Parallel Lives or not? (Comparable cases or not?)
On February 17, 2008, Kosovo’s leadership –supported by its protectors-declared the area’s independence. All doctrines and axioms fabricated during the last decades by the Greek foreign policy and used to justify its inactive and fatalistic stance, including “the inviolability of the borders” as well as that “we do not claim anything” to even that “Cyprus decides and Greece sides up with” have collapsed and have proven themselves ridiculous.
The thunderous silence of the first days was followed by an evident change in foreign policy fairly enough based upon almost the entire political spectrum’s consensus.
Ninety four years before, exactly on the same date, the North Epirotans declared their autonomy struggle. It was indeed a victorious struggle that resulted in granting N. Epirus broader –geographic and political- autonomy on May 17, 1914, right 3 months upon the Protocol of Corfu’s ratification by the Great Powers as well as by Albania itself.
Thus, this coincidental occurrence very vividly depicts two facts:
First, after such a development in Kosovo’s case, it should be unthinkable that the N. Epirus issue remain in a stalemate. Second and more important, that the N. Epirus issue historically precedes and is essentially better fit to be resolved in terms of autonomy than that of Kosovo.
It is really of no matter that, transient interests intending to form a convenient protectorate along with the Greek side’s inactivity have eventually led to positions and stances such as that of the U.S. policy.
At any rate the truth is that, unlike the Kosovars, the N.Epirotans never claimed any other people’s country and their historical cradle. N. Epirus has been their primeval Greek land and their history is an integral part of Greek history.
The N. Epirotans never depended upon unlawful interests of the powerful ones from the Ottoman occupation and Hitler’s era to this date. Instead it is them who have contravened and suffered untold hardships by all forms of totalitarianism.
The N. Epirotans don’t have to massacre entire villages or to spread dead bodies about mountainsides in order to call for international intervention neither do they gloat over civilians, infrastructure and even a historical European capital being bombed Instead they express sentiments of friendship and love towards the Albanian people with whom the N. Epirotans have to coexist while their motherland, Greece has been sustaining the Albanian people for the last two decades and it guides them in the path of development and that of Europe.
The N. Epirotans were never accused or convicted for crimes of war in the International Courts of Justice. Instead, thousands of them have been unjustly convicted, persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, exiled and killed since King Zogou’s time, by the terrible Hohxa and Alia’s regime to the case of the five heroes of “Omonoia” in 1994 and the five Chimarans in 2003.
Their sole crime was that they were Christians and Greeks.
The N. Epirotans have not torn down neither have they destroyed any worship centers, churches or monasteries marked as monuments of global heritage.
On the contrary, they have witnessed their churches turning forcibly into stables, getting leveled down and even nowadays getting desecrated and looted.
Consequently, indeed N. Epirus doesn’t equal Kosovo.
N. Epirus claims its rights through peaceful means, based upon the International Law’s principles with unity and vigor.
For every unbiased beholder who envisions peace, N. Epirus’ vindication is the only way however with an essential requirement: The awakening of Hellenism in N.Epirus, in free Greece as well as worldwide.
Comparing Kosovo to N. Epirus
A few thoughts about the relation between the two issues as expressed by “OMONOIA’’s members:
In Kosovo, during Tito’s era the Albanians used to enjoy broad autonomy as much in the first level local self-governance as in educational, cultural and religious field with due respect for all their rights. They used to have education, independent from the central government –even that of college level-, their own newspapers and radio stations while they were allowed in high proportion to participate into the Public Order and Security minion. Of course, that was reduced in the beginning of 90’s by Miloseviç. Upon the broadly known events (NATO’s bombings) the Albanians are just a step before declaring independence particularly of territories considered as the heartland of the Serbian nation although the last 50 years the Albanian element eventually have outnumbered any other population group.
On the contrary, in N. Epirus there stands a situation absurd and one-sided in relation to what the Kosovars enjoy:
1) After 15 years of “democracy” in Albania, no official and effective census that would take into account any national, religious and cultural traits among Albanian citizens has ever been conducted. This would allow the systematic registering of N. Epirotans (grecophones, albanophones as well as vlachophones) and in turn give them the opportunity to manifest their identity through such a census.
2) The Albanians, relying upon Hohxa’s laws, recognize as minority area (although without granting it full rights in violation of relevant O.S.C.E. and U.N’s. provisions) only 99 villages in 3 counties of N. Epirus. All remaining areas (Argyrokastro, Korytsa, Chimara, Premeti, Leskoviki, Ag. Saranda) are by no means recognized thereupon Greek children should not be entitled in learning their motherland’s language and history while under Hohxa’s regime even speaking Greek was strictly forbidden. It’s very interesting to know that Albania has persistently refused the opening of a Greek school in Chimara while in Korytsa such license was granted but under a private school’s status with a view to preclude recognition of any Greek element in the area.
3) However even in the field of civilization, the Greeks of N. Epirus every day witness their archaeological monuments (Vouthroto, Apollonia, Antigoneia etc) - documents of an over -3000- year-old radiant history- either to be desolated or to be usurped by Albanians as their own heritage after having destroyed Greek inscription on them.
4) In the field of religion, there certainly exists the Church of Albania however it has not been fully rendered its holdings back while on a weekly basis there has been a remarkable account of burglaries, robbing and damages to chapels and churches, mainly where the Greek minority area rests on.
5) Last but not least remains the issue of the Greek villages’ holdings that have always been at the mercy of the Albanian judicial authorities or the greed of any local agent who may covet them. Deprived of their holdings, the Greek villages have been economically strangulated and this being one of the most important reasons (along with the lack of proof and sound scope for enterprising activities as well as the shortage of Greek education for their children) has driven a number of them to seek better chance in Greece.
In all the aforementioned and in a number of other issues for which there is no sufficient space in the context of a brief article, cry out the abysmal difference between the status of the two areas (N.Epirus –Kosovo) as well as the way the Kosovars eventually managed to hold their future in their own hands, by taking advantage of the favorable environment internationally. Unfortunately, Greece spasmodically acting has come to the point of rather watching the N. Epirotans who still live in their land to fight an uneven battle against the Albanian state while Greece stops short at single reactions, inadequate to positively affect the environment and in turn offer a real hope to our Greek brothers. If indeed would anyone compare our stance to the way our eastern neighbors defend –substantial and insubstantial- minorities related to them upon long-term planning , we should then feel totally ashamed.
F.K. President SFEVA Regional Committee of Thessaloniki, Autumn 2005 (published in NOIAZOMAI.net)
N. EPIRUS-KOSOVO: BALKAN CONTROVERSIES
Right Reverend, dear fellow-champions, the question I was commissioned to present is merely the key for us -as a national organization- to comprehend and design our policy regarding the N. Epirus Question more realistically. The tremendous shifts and the continuing instability in the Balkans require that we redefine our political will as well as we explicitly designate the way to promote it.
The major clues of today’s situation in the Balkan area remain nervousness and instability. Serbia seems to be leaning to authoritarianism, Bulgaria and Romania are looking to become US satellites in Europe, Albania insists to be ridden by a flourishing expansionism and in FYROM cantonization. seems already to be the only way The central point of all such fermentations is the fact that Washington has been taking hold of posts with the view to set up in the Balkans an operational base for the M. East. This is at least what the sound Spanish newspaper “El Pais” suggested in its release at the beginning of April.
About one month ago the EU Summit in Thessaloniki included also the five W. Balkan countries: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, FYROM and Serbia-Montenegro. E.U. is demonstrating a special interest on the W. Balkans, a fact imminently related to the US pursuits in the region.
Regarding the situation in the W. Balkans, according to diplomatic sources in Thessaloniki: a) the situation only seemingly appears to be stable, b) the “Albanian factor” is being reactivated as much in FYROM as in Montenegro and c) the E.U. is not willing to “draw out” those funds it had promised in case no “essential response” by the countries of interest comes up.
As for us, the escalating crisis in the Balkan peninsula may rise to be a problem much more serious than the threat from Turkey -which as a constitutional state with anticipated reflexes as well with an expressed strategy-, constitutes a danger that could be better faced up in comparison to the prevalent anarchical situation along the northwestern borders of the country. The Greek government seems to be entrenched behind the joined
action of EU and NATO which both attempt through verbal bans to enforce conformity among conflicting parts while both Organizations promise financial support without having proceeded to draw out the required funds as yet.
Legitimacy around northwestern Balkans has been of relative value and that to an extent may -on a political level and after a sequence of errors- have enabled the gradual restoring of functional relations with the governments of northwestern Balkan countries neighboring Greece. However such a restoring has proved weak to enhance the security sentiment, as it should be rationally expected, because developments are not determined solely by the governments but also by the extremist elements in Albania, that through their actions have contributed and reinforced the slav-“macedonian” nationalism.
However let us examine as briefly as possible some informative data about the areas of interest starting from Kosovo.
What has finally been the achievement of the “humane” bombings in Yugoslavia? Could it be the security and stability around the sensitive Kosovo region or the famous multicultural coexistence? Four years later the situation in Kosovo remains unstable with the Albanian mafia being the force of power, the prospects for independence gradually being implemented and the de facto -for security reasons-ethnic-racial cantonization.
The presence of NATO’s peace-keeping force (UNMIK) has failed to inflict any substantial effects and create prerequisites so that the refugees (almost exclusively of Serbian origin) return to their homes.
Serbs and other minority groups in Kosovo are imprisoned inside their homes, according to Amnesty International’s report on the human rights conditions in Kosovo, published in Brussels by early May.
Accordingly, by UNMIK evaluations the region is populated by 1.800.000 -2.000.000 that is 300 people/m²,rendering it the most densely populated area in Europe. Kosovo holds the highest birthrate (mainly of Albanian children)
In Pristina today there exist 500.000 Albanians while in 1999 its population did not amount more than 250.000 people. Out of 40.000 Serbs who used to live in the capital in 1999, nowadays only 170 people have remained.
Vladimir Bosovic, head of the Justice Department in the coordinating body on Kosovo, asked about the refugees issue stressed out that: “Only 125 Serbs have returned but even more of them keep on fleeing the region. Before UNMIK has arrived 20.700 Serbs used to live in Pristina whereas now only 100 of them. Thereupon it is a typical case of ethic cleansing”.
In total 75-77.000 homes in Kosovo have been appropriated and 30.000 more have been ravened and then set on fire by Albanians, again according to the UN delegation (UNMIK) official data, issued on a Tanjug news agency’s report.
What Albanians pursue for Kosovo:
The request for full independence of Kosovo remains a fixed Albanian objective. Deputies of the three Albanian parties in Kosovo as well as deputies of the Bosnian Muslim coalition in February 2003 supported through a joined communiqué the proposal of 42 Albanian deputies to adopt a resolution about independence.
Two months earlier, by the end of December 2002, the Party “Union for the future of Kosovo”, which participates in the region’s administration, had adopted a political manifesto through which the Party was calling the UN Security Council to declare independence in Kosovo. The political manifesto, as underlined in the Party’s release expressed the lifelong aspiration of the Albanian people for freedom and independence.
Moreover it was typical of the Albanians’ attitude that Kosovo’s government denied the Constitution of the new union “Serbia-Montenegro” calling the international community to mediate so that the clause in the Constitution’s Preamble referring to Kosovo as integral part of Serbia be removed.
But also the two most prominent political figures among Albanians have requested as well as been explicit in favour of independence. In May 2003 during a round table discussion taken place in Pristina, Hasim Thaci stressed out that Kosovo should be separated from Serbia on the pattern that Slovakia and the Czech Republic had implemented while at the same he stated that the international community should at last set a date to determine the final status of Kosovo.
On June 21, 2003 and on the occasion of the EU- W. Balkans Summit in Thessaloniki, Kosovo’s President, Ibrahim Rugova, contributed one more viewpoint of the question stating that the official recognition of Kosovo would significantly facilitate its efforts to accede the EU as well as to the economic development and to confirm security and peace in the area.
A relevant suggestion was made few months earlier, in January 2003 by the former Albanian Foreign Minister, Pascal Milo, in an interview to the albanophone broadcasting of “Deutsche Welle”. Pascal Milo expressed the view that Kosovo in the long run is going to accede to the E.U the way Cyprus did. “Kosovo is not going to enter as integral part of Serbia but as a separate entity” stated the former Minister.
However it is by no means accidental that the Summit in Thessaloniki was attended also by an Albanian delegation from Kosovo. “For the first time Kosovo took part in a European meeting and this means a lot to the Albanians”, emphasized the newspaper “Abania”.
The major political ideology in Serbia rests its hopes upon the1244 UN Resolution .The key point of this Resolution, approved by the Security Council in June 1999, is enclosed in Appendix 1-underparagraph 6 in which is discussed the promotion of a “political procedure with the view to institute a temporary context of political consensus which would assure real self-governance in Kosovo “taking full account of the Rambouille agreements as well as the of principles of national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Yugoslav Federal Republic”.
According to sound analysts, the European Union’s intentions were denoted by that, in the Declaration of Thessaloniki as well as in the adopted conclusions text, there is a reference to loyalty to 1244 UN Resolution regarding Kosovo and the commitment to repatriation of the refugees.
Such semiotics was hurriedly acknowledged even by Zoran Zivkovic, the Serbian Prime Minister, in his statements upon the end of the Summit
On the other hand it is not a handful those who foresee Kosovo’s secession and independence as being determined and definite. From this point of view they are mobilizing to protect the Serbian minority in Kosovo upon requesting that the region be seceded and divided. Such a resolution would satisfy a large proportion of the political spectrum, while it was pointed out even by the assassinated Serbian leader and noted pro-West Joran Zinzic, as Serbs would rather see Kosovo divided than entirely lost.
The former Serbian Prime Minister being interviewed by “Vesti” newspaper,-edited in Frankfurt by the Serbian Diaspora - on February 27, 2003 proposed the constitution of a federation in Kosovo compound of two ethnic communities-Serbian and Albanian-with equivalent rights and commitments.
International community and external factors:
i) United Nations
On its part, the UN presently is being reserved. The UN High Commissioner in the area, Michael Steiner (German) on May 6 said (about Kosovo) that there was not, at least in the short run, any prospect of granting full independence except perhaps of a broad autonomy status.
While even about one month before, in reference to the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade bound to start in July and meaning to dissolve the fears of Serbs, he emphasized that “deliberations about Kosovo’s final status will begin after five years”.
However there are numerous signs that eventually a plan about an independent Albanian Kosovo has been elaborated by NATO and particularly Washington as an ideal solution, through which Kosovo would be enabled to operate as a protectorate in service of the US interests. Despite the pro-American gestures made by the new Yugoslav leadership, Serbs are intransigent in maintaining a more independent national policy while at the same time suspiciousness and anti-americanism caused by the bombings remain deeply rooted in people’s psyche.
A strong sign is Michael Steiner’s decision to transfer more capacities onto the provisional Kosovo administration bodies which has incurred a raging reaction by the Serbs in Kosovo but also by the leadership in Belgrade which in turn appealed to the UN Security Council. The UNMIK will reserve the capacity of handling defense, security, foreign policy, justice and foreign economic relations affairs.
In an interview to London “Times”, Mr. Zinzic impeached that international institutions in Kosovo were boosting the region’s independence by transferring some of their capacities onto Kosovo’s institutional bodies
ii) European Union
The E.U. supports full enforcement of the 1244 Resolution about Kosovo, adopted by the UN Security Council The Council of Europe condemned the Resolution about Kosovo’s liberation and independence adopted in February by the region’s provisional Parliament and called on all parties in Kosovo to avoid taking unilateral initiatives that would destabilize the area and undermine all efforts towards building a multinational democratic society.
One month later, on June 25, 2003, the Council of Europe’s
Parliamentary Assembly by adopting a Resolution suggested that the status of special autonomy in Kosovo be granted while it recommended that such status would ensure respect of the minorities’ human rights as well as secure Serbia-Montenegro’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
“A number of European states have managed to reduce their internal tensions by creating culturally and territorially autonomous entities that in turn provide with numerous choices regarding settlement of internal conflicts. The positive experience of autonomous areas has acted as inspiration source about settling the controversies in Europe” was pointed out in the adopted Resolution.
The U.S.A, either officially or unofficially through insidious approaches, has been driving to the independence of Albanians in Kosovo since this is serving the American plans in the Balkans area. Few specific examples:
On May 19, 2003 Senator Joseph Biden filed a proposition to the US Senate by which Washington was called to support the right of Kosovo’s people to choose, through a referendum, the final status of the region.
On May 29, 2003 the American tycoon George Soros during a visit in Belgrade wooed the Serbian political leadership to recognize Kosovo. Mr. Soros in a press conference stated that if Serbia had recognized Kosovo then it would have paved its way to the European Union much easier.
The US deputy Director of Council of Foreign Relations, David Philips suggested that economic support to Serbia in exchange of Kosovo’s independence seemed to be the most advisable solution.
During a meeting on February 6, 2003, organized in Thessaloniki by the Institute for Balkan Studies and the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, Mr Phillips put forth a proposal for a $ 2,5 billion economic aid of to Yugoslavia as the country is in need of funds for its reconstruction and also in exchange of compromising with Kosovo’s independence.
On January 14, 2003 Senators Henry Hayd and Tom Lados filed a proposal to the US Congress for recognition of Kosovo’s independence which in turn resulted in a sharp reaction by the Yugoslav leadership. The head of the Serbian government in charge of the coordinating body about Kosovo, Neboisha Tsovic mentioned the pro-albanian lobby that has been promoting Kosovo’s independence with a view to irritate and cause tensions to Belgrade.
In February 2003 the Yugoslav Parliament proclaimed the new state of Serbia-Montenegro in return to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In an article Mr. Cholevas stresses out that: “The breakup of the multinational artifice of Yugoslavia and the abolishment even of its proper name demonstrates the preponderance of the Nation, of the national factor and that of the national and cultural differentiation vis-a-vis various internationalist fabricated arguments”.
The new state was created under the pressure of the E.U. and particularly that of Mr. Solana, in charge of Common Foreign and Defense Policy. Its main purpose was the annulment of any possibility that Montenegro would ever secede, as BBC at least has mentioned in its analysis. The Montenegrin leader, Giuganovic accepted to reprieve any discussion about secession however the issue of remaining or seceding will come up again within 3 years.
The joined Parliament elected as President of the newly formed state the only candidate, Montenegrin Svetozvar Marovits. Upon his election he stated in BBC that he was going to utilize “ those three years to upgrade the living standard of all citizens”. The three Albanian parties in Montenegro, although they might win a seat in the joined Parliament decided instead to abstain in order to protest against the new state Constitution’s Preamble in which Kosovo is referred to as integral part of Serbia.
In Serbia, Zoran Zivkovic succeeded the assassinated Zinzic while in February 2003 Filip Vujianovic, candidate of the ruling Democratic Party, won the presidential elections in Montenegro mustering up 63% of the votes. Vujianovic is an advocate of Kosovo’s independence from Serbia and has been committed to conduct a referendum about the country’s independence in 3 years.
The secessionist movement in Montenegro perhaps is reflecting interests of economic and religious circles around President Giuganovic however evidently it does not move the majority in Montenegro. It is not by any chance that political circles envisaging Montenegro’s secession from the Serbian family, have attempted unsuccessfully to institute a new “Autocephalous Church of Montenegro”
Zivadin Jovanovic , former Foreign Minister of the Yugoslav Federal Republic mentioned in an interview to “Rizospastis” newspaper: “Montenegro is a small state but it has a number of tiny ethic minorities:. Albanian, Bosnian Muslim, Croatian Catholic minority. The Albanians are to vote for secession hoping to get the chance to annex a part of Montenegro to the so-called “Great Albania” plan. They already have been explicit in favor of secession. The Muslims who are self-determined as Bosnians seek that certain areas of Montenegro secede and join Sarajevo. The Croatians upon secession wish to withdraw and unite with Croatia.
The inner situation in both areas is reckoned to be unstable while both tend to totalitarianism. Serbia enforced martial law after Zinzic was assassinated while in Montenegro all media are under government’s control and there is no free press whatsoever.
Evaluating the future:
Greece should by all means support the newly formed “Serbia-Montenegro” state’s viability. In any other cases Kosovo’s secession will speed up while this is what the Albanian expansionism has been seeking and in general lines a new circle of turmoil will begin throughout our Balkan neighborhood.
The E.U’s efforts are made in the same spirit. In an interview to the Serbian newspaper “Glas Javnosti” in June 2003 the head of the Europarliament’s commission on relations with S.E..European countries, Doris Pack admonished Belgrade and Podgorica to maintain the unity of Serbia-Montenegro. “If, upon the end of your three-year-long coexistence, you choose the way to independence, then all what you might have achieved will be wasted” said Ms Pack, explaining that all efforts, presently made by Serbia and Montenegro with a view to approach the E.U,. will fail. Perhaps this will be the most powerful leverage for Montenegrins.
“The situation in the Balkans is difficult but above all I am concerned regarding FYROM. There are some people there who aim at changing the borders!” That pessimistic statement by the Southeastern Europe Stability Pact special coordinator, Erhard Bushek, in the “Standard” Austrian newspaper in May 12, 2003, is absolutely well-grounded.
Indeed the frequent appearances of the organization “Albanian National Army” in the larger area have raised serious questions while it has proved Ohrid Agreement as dying out. Any way the Defense Minister of FYROM, Vlado Buchovski, in the “Southeast European Times” expresses his fears about a new destabilization in his country.
Slav-“Macedonian” experts in the field of international law, by a memorandum, urge FYROM ‘s Prime Minister, Branko Crvenkovski to call NATO, E.U. OSCE and USA to provide written safeguards so that no problem would arise in case of a sudden independence of Kosovo. According to an article in the “Dnevnik” newspaper of FYROM, experts assess that if Kosovo declares independence then euphoria will prevail among Albanians throughout the Balkans while their vision for a Greater Kosovo or Albania will come to the fore again, that jeopardizing the territorial integrity and sovereignty of FYROM..
On the other hand, the already visible menace of the Albanian liberation struggle has fanned the flame of the Slav -“Macedonian” nationalism! About 2 months ago the weekly magazine “FOCUS” (FYROM’s edition) published 4 maps asking the public to vote for the country they would rather live in. The first map depicted Tito’s Yugoslavia, the second former Yugoslavia without Slovenia but with Albania annexed, the third displayed today’s FYROM while the fourth showed the state of FYROM with a large part of Northern Greece included, that part propagated by FYROM as “Aegean Macedonia” That fourth map which disputed Greece’s territorial integrity was titled: “Isn’t this possible?” with the following note underneath: “The idea of Greater Albania seemed equally impossible to Albanians before they decided to materialize it”!.
In the field of politics, the Social Democratic Union of Branko Crvenkovski succeeded Ljiuptso Georgievski and his party VMRO. Out of the Albanian parties, the Democratic Union for Unification of Mr. Ali Ahmeti, whose head has been put a price on by FYROM’s authorities, came first mustering 16 seats.
Staff to UCK and its offshoots obtained government posts in FYROM to which they evidently are ill-wishing. Last year’s bloody rioting demonstrated that the FYROM ‘s Albanian regions are meant to be subsumed in the Greater Albania and such intentions are encouraged by the path Kosovo’s independence has chosen to follow. The Albanians have proclaimed themselves a state within a state throughout the western regions which they have designated as “Illyrida” autonomous area
Evaluating the future:
Political analysts view FYROM’s disintegration as almost definite, happening either gradually through a sort of Albanians-Slavs confederation or through a direct annexation of the western regions to the already independent Kosovo. Both Georgievski, former Prime Minister and president of VMRO party as well as Arben Tzaferi the Albanian origin leader of a political party, converge in their view with that of the political analysts, that being concluded by their important articles published in May 2003.
Mr. Georgievski, in his article in FYROM’s newspaper “Dnenvik” considers coexisting of Albanians-Slavs within an integral state as impractical. “Upon Ohrid Agreement we have ceased being a sovereign state since we have lost control on certain parts of the sovereignty. All these circumstances are setting the conditions for our country to operate as protectorate. The full cease of the unified FYROM according to Mr. Georgievski will come upon passing the positive law on decentralization. “It will be then that we shall find out FYROM to be either a cantonized state or a state of two ethnic groups(Albanians and Slavs). “While we wish a peaceful co-living, on the contrary Albanians have not ruled out their vision for a Greater Albania”
The leader of the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) in FYROM, Arben Tzaferi also considers co-living of Albanians and Slavs impractical, while in the Albanian newspaper “KARIERI” he called the Ohrid Agreement a failure and suggested that the only remaining solutions are either that FYROM be disintegrated or all Albanians be united in a national state. The concept of self-determination was also comprehended in the Democratic Party’s new political platform and was approved in the annual DPA Congress.
Exactly 20 days ago, the President of Party of Democratic Prosperity (PDP), Abdoulmenaf Bejeti, forewarned the government that if the Ohrid Agreement is not implemented within 6 months then his Party will share the self-determination convictions of Albanians and those about political and territorial autonomy.
Evidently all the above are indicating that the future of the hybrid-state, called FYROM will be murky. Any way in such case should we by no means be surprised by the Bulgarian strong interest. Bulgaria has always considered the self-proclaimed “Macedonians” as Bulgarians and it certainly will acquiesce to engulf (or rather annex) the eastern part of FYROM.
It is not just by chance that Georgievski’s VMRO is emblemized by the Vergina Star and a lion, the latter being the national symbol of Bulgaria. This is driving a number of people to believe that VMRO –bearing the name of a Bulgarian organization during the Macedonian Struggle- has incorporated pro-bulgarian elements which in a crucial moment would not object that FYROM be partitioned between Albania(western regions) and Bulgaria (eastern regions).
E. ALBANIAN LIBERATION STRUGGLE
I am going to mention selectively the most interesting facts of the last 6 months that speak up about the vision for a Greater Albania. The Albanian liberation struggle does not miss any opportunity to cause troubles so that the issue of Greater Albania is discussed about. Besides, all provocations are intended to be the major benefit for Albanians, that is to get the international community familiarized with the concept of a Greater Albania. A method that has and still paying.
The Albanian lobby in the USA, by the Serbian newspaper “Nedelni Telegraph” is pursuing to revive the ghost of the Greater Albania while at the same time it casts about preparations to accomplish this objective.
According to the aforementioned report published at the beginning of June, a meeting of Albanian lobbyists with three US Senators (Tod Lados, Benjamin Gilman and Joseph Biden) took place in Washington during which there was extensive discussion on redrawing the borders in the Balkans and the composition of a “Union of Albanian territories in the Balkans” with Kosovo, a part of FYROM as well as a part of Greece annexed to that Union
The participants discussed also the steps to be taken in terms of preparing the materialization of their vision while setting a time schedule too.
Thus, Kosovo has to declare independence by 2005 while FYROM to become a federation by 2007. Meanwhile there should be challenges incurred in the northwestern part of Greece with the scope of getting it annexed to the Albanian Union. According to Albanian nationalists the plan must be implemented by 2010.
There are terrorist attacks along the borderline of the “Greater Albania” being prepared, stated the Serbian Defense Minister, Boris Tandic, at the beginning of June. “According to our information sources terrorist organizations are prepared to launch an attack along the borderline of the so-called “Greater Albania” and thus we have to prevent it because in the contrary case we should confront new challenges and new destabilization in the larger area” said Tandic in a press conference in Belgrade.
As “Martyrs of the motherland” decided the Albanian Parliament to proclaim 13 Albanians from the town of Koukes, who served in UCK and were killed during the Kosovo war. Such proclamation was made by the vice-president of the government and Foreign Minister, Ilir Meta, at an official ceremony in Koukes in June 2, 2003.
The “Dnevnik” newspaper, in February 20, 2003, in an article reports that the Albanian National Army has launched a fundraising campaign among the Albanian Diaspora for the continuation of the armed struggle. ANA’s main objective is to liberate all Albanian territories (Kosovo, S. Serbia, FYROM) and to establish the “Greater Albania” according to the newspaper which also reports that chief of ANA’s military wing is Gafur Andili (alias Valdent Vardari) from Kichevo while the organization’s political wing (Front for the unification of Albanians) is represented by Intzet Bekiri (alias Alban Viosa) former leading staff to the National Party of Albania, tightly bonded with Sali Berisha.
By the newspaper’s assessment it is not unlikely that even the DPA’s leader Arben Tzaferi, support ANA’s objectives, given his recent statements about his intention to withdraw from the peace-keeping Ohrid Agreement and also that ANA is compound by groups of Albanians, discontented by the Ohrid Agreement, as the Albanians had no gain out of it.
A political organization by the name “Front for the unification of Albanians” was created by the paramilitary organization Albanian National Army, active in FYROM since mid 2001. According to “Dnevnik” newspaper since February 2003, the “Front” has started to set its branches in Italy, Germany, Slovenia, Switzerland and Austria where Albanian immigrants are concentrated, aiming to raise funds to continue on the struggle to establish the “Greater Albania”. According to intelligence sources from Kosovo, political secretary of the “Front” is Alban Vjiosa who alleged that FYROM does not practically exist as it has not been able to meet the political, national, historical and traditional standards.
In May 29, 2003 the organization National Front of Albanians called up all Albanians throughout the Balkans to resume a new struggle for the unification of Albanian territories. Its chief Indayet Bekiri said that Albanians’ objective remains the Greater Albania and stated that the Albanians should no longer expect from others to grant Albanians a state of their own but instead to rally and start a new war.
According to the Spanish professor in the University of Barcelona, Francisco Vega, the USA is pursuing the establishment of a “Greater Albania” which except Kosovo will embody also parts of western FYROM (EL PAIS April 2003). Dr Vega views that the USA has never given up its leading role in the Balkans and that such alliance with the Albanians would rather serve the US interests although in the context of a Greater Albania. According to Dr. Vega “this new state will include Albania, Kosovo and the western part of FYROM”.
The concept of unification of Kosovo with Albania was discussed in March 2003 between members of Kosovo’s political parties and the leaders of the Albanian parties in FYROM, according to “Utrinski Vesnik” newspaper. As reported Emrus Tzemaili, Gafur Elsani (both members of the Populist Movement in Kosovo) and the deputy Hasan Meta held a meeting in Tetovo with Ali Ahmeti, Arben Tzaferi and Abdourahman Aliti with whom they discussed possibilities of unifying Albania-Kosovo.
The unveiling of the statue of Georgki Kastriot (Skenderbey) a hero of resistance against the Turks in mid 15th century took place in March 3, 2003 in the town of Debar, on the Albanian border with FYROM in the context of shows organized by the municipality of Debar. The statue, 3 mt. tall, was donated by the Albanian Diaspora and of those in FYROM..
His objection to Kosovo President’s suggestion to adopt new national symbols(flag and emblem) expressed the former Albanian President Recep Meydani, in a speech delivered in Pristina’s Library on January 29, 2003. Mr. Meydani pointed out that a change in Albanian national symbols would run at the expense of Albanians in Montenegro, in FYROM and in Presevo.
F. BALKAN CONTROVERSIES AND THE QUESTION OF N.EPIRUS. CONCLUSIONS
The developments in the Balkans and the tendencies shaped in our western world are forcing us to redefine our political objectives and to renew our operational-political quiver.
The proper valorization of the Albanian liberation struggle and the timely as well as sound promotion of the question of N. Epirus is the right duo that our political alertness should be regulated by.
In reference to N. Epirus and musing on the major axis:
i)that the vision of a Greater Albania is no longer imaginary but on the contrary is emerging as a very probable event, possible to come true even within the following decade,
ii)that the international community and mostly the Council of Europe has come to the conclusion that coexisting within the Balkan peninsula is sustainable only in nationally autonomous regions. Mr. Gergievski very recently pointed out:: “Co-living of various ethnic groups was accomplished only in Belgium and Switzerland. In no other place whatsoever, even less in the Balkans might different ethnic groups live together”
iii)that the international law has ceased being or rather has never been in essence the regulatory valve in regard with the geopolitical changes on the map of the Balkans.
iv) that only a single Autonomous Powerful N. Epirus could counterbalance the danger of the Albanian expansionism that being the only viewpoint under which the international community should examine the question. The road to contain the Albanian nationalists goes through the National Community of N. Epirus.
Autonomy of N.Epirus is the only solution and national prospect. We should not view this as a smarmy national dream but as a realistic suggestion for life, peace and security for the larger area of the Balkans. The modern era, the correlation of powers and the past experience are favoring the realization of the national vision.
And N.Epirus has got it al: “a separate nation unwilling to assimilate, compact geographic, political intellectual presence and an illiberal foreign context which is oppressing them” (“L.O.K.” by K. Zouraris p.150) and even something more, the international treaties and the historical past in order to claim at least Autonomy. We say “at least” as the political clout of the diplomatic attack by the honorary Chairman of New Democracy Party, Mr. Mitsotakis, who mentioned territorial annexation of N. Epirus to Greece in case Albanians claim the same for Kosovo, sets new data about N. Epirus Hellenism and its future.
What remains as an imperative is the approach and our actions’ orientation as those of a national organization to the extent corresponding to us as well as the proper argumentation supporting the sacred request. It is not the right time for mushy patriotic attitudes but for realistic confrontation, responsible political documentation and bold initiatives which would draw the request for Autonomy of N. Epirus upon the agenda of the everyday political conciliation.
I am concluding with two principal suggestions based upon promoting the request for Autonomy more frequently as well as intensely:
i) to organize a Panhellenic Conference in Konitsa with the participation of personages of international acknowledgement and to guide our operations towards the desired objective that is Autonomy of N. Epirus. Special significance should be given to the presence of Greek Members of the European Parliament such as that of Mr. Ioannis Marinos and Stavros Xarchakos. Our voice should be conveyed to the doorstep of the E.U.
ii) to elaborate a memorandum in which the indispensability of the Autonomy of N. Epirus should be documented upon entirely internationalist political standards. Such a memorandum should meet the international standards so that it would be conveyed to the member-states of the E.U and to all Members of the European Parliament.
It should be reminded that by acting spasmodically, we do not produce politics neither do we put our scope on the map. If we wish our voice to be listened to, we have to be organized, to step over our personal inhibitory factors and to set on for the rights of Hellenism as well as for the stability and normality in the area. Concluding I am reminding you of the sacred charge put by the ever memorable Sevastianos that God will ask us to prove Him what we did in the current case.
Pavlos A. Varvatalis, Theologian, SFEVA annual seminar (Date: July 25, 2003)