Nga ky website:http://www.kosova.com/arkivi1997/expuls/chap1.htm#n1
1. Albanian Ethnic Territories in Nineteenth Century
To the majority of the peoples in the Balkans the nineteenth century presented a period of endeavours and struggles for national freedom, independence and emancipation. However, in that time, in the minds of some of these peoples greater state aspirations began to be born and were manifested to the detriment of the being and territories of their neighbours. The Albanians and the land where they lived were the target of such invading intentions for quite a long period. These aspirations became stronger particularly during and after the Eastern Crisis (1875-1878) through propagandistic campaigns, and later through occupations and ethnic cleansing of these territories. This is witnessed by historical sources of the time, various ethno-graphic documents and special historiography documents.
The very important geostrategic position, abundant in natural resources, fertile soil and other favourable climate conditions of the Albanian land made them an object of permanent interests of Serbian and Greek circles.
The Albanian coast, one of the most attractive in this region, that was about 500 kilometres long, had many isles, ports and cities with developed crafts and economy.
In addition to it, the continental part of the Albanian land had fertile soil in Dukagjin and Kosova, and the regions of Toplica, Kosanica, Presheva, Kumanova, Shkup (Skopje), Tetova, Kërçova, Arta and Janina.1
According to the facts presented by Lord Broughton (1809), the Albanian land extended between 39 and 43 (geographical parallels) and between 17 and 20 (geographi-cal meridians), covering in this way a surface of 62,500 square kilometres.2 By some students of Balkan questions, the extension of the Albanians was witnessed to have been up to Niš, Leskovac and Vranje in the north; to Kumanova, Përlep and Manastir in the east; to Konitza, Janina and Preveza in the south.3 This region, according to Sami Frashëri, embraced a surface of 70,000 km2, and according to an Italian study it was 80,000 square kilometres.4 Within this space (in the vilayets of Shkodra, Kosova, Manastir and Janina), the population, consisting of the Albanians in the greatest majority, lived under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, that had a character of an ethnically compact territory, and was fairly called Albania (Arnavutluk) by many authors writing about their travels, and by some scholars and diplomats of the time. That Albania, although without any special political or administrative character, maintained its simple Albanian and compact physiognomy and opposed to the Slavonic and Greek intentions and threats. However, the space of the Albanian land was not threatened by the Slavonic and Greek aspirations only. After the Eastern Crisis, the Ottoman Empire experienced its natural collapse. Facing its multiple internal contradictions and pressures exerted by big powers from outside, it made its efforts in vain to avoid its decomposition by various new administrative reforms. In this way, many forms of military, political and administrative organisation took place on the Albanian land. Administrative divisions and revisions, undoubtedly harmed the interests of the Albanian people heavily, since the political and ethnic unit of Albania was denied in that way.5
On the whole, from the ethnic viewpoint, the Albanian historical territory was divided into two large zones: the ethnic trunk, where the Albanians constituted the absolute majority of population, and the side belt, where the Albanians did not constitute its majority.6
In order to create a possibly most real picture of the regions of ethnic Albanians in twentieth century, we bring some data from geographic maps, various ethnographic publications and documents, statistical evidence on the proportion of the Albanian population in comparison to the alien elements that have settled on the land of the latter.
Among the maps that deserve being taken as a basis are those by the German authors, Kettler and Kiepert (Berlin, 1876), as they present incontestable authorities in the field of ethnography and as such, they offer objective evidence.7 According to those maps, the Albanian land is called the square surface that extends from north on the line from Novi-Pazar to Niš, in the east from Leskovac to Kumanova, Shkup and Veles, in the west from Novi-Pazar to Gucia and the extreme north-western coast of the Lake of Shkodra.8
Another map that shows the compact zones inhabited by the Albanians in 1875 is based on the results of ethnographic research work on Albania. According to it, the Albanian ethnic line starts from Novi-Pazar to the environs of Niš, it comes down to a point in the north-east of Vranje, continuing south to Manastir, and including Presheva, Kumanova, Shkup, Tetova, Gostivar and Kërçova. In the north-west, this line includes Rozhaja, Tutin, Istog, Peja, Plava, Gucia, Podgorica, Hot, Gruda and Ulqin.9 Other later maps are close to these borders, with small changes, that are the results brought about by the changes made in the time.
This space of ethnic Albanians is proved also by the evidence provided by outstanding foreign scholars, some of whom have walked and seen those regions with their own eyes.
The well-known scholar and albanologist, Georg von Hahn, when writing on the natural (geographic and ethnic) border of Albania, claimed that the border extended from Montenegro in the north to the bay of Arta in the south, i.e., from north of Tivar (Bar) to the cape of Preveza, pointing out that the Albanians inhabited the whole central region that extended from the north end of the Lake of Shkodra up to Niš.10 The same author, in a later work of his (1866), underlined that the River of Morava was the one that divided the Albanian land from the Slavonic one, emphasising that the Albanians had an incontestable majority in Fusha e Kosovës and along the river of Vardar in Shkup.11
Gabriel Louis Jaray also admitted that the Albanian element fulfilled a large space in the Vilayet of Manastir, and the whole Vilayet of Kosova, to the bank of Vardar in Shkup. He said of Shkup that “it is one of the vanguard castles of the Albanians and one of their main cities”. According to the facts that he refers to, it comes out that Shkup had 45,000 inhabitants, of whom 25,000 were Muslims, almost all Albanians, 10-15,000 Bulgarians, 3,000 Serbs and 2,000 Jews. Whereas, he qualified Peja, Gjakova and Prizren as fully Albanian cities.12
The Greek consul in Shkodra, Epaminondas Mavro-matis (1879-1881), in his published reports (1884) said that Albania included these parts - regions seen from the ethnographic aspect: 1. South Albania, that extended to Parga; 2. Central Albania, extending between Shkumbin and Mat; 3. Upper Albania, extending between Mat and Montenegro; 4. The north-eastern Part and 5. Western Macedonia.
The north-eastern region extended to the part that was given to Serbia by the Congress of Berlin, as well as to Prizren, Gjakova, Peja, Kalkandelen (Tetova), Luma, Prishtina, Gjilan, Vushtria, Mitrovica, Novi-Pazar, Shkup and Kumonaova. Western Macedonia inhabited by the Albanians included: Prilep, Ohri, Kërçova, Kostur, Follorina, Kolonja and Korça, that had a population of 220,000 inhabitants, of whom 140,000 were of the Islamic and 80,000 of Orthodox religion.13 Serbian administration also confirmed the fact that Albania was the region that extended from Sjenica, Novi-Pazar to Prokuplje and further to the internal part of Turkey, to Shkodra.14 Dr Vasa Cubrilovic wrote also that “the regions of Prokuplje, Kursumlia, Leskovac up to Niš were called ‘Arnavutluk of Toplica'”.15
The administration map of the Ottoman Empire became more or less invariable in the Balkan Peninsula only after the wave of the Eastern Crisis passed (1883). But in this time too, the Albanian land remained partitioned into four vilayets (Shkodra, Kosova, Manastir and Janina). A part of the ethnic trunk (the regions of Ulqin, Podgorica, Shpuza, Vranje, Leskovac and Niš) remained outside the Ottoman Empire, therefore outside the four vilayets of the Albanians.16
According to statistical evidence and approximate calculations, the population that lived in the territories of the four vilayets mentioned above in the time of the Eastern Crisis could be around 1,700,000 inhabitants, the majority Albanians.17 The platform of the Albanian Renaissance was founded on this basis and its representatives requested their inclusion within the future state of the Albanians.
2. ‘Nacertanija’ - a Project on Serbian Official Planning of Expulsions
On the eve of the Eastern Crisis, among the ruling and diplomatic circles of the Serbs, Greeks and Bulgarians dominated the conviction that the collapse of the Ottoman Empire was inevitable. That is why preparations were made and agreements were concluded about its future domination. Serbia was distinguished for such intentions. Ilija Garašanin, the minister of internal affairs of Serbia and one of the most outstanding Serbian officials in nineteenth century, compiled the first programme of the Serbian expansionist policy in 1844, known by the name ‘Nacertanija’.18
I. Garašanin found his inspiration for such a huge project in the motive of inheritance of the Kingdom of Dusan, that the Ottomans destroyed in fourteenth century, and that has continued to be a mythic obsession of Serbian politicians to the present day.
The political project of Ilija Garašanin explained and determined the Serbian policy of the time and the intentions of that policy in the future.
Serbia, according to Garašanin, has a historical mission of uniting all the southern Slavs and the regions where they live. In his point of view, Serbia should be the protector of all the Slavs under the Ottoman Empire. Only when it took this duty over itself, the other Slavs would allow it to speak and act in their name.19 In order to fulfil the ideas that ‘Nacertanija’ contained, being aware of the possibilities and the degree of the development of Serbia, Garašanin thought about the means, methods and forms of action as well. According to him, when one knows what he aims at and works decisively and powerfully, the means for accomplishing the task are obtained easily and quickly.20 He stated that Serbia was small, therefore, if it wanted to extend its existence, it should be expanded territorially, be transformed into a strong Balkan state, capable to exist by itself.21 Another condition for future Serbia to be stable, strong and developed, according to Garašanin, was that it had to be ruled by an inherited dynasty. According to ‘Nacertanija’, one could not imagine steady and long-term unification of Serbia and the other Serbs in the neighbourhood without accomplishing this principle.22
From ‘Nacertanija’ of Garašanin were transmitted the ideas for multiple falsifications of Serbian historiography between 70-80-s of nineteenth century on the land of the Albanians, such as Kosova, baptised by the name ‘Old Serbia' (Stara Srbija).23
This devised term was not mentioned at all in European scientific literature in the past centuries. This term was not noted on geographic maps of south-eastern Europe of 15th-18th centuries either, such as those of Rozeli, Gastald, Mekatore, Kantel, Celebija, Jansen, etc. The term ‘Old Serbia' is not found in the big historical and geographic dictionary either, published in 1884 in Istanbul.24 This indicates that the Serbs had not been able to spread this devised term, invented by Garašanin, until that time (nineteenth century).
The national ideology and Serbian state policy coming out of ‘Nacertanija’ of Garašanin had the intention to occupy else's territories, to denationalise, assimilate and expatriate the other peoples, and the Serbian expansion, colonisation and creation of a greater Serbia were foreseen instead.
3. The Great Expatriation in 1877-1878
Making use of the circumstances created in the middle of 1876, Serbia accelerated the preparations to declare war against the Ottoman Empire. The officers of the Serbian military headquarters estimated that the expansion of the rebellion in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the beginning of the rebellion in Bulgaria, the position of the other peoples in the Balkans against the Ottoman Empire, as well as the relationships of Serbia with Russia, Greek and Montenegro were a convenient moment. They thought that small Serbia, of totally 1,400,000 inhabitants, was given a rare opportunity to expand its territory, precisely as it had been projected in ‘Nacertanija’ of Garašanin, in the direction to Bosnia, and also to the Albanian land.
The Serbian Prince himself, Milan Obrenovic, in his proclamation announced in June 1876, on the eve of Serbian-Turkish war, in order to camouflage the occupational aspirations of Serbia, declared that “Serbia is forced to begin the defending war...”25 The position of Serbia towards the Albanian population and territory was occupying and hostile, that came out of its threat that “the Albanians will feel directly the pressure of our force, and what cannot be achieved by money will be achieved by force.”26
Similar threats with occupying intentions to the regions of the Albanians were manifested by Montenegro as well. The explanations of the Montenegrin minister of forces were identical with those of Serbian officials: “We cannot always be forced to pass a hard life on our hills, but we have to go down to the field that is in front of us.”27 Facing such threats, the Albanians did not have many alternatives, and they had to defend their land that was endangered by the occupying intentions of Slavonic allies.
On 30 June, 1876, Serbia proclaimed war to the Ottoman Empire. After some small temporary success, it not only was defeated, but also forced to withdraw within the existing border. It was seen that the Serbian military could not resist war in many fronts, that was imposed by the Ottoman Empire. By the intervention of Russia to the advantage of peace, on 1 September, 1876, the Serbian - Ottoman war came to its end with Serbian defeat.28
Serbia made use of the signed cease-fire so that it regrouped armed forced and made necessary preparations to begin war again. International circumstances were in its favour. On 24 April, 1877, Russia proclaimed war to the Ottoman Empire. In the meantime, Serbia signed a treaty with Rumania (16/4/1877), reorganised its forces, provided itself with required financial aids and on the request of Russia, the second Serbian-Ottoman war began on 13 December, 1877.29
The first war did not develop in the territory inhabited by the Albanian population, and so there were not remarked considerable displacement of the Albanian population. However, mass movements and forceful ones were caused during the second war (1877-1878), and after its termination.30 Therefore, they took place when the Albanian National Movement was about to rise in a new and higher phase, both from the practical and organisational aspect and political and national one, and in the time of its confrontation and disturbance of relationships with the Ottoman Empire, on the one hand, and in the time of sincere endeavours for collaboration with the Balkan states and peoples, on the other hand. Nevertheless, unfortunately, those attempts did not receive any purport and good understanding of the neighbouring countries. On the contrary, led by invading appetites, they put the Albanians and their movement on harsh temptations and alternatives, forcing them to fight for their existence at many fronts. Most mass resettlements, forced by political and strategic motives and planned by the Serbian occupying circles, took place in the winter (December - January) of 1877-1878. The war between the Serbian and Ottoman forces took place mainly in the regions of the Sanjac of Niš, especially in its south-western part, that was inhabited in majority by the Albanians31 (Toplica, Pusta Reka, Jabllanica, and other regions of Leskovac and Vranje), as well as the urban centres of that sanjac. The main Ottoman forces were busy on the front with Russia, and they were few on the front against Serbia, therefore they were not able to confront the Serbian attacks. Niš, Prokuple, Leskovac, Ak Palanka with their territories could not manage to defence themselves. However, on the line Permali, Përpelac of Merdari, Samakova, St. Ilia Mountain at Vranje, etc., the Ottoman forces managed to get defended quite well and did not allow the Serbian forces to travel to Kosova. A merit for this successful defence, undoubtedly, belonged to Hafiz Pasha.32
The relatively fast defeat of the Ottoman military should be sought in the war on many fronts that was imposed to it, in weak armament of the military, the hatred of the indigenous population towards the regime, as well as in the wheedling and hypocritical attitude of the Serbian circles to this population. The proclamations that were spread among the Albanians in that time read, “if you stay quiet and do not disturb the soldiers, no one will disturb you”; however, in the instructions given to Serbian soldiers was said, “The less Arnavuts (Albanians) and Turks remain with us, the greater will be your contribution to the country”.33
In order to put these instructions in practice, the Serbian military used force, committed massacres and genocide on the Albanians, who were forced to leave their homes and run away. These morose scenes were prescribed objectively by a teacher from Leskovac, Josif H. Kostic, who was a witness of these tragic events: “In the winter, very cold and frosty, of 1877-1878, I saw people running away, weakly dressed and barefoot, that had abandoned their warm and wealthy rooms ... On the way from Grdelica to Vranje, all the way to Kumanova, on both sides of the road corpse of children and old people could be seen that had died of the cold”.34 Another witness, Sreten Popovic, confirmed the same thing: “I saw frozen children that were falling on their mothers' embrace, or were carried in cradles. When mothers saw their children had died of the frost, they left them on the road side and continued running away. Corpses of old persons that had died of the cold could be seen on road sides.” Plundering, burning down the houses, killing and the frost were misfortunes that accompanied the great wave of forceful displacement of the Albanians from their own land in that unforgotten winter.
This harsh situation was confirmed also by the Commissary of the Serbian border, the English John Ross, who, apart from others, when dealing with the situation he had seen, wrote the following: “Almost all the inhabitants of the western part of the Sanjac of Niš, who surrendered to Serbia, were the Albanians of the Muslim religion..., therefore, when this district was occupied by Serbian military, the population could not stand up to the invaders. All of them left for the Vilayet of Kosova, deserting in this way the whole country.”37 It is evaluated that there were “60,000 Albanian refugees spread out in the Vilayet of Kosova in 1878. They have never gone back to their former villages, as most of them had lost everything.”37
The evidence of the number of Albanian inhabitants forced to run away from the regions of present South Serbia can be found out of the number of the immigrants that left their homes in 1877-1878 and were settled in different parts of the Ottoman Empire, where a large part of them were concentrated, such as in Kosova, Macedonia, Greece, etc. This can also be figured from the talks that the English consul Geuld had with the mayor of Prishtina, who complained of having had troubles with the immigrants coming from the regions of Niš, Leskovac and other ones and had gathered there. In connection to this, the consul informed London that 90,000-100,000 immigrants had come to Prishtina.39
On the basis of abundant data of various sources (Turkish, Serbian, Britain, German, Albanian, etc.) dealing with the number of the immigrated Albanians from south Serbia, one can conclude that there were around 640 villages in that region inhabited by the Albanian population. Out of them, 370 villages were inhabited by Albanians in the vast majority, and the others by mixed population, where Albanians were in minority. The total number of the Albanians in the regions of Vranje, Leskovac, Prokuplje and Kursumlia amounted to 158,968 inhabitants.40 They had to emigrate by force and terror from their own land after the wars of 1877-1878.
4. Serbia Ignored the Decisions of the Congress of Berlin
The Congress of Berlin (13/04/1878) had on its agenda re-discussion on the Treaty of San Stefano, which had left hard consequences on the fate of the Albanians and Albania. San Stefano confronted the interests of the great powers at the international level as well. That is why the Congress of Berlin became not only an international forum from which the settling of international relationship in Europe was expected, but it also gave the Albanians hopes to escape the partition of their land. Nevertheless, the hopes of the Albanians and the requests of the delegation of the Albanian League of Prizren were ignored. Even the right of this delegation to participate at the Congress was denied. The Albanian territories were treated as a ‘Turkish dominion', and the Albanians as ‘Turkish citizens', although the Albanians had fought against Turkey!
Seeing such an ignoring treatment, Abdyl Frashëri was right to protest: “If the Great Powers will condemn this brave and freedom-loving people to remain in slavery, and worse than that to be partitioned among the neighbouring states, the Balkan Peninsula will never have peace, as the Albanians will never cease to fight to win their national independence. On the other way, if the national right will be recognised to the Albanians, they may become a factor of peace and barrier to tsar expansionism that endangers not only the Balkan Peninsula, but the European continent as well.”41 This objective evaluation can be shown true and farsighted even nowadays. The fact that this problem was ignored is one of the main causes of the dangers which the present Europe has faced.
The Congress of Berlin regarded the strategic interests of great powers, as well as plundering requests of the Balkan neighbours to the detriment of Albanian territories. Even though Serbia requested Kosova and the Dukagjin Plain, that were not handed over, it still managed to expand its territory from 34,000 km2 to 48,700 km2. This expansion of the territory was more valuable to it, as in that way it came close to Kosova.42 Montenegro was expanded from 4,700 km2 to 9,100 km2; as well as Greece from 51,860 km2 to 72,164 km2.43
Even though the Albanians did not have the purport of the Congress of Berlin that they deserved and their political identity was ignored, its decisions prevented their misery partition projected by San Stefano, the Russians, Bulgarians, Serbs and Montenegrins.44
The most severe violation caused to the Albanians by the decisions of the Congress of Berlin were undoubtedly those that legalised Serbian-Montenegrin violence and occupation of the Albanian land. Serbia was given the regions that had been granted to Bulgaria by the Conference of San Stefano: the regions of Niš, Prokuple, Kursumlia, Vranje and Leskovac; Montenegro was handed over the areas of Tivar, Podgorica, Plava, Gucia, Rugova and Kolasin, and they recognised Cetinja the right to free sailing in the river Buna and the Lake of Shkodra.45 Serbia not only was not satisfied with its great expansions, but it began to ignore the obligations coming out of the documents of the Congress itself.
In articles 35 and 39 of the Treaty of Berlin, it was clearly formulated that in the regions mentioned above both Muslims and Christians should enjoy their civilian and political rights in an equal way and they may freely posses their own real estate.46 Due to the injustice that was perpetrated and violence that was exerted by the Serbian regime, the Albanians that had emigrated and those who ëere still living in their property addressed petitions to the Congress of Berlin and to diplomatic representatives of great powers. In one of those petitions was said: “...the situation is harsh at all levels of life. We have lost whatever we have had... The Serbian government does not stick to the agreement of Berlin; it has confiscated out property, it has taken everything living, crops, etc., that is why we ask great powers to engage themselves in protection of our real estate.”47
The Congress of Berlin did not get deep enough into the article 39, which anticipated the solution of the issue of emigrants' property. It stick mainly to the Peace Regulation of San Stefano. Serbian regime circles, noticing the indifference of the European respective representatives, did not try to create convenient conditions. According to art. 39 of the Congress of Berlin, the Albanian owners, etc., that had emigrated, had the right to go back to their former places by a permission of both states and settle, namely, sell their property remained there, or give it on a rent, or find some other form about it.48 However, when the emigrants went there to sell their property, the authorities requested from them to pay for debts and taxes, so that very little or nothing was left after they sold their former property. Accordingly, despite the obligations that were foreseen by the decisions of the Congress of Berlin dealing with the property of the Albanians, Serbia ignored them completely and forced the Albanians to move from their land.
All the forms of pressure, plundering and ill-treatment of the Albanians who continued to live in their own property, or those who had been expatriated, were exerted by the Serbian regime on purpose of ethnic cleansing and colonisation of their land.
5. Ethnic Cleansing and Colonisation of Albanian Soil
As it can be seen, Serbian military actions were part of their strategic planning not only to expand their territory, but also to change the ethnic structure of those regions, always basing themselves on the ‘merits for the fatherland'. Many Serbian authors have written on the causes of the expulsion of the Albanians and measures that were undertaken to accelerate this process. One of them, Jovan Hadzivasiljevic, wrote, “The issue of the expulsion of Albanians has not yet been enlightened to the present day, as the Serbian regime forced to expatriate even those Albanians that had not moved out after the wars of 1877-1878, namely after the Congress of Berlin, and those that had returned to their places after the wars ended”.49 Also Milicevic, Spasic, Bogdanovic, etc., have expressed similar opinions and their disagreements with the actions of the Serbian regime.
Nevertheless, J. Hadzivasiljevic found and evidenced the main causes and motives for the expatriation of the Albanians from southern Serbia. According to him, they are the following:
1. that Serbia should become a nationally clean state;
2. that Serbia should paralyse the steps of the Sublime Port at the Congress of Berlin, as those steps were taken to return the land that was inhabited by Albanians;
3. that more convenient possibilities should be created for further actions of Serbia to break out to Kosova, and
4. that peace and security should be created in those regions.50
The author adds further that the supreme commander of the Serbian military had in his mind to clean Serbia of the other nations, in order to escape the possibility of forming a state of many peoples, such as was the case with Russia, where Caucasus was formed of many peoples. And the president of Serbian government, M. Pirocanac, wrote, “I am very much afraid of the presence of the Albanians in these regions. I base this fear on their centuries-long experience.” He continued with his conclusion that “if we left them here, they would cause us trouble”.51
The Greater Serbian strategy inspired by the doctrinated pan-Slavism of ‘Nacertanija' comprises the danger of annexation and assimilation of their neighbours, and the Albanians in particular.
The idea of ethnic cleansing, as it is seen in the declarations of Serbian higher officials of the time, was a permanent obsession of fear from the multiplication of the Albanians and the high degree of their resistance since 120 years ago. The vacant space that the Albanians left in South Serbia was populated in a systematic way by Serbian inhabitants, who were settled by the Serbian regime during the period 1878-1889 as colonists. People from different places, such as Pirot, Niš, Montenegro, Novi-Pazar, Kosova, Raska, etc., went there and got settled.52 As it can be seen, ethnic cleansing, as a method of forceful changing of the population structure, for the first time in the Balkans and Europe, was accomplished by Serbia, to the detriment of ethnic Albanians, still in nineteenth century.
However, the danger from Serbian expansionism was not only felt by the Albanians, who fought through their national movement for creation of ethnic Albania, as a steady factor for the stability and prosperity of the Balkans. This important fact was also pointed out by the English representative in Istanbul, Goschen, in his report sent to the minister of foreign affairs, Grinwille, on 26 July, 1880, “...If a strong Albania were established, the pretext for its occupation by foreign forces on the occasion of collapse of the Ottoman Empire would become very weak. A united Albania would block the passage that remained from the north, and the Balkan Peninsula would remain in the hands and under the rule of the races that live there now... I think that by resolving the question of the Albanian nation, the possibility for a European intervention in the Balkan Peninsula would reduced...53 Unfortunately, this fair and reasonable thought from all possible aspects did not find the required sustenance.
6. Expulsions - a Consequence of Wars and Border Changes
By unjust decisions, the Congress of Berlin caused harm to the Albanian question, but also to the Balkan question in general. The solution to problems on ethnic principles was not implemented, but the principle of the interests of great powers and their small satellites in the Balkans was inaugurated. On these basis a bargain on the Albanian land was made. For example, Plava and Gucia, inhabited by Albanians, were handed over to Montenegro as an equivalent value for the regions of Herzegovina, since the Congress recognised sovereignty of Austria-Hungary over Bosnia and Herzegovina. When the Albanians defended Plava and Gucia by war, the great powers requested from the Ottoman Empire to move the Albanians from their own hearths and to surrender the territory to Montenegro. But when the Ottoman Empire proposed to the great powers that the aspirations of Montenegro on Plava and Gucia could be paid by Turkish golden liras, England requested that Ulqin should be handed over to Montenegro as an equivalent value, and this became true later.54
The unjust decisions of the Congress of Berlin caused a wave of great dissatisfactions among the Albanians, and they were followed by a large number of protests, reactions, requests and memoranda that the Albanians addressed to this forum. The Albanians of those regions, subjected to great violence by Montenegrin military and to pillage of their property, were forced to move to Kolasin, Niksic, Shpuza, Podgorica and Zabljak. According to the Austria-Hungarian consul, 955 families with 3,957 members were expelled from Podgorica in 1883; 112 families with 644 members from Shpuza, 40 families with 293 members from Zabljak; 34 families with 166 members from Tivar; 228 families with 1090 members from Niksic; first 38 and later 50 families from Ulqin, and the expulsion of the other inhabitants of this town remained open.55 From the evidence above, it can be seen that only in one year (1883), 7,000 inhabitants were resettled from a part of Albania that was handed over to Montenegro. To face the difficult life, all of these expatriated Albanians were spread out in Shkodra, Lezha and other regions of Albania.
By the decisions of the Congress of Berlin, the great powers, said briefly, did not recognise the right of the Albanians to create a new autonomous state. On the other hand, they recognised the results of the aggression of the Balkan neighbours on the Albanian land and justified ethnic cleansing of the Albanians of Niš, Pirot, Leskovac, Kursumlia, Vranje and Tivar, including their environs.
After this wave of forceful emigration and ethnic cleansing, the space of ethnic Albanians became reduced considerably. Nevertheless, the Albanian regions were relatively peaceful, as far as the resettling of population is concerned, up to 1912. According to statistical evidence and approximate calculations, the ethnic structure of the population in four Albanian vilayets in 1912 (out of the total number of 2,351,200 inhabitants) was as follows: Albanians 1,452,100 or 61.7%; Macedonians 317,000 or 13.5%; Greeks 170,700 or 7,3%; Serbs 163,900 or 6.9%; Turks 130,400 or 5.5%; Wallachs 117,400 or 5.4%, and others 2,200 or 0.1%. The proportion of the Albanian population in comparison to others was different from one vilayet to another. In the Vilayet of Shkodra, the Albanians comprised 98.2%; in the Vilayet of Janina 59.1%; in the Vilayet of Manastir 54.1% and the Vilayet of Kosova, without the Sanjac of Shkup, 79.1% of the population.56
In 1912, a new epoch of social and political developments was noticed in the Balkans. The Albanian question, as a result of continuous uprisings against the Ottoman Empire, took the central part in those circumstances. It was hoped rightly that finally, all the endeavours, uprisings, battles and sacrifices of the Albanians would be crowned with their freedom and independence.
After the proclamation of the independence of Albania, more than half of the ethnic Albanian land was occupied by the Balkan allies. Only Serbia and Montenegro invaded a territory of 24,000 km2, and the territory occupied by Greece covered around 8,000 km2. The ethnic structure of these occupied territories was almost entirely Albanian.
Here we provide evidence of ethnic and religious structure of these regions, according to the census in 1905-1906.57
1. The Sanjac of Prishtina: 254,605 Albanians of Muslim religion; 110,310 Catholic and Orthodox Albanians, Serbs, Bulgarians and Romanies.
2. The Sanjac of Peja: 139,901 Muslim Albanians; 45,784 Catholic and Orthodox Albanians, and Serbs.
3. The Sanjac of Novi-Pazar: 27,980 Muslim Albanians and Turks; 19,795 Christian Albanians and Serbs.
4. The Sanjac of Shkup: 90,840 Muslim Albanians; 60,706 Catholic Albanians and Serbs.
5. The Sanjac of Prizren (including the districts of Tetova and Gostivar): 158,742 Muslim Albanians; 15,323 Catholic and Orthodox Albanians; 11,606 Serbs and 473 Romanies.
6. The Sanjac of Manastir: 457,994 Muslim Albanians and Turks; 264,008 Orthodox Albanians and Wallachs; 198,335 Bulgarians; 55,108 Greeks; 2,760 Romanies; 354 Catholic and Protestant Albanians.
7. The Vilayet of Janina: 227,484 Muslim Albanians; 213,281 Orthodox Albanians and Wallachs; 91,991 Greeks and 4,906 Jews.