference, “We solemnly declare that within our present borders there is not one square inch of foreign soil, and we will never permit anyone to encroach upon them, for to us they are sacred.” Italy is accused of harboring Albanian and Italian war criminals, including “fascists” who assassinated an Albanian sergeant at the Allied Mediterranean High Command in Bari in March. The Italian politicians are accused of threatening Albania during recent elections. In conclusion, Hoxha asks that the Peace Conference further limit Italy’s post-war military, claims Italy committed 3,544,232,626 gold francs worth of damage in Albania, and Albania wants to be classified as an “associated power.”
US, British Opposition - These requests are opposed by the UK and US. Albania afterward considers its share of the reparations to be too low. The UK and US will later oppose Albanian participation in the Moscow conference on peace with Germany, held in March-April 1947. An American delegate will say: “We are of the opinion that, first, Albania is not a neighbor of Germany, and second, it did not take part in the war against Germany. Only some individual Albanians, perhaps, took part in this war, but apart from this there were also Albanians who fought side by side with the Germans.” (PLA 1971, pp. 258; Hoxha 1974, pp. 539-542, 593-614; Hoxha 1975, pp. 90-91, 99)
In what Albania considers another Anglo-American plot to prepare the way for intervention, about 450 counterrevolutionaries organized in three forces again assault the city of Shkodra in northwest Albania. The attack is defeated by the military within hours, killing 33 rebels. Eight leaders are tried in a military court and shot, and 200 others are tried, but some are later released. The government also links the attack to an anti-government group in the legislature. (Hoxha 1975, pp. 83, 103)
In Belgrade, Nako Spiru, Albania’s economy minister, and Boris Kidric, Yugoslavia’s minister of industry, sign a 30-year treaty unifying Albania’s economy with Yugoslavia. They agree to coordinate economic planning, make the value of Albania’s lek dependent on the value of Yugoslavia’s dinar, equalize prices (not based on international market prices), and create a customs union under Yugoslavia’s rules. According to author Paulin Kola, Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha praises the treaty highly, while Hoxha will later say he had many reservations. According to the Albanian communists’ official history, the Albanian government and Hoxha think economic conditions make currency parity impossible to achieve on Yugoslavia’s schedule and they say Yugoslavia sets parity “on an altogether arbitrary basis to the advantage of the dinar.” Albania also has reservations about unifying prices. It says the customs union is set up to benefit Yugoslavia, later causing shortages and inflation in Albania. Joint companies are later set up based on the convention, and Albania will complain that it is providing the capital it promised, while Yugoslavia provides not “even a penny in the original funds” but still “appropriated half of the profits.” A joint commission to coordinate the economies is created, and the Albanian government says Yugoslavia tries to “turn it into a super-government above the Albanian government.” Yugoslavia is supposed to provide two billion leks of credit in 1947, but reportedly does not provide even one billion, and credit in goods is overvalued by two to four times more than their prices in international trade. Yugoslavia provides four factories, which Albania considers too small and decrepit. The Albanian government subsequently says that the withholding of promised credit hinders the economic plan for 1947, and Albania says that the 1948 credits are also lacking. (PLA 1971, pp. 306-309; Kola 2003, pp. 78-79)
Yugoslav fighter planes land in Tirana, apparently without permission. Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha brings this complaint up with Stalin at their meeting on July 16, and says that Yugoslavia admits it was a mistake to violate Albanian airspace. According to Hoxha, Stalin replies in part, “It is a very good thing that you have friendly Yugoslavia on your border, because Albania is a small country and as such needs strong support from its friends,” and Hoxha agrees generally. However, Yugoslav official Vladimir Dedijer will claim in 1949 that the fighters are requested by the Albanian General Staff and that Hoxha visited central Albania accompanied by the fighters, at his request. (Hoxha 1979, pp. 73; Kola 2003, pp. 88)
After World War II, military cooperation between Albania and Yugoslavia continues. Yugoslavia helps Albania support 42,000 military personnel in 1947. In April, the Deputy Political Director of the military’s Political Directorate, Pellumb Dishnica, writes a memorandum on the need to coordinate defense with Yugoslavia and create air force, tank, and naval units on a joint basis, because Albania is a small country. In his Memorandum on the Albanian Armed Forces in the Post-War Period, Dishnica notes that Armed Forces Chief of Staff Mehmet Shehu is against the plan, arguing that Albania could lose military independence, Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha could lose his position as commander in chief, and the Soviet Union might cut off support. (Kola 2003, pp. 79-80)
Yugoslavia’s General Staff says Greece plans to attack Albania and therefore requests a base in the Korca region for an air force fighter division and an anti-aircraft missile division. An Albanian envoy will be sent to Belgrade regarding the request. Yugoslav communist leader Josip Broz Tito will then send a high-ranking military envoy in early 1948 to deliver a letter reiterating the request to Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha. (Kola 2003, pp. 87)
According to Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha, Yugoslavia is very worried when a cultural delegation, including Economy Minister Nako Spiru and Nexhmije Hoxha (Enver Hoxha’s wife), visits the USSR. As soon as they arrive in Moscow, the Yugoslav ambassador to the USSR seeks out his Albanian counterpart. Hoxha will say the Yugoslavs “stuck like glue” to their Albanian counterparts, including the wives of diplomats and students, and sought information. The Yugoslavs think Albania has signed an economic agreement with the USSR. A few days after the trip is over, the Yugoslav ambassador to the USSR files a complaint with Albania, saying: “We do not understand how at a time when we are linked economically in this way you seek to make other economic and trade agreements with other countries, we cannot understand how you could take such actions without consulting us and reaching prior agreement with us.… These actions are not good, must not be done in this way again, these things are incompatible with our agreement.” (Hoxha 1982, pp. 345-346)
Yugoslavia’s envoy to Albania Savo Zlatic tells the Albanian leadership that, while the Central Committee of the CPA is dealing properly with Yugoslavia, there is another anti-Yugoslav position in Albania. Hoxha will later recount in The Titoites, “Whenever we raised any opposition, [the Yugoslavs] immediately thought that the Soviets ‘had prompted us,’ although, without denying their merits, in 1946 and even 1947 the Soviets regarded us mostly through the eye of the Yugoslavs.” He will specifically mention that Zlatic complains to him that an Albanian has insulted Yugoslavia by disagreeing with a Yugoslav adviser on cotton in front of Albanian farmers, with the implication that the Albanian was repeating Soviet advice, because Albanians are ignorant about cotton farming. Hoxha will write that he says, “Leave the specialists to get on with their discussions, Comrade Zlatic, because this does not impair your prestige or ours or even that of the cotton!” Hoxha will say that two or three days later, Economy Minister Nako Spiru reports that Zlatic said, “there are two economic lines in our country: the line of the Central Committee, which is correct in principle, and, parallel with this, the concretization of a second line in practice, contrary to that of the Central Committee,” which Spiru sees as an attack on him. According to Paulin Kola, only Spiru publicly opposes the economic integration, and he is the highest ranking official in close contact with Soviet officials. Zlatic objects to the slow pace of economic integration and what Yugoslavia sees as Albanian appeals to the Soviets. Specifically, the unification of prices in the two countries is supposed to be done in May, but takes until late June, and rates of pay issues in late May are not resolved until July. On June 20 or 21, Hoxha sends Spiru and Koci Xoxe, who is close to Zlatic, to meet with Zlatic about the Yugoslav concerns. Xoxe believes the accusation should be investigated, and there is tension between him and Spiru. The Albanian leadership rejects the charge of two lines, and Xoxe does not put up opposition. (Hoxha 1982, pp. 327-335; Kola 2003, pp. 87-88)
When his plane lands in Leningrad on a trip to the Soviet Union, Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha receives a letter from Albanian Economy Minister Nako Spiru. The letter says that Yugoslav communist leader Svetozar Vukmanovic-Tempo told Albanian Interior Minister Koci Xoxe in Tirana before the delegation left for the USSR, “The union of Yugoslavia with Bulgaria has been achieved in principle. It is not good that Albania should lag behind.” When Hoxha asks Xoxe about it in Leningrad, Xoxe denies that it happened. Hoxha will later claim he first learns of the impending union of Albania with Yugoslavia from Yugoslavia’s envoy to Albania Savo Zlatic in November 1947, leading him to believe Xoxe lied in July. (Hoxha 1982, pp. 362-363)
After World War II, both the Albanians and the Yugoslavs seek military aid from the USSR. Later, Hoxha says military regulations are changed too frequently, allegedly a Yugoslav effort to weaken the Albanian military. Therefore Hoxha supports the appointment of Mehmet Shehu, who led a division during the War and is studying in the USSR, as Chief of the General Staff. Nako Spiru recommends him and Koci Xoxe and Pandi Kristo do not oppose the appointment. (Decades later, when he recounts this, Hoxha states that Shehu was part of a multiple foreign plot to assassinate him.) Soviet advisers are brought in, and Hoxha says the Yugoslavs try to cause friction between the Albanians and Soviets. At a meeting in Belgrade, Svetozar Vukmanovic-Tempo, Political Director of the Yugoslav military, tells Mehmet Shehu and Kristo Themelko, Director of the Political Directory of the Albanian military, that only Yugoslav military doctrine is relevant in the Balkans and Europe. In July Vukmanovic-Tempo and Koca Popovic, Chief of the Yugoslav General Staff, come to Albania and, according to Themelko, say that their two militaries should be unified, as the economies are being unified, and that Yugoslavia will fund the Albanian military. Shehu tells Hoxha that he did not hear these comments. Hoxha says he is “shocked” to hear this and disagrees. Hoxha says that Savo Zlatic confirms in November 1947 that the Yugoslavs do want military unification. (Hoxha 1982, pp. 427 - 435)
Yugoslavia’s envoy to Albania Savo Zlatic requests a meeting with Albanian Prime Minister Enver Hoxha and Interior Minister Koci Xoxe regarding the views of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) on relations between the two countries. According to Hoxha’s later account, Zlatic starts by saying, “A general decline in our relations is being observed, and especially in the economy our relations are quite sluggish.” The Yugoslavs say disputes in joint enterprises are constantly being taken to an arbitration commission, that there is an improper attitude towards the Yugoslav advisers, and that Albanians are accusing the Yugoslavs of not fulfilling their obligations while being lax about fulfilling their own commitments.
Plans for a Balkan Federation - Zlatic says Yugoslav relations with Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria are advancing much more than relations with Albania. Further, Zlatic says Albania’s draft five-year plan is autarchic, in going beyond grain growing and light industry, when the Yugoslavs can provide the products of heavy industry. Hoxha will later say that the Albanian leadership never intended to make their economy “an appendage of the Yugoslav economy” in the way Zlatic is suggesting, although perhaps Albanian Economy Minister Nako Spiru did when he signed an Economic Convention in Belgrade (see November 27, 1946). Hoxha says Spiru kept silent about any concerns he had. Hoxha will also later claim that Xoxe knew of plans for union between Yugoslavia and Albania, but he did not. Zlatic says “The present-day Yugoslavia is its embryo, the nucleus of the federation [of Yugoslavia, Albania, and Bulgaria],” and “In practice the ‘economic union’ is the federation itself.” The Yugoslav plan is to form joint military, culture, and foreign policies later, and include additional countries. The leadership should only talk about economic unification for the time being, Zlatic says, but “this is the best way for the rapid development of the relations of our joint economies,” which is a necessity for Albania. Therefore, Zlatic says, this is not Yugoslav “pressure” to unify. Zlatic says Spiru “put his trust in the advice of the Soviets” regarding the five-year plan, creating a “wrong, unrealistic, anti-Yugoslav and anti-Albanian” plan. Hoxha will later recount saying that the Albanian leadership sent Spiru to consult the Soviets and backs the plan. Yugoslavia calls for a strengthened Co-ordination Commission, as “a kind of joint economic government,” but Zlatic cannot give Hoxha details. The Yugoslavs have not allocated funds for Albania’s five-year plan, so Zlatic says there should only be a one-year plan for 1948. Scholar Paulin Kola will later write that Zlatic says Albania receives more aid than a republic of Yugoslavia and that Zlatic repeats the Yugoslav demand that Albania not make economic agreements with other countries without Yugoslavia’s approval.
Yugoslavs Accuse Spiru of Treason - Zlatic blames all of the problems on Spiru and his allies, while Hoxha expresses doubt and says Spiru is not in control. Zlatic says Spiru lied about Yugoslavia promising 21 billion dinars to Albania. Hoxha will later say that the Vice-President of the State Planning Commission, Kico Ngjela, verifies that the Yugoslavs promised the funding. Spiru is allegedly an “agent of imperialism” sabotaging Yugoslavia’s relations with Albania and the USSR. Hoxha requests Zlatic’s statements in writing, and Zlatic is evasive. Hoxha will later say the Yugoslavs’ real attack was on him, and that the allegations were a signal to Xoxe to try to replace him. (PLA 1971, pp. 312; Hoxha 1974, pp. 750 -753; Hoxha 1982, pp. 353-373; Kola 2003, pp. 89-90)
Through Soviet influence, an Albanian delegation headed by Prime Minister Enver Hoxha, and including Interior Minister Koci Xoxe, Hysni Kapo, and Kristo Themelko is invited to Bulgaria. Hoxha later recounts that the Yugoslavs do not know about the invitation until he informs the Yugoslav ambassador. The delegation stops in Belgrade on December 12 and meets with Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito. Xoxe and Themelko also meet with Yugoslav Interior Minister Alexsandr Rankovic, which Hoxha will later say was probably at Rankovic’s request. The first night in Bulgaria, Hoxha says Xoxe and Themelko tell him he should have praised Tito more in the meetings with the Bulgarians. Later Xoxe says the Treaty of Friendship, Collaboration and Mutual Aid with Bulgaria should be in agreement with the Yugoslavs, and his amendment is added. According to the official PLA history, Xoxe tries to make the treaty dependent on Yugoslav approval, but Hoxha prevents this. According to academic Paulin Kola, Bulgarian leader Georgii Dimitrov says an eastern European federation, including Greece, is inevitable, an idea quickly rejected subsequently in an issue of the Soviet newspaper Pravda. Hoxha’s account says the Albanians do not reveal their tensions with Yugoslavia to the Bulgarian leadership. The delegation again stops in Belgrade on the way back, but Hoxha says they are received by lower ranking leaders than before, with a colder reception, and are told Tito is in Romania. (PLA 1971, pp. 313; Hoxha 1982, pp. 391-418; Kola 2003, pp. 91-92)
Yugoslav representative Savo Zlatic meets with Albanian Prime Minister Enver Hoxha, Koci Xoxe, and Pandi Kristo and lays out the Yugoslav plan for a commission to coordinate the Yugoslav and Albanian economies. As Zlatic puts it, “Our governments should not quarrel with each other through the fault of a few directors or specialists of the economy.” The Yugoslavs appoint Sergej Krajger to chair the Commission, and Xoxe says Kristo should be the Albanian liaison. Hoxha is still concerned whether it will be “an organ above our governments.” Zlatic denies this, and says “…the commission will be engaged with the problems which have to do with common plans, with the most effective ways for the co-ordination of plans, with the definition and detailing of the budgets, investments and income, with checkup on the accomplishment of tasks and measures which will be allocated, hence with all the major problems in [the economic] field. After that let the government decide about the economy.” He also says “We came with the idea that the time was over when doubts and frictions began over every issue” and that Hoxha should trust Yugoslavia. Hoxha later recounts that the Commission did become “a kind of government over the government,” duplicating the Albanian government’s departments and allowing Yugoslavia to legally rob Albania. (Hoxha 1974, pp. 760-762; Hoxha 1982, pp. 421 - 427)
In a letter dated January 26, 1948, and delivered by Yugoslav General Milan Kupresanin, Tito tells Albanian leader Enver Hoxha that Greece, aided by the British and Americans, is about to invade Albania, so Yugoslavia wants to quietly station a division and supporting soldiers in the Korca region. Academic Paulin Kola will later claim that Albania proposes that the Albanian and Yugoslav soldiers should be under a unified command, as a step towards military unification. In his memoir, The Titoites, Hoxha will say that he tells Kupresanin that the request has to be discussed by the leadership and that he personally is against it. Kristo Themelko and Chief of the Albanian General Staff Beqir Balluku, who replaced Hoxha ally Mehmet Shehu, previously met with Tito and said Albania would accept the military assistance. Kupresanin comes with a team to survey the area. Hoxha replies that Albania can defend itself, the Greek government forces are wrapped up in an offensive against the Greek Democratic Army, the plan should not be hidden from the Albanian public, and that hosting the division would destabilize the region. Hoxha says to Kupresanin that “the worst thing would be if, from such a precipitate action, enemies or friends were to accuse us that Albania has been occupied by the Yugoslav troops!” and says Kupresanin briefly blanched. Xoci Xoxe is also at the meeting and supports the Yugoslav request, and says action should be taken quickly. Kupresanin is insulted when Hoxha says Yugoslavia should reinforce its own border with Greece if war is so imminent. Privately, Hoxha believes that “the urgent dispatch of Yugoslav to our territory would serve as an open blackmail to ensure that matters in the [Eighth] Plenum would go in the way that suited the Yugoslavs.” In a report to the Tirana party organization on October 4, 1948, Hoxha will say Yugoslavia was seeking to create “a phobia of imminent war” and divide Albania from the Soviets by “the stationing of a Yugoslav division in Korca and the dispatch of other divisions.” Since he cannot stop the Plenum from being held in February, he tries to stop the division from being approved, by requesting advice from the Soviets. The Soviet government subsequently says it does not expect a Greek invasion and that it agrees with Hoxha. In With Stalin, Hoxha will say that Stalin will tell him in spring 1949 that the USSR was not aware of the situation, though Yugoslavia claimed to be acting with Soviet approval.
Yugoslav Accounts - Subsequent memoirs by Yugoslav leaders Milovan Djilas, Edvard Kardelj, and Vladimir Dedjier will say that Albania was already hosting a Yugoslav air force regiment, and that Yugoslavia wanted to station two army divisions, at Albania’s request. Dedjier says that Stalin wanted Hoxha to make the request, and Jon Holliday will later outline several interpretations, based on the various possibly inaccurate accounts.
The Yugoslav Reaction - According to Hoxha’s report to the Tirana party organization, after Albania rejects the division, the Yugoslav envoy, presumably Kupresanin, calls for reorganization of the Albanian military, new roads and bridges to accommodate Yugoslav tanks, stringing new telegraph wires, and the mobilization of 10,000 soldiers and mules for transport, over two to three months. The Yugoslav also says Albania should tell the Soviets that it wants the Yugoslav division and ask why the Soviets oppose it. He asserts that Albania would only be able to defend itself for 10 days, while it would take 15 days for Yugoslav forces to reach southern Albania, and the UN would get involved, preventing Yugoslav intervention, which would be Hoxha’s fault. Albania agrees to make improvements and mobilize the soldiers and mules, on Yugoslav credits. Hoxha says the Yugoslavs are working through Kristo Themelko, who two or three times tells the Political Bureau that Albania needs to unify with Yugoslavia to carry out these measures. After March 30, Yugoslavia will reduce its involvement with Albania after a critical letter from the Central Committee of the CPSU(B) to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. (Hoxha 1974, pp. 763 - 767; Hoxha 1979, pp. 92-93; Hoxha 1982, pp. 439-446; Halliday and Hoxha 1986, pp. 106-108; Kola 2003, pp. 93)
At the Eighth Plenum of the Communist Party of Albania’s Central Committee, Yugoslavia’s criticism of the CPA and the Yugoslav plan to accelerate unification are endorsed. Koci Xoxe, as interior minister and the CPA’s organizational secretary, uses his power to threaten, remove, or arrest people. Mehmet Shehu is barred from the meeting. In an unusual turn, there is no report to the Plenum, other than what Prime Minister and CPA General Secretary Enver Hoxha will call “a so-called conclusion of a meeting of the Political Bureau,” presented by Xoxe. According to Hoxha, Xoxe conspires with Xhoxhi Blushi, Nesti Kerenxhi, Pellumb Dishnica, Tahir Kadare, Gjin Marku, and others, who turn the meeting from questions of substance to reviewing alleged misconduct by the recently deceased Economy Minister Nako Spiru and others. Hoxha does accept some of the criticisms of Spiru, Liri Belishova (Spiru’s wife), and Shehu; many years later Belishova and later Shehu will be charged with treason. At the Plenum, it is implied that Hoxha allowed Spiru to act. Xoxe and Pandi Kristo urge the Plenum to expand its criticism of the leadership, but Hoxha will later say his clean record prevented attack, and he makes few comments. According to Hoxha, Xoxe comes close to accusing him of leading a faction with Spiru. Nonetheless, Hoxha later says that he thinks the majority in the CPA and Albania do not approve of the Plenum’s conclusions. The Political Bureau is enlarged. A committee is formed to draft a resolution to be approved at a later Plenum.
Results of the Plenum - According to the official party history, Xoxe uses intimidation and surveillance to control the party and plans to execute opponents, weakens mass organizations such as the unions, and wants to abolish the Communist Youth Organization, formerly headed by Spiru. Yugoslav advisers become unquestionable. The Co-ordination Commission becomes “almost a second government,” and joint companies come under Yugoslav control. Fraternization is encouraged to make unification look like a popular demand. Hoxha prevents Xoxe from expelling all Soviet advisers, merging the Albanian military with the Yugoslav military, and unifying the countries. Subsequently Savo Zlatic, Xoxe, Kristo, and Themelko will say the Soviet advisers are generally no longer needed, but Hoxha, Hysni Kapo, and Gogo Nushi are able to keep them in the country. Yugoslavia wants Albania to request unification, and the Political Bureau decides to ask for clarification from Yugoslavia and the USSR leadership.
Varying Accounts - According to Albanian academic Paulin Kola, Hoxha will endorse federation at a Political Bureau meeting on March 14 and say that was the plan from the beginning, and is ready for formal announcement. Kola will portray both Hoxha and Xoxe as pro-Yugoslav and pro-Soviet. (PLA 1971, pp. 314-317; Hoxha 1982, pp. 446-469; Kola 2003, pp. 92)
In response to a March letter from the Albanian government to Yugoslavia, Yugoslav representative to Albania Savo Zlatic meets with Albanian Prime Minister Enver Hoxha, Interior Minister Koci Xoxe, leading Albanian communists Hysni Kapo and Pandi Kristo, and Yugoslav economic planner Sergej Krajger. In what Hoxha sees as a retreat, the Yugoslavs focus on economic unification and say that Albania and Yugoslavia should coordinate their policies, but not unify politically at this point. Yugoslavia proposes coordination of foreign policy, economic planning methodology, trade, finance, laws, passports, education, and open borders. It says coordination commissions should be created in each country, the one in Albania having an Albanian minister and a Yugoslav deputy minister, and vice versa in Yugoslavia, as “the beginning of the future joint government.” Zlatic says they should draft a joint protocol at the meeting, and Hoxha asks why the Yugoslavs refuse to commit their proposals to paper. He says Albania wants to know why they should unify, not start working on it. Kraejger says the unification only covers economic matters, but Hoxha counters that the coordination commission has not streamlined things. Kraejger says Albania is making unreasonably large requests for tweezers, boot polish, and nails, pen nibs, beverage essence, etc., but Kristo says the Yugoslavs suggested it, because they had stock to get rid of. Hoxha demands that the Yugoslavs present a document. He will later recount that Albania still had not been informed of Soviet-Yugoslav tensions, and only receives a copy of a key March 27, 1948 letter from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to the Communist Party of Yugoslavia two or three days after this meeting. (Hoxha 1982, pp. 477-484; Kola 2003, pp. 93-94)
Yugoslav envoy to Albania Savo Zlatic demands a meeting with representatives of the Albanian government, and Albanian communist Prime Minister Enver Hoxha sends Interior Minister Koci Xoxe and Political Bureau member Hysni Kapo. Zlatic says the private screening in Tirana of a Soviet documentary being made about Albania is an anti-Yugoslav insult, because more Soviets were invited than Yugoslavs. Hoxha will later describe the gathering as “a social evening quite without protocol.” Military cooperation has ended between Yugoslavia and Albania and Zlatic says all agreements will be reviewed, “because your friendship with Yugoslavia has no foundation,” as relations are deteriorating, because of Hoxha. Hoxha says Albania has done nothing and has been very forgiving of Yugoslav actions. The Albanians send out another letter about the situation, on April 20, to Yugovlav communist Prime Minister Josip Broz Tito. (Hoxha 1982, pp. 492 - 496)
Yugoslav communist leader Josip Broz Tito says Albania does not have enough “faith” in Yugoslav opinions about Albania, Yugoslavia cannot make sacrifices for Albania while relations do not improve, and Albania needs to increase cooperation if it wants to improve relations. Tito adds that Albania is squandering Yugoslav aid, according to Albanian scholar Paulin Kola. Therefore, Yugoslavia backs off from Yugoslav-Albanian military unification and decides to review its relationship with Albania. Albania will reply on May 23, saying that the deterioration is the Yugoslav communists’ fault, and that the mistake of the Communist Party of Albania [CPA] was “with great belief and trust in the CPY [Communist Party of Yugoslavia], hav[ing] more than once accepted harsh criticisms made verbally by the [Central Committee] of the CPY against our party, against its leadership, and members of the party,” thus violating Marxism-Leninism. Kola says Albanian Prime Minister and CPA General Secretary Enver Hoxha writes the letter, with a conciliatory tone. The CPY will reply on May 27, with a letter signed by high Yugoslav official Milovan Djilas, saying relations will improve only if Albania sends a delegation to “examine all the questions and conclude protocols about our economic relations on the basis of our former proposals.” (Hoxha 1982, pp. 496 - 498; Kola 2003, pp. 94)
The multilateral Communist Information Bureau (Cominform) condemns the leadership of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia on June 28, 1948. The declaration is published on July 1 in Albania, following the Ninth Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPA on June 27-30. The Albanian legislature, the People’s Assembly, will subsequently cancel all treaties with Yugoslavia, other than the July 1946 Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Aid. The CPA leadership refuses an invitation to send a delegation to the CPY’s Fifth Congress. (Hoxha 1982, pp. 501-502)
Albanian Prime Minister Enver Hoxha goes on a lone trip to Romania, where he confers with Romanian leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and Andrey Vyshinsky, the Soviet deputy foreign minister. Hoxha flies on a Soviet aircraft, crossing southern Yugoslavia without incident, though the Yugoslavs at some point began to bar Soviet aircraft. According to a later account by Hoxha, he indirectly criticizes the Soviets for not informing Albania about their disagreements with Yugoslavia earlier. Vyshinsky says that Stalin criticized Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito over the issue of the Yugoslav requests to station soldiers in Albania earlier in 1948. Hoxha says he does not know the details of the proposed and now scuttled Yugoslav-Bulgarian federation. (Hoxha 1982, pp. 509-511, 533-536)
Greek forces enter Albania before being pushed back across the border. The Albanian government views the invasion as an attempt to claim southern Albania. A few days afterward the UN special committee on the Greek civil war will excuse the action, saying that Greece cannot allow a neighbor to try to overthrow its government. Previously, the committee had accused Albania of giving the most aid to the Greek communist army of any country bordering Greece. (Kola 2003, pp. 97-98)
A press conference in Paris announces the formation of a National Unity Committee, which includes the Balli Kombetar (National Front), represented by Mit’hat Frasheri, the Legaliteti (Legality), represented by Abaz Kupi, and former King Zog. There is more counter-revolutionary guerilla activity in Yugoslavia than in Albania, which the Yugoslavs attribute to Ballists. After Albania’s break with Yugoslavia the year before, the British and American governments decide to focus on Albania in their plans to use nationalism to end Soviet influence in eastern Europe. They want to do this without revealing their involvement and avoiding another Greek invasion of Albania. Therefore they deny involvement in the formation of the National Unity Committee and the US government says the National Unity Committee is a subcommittee of the Committee for Free Europe. (Kola 2003, pp. 97-99)
Albanian Prime Minister Enver Hoxha and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin discussed the treatment of Yugoslav Albanians at their second meeting, in March-April 1949, and do so in more detail at a third meeting, that November, with both meetings taking place in the Soviet Union. At the November meeting, Hoxha says these matters are up to those Albanians living in Yugoslavia to resolve, “However we for our part, without ever interfering in the internal affairs of Yugoslavia, will never cease supporting the rights of our brothers of the one blood, living in Yugoslavia, and will raise our voice against the terror, the policy of extermination, which the Tito-Rankovich clique is pursuing towards them.” Stalin says that he read Hoxha’s previous letter about Kosova and agrees that the Kosovar Albanians will decide their own destiny. He says that the Soviet Union will not attack Yugoslavia and that “we must attack that anti-Marxist views and actions of Tito and the Yugoslav leadership, but I stress that in no way should we ever interfere in their internal affairs,” which are up to the Yugoslav people to determine. He also says, “We must not leave any way for the Titoite enemy to accuse us later of allegedly waging our fight to break up the Yugoslav Federation.” This echoes the advice Hoxha heard from Soviet deputy foreign minister Andrey Vyshinsky at a summer 1948 meeting in Romania (see After June 1948). (Hoxha 1979, pp. 107-109, 137-143; Hoxha 1982, pp. 536-537)
Ethnic Albanians demonstrate for self-determination in over nine cities in the Autonomous Socialist Province of Kosovo and the Republic of Macedonia. Violence erupts at the demonstrations and Yugoslav authorities say that at least one person dies, 40 are injured, others are arrested, and property is destroyed. Author Peter Prifti, of the University of California at San Diego, will find other reports that five people are killed and hundreds arrested. The demonstrators’ demands include the creation of an Albanian language university in Pristina, making Albanian an official language of government in Kosovo, self-determination for Kosovo and the Albanian areas of Macedonia and Montenegro, and the status of a republic within Yugoslavia, with its own constitution. Some reportedly call for the unification of Yugoslav Albanian areas with Albania. Most of the 5,000-7,500 demonstrators are students, intellectuals, and professionals, according to Prifti. Following the demonstrations, and in the context of improved Yugoslav relations with Albania, there will be improvements. The Yugoslav Federal Constitution will be amended in 1968 and 1971 to allow more local control in autonomous provinces and the University of Pristina will be founded in November 1969. (Prifti 1978, pp. 222)
President Ford signs the “Helsinki Final Act,” the final measure of the Helsinki Accords. This set of agreements, negotiated by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, settles issues left standing since the end of World War II. Among other things, the Accords finalize post-war borders of a number of European nations, effectively legitimizing Soviet control over the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The Accords are signed by 35 nations, including the US, Canada, and every European nation except for Albania and Andorra. American conservatives decry the signing, calling it equivalent to the Yalta agreement of 1945, which they say gave far too much control of Eastern Europe to the Soviet Union after the war. Famed Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn (see Summer 1975) denounces the Accords as “the betrayal of Eastern Europe” and says that “an amicable agreement of diplomatic shovels will bury and pack down corpses still breathing in a common grave.” (Scoblic 2008, pp. 76-77)
Mahmut Bakalli, president of the League of Communists’ Kosovo Provincial Committee, resigns and is replaced by Veli Deva, also a Kosovar Albanian. Bakalli is blamed for not seeing a series of demonstrations that have rocked the province coming, although at a committee meeting on March 8 he did say there was a lack of basic goods and that conditions had to be alleviated for those without jobs or with low wages, as well as students. The next month another senior official resigns and in all six of the nine committee members leave their positions. In his last speech, Bakalli blames “subversive propaganda” from Albania, and says letting the situation get out of hand is his responsibility. In September 1981 a report by the Serbian and Kosovo committees of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia will blame Bakalli’s administration, saying it did not warn the Yugoslav and Serbian governments, though it allegedly knew the Marxist-Leninist Party of Albanians in Yugoslavia was planning demonstrations and that Albanian nationalism was increasing. Veli Deva is a former committee president and has the support of Albanians, for opposing Serb chauvinism, but is also against the Albanian government. (Vickers 1998, pp. 201, 208; Kola 2003, pp. 161-162)
Pristina University students begin protesting over dormitory and dining hall conditions at the school. The protest grows and hundreds of protesters go off campus, where they are blocked by police. The police try to detain the alleged organizers, which brings out more people overnight, and begins to radicalize their demands. In coming weeks and months, the government and media will blame many groups and countries for the demonstrations, but in interviews years later with Albanian scholar and diplomat Paulin Kola, Kosovan nationalist Xhafer Shatri will say that he thinks the events were unplanned. On the morning of March 12, the crowd is dispersed with tear gas. More demonstrations will erupt in a week.
The Students of Kosovo - Because unemployment is high in Kosovo, many Kosovars turn to further education, making Kosovo’s ratio of students to population the greatest in Yugoslavia—274.7 out of 1,000, while Yugoslavia’s national ratio is 194.9. One in three Kosovars is a student of some kind, yet educational facilities for Albanians are underfunded. Pristina University has 36,000 full-time and 18,000 extension program students, two-thirds more than planned when the university was created, forcing some students to share beds. About 80 percent of the students are in programs such as Islamic art, Albanian history, or folklore, graduating more students than there are available jobs in these fields. Their professors are generally poorly qualified, more than half lack PhDs, and they generally produce little new research and are not well regarded by their colleagues elsewhere in Yugoslavia. The student body is generally disaffected. Many ignore Rilindja, an Albanian language newspaper in Pristina, which covers university news on Wednesdays, and prefer TV and radio from Albania rather than Yugoslavia’s Albanian stations.
Economic Conditions - Kosovo is the poorest part of Yugoslavia, and Albanians are generally poorer than Slavs—for example, in 1980 67,000 Kosovars were unemployed, over 10 percent of the population and the highest rate in Yugoslavia. Out of every 1,000 people newly employed in Kosovo in the early ‘80s, 258 are Montenegrin, 228 Serb, and 109 Albanian, though the majority of Kosovars are Albanians. By 1988, Serbs will be 23.6 percent of the population and have 36 percent of the jobs, and Montenegrins will be 2.5 percent of the population and have 9.3 percent of the jobs. Mahmut Bakalli, president of the Kosovo Provincial Committee of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, is unable to change Kosovo’s economic relations with the rest of Yugoslavia, which pays very little for natural resources obtained from Kosovo. (Vickers 1998, pp. 196-197, 199-200, 216; Kola 2003, pp. 156-157)
The Party of Labor of Albania’s newspaper, Zeri i Popullit, prints an article on April 8, condemning Yugoslavia’s police actions and the treatment of Yugoslav Albanians, and supporting the protest demands. It also says, “The London and Versailles Treaties, which settled the frontiers between Yugoslavia and Albania, can no longer be imposed to the detriment of the Albanian people.” PLA First Secretary Enver Hoxha may be the anonymous author of the article. A Zeri i Popullit article two weeks later says hundreds were killed, wounded, missing, or arrested, and that it is Albania’s right to condemn Yugoslavia’s repeated actions, which it has not done officially. Zeri i Popullit points to Yugoslavia’s charges about the treatment of Croats and Slovenes across its border in Carinthia, which the article compares to Albanian concerns about Kosovar Albanians. Albania denies seeking to annex Kosova. The Yugoslav government sees these articles as evidence that Albania is behind the demonstrations, after initially blaming domestic and Western sources. As a result, previously increasing economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries will be reduced. On April 29, Lazar Kolisevski, a member of the Yugoslav Presidency, presents a report to a meeting of the Presidency and the Federal Council for the Protection of the Constitutional Order, charging that the PLA caused the demonstrations, which were “hostile and counter-revolutionary,” and sought unification with Albania. Kolisevski calls nationalism the greatest threat to Yugoslavia and says “economic nationalism,” economic divisions between groups in Yugoslavia, is the main cause of friction, which a Zeri i Popullit article also pointed out.
Allegedly PLA-Linked Kosovar Groups - Several allegedly PLA-linked organizations will be blamed for the protests: the Revolutionary Movement of Albanian Unification (whose leader, Adam Demaci, has been in jail since 1975), the Red Popular Front (considered closer to the PLA), eight “irredentist” groups arrested before the events, and the Albanian Communist Marxist-Leninist Party in Yugoslavia (represented at the 8th Congress of the PLA, in September 1981, and having almost the same program as the PLA). Besides these “extremists,” Kosovo President Xhavid Nimami blames “Ballists” led by Abaz Ermeni and “Zogists” led by Leka Zog, Zog I’s son, and equates calls for “united Albanians” to “United Serbs,” etc., saying they would destroy Yugoslavia. In 1997 an anonymous high-ranking official will allege that a meeting of officials and professors was held in Tirana to propose inciting Kosovars to seek more rights. Albanian anti-communist scholar Paulin Kola will suggest that this was done to distract Albanians from economic problems caused by the break in relations with China in the late ‘70s. Others will allege that Albania’s Sigurimi security agency organized the demonstrations, through ties with Albanians in Western Europe, especially Switzerland. Some Kosovars will say they received support from Albanians, but not from the Albanian government. Kola will point to the alleged role of the ex-communist Socialist Party of Albania in the formation of the KLA in the ‘90s as evidence that Albania was behind the 1981 events. In 1992-1993 and 2001 interviews, Xhafer Shatri will tell Kola that he thought the March 1981 demonstrations were unplanned. On the other hand, Albania benefits from trade with Yugoslavia and Yugoslavia acts as a buffer against the USSR. Albania will repatriate 249 Kosovar Albanian asylum seekers back to Yugoslavia from 1981 to 1983.
Alleged Soviet Involvement - In late April, Yugoslavia’s Fadil Hoxha says “Greater Albanian nationalism” would destabilize the Balkans as much as other nationalisms, and implies that the USSR wants to destabilize the Balkans to undermine the Non-Aligned Movement. In June, Zeri i Popullit will accuse the USSR of trying to use Serbia’s crackdown to cause problems in the Balkans and NATO. (Vickers 1998, pp. 202-207, 211-212; Kola 2003, pp. 158-160, 163)
Two explosive devices are allegedly hurled onto a terrace at Yugoslavia’s embassy in Tirana, Albania, and damage the building while a reception is being held to commemorate Yugoslavia’s Youth Day. Yugoslavia says this is a violation of diplomatic immunity and undermines relations between the two countries. Albania says its forensic analysis finds that the explosives were not bombs and had to have been placed by someone inside the embassy. Subsequently, neither country makes a big deal of the attack. The incident follows Albanian protests throughout Yugoslavia earlier this spring and Albania’s first public advocacy for making the Kosovo a republic of Yugoslavia. (Kola 2003, pp. 164)
Jusuf Gervalla, founder of the Movement for the National Liberation of Kosova (MNLK), his brother Bardhosh Gervalla, and Kadri Zeka, leader of the Group of Marxist-Leninists of Kosova (GMLK), are shot to death following a meeting near Stuttgart, which some say is about finalizing an alliance between the groups. The MNLK and GMLK are the primary pro-Hoxha communist dissident groups in Kosovo province, and were discovered and hunted for by the police following the unrest in 1981. Subsequently those behind the assassination will remain unidentified; Albania will blame the Yugoslavs and the Yugoslavs will say Albania did it, to gain control and ideological dominance in the Kosovar struggle. On the other hand, Albania at this time sees Yugoslavia as a buffer against the USSR and a valuable trade partner, following the break in relations with China. Albania returns Kosovars seeking asylum to Yugoslavia. The MNLK and GMLK are not destroyed by the killings and will subsequently be involved in the Movement for an Albanian Socialist Republic in Yugoslavia, whose leader will also fall to assassination. (Vickers 1998, pp. 203-205; Kola 2003, pp. 317-318)
Two hundred well-known intellectuals in Belgrade sign a petition to the Serbian and Federal assemblies, claiming that Yugoslavia has committed “national treason” in its Kosovar policy. The petition says that there is a “politics of gradual surrender of [Kosovo] to Albania,” resulting in “genocide” against Serbs. The conflict is explained as a continuation of centuries of fighting between Serbs and Albanians. Djordje Martinovic’s 1985 claim of violent intimidation by Kosovar Albanians is highlighted in the petition (see 1985). The petition will be followed by Kosovar Serb protests in Belgrade, further claims of genocide by Serbian academics, and continued calls for constitutional amendments. (Kola 2003, pp. 171)
Kosovo’s Assembly, in a highly irregular vote on March 23, approves the new Serbian constitution, already approved by the Assembly of the Republic of Serbia on February 3. The Kosovo vote does not meet the three-fourths majority necessary for amendments and is not held with a quorum, people from Belgrade and security personnel vote, and the votes are not actually counted. Assembly members are threatened if they vote no. The vote occurs under “a state of exception,” with disorder in the province and mobilization of the military.
Kosovo's Position under the New Serbian Constitution - Under the new Serbian constitution, the province is again called Kosovo and Metohija, and the autonomous provinces are defined as “a form of territorial autonomy,” regulated by the Serbian constitution. The 1968, 1971, and 1974 constitutional changes opposed by Serbs are nullified and Kosovo is in about the same position as it was under the 1945 and 1963 Yugoslav constitutions. The province loses its Executive Council and Assembly, and autonomy in police, courts, finance, and planning. Kosovo can pass statutes with the approval of Serbia’s Assembly.
Kosovar Demonstrations - Following the vote, hundreds of thousands protest, saying, “Long live the 1974 Constitution!” and “Tito-Party!” resulting in the declaration of martial law. Twenty-four civilians and two police are killed, but Paulin Kola will later put the number at over 100 killed and hundreds injured, while Miranda Vickers will say 28 are killed. Kola will refer to The Times’s March 31 issue, saying 12 police are critically injured and 112 less seriously injured on March 23; Radio Ljubljana says 140 Albanians are killed and 370 wounded through April; Albanian academic Rexhep Qosja will say in 1995 that 37 are killed, hundreds injured, and 245 intellectuals and 13 leaders arrested; The Times of June 2 says 900 are arrested, and on April 22 the Union of Kossovars writes to UN Secretary General Javier Peres de Cuellar, saying over 1,000 were killed and thousands hurt. More than 1,000 are tried in Ferizaj, according to a 1998 book by Noel Malcolm. Kosovo is again placed under a state of emergency. Workers who do not work are fired or arrested.
Slovenian Reaction - About 450,000 Slovenians sign a petition supporting their government’s views and opposing the crackdown in Kosovo.
Serbian Reaction - Hearing of the Slovenian petition, over 100,000 demonstrate the following day around Serbia, Vojvodina, Skopje, and Titograd.
Albania's Reaction - Albania’s relations with Yugoslavia had been deepening in the late 1980s, but Albania reacts more strongly to the March events. Foto Cami condemns Yugoslavia’s “erroneous policies” on the ethnic Albanians and says it will damage regional cooperation. Protests follow throughout Albania. Yugoslavia blames Albania for the violence in Kosovo. Ramiz Alia, now general secretary of the PLA, will say at a Political Bureau session in August 1990 that Western governments told Kosovar Albanians that to solve the problems in Kosovo, Albania had to change its government.
Soviet Reaction - Soviet media support the Serbs and refer to violence by Albanian nationalists, while saying that the majority in Kosovo and Vojvodina support the new Serbian constitution.
Western European Reactions - The UK says nothing. Although Yugoslavia’s Foreign Minister, Budimir Loncar, meets with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in April, the contents of their talks are unknown to the public. Three years in the future a high-ranking official in Germany will regret this inaction.
American Reaction to the Turmoil in Kosovo - On March 9, three US senators proposed Senate Concurrent Resolution 20—Relating to the Conditions of Ethnic Albanians in Yugoslavia, which was passed prior to March 23. US policy supports Kosova’s position under the 1974 Constitution and the resolution asked President George H. W. Bush to reiterate this to the Yugoslav leadership. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee conducted a hearing on March 15. (Vickers 1998, pp. 234-238; Kola 2003, pp. 180-184, 190)
Albanian drug smugglers are found to be playing a prominent role in funding the Muslim arms buildup in Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, and Macedonia. In addition to small arms and machine guns, the criminal arms deals include surface-to-surface missiles and helicopters. (Block and Doyle 12/10/1993; Viviano 6/10/1994)
Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of Islamic Jihad and Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, sends his brother Mohammed al-Zawahiri to the Balkans to help run the mujaheddin fighters in Bosnia. He is known as a logistics expert and is said to be the military commander of Islamic Jihad. Mohammed works in Bosnia, Croatia, and Albania under the cover of being an International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) official. He is said to make an extended stay in central Bosnia, where most of the mujaheddin are based, in 1993. He sets up an Islamic Jihad cell in Albania with over a dozen members to support the mujaheddin in Bosnia. (Wright 9/9/2002; Schindler 2007, pp. 123) Ayman also frequently visits Bosnia (see September 1992 and After) and by 1994 will move to Bulgaria to presumably work with Mohammed to manage operations in the Balkans region (see September 1994-1996).
The US begins flying spy planes over Serbia and Bosnia. In March 1994, the CIA begins flying Gnat-750 drone aircraft from Glader, a remote Albanian air force base in north-central Albania. (Jahn 5/7/1994) In December 1994, the CIA begins flying more drone aircraft from the Croatian island of Brac. (Beelman 2/3/1995) In July 1995, the US begins using the Predator remote spy drone over Bosnia, from the Glader base. (Dhimgjoka 7/21/1995) Such surveillance information is allegedly shared with Croat and Muslim forces, allowing them to bypass Serb defensive positions in battle. The US officially denies the existence of all these flights since the US is supposed to be neutral in the war. (Eagar 11/5/1995)
Bin Laden visits Albania as a member of a Saudi government delegation. He is introduced as a friend of the Saudi government who could finance humanitarian projects. Yet, earlier the same month, the Saudi government supposedly cut all ties with bin Laden (see April 9, 1994). One former US intelligence officer will complain in 1999, “Why was he a member of that delegation? The Saudis are supposed to be our allies. They told us he was persona non grata, and yet here he was working the crowds on an official visit.” Bin Laden strengthens ties with the Albanian secret service, with an eye to assisting the fight against Serbia in the neighboring country of Bosnia. (Reeve 1999, pp. 180-181; Kralev 9/18/2001; Taylor 12/15/2001)
In 1994 Albanian Premier Sali Berisha reportedly helps bin Laden set up a network in Albania through Saudi charity fronts after bin Laden visits Albania (see Shortly After April 9, 1994). Berisha later uses his property to train the KLA militant group. (Steven 11/29/1998)
According to a report in Jane’s Intelligence Review, Albanian narco-terrorism, gun-running, and smuggling organizations are becoming a dominant economic, political, and military force in the Balkans. Jane’s expresses the concern that if left unchecked, the Albanian mafia will become powerful enough to control one or more states in the region. Albanian President Sali Berisha “is now widely suspected of tolerating and even directly profiting from drug-trafficking for wider political-economic reasons, namely the financing of secessionist political parties and other groupings in Kosovo and Macedonia.” (Milivojevic 2/1/1995)
The CIA and Albanian intelligence recruit an informer knowledgeable about al-Qaeda in the Balkans. The informer, whose name is Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, but is known as Abu Omar, is recruited by a special unit of the Albanian National Intelligence Service (ShIK) created at the behest of the CIA. An officer in the unit, Astrit Nasufi, will say that the unit is actually run by a CIA agent known as “Mike” who is based on the US embassy in Tirana, Albania, and who teaches them intelligence techniques. The CIA and ShIK are worried about a possible assassination attempt against the Egyptian foreign minister, who is to visit Albania soon, so about twelve radical Egyptians, members of Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya and Islamic Jihad, are detained beforehand. Nasr is not on the list, but is detained because of a link to a suspect charity, the Human Relief and Construction Agency (HRCA). He is held for about 10 days and, although he initially refuses to talk, ShIK has a “full file” on him after a week. He provides information about around ten fellow Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya members working for HRCA and two other charities, the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation and the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, both of which will be declared designated supporters of terrorism after 9/11. However, he says there are no plans to kill the Egyptian foreign minister, as this would mean Albania would no longer be a safe haven for fundamentalist Muslims. The intelligence Nasr goes on to provide is regarded as good quality and includes the identities of operatives monitoring the US embassy and entering and leaving Albania. The CIA is most interested in monitoring former mujaheddin joining the Bosnian Muslims, and Nasr also provides intelligence on Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya branches in Britain, Germany, and Italy, in particular the Islamic Cultural Institute in Milan, which is a base for mujaheddin operations in the Balkans and is raided by the Italian government around this time (see Late 1993-December 14, 1995). Even though cooperation appears to be good, after a few weeks Nasr suddenly disappears and the CIA tells ShIK that Nasr has moved to Germany. (Crewdson and Hundley 7/2/2005) Nasr will later surface in Italy and will become close to Islamic militants in Milan (see Summer 2000), but will be kidnapped by the CIA after 9/11 (see Noon February 17, 2003).
Albanian Mafia and KLA take control of Balkan route heroin trafficking from Turkish criminal groups. In 1998, Italian police are able to arrest several major traffickers. Many of the criminals involved are also activists for the Kosovo independence movement, and some are KLA leaders. Much of the money is funneled through the KLA (see 1997), which is also receiving support and protection from the US. The Islamic influence is obvious in the drug operations, which for example shut down during the month of Ramadan. Intercepted telephone messages speak of the desire “to submerge Christian infidels in drugs.” (Agence France-Presse 6/9/1998; Ruscica 10/15/1998; Works 1/19/1999) Testifying to Congress in December 2000, Interpol Assistant Director Ralph Mutschke states that “Albanian organized crime groups are hybrid organizations, often involved both in criminal activity of an organized nature and in political activities, mainly relating to Kosovo. There is evidence that the political and criminal activities are deeply intertwined.” Mutschke also says that there is also strong evidence that bin Laden is involved in funding and organizing criminal activity through links to the Albanian mafia and the KLA.(see Early 1999) (US Congress 12/13/2000 )
The regime of Sali Berisha in Albania collapses due to a widespread failed pyramid scheme that greatly angers the population. This leads to the looting of 10,000 heavy weapons from government armories and 100,000 passports. Many of these are taken by al-Qaeda. (Taylor 12/15/2001) Subsequently, organized crime has a very strong influence in Albania. For example, in 1999, when Albanian police confiscate speed boats being used in smuggling operations, the angry gang barricades the main coastal road, beats up the police chief, and retakes the boats. Police, even though backed up by the Army, do not dare to intervene. (Reuters 1/23/1999) Thousands of Albanians are driven into hiding to try to escape vendettas and blood-feuds. (Bowcott 9/30/1998) After the collapse of his government, Berisha turns his family farm into a KLA base. (Hedges 6/9/1998) He will become prime minister in Albania in 2005.
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