Albanian nationalism (Republic of Macedonia) | Wikipedia audio article

Albanian nationalism (Republic of Macedonia) | Wikipedia audio article


Albanian nationalism in the Republic of Macedonia
came about during the Albanian nationalist movement which emerged as a response to the
Eastern Crisis (1878) and proposed partitioning of Ottoman Albanian inhabited lands in the
Balkans among neighbouring countries. During the remainder of the late Ottoman period
various disagreements culminated between Albanian nationalists and the Ottoman Empire over socio-cultural
rights. The Balkan Wars (1912-13) ending with Ottoman
defeat, Serbian and later Yugoslav sovereignty over the area generated an Albanian nationalism
that has become distinct to Macedonia stressing Albanian language, culture and identity within
the context of state and sociopolitical rights. Pan-Albanian sentiments are also present and
historically have been achieved only once when western Macedonia was united by Italian
Axis forces to their protectorate of Albania during the Second World War. Reincorporated within Yugoslavia, Albanian
nationalism in Macedonia has drawn upon sociopolitical influences stemming from Albanian nationalism
in Kosovo. Being a minority population, the addition
of Islam has also shaped and blended into definitions of local national Albanian identity
in opposition to the Orthodox Slavic Macedonian majority. Traditions of armed resistance by local Albanians
have occurred over time with the most recent fighting (2001) being between National Liberation
Army (NLA) guerilla fighters and the Macedonian army. The conflict ended with the adoption of the
Ohrid Agreement (2001) guaranteeing extensive Albanian sociopolitical and linguistic rights
in the country satisfying a main tenet of Albanian nationalism in Macedonia.==History=====Late Ottoman period===The Albanian National movement first emerged
in Kosovo through the League of Prizren with Albanian delegates in attendance from Macedonia
that attempted to prevent Albanian inhabited territories from being awarded to neighbouring
states. Muslim Albanians in Macedonia during the Ottoman
period were either mainly supporters of the Ottoman Empire or some like Albanian parliamentarians
critical of Ottoman measures aimed at curtailing socio-cultural Albanian expression. The province of Monastir was an important
centre for the Bulgarian IMRO and the beginnings of an emerging Albanian nationalist movement
among its majority Muslim population appeared due to frustration with Ottoman authorities
and their ineffectiveness to protect them. Prominent individuals within the Albanian
movement from Monastir province believed that joint action with the Young Turk movement
(CUP) would improve their situation and the majority membership of the Albanian committee
were also CUP members. In 1908, an Ottoman officer of Albanian origin
Ahmed Niyazi Bey along with Albanians from the region instigated the Young Turk revolution
(1908).Some people coming from a Balkan Albanian speaking or cultural space and often belonging
to the urban elite in Macedonia that migrated to Anatolia did not always identify with a
concept of Albanianess. Instead they adopted an Ottoman Turkish outlook
and came to refer to themselves as Turks or Ottoman Turkish speaking citizens. Due to the effects of socio-linguistic assimilation,
promoters of Albanian nationalism became concerned about migration to Anatolia and degraded Albanians
from the lower classes who undertook the journey. In 1908, an alphabet congress in Bitola with
Muslim, Catholic and Orthodox delegates in attendance agreed to adopt a Latin character-based
Albanian alphabet and the move was considered an important step for Albanian unification. Some conservative Albanian Muslims and clerics
along with the Ottoman government opposed the Latin alphabet and preferred an Arabic-based
Albanian alphabet due to concerns that a Latin alphabet undermined ties with the Muslim world. The Ottoman state organised a congress in
Debar (1909) with the intention that Albanians there declare themselves as Ottomans, promise
to defend its territorial sovereignty and adopt an Albanian Arabic character alphabet. Due to the alphabet matter and other Young
Turk policies, relations between Albanian elites and nationalists, many Muslim and Ottoman
authorities broke down. The Ottoman Young Turk government was concerned
that Albanian nationalism might inspire other Muslim nationalities in the direction of nationalism
and separatism and threaten the Islam-based unity of the empire.===Balkan Wars, World War One, Interwar period
and World War Two===Ottoman rule ended in 1912 during the Balkan
Wars and Macedonia with its Albanian population became part of Serbia. The end of First World War led to Albanians
in Macedonia becoming part of Yugoslavia. The Kaçak movement made up of armed Albanian
guerilla fighters resisting Serb forces was active in western Macedonia during the 1920s
before being suppressed toward the end of the decade. The movement contributed to the development
of an Albanian national consciousness in Macedonia. The Albanian language was prohibited by Yugoslav
authorities and some Albanians were made to emigrate. Secular education in the Albanian language
within Macedonia and other areas in Yugoslavia with an Albanian population was banned. With the onset of World War Two, western Macedonia
was annexed by Axis Italy to their protectorate of Albania creating a Greater Albania under
Italian control. Italian authorities in western Macedonia allowed
the use of the Albanian language in schools, university education and administration. In western Macedonia and other newly attached
territories to Albania, non-Albanians had to attend Albanian schools that taught a curriculum
containing nationalism alongside fascism, and they were made to adopt Albanian forms
for their names and surnames. Some Albanians in western Macedonia joined
the Balli Kombëtar, most notable being Xhem Hasa who alongside his forces collaborated
with the Axis powers on various operations targeting communist Albanian and Macedonian
partisans.===Communist Yugoslavia===
With the end of the Second World War, Albanian inhabited areas became part of the socialist
republic of Macedonia within Yugoslavia. The 1948 Yugoslav census recorded 179,389
Albanians in Macedonia and that number fell to 165,524 Albanians in 1953. The fall in numbers is attributed to the Tito-Stalin
split as of the 203,938 declared Turks (1953) 27,086 gave Albanian as their mother tongue
and during the 1950s-1960s some Albanians declared themselves as Turks to migrate to
Turkey and escape communist Yugoslavia. Most Albanian people in the region, aware
of differences with Kosovan Serbs and an emerging Macedonian nationality embraced Albanian national
identity. Decreasing numbers of Albanians claimed a
Turkish identity as old Ottoman Millet style classifications based on religious identification
waned. These changes placed pressure on other Muslim
minorities living in Albanian areas to assimilate as Albanians. Toward the late 1960s Albanian dissatisfaction
in Macedonia resulted in protests that called for ethno-linguistic rights alongside Albanian
majority areas in Macedonia being attached to a Kosovo republic and becoming the seventh
such entity within the Yugoslav federation. This growing Albanian nationalism was viewed
as a threat to the territorial integrity and existence of Macedonia by communist authorities. The Yugoslav constitution of 1974 granted
extensive rights to Albanians in Kosovo, while in Macedonia Albanians had limited ethnic
rights.====Albanian nationalism during the 1980s
====By the late 1970s and early 1980s organised
Albanian separatism had spread to Macedonia with Yugoslav security forces claiming to
have uncovered two Albanian separatist organisations. Macedonian communist authorities concerned
over Albanian calls to establish Kosovo as a seventh Yugoslav republic supported Serbia’s
hardline approach and suppressed expressions of Albanian nationalism. Many Albanian activists in Macedonia during
the 1980s were imprisoned for long periods of time under charges of separatism and irredentism. In 1982 communist officials accused Albanian
nationalists (including some Muslim Albanian clergy) that they placed pressure on Macedonian
Romani, Turks and Macedonian speaking Muslims (Torbeš) to declare themselves as Albanians
during the census. Expressions of Albanian nationalism through
literature, slogans and vandalism occurred during 1982 in the Tetovo and Ohrid regions
while Macedonian authorities were placed on high alert. Members of the young Albanian elite in Macedonia
left for Kosovo and the Albanian intellectual scene ceased while practising Islam became
the only outlet for young Albanians. In Macedonia from the late 1980s onward a
lack of a majority atheistic Albanian elite enhanced links between political parties and
the religious establishment which entrenched Islam in ethnonational self definitions among
Albanians. Yugoslav authorities concerned that Albanian
nationalism from Kosovo may spread to Macedonia sought to weaken the ethnonational consciousness
of Albanians and attempted to assimilate them in Macedonia. This was done through fragmenting the Muslim
community along ethnic lines by encouraging and spreading among Macedonian speaking Muslims
(Torbeš) a Macedonian national consciousness. The Islamic Community of Yugoslavia dominated
by Slavic Muslims opposed during the 1980s Albanian candidates ascending to the leadership
position of Reis ul-ulema due to claims that Albanian Muslim clergy were attempting to
Albanianize the Muslim Slavs of Macedonia. The Macedonian communists supported Muslim
religious institutions acting as a bulwark to check Albanian nationalism. As such Albanian language schools were closed
down in the mid-1980s and the Isa Bey medressa was reopened which became a focal point for
Yugoslav Muslim Albanian education.Albanian language schools and its school curricula
were viewed by Macedonian communists as being infiltrated by Albanian nationalism and irredentism
with actions taken by authorities to curtail those sentiments. Some of those measures against Albanian education
included requiring use of only the Macedonian language (1981) and sackings of non-compliant
teachers. The number of Albanian students in schools
halved. Those events caused concern within the Albanian
community resulting in protests, boycotts and other tensions with communist authorities
and the state. Some Albanian folk songs were also deemed
to have nationalistic content and their use on radio was denounced and alongside use of
Albanian toponyms both were banned. Restrictions and bans were placed on Albanian
parents naming their newborn children with names that were deemed nationalistic such
as Shqipë, Liriduam (meaning wanting freedom), Alban, Albana, Flamur (Albanian flag), Kushtrim
and others that connoted for communist authorities loyalty to communist Albania. The Albanian birthrate caused concern for
communist authorities who viewed it as contributing to rising Albanian nationalism and family
planning measures were enacted in municipalities of western Macedonia to limit parents to two
children. Some Albanian public officials were dismissed
due to attending weddings that had nationalist songs sung while many cultural clubs were
shut down. The campaign against Albanian nationalism
was referred to as differentiation. Macedonian communist authorities concerned
with growing Albanian nationalism contended that Turks and Macedonian speaking Muslims
(Torbeš) were being Albanianised through Albanian political and cultural pressures. Mosques in Macedonia were controlled by the
communists and they turned into places that sheltered and fostered Albanian national identity. Communist authorities came to view Islam as
a tool of Albanian nationalism. In the attempt to abolish religious identity,
measures were taken by Macedonian communist authorities that appropriated Muslim buildings
for state use, destroyed Islamic libraries and two roads were constructed through Muslim
cemeteries in Tetovo and Gostivar. In 1990 Albanian activists in Tetovo organised
demonstrations that called for the creation of Greater Albania. Albanian nationalists viewed their inclusion
within Yugoslavia as an occupation.===Post Yugoslavia: Macedonian independence
and the 2001 insurgency===Albanians in Macedonia alongside their Kosovan
Albanian counterparts after the fall of communism became the main force steering Albanian nationalism. While Islam did not become a main focal point
in articulating Albanian political nationalism it influenced the collective outlook of Albanians
in Macedonia. With Macedonian independence (1991) the status
of Albanians became demoted to “national minority” from the previous Yugoslav category of “national
minority”. While the constitution referred to Macedonia
as being the nationstate of Macedonians. A referendum (1992) was held in Albanian majority
Western Macedonia with 72% of eligible voters voting for autonomy and the federalisation
of Macedonia. The outcome of the move had political ramifications
as some Albanian politicians from the Tetovo and Struga regions declared the Republic of
Ilirida during 1991-1992 with aims of uniting all Albanians of Yugoslavia into one entity. The name Ilirida is a portmanteau formed from
the words Illyri(a) and Da(rdania), ancient regions that were located in the modern Macedonian
republic. As an interim measure toward unification,
these Albanian politicians also advocated for the creation of an Albanian entity that
would cover approximately half of the republic and federalise Macedonia. Albanian political parties contended that
the referendum was demonstrative and instead wanted the Macedonian state to recognise Albanians
as a founding ethnic community of Macedonia. Albanians in independent Macedonia held only
4% of state jobs, Albanian language secondary schools declined from ten to one and the Albanian
language at a university language was taught as a foreign language. During the 1990s protests by Albanians and
tensions with the Macedonian state developed in incidents such as the government ordered
cessation of flying the Albanian flag at municipal offices in Tetovo and Gostivar alongside disputes
with the Albanian education sector. The return from Kosovo of several local Albanians
from the professional elite to Macedonia contributed through influence over the Albanian populace
by strengthening an Albanian national consciousness and mobilising sociopolitical organisation. The ending of the Kosovo war (1999) resulted
in offshoot guerilla groups from the KLA like the National Liberation Army (NLA) emerging. By 2001 conflict in northern parts of the
Republic of Macedonia erupted into an insurgency fought by Macedonian government forces against
the NLA who avoided Islamic identifications while insisting on Islam being given constitutional
equal status to Orthodoxy. The NLA also insisted on expanding Albanian
language education and government funding for Albanian language universities. The struggle for civic equality and equality
of Islam became interlinked with these demands that were achieved through the Ohrid Agreement
(2001) which ended conflict by guaranteeing Albanian rights, (university) education, government
representation and serving in the police force. High-ranking members of the NLA and of the
Albanian political establishment in Macedonia favoured expanding Albanian rights within
a unified Macedonia. They viewed any form of territorial partition
as a loss for Albanians due to their unfavourbale demographic and political position. Albanian nationalists held similar views as
they did not want to leave the historical cities of Skopje and Bitola behind in the
advent of secession from Macedonia. Religion did not play a mobilizing factor
during the conflict between Albanians and Macedonians, though it is becoming a new element
between relations of the two peoples. Post conflict, Albanians in Macedonia have
placed new statues of Albanian historical figures like Skanderbeg in Skopje and named
schools after such individuals while memorials have been erected for fallen KLA and NLA fighters. These developments have increased tensions
between Albanians and Macedonians. The figure of Saint Mother Teresa (1910-1997),
a Catholic Albanian nun born in Skopje has been used for nationalist purposes within
Macedonia as her origins have been contested and her legacy claimed by some Macedonian
and Albanian elites from the local political and academic spectrum. Within the context of societal image and stereotype
production, Albanian nationalism constructs and perceives the other such as the Macedonian
male as effeminate, and similar views exist on the Macedonian side of Albanian males. Albanian nationalists view Macedonian ethnicity
as invented by the Yugoslavs to weaken Serbia, prevent other identities forming and to legitimise
the existence of Republic of Macedonia in Yugoslavia. Macedonians are referred to by Albanians as
an ethnic collectivity with the term Shkie (Slavs) that also carries pejorative connotations. Some Macedonian commentators have worried
that Albanian nationalists view Macedonians as being without historic territorial rights
over areas in Macedonia that would become part of a Greater Albania and lay claim to
more than half of the territory of the republic as was once promoted by the League of Prizren.In
the political sphere Albanian parties maintain secular and nationalistic platforms while
supporting the secular framework of the state with an insistence on protecting Islam and
the culture of Muslim constituents along with control and interference of Muslim institutions. Unlike Albania and Kosovo, national identity
and Islam are traditionally linked and stronger among Albanians from Macedonia. The status of Albanians being a minority in
Macedonia and that most are Muslims have blended national and religious identity in opposition
to the Orthodox Slavic Macedonian majority. Some Muslim Albanian establishment figures
in Macedonia hold that view that being a good Muslim is synonymous with being Albanian. Language remains an important marker of ethnic
Albanian identity in Macedonia. In Upper Reka, a region of western Macedonia
is home to an Christian Orthodox Albanian speaking population that self identifies as
Macedonians. Controversies amongst Upper Reka Orthodox
Christians have arisen over identity and the church with a few prominent individuals publicly
declaring an Albanian identity or origin and others calling for an Albanian Orthodox Church
to be present within the region.==See also==
Macedonian nationalism

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