Albanian nationalism | Wikipedia audio article

Albanian nationalism | Wikipedia audio article


Albanian nationalism is a general grouping
of nationalist ideas and concepts generated by ethnic Albanians that were first formed
in the 19th century during the Albanian National Awakening (Albanian: Rilindja). Albanian nationalism is also associated with
similar concepts, such as Albanianism (Shqiptaria or Shqiptarizmi) and Pan-Albanianism, (Panshqiptarizmi)
that includes ideas on the creation of a geographically expanded Albanian state or a Greater Albania
encompassing adjacent Balkan lands with substantial Albanian populations. During the late Ottoman period Albanians were
mainly Muslims with close ties to the Ottoman Empire. The lack of previous Albanian statehood to
draw upon resulted in Albanian nationalism developing later unlike neighbouring nationalisms
of the Serbs and Greeks. The onset of the Eastern crisis (1870s) that
threatened partition of Balkan Albanian inhabited lands by neighbouring Orthodox Christian states
stimulated the emergence of the Rilindja period and nationalist movement. During the 19th century, some Western scholarly
influences, Albanian diasporas such as the Arbëresh and Albanian National Awakening
figures contributed greatly to spreading influences and ideas among Balkan Albanians within the
context of Albanian self-determination. Among those were ideas of an Illyrian contribution
to Albanian ethnogenesis which still dominate Albanian nationalism in contemporary times
and other ancient peoples claimed as ancestors, in particular the Pelasgians which have been
claimed again in recent times.Due to overlapping and competing territorial claims with other
Balkan nationalisms and states over land dating from the late Ottoman period, these ideas
comprise a national myth that aim to establish precedence over neighboring peoples (Slavs
and Greeks) and allow movements for independence and self-determination, as well as irredentist
claims against neighboring countries. Pan-Albanian sentiments are also present and
historically have been achieved only once when part of Kosovo and western Macedonia
was united by Axis Italian forces to their protectorate of Albania during the Second
World War. Albanian nationalism contains a series of
myths relating to Albanian origins, cultural purity and national homogeneity, religious
indifference as the basis of Albanian national identity, and continuing national struggles. The figure of Skanderbeg is one of the main
constitutive myths of Albanian nationalism that is based on a person, as other myths
are based on ideas, abstract concepts, and collectivism.==History=====
Background===Some authors argue that Albanian nationalism,
unlike its Greek and Serbian counterparts has its origins in a different historical
context that did not emerge from an anti-Ottoman struggle and instead dates to the period of
the Eastern Crisis (1878) and threat of territorial partition by Serbs and Greeks, while others
hold views that Albanian nationalism emerged earlier as a societal reform movement that
turned into a geopolitical one in response to the events of 1878, reacting against both
the policies of Ottoman rule and those of rival Balkan nationalisms. Competing with neighbours for contested areas
forced Albanians to make their case for nationhood and seek support from European powers. Some scholars disagree with the view that
Albanian nationalism emerged in 1878 or argue that the paradigm of setting a specific start
date is wrong, but those events are widely considered a pivotal moment that led to the
politicization of the Albanian national movement and the emergence of myths being generated
that became part of the mythology of Albanian nationalism that is expressed in contemporary
times within Albanian collective culture and memory. That historical context also made the Albanian
national movement defensive in outlook as nationalists sought national affirmation and
to counter what they viewed as the erosion of national sentiments and language. By the 19th century Albanians were divided
into three religious groups. Catholic Albanians had some Albanian ethno-linguistic
expression in schooling and church due to Austro-Hungarian protection and Italian clerical
patronage. Orthodox Albanians under the Patriarchate
of Constantinople had liturgy and schooling in Greek and toward the late Ottoman period
mainly identified with Greek national aspirations. Muslim Albanians during this period formed
around 70% of the overall Balkan Albanian population in the Ottoman Empire with an estimated
population of more than a million.===Eastern Crisis and Albanian National Awakening
===. With the rise of the Eastern Crisis, Muslim
Albanians became torn between loyalties to the Ottoman state and the emerging Albanian
nationalist movement. Islam, the Sultan and the Ottoman Empire were
traditionally seen as synonymous in belonging to the wider Muslim community. The Albanian nationalist movement advocated
self-determination and strived to achieve socio-political recognition of Albanians as
a separate people and language within the state. Albanian nationalism was a movement that began
among Albanian intellectuals without popular demand from the wider Albanian population. Geopolitical events pushed Albanian nationalists,
many Muslim, to distance themselves from the Ottomans, Islam and the then emerging pan-Islamic
Ottomanism of Sultan Abdulhamid II. During the Russo-Turkish war, the incoming
Serb army expelled most of the Muslim Albanian population from the Toplica and Niš regions
into Kosovo triggering the emergence of the League of Prizren (1878–1881) as a response
to the Eastern crisis. The League of Prizren was created by a group
of Albanian intellectuals to resist partition among neighbouring Balkan states and to assert
an Albanian national consciousness by uniting Albanians into a unitary linguistic and cultural
nation. The Ottoman state briefly supported the league’s
claims viewing Albanian nationalism as possibly preventing further territorial losses to newly
independent Balkan states. The geopolitical crisis generated the beginnings
of the Rilindja (Albanian National Awakening) period. From 1878 onward Albanian nationalists and
intellectuals, some who emerged as the first modern Albanian scholars, were preoccupied
with overcoming linguistic and cultural differences between Albanian subgroups (Gegs and Tosks)
and religious divisions (Muslim and Christians). At that time, these scholars lacked access
to many primary sources to construct the idea that Albanians were descendants of Illyrians,
while Greater Albania was not considered a priority. Compared with their Balkan counterparts, these
Albanian politicians and historians were very moderate and mainly had the goal to attain
socio-political recognition and autonomy for Albanians under Ottoman rule. Albanians involved in these activities were
preoccupied with gathering and identifying evidence, at times inventing facts to justify
claims to “prove” the cultural distinctiveness and historical legitimacy of the Albanians
in being considered as a nation.Taking their lead from the Italian national movement, the
Arbëresh, (an Albanian diaspora community settled throughout southern Italy from the
medieval period) began to promote and spread national ideas by introducing them to Balkan
Albanians. Prominent among them were Girolamo de Rada,
Giuseppe Schirò and Demetrio Camarda of whom were influenced through literature on Albania
by Western scholars and referred within their literary works to Skanderbeg and a pre-Ottoman
past, with reference to Pyrrhus of Epirus and Alexander the Great. While Muslim (especially Bektashi) Albanians
were heavily involved with the Albanian National Awakening producing many figures like Faik
Konitza, Ismail Qemali, Midhat Frashëri, Shahin Kolonja and others advocating for Albanian
interests and self-determination. The Bektashi Sufi order of the late Ottoman
period in Southern Albania also played a role during the Albanian National Awakening by
cultivating and stimulating Albanian language and culture and was important in the construction
of national Albanian ideology. Among Catholic Albanian figures involved were
Prenk Doçi, Gjergj Fishta and Pashko Vasa who penned the famous poem Oh Albania which
called for Albanians overcoming religious divisions through a united Albanianism. The last stanza of Vasa’s poem Feja e shqyptarit
asht shqyptarija (The faith of the Albanian is Albanianism) became during the national
awakening period and thereafter a catchword for Albanian nationalists.===Skanderbeg===Another factor overlaying geopolitical concerns
during the National Awakening period were thoughts that Western powers would only favour
Christian Balkan states and peoples in the anti Ottoman struggle. During this time Albanian nationalists attempting
to gain Great Power sympathies and support conceived of Albanians as a European people
who under Skanderbeg resisted Ottoman Turks that later subjugated and cut the Albanians
off from Western European civilisation. As such, the Skanderbeg myth presented Albanians
as defending Europe from the “Asian hordes” and allowed Albanians to develop the myth
of Albanian resistance to foreign enemies that threatened the “fatherland” and the unity
of the Albanian nation. Albanian nationalists needed an episode from
medieval history to centre Albanian nationalist mythology upon and chose Skanderbeg in the
absence of a medieval kingdom or empire. From the 15th to the 19th century Skanderbeg’s
fame survived mainly in Christian Europe and was based on a perception of Skanderbeg’s
Albania serving as Antemurale Christianitatis (a barrier state) against “invading Turks”. In Albania, largely Islamicized during this
period, Skanderbeg’s fame faded and was rediscovered at the end of the 19th century when that figure
was brought to the level of national myth. Another measure for nationalists promoting
the Skanderbeg myth among Albanians was for them to turn their backs on their Ottoman
heritage which was viewed as being the source of the Albanians’ predicament. Skanderbeg’s Christian identity was avoided
and he was presented mainly as a defender of the nation. Albanian nationalist writers transformed Skanderbeg’s
figure and deeds into a mixture of historical facts, truths, half-truths, inventions, and
folklore.===Western influences and origin theories
===In the 19th century Western academia imparted
its influence on the emerging Albanian identity construction process by providing tools that
were utilised and transformed in certain contexts and toward goals within a changing environment. This differed from the context from which
Western authors had originally generated their theories. Albanian nationalists of the period were educated
in foreign schools abroad. Some 19th century Western academics examining
the issue of Albanian origins promoted the now-discredited theory of Albanian descent
from ancient Pelasgians. Developed by the Austrian linguist Johann
Georg von Hahn in his work Albanesiche Studien (1854) the theory claimed the Pelasgians as
the original proto-Albanians and the language spoken by the Pelasgians, Illyrians, Epirotes
and ancient Macedonians being closely related. This theory quickly attracted support in Albanian
circles, as it established a claim of precedence over other Balkan nations, the Slavs and particularly
the Greeks. In addition to generating a “historic right”
to territory, this theory also established that ancient Greek civilization and its achievements
had an “Albanian” origin.The Pelasgian theory was adopted among early Albanian publicists
and used by Italo-Albanians, Orthodox and Muslim Albanians. Italo-Albanians being of the Greek rite and
their culture having strong ecclesiastical Byzantine influence were not in favour of
the Illyrian-Albanian continuity hypothesis as it had overtones of being Catholic and
hence Italianate. For Italo-Albanians, the origins of the Albanians
lay with the Pelasgians, an obscure ancient people that lived during antiquity in parts
of Greece and Albania. To validate Albanian claims for cultural and
political emancipation, Italo-Albanians maintained that the Albanian language was the oldest
in the region than even Greek. The theory of Pelasgian origins was used by
the Greeks to attract and incorporate Albanians into the Greek national project through references
to common Pelasgian descent. The Pelasgian theory was welcomed by some
Albanian intellectuals who had received Greek schooling. For Orthodox Albanians such as Anastas Byku
a common ancestry of both Albanians and Greeks through Pelasgian ancestors made both peoples
the same and viewed the Albanian language as a conduit for Hellenisation. For Muslim Albanians like Sami Frashëri Albanians
stemmed from the Pelasgians, an older population than Illyrians thereby predating the Greeks
making for him the Albanians descendants of Illyrians who themselves originated from Pelasgians. Figures originating from the ancient period
such as Alexander the Great and Pyrrhus of Epirus were enveloped in myth and claimed
as Albanian men of antiquity while Phillip II of Macedon, the ancient Macedonians were
Pelasgian or Illyrian-Albanian.Albanian writers of the period felt that they had counter arguments
that came from the Greek side and from Slavic circles. The Greeks claimed that Albanians did not
constitute a people, their language was a mixture of different languages and that an
Albanian member of the Orthodox church was “really a Greek”, while Slav publicists claimed
that Kosovar Albanians were “really” Slavs or they were “Turks” who could be “sent back”
to Anatolia. Apart from Greek nationalism being viewed
as a threat to Albanian nationalism, emphasizing an antiquity of the Albanian nation served
new political contexts and functions during the 1880s. It also arose from the Albanian need to counter
Slavic national movements seeking independence from the Ottomans through a Balkan federation. In time the Pelasgian theory was replaced
with the Illyrian theory regarding Albanian origins and descent due it being more convincing
and supported by some scholars. The Illyrian theory became an important pillar
of Albanian nationalism due to its consideration as evidence of Albanian continuity in territories
such as Kosovo and the south of Albania contested with the Serbs and Greeks.===Geopolitical consequences and legacy===
Unlike their Greek, Serbian and Bulgarian neighbours who had territorial ambitions,
Albanians due to being mainly Muslim lacked a powerful European patron. This made many of them want to preserve the
status quo and back Ottomanism. By the early 20th century, Albanian nationalism
was advanced by a wide-ranging group of Albanian politicians, intellectuals and exiles. An Albanian emigrant community was present
in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the majority
being illiterate and individuals like Sotir Peci worked to impart a sense of Albanian
nationhood among them encouraging the spread of literacy in Albanian. 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. Opposition toward the Latin alphabet came
from some Albanian Muslims and clerics who with the Ottoman government preferred an Arabic-based
Albanian alphabet, due to concerns that a Latin alphabet undermined ties with the Muslim
world. Due to the alphabet matter and other Young
Turk policies, relations between Albanian elites and nationalists, many Muslim and Ottoman
authorities broke down. Though at first Albanian nationalist clubs
were not curtailed, the demands for political, cultural and linguistic rights eventually
made the Ottomans adopt measures to repress Albanian nationalism which resulted in two
Albanian revolts (1910 and 1912) toward the end of Ottoman rule. Albanian nationalism during the late Ottoman
era was not imbued with separatism that aimed to create an Albanian nation-state, though
Albanian nationalists did envisage an independent Greater Albania. Albanian nationalists of the late Ottoman
period were divided into three groups. Pan-Albanian nationalists, those who wanted
to safeguard Albanian autonomy under an Ottoman state and an Albania divided along sectarian
lines with an independent Catholic Albania envisaged mainly by Catholics. The emerging Albanian nationalist elite promoted
the use of the Albanian language as a medium of political and intellectual expression. Albanian nationalism overall was a reaction
to the gradual breakup of the Ottoman Empire and a response to Balkan and Christian national
movements that posed a threat to an Albanian population that was mainly Muslim. Efforts were devoted to including vilayets
with an Albanian population into a larger unitary Albanian autonomous province within
the Ottoman state.Albanian nationalists were mainly focused on defending rights that were
sociocultural, historic and linguistic within existing countries without being connected
to a particular polity. Unlike other Balkan nationalisms religion
was seen as an obstacle and Albanian nationalism competed with it and developed an anti clerical
outlook. As Albanians lived in an Ottoman millet system
that stressed religious identities over other forms of identification, the myth of religious
indifference was formed during the National Awakening as a means to overcome internal
religious divisions among Albanians. Promoted as civil religion of sorts, Albanianism
as an idea was developed by Albanian nationalists to downplay established religions such as
Christianity and Islam among Albanians while a non-religious Albanian identity was stressed. Religion did not play a significant role as
in other Balkan nationalisms or to mainly become a divisive factor in the formation
of Albanian nationalism which resembled Western European nationalisms. The Albanian language instead of religion
became the primary focus of promoting national unity. Albanian National Awakening figures during
the late Ottoman period generated vernacular literature in Albanian. Often those works were poems which contained
nationalist aspirations and political themes which in part secured support for the Albanian
nationalist cause when transformed into narrative songs that spread among the male population
of Albanian speaking villagers in the Balkans. Nation building efforts gained momentum after
1900 among the Catholic population by the clergy and members such as craftsmen and traders
of the Bektashi and Orthodox community in the south. With a de-emphasis of Islam, the Albanian
nationalist movement gained the strong support of two Adriatic sea powers Austria-Hungary
and Italy who were concerned about pan-Slavism in the wider Balkans and Anglo-French hegemony
purportedly represented through Greece in the area.==Independence and Interwar period==The imminence of collapsing Ottoman rule through
military defeat during the Balkan wars pushed Albanians represented by Ismail Qemali to
declare independence (28 November 1912) in Vlorë from the Ottoman Empire. The main motivation for independence was to
prevent Balkan Albanian inhabited lands from being annexed by Greece and Serbia. On the eve of independence the bulk of Albanians
still adhered to pre-nationalist categories like religious affiliation, family or region. Both highlanders and peasants were unprepared
for a modern nation state and it was used as an argument against Albanian statehood. With the alternative being partition of Balkan
Albanian inhabited lands by neighbouring countries, overcoming a fragile national consciousness
and multiple internal divisions was paramount for nationalists like state leader Ismail
Qemali. Developing a strong Albanian national consciousness
and sentiment overrode other concerns such as annexing areas with an Albanian population
like Kosovo. Kosovar Albanian nationalism has been defined
through its clash with Serbian nationalism where both view Kosovo as the birthplace of
their cultural and national identities. Ottoman rule ended in 1912 during the Balkan
Wars with Kosovo and Macedonia becoming part of Serbia. During this time Serb forces in Kosovo engaged
in killings and forced migration of Albanians while the national building aims of the Serbian
state were to assimilate some and remove most Albanians by replacing them with Serbian settlers. The Serb state believed that Albanians had
no sense of nationhood while Albanian nationalism was viewed as the result of Austro-Hungarian
and Italian intrigue. These events fostered feelings of Albanian
victimisation and defeatism, grudges against the Serbs and Great Powers who had agreed
to that state of affairs which ran alongside Albanian nationalism. Kosovar Albanian nationalism drew upon and
became embedded in popular culture such as village customs within a corpus of rich historical
myths, distinctive folk music referring to harvests along with marriage and clan based
law. Albania during World War One was occupied
by foreign powers and they pursued policies which strengthened expressions of Albanian
nationalism especially in Southern Albania. Italian and French authorities closed down
Greek schools, expelled Greek clergy and pro-Greek notables while allowing Albanian education
with the French sector promoting Albanian self-government through the Korçë republic. Another factor that reinforced nationalistic
sentiments among the population was the return of 20-30,000 Orthodox Albanian emigrants mainly
to the Korçë region who had attained Albanian nationalist sentiments abroad. The experience of World War One, concerns
over being partitioned and loss of power made the Muslim Albanian population support Albanian
nationalism and the territorial integrity of Albania. An understanding also emerged between most
Sunni and Bektashi Albanians that religious differences needed to be sidelined for national
cohesiveness. During the First World War occupation by Austro-Hungarian
forces Albanian schools were opened in Kosovo that later were shutdown during the interwar
years by Yugoslav authorities while religious Islamic education was only permissible in
Turkish. Secular education in the Albanian language
within Kosovo, Macedonia and other areas in Yugoslavia with an Albanian population was
banned and replaced with a Serbian school curriculum. Yugoslav education policy repressed Albanian
secular education to undermine sentiments of Albanian national identity and culture
with a view to preventing possible nationalist challenges to Yugoslavia. Albanian schooling moved into tekkes, maktabs
and madrasas that emerged as underground centres for spreading and generating Albanian nationalism. Religious Muslim schools by the 1930s became
viewed as a threat to the state and Yugoslav authorities replaced Albanian Muslim clergy
with pro-Serbian Slavic Muslim clergy and teachers from Bosnia to prevent Albanian nationalist
activities developing in religious institutions. Albanians opposed those moves and boycotted
imposed teachers. The Albanian language was prohibited by Yugoslav
authorities and some Albanians were made to emigrate. During the 1920s the role of religion was
downplayed by the Albanian state who instead promoted Albanianism, a broad civic form of
nationalism that looked to highlight ethnonational identity over religious identities. In areas such as the Korçë region where
Orthodox Albanians became affected by Albanian nationalism they moved away from Orthodox
church influence and tended to lose their religious identity, while in areas were the
Orthodox population was the majority they often retained their religious identity. The ascension of Ahmet Zog as prime minister
(1925) and later king (1929) during the interwar period was marked by limited though necessary
political stability. Along with resistance by Zog to interwar Italian
political and economic influence in Albania those factors contributed to an environment
were an Albanian national consciousness could grow. Under Zog regional affiliations and tribal
loyalties were gradually replaced with a developing form of modern nationalism. During that time Zog attempted to instill
a national consciousness through the scope of a teleological past based upon Illyrian
descent, Skanderbeg’s resistance to the Ottomans and the nationalist reawakening (Rilindja)
of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The myth of Skanderbeg under Zog was used
for nation building purposes and his helmet was adopted in national symbols. Generating mass nationalism was difficult
during the interwar period as even in 1939, 80% of Albanians were still illiterate. Apart from using the title King of the Albanians
Zog did not pursue irredentist policies such as toward Kosovo due to rivalries with Kosovar
Albanian elites and an agreement recognizing Yugoslav sovereignty over Kosovo in return
for support. Zog’s efforts toward the development of Albanian
nationalism made the task simpler for leaders that came after him regarding the process
of Albanian state and nation building. Secessionist sentiments after the First World
War became expressed through the Kaçak movement led by the Kosovo Committee made up of Kosovar
Albanian exiles opposed to Yugoslav rule. Represented on the ground as a guerilla group
in Kosovo and Macedonia, the Kaçak movement was led by Azem Galica and later his wife
Shota Galica that fought a small-scale war (1918-1921) in formations of çetas or fighting
bands against the Yugoslav army. Supported by Italy who gave financial aid
and Albania, the Kaçak movement was eventually suppressed by the Serbs during the late 1920s. The movement contributed to the development
of an Albanian national consciousness in Kosovo and Macedonia. Yugoslav authorities in the 1930s replaced
Albanian imams with ones that were hostile to Sufism from Bosnia weakening Albanian nationalism. Kosovar Albanians were viewed by Yugoslav
authorities as an enemy within that could challenge the territorial integrity of the
state. Albanians in Kosovo felt that Serbian and
later Yugoslav rule constituted a foreign conquest. Confiscations of Albanian land and settlement
of Serbian colonists throughout the interwar period drove Kosovar Albanians during the
Second World War to collaborate with the Axis powers who promised a Greater Albania.==World War Two==On 7 April 1939, Italy headed by Benito Mussolini
after prolonged interest and overarching sphere of influence during the interwar period invaded
Albania. Italian fascist regime members such as Count
Galeazzo Ciano pursued Albanian irredentism with the view that it would earn Italians
support among Albanians while also coinciding with Italian war aims of Balkan conquest. The Italian annexation of Kosovo to Albania
was considered a popular action by Albanians of both areas and initially Kosovar Albanians
supported Axis Italian forces. Western Macedonia was also annexed by Axis
Italy to their protectorate of Albania creating a Greater Albania under Italian control. Members from the landowning elite, liberal
nationalists opposed to communism with other sectors of society came to form the Balli
Kombëtar organisation and the collaborationist government under the Italians which all as
nationalists sought to preserve Greater Albania. While Italians expressed increased concerns
about conceding authority to them. In time the Italian occupation became disliked
by sections of the Albanian population such as the intelligentsia, students, other professional
classes and town dwellers that generated further an emerging Albanian nationalism fostered
during the Zog years. Collapse of Yugoslav rule resulted in actions
of revenge being undertaken by Albanians, some joining the local Vulnetari militia that
burned Serbian settlements and killed Serbs while interwar Serbian and Montenegrin colonists
were expelled into Serbia proper. The aim of these actions were to create a
homogeneous Greater Albanian state. Italian authorities in Kosovo and Western
Macedonia allowed the use of the Albanian language in schools, university education
and administration. In Kosovo, western Macedonia and other newly
attached territories to Albania, non-Albanians had to attend Albanian schools that taught
a curricula containing nationalism alongside fascism and were made to adopt Albanian forms
for their names and surnames. The same nationalist sentiments among Albanians
which welcomed the addition of Kosovo and its Albanians within an enlarged state also
worked against the Italians as foreign occupation became increasingly rejected. Apart from verbal opposition, other responses
to the Italian presence eventually emerged as armed insurrection through the Albanian
communist party. Italian authorities had misjudged the growth
of an Albanian national consciousness during the Zog years with the assumption that Albanian
nationalism was weak or could be directed by the Italians. Regional divisions became heightened when
resistance groups with differing agendas emerged in the north and south of Albania which slowed
the growth of nationalism. In 1943, Italian control became replaced with
German rule and the fiction of an independent Albania was maintained.German occupational
authorities instigated a policy of threatening the collaborationist government with military
action, communist ascendancy or loss of autonomy and Kosovo to keep them in line. The Germans like the Italians misunderstood
Albanian nationalism with; as a result, Albanian noncommunists lost credibility while the communist
partisans appealed to growing Albanian nationalism. In a post-war setting this meant that groups
such as Balli Kombëtar who had aligned with the Axis powers were unable to take power
in Albania, while emerging leaders such as communist Enver Hoxha solidified his claim
to that role by being a nationalist. 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. In 1944 German forces created the SS Skanderbeg
division to serve only in Kosovo with Kosovar Albanians as its main recruits and though
mass desertions occurred, its members participated in operations against Serbian areas resulting
in civilian deaths and pillage while the small Kosovan Jewish community was arrested and
deported. An attempt to get Kosovar Albanians to join
the resistance, a meeting in Bujan (1943-1944), northern Albania was convened between Balli
Kombëtar members and Albanian communists that agreed to common struggle and maintenance
of the newly expanded boundaries. The deal was opposed by Yugoslav partisans
and later rescinded resulting in limited Kosovar Albanian recruits. Some Balli Kombëtar members such as Shaban
Polluzha became partisans with the view that Kosovo would become part of Albania. With the end of the war, some of those Kosovar
Albanians felt betrayed by the return of Yugoslav rule and for several years Albanian nationalists
in Kosovo resisted both the partisans and later the new Yugoslav army. Albanian nationalists viewed their inclusion
within Yugoslavia as an occupation. In Thesprotia, northwestern Greece communal
discord between Muslims and Christians dating to the interwar period escalated into conflict
during the war. Italian and later German forces made promises
of territorial unification with Albania to local Muslim Albanian Chams who supported
the Axis powers and some collaborated outright in operations violently targeting local Greeks
and Greek identifying Orthodox Albanian speakers that in resulted in their expulsion (1944-1945)
by EDES forces into Albania.==Albanian Nationalism during the People’s
Republic of Albania (1945–1991)==Hoxha emerged as leader of Albania at the
end of the war and was left with the task of reconstructing Albania from what foundations
remained from the Zog years. Hoxha viewed as his goal the construction
of a viable independent Albanian nation state based around a “monolithic unity” of the Albanian
people. Albanian society was still traditionally divided
between four religious communities. In the Albanian census of 1945, Muslims (Sunni
and Bektashi) were 72% of the population, 17.2% were Orthodox and 10% Catholic. The support base of the communist party was
small and the need to sideline the Kosovo issue resulted in Hoxha resorting to extreme
nationalism to remain in power and to turn Albania into a Stalinist state. Hoxha implemented widespread education reform
aimed at eradicating illiteracy and education which became used to impart the regime’s communist
ideology and nationalism. In Albania nationalism during communism had
as its basis the ideology of Marxism–Leninism. Nationalism became the basis for all of Hoxha’s
policies as the war created a “state of siege nationalism” imbued with the myth that Albanian
military prowess defeated Axis forces which became a centrepiece of the regime within
the context of education and culture. Other themes of Hoxha’s nationalism included
revering Skanderbeg, the League of Prizren meeting (1878), the Alphabet Congress (1908),
Albanian independence (1912) and founding father Ismail Qemali, the Italian defeat during
the Vlora War (1920) and Hoxha as creator of a new Albania. Hoxha created and generated a cultural environment
that was dominated by doctrinal propaganda stressing nationalism in the areas of literature,
geography, history, linguistics, ethnology and folklore so people in Albania would have
a sense of their past. The effects among people were that it instilled
isolationism, xenophobia, slavophobia, linguistic uniformity and ethnic compactness.===Origin theories during communism===Imitating Stalinist trends in the Communist
Bloc, Albania developed its own version of protochronist ideology, which stressed the
national superiority and continuity of Albanians from ancient peoples such as the Illyrians. Albanian archaeologists were directed by Hoxha
(1960s onward) to follow a nationalist agenda that focused on Illyrians and Illyrian-Albanian
continuity with studies published on those topics used as communist political propaganda
that omitted mention of Pelasgians. Emphasizing an autochthonous ethnogenesis
for Albanians, Hoxha insisted on Albanian linguists and archeologists to connect the
Albanian language with the extinct Illyrian language. The emerging archeological scene funded and
enforced by the communist government stressed that the ancestors of the Albanians ruled
over a unified and large territory possessing a unique culture. Toward that endeavour Albanian archaeologists
also claimed that ancient Greek poleis, ideas, culture were wholly Illyrian and that a majority
of names belonging to the Greek deities stemmed from Illyrian words. Albanian publications and television programs
(1960s onward) have taught Albanians to understand themselves as descendants of “Indo-European”
Illyrian tribes inhabiting the western Balkans from the second to third millennium while
claiming them as the oldest indigenous people in that area and on par with the Greeks. Physical anthropologists also tried to demonstrate
that Albanians were biologically different from other Indo-European populations, a hypothesis
now refuted by genetic analysis.===Nationalism and religion===
The communist regime through Albanian nationalism attempted to forge a national identity that
transcended and eroded religious and other differences with the aim of forming a unitary
Albanian identity. The communists promoted the idea that religious
feeling, even in a historic context among Albanians was minimal and that instead national
sentiment was always important. Albanian communists viewed religion as a societal
threat that undermined the cohesiveness of the nation. Within this context religions like Islam and
Christianity were denounced as foreign with Muslim and Christian clergy criticised as
being socially backward with the propensity to become agents of other states and undermine
Albanian interests. Nationalism was also used as a tool by Hoxha
during his struggle to break Albania out of the Soviet bloc. Inspired by Pashko Vasa’s late 19th century
poem for the need to overcome religious differences through Albanian unity, Hoxha took and exploited
the stanza “the faith of the Albanians is Albanianism” and implemented it literally
as state policy. The communist regime proclaimed that the only
religion of the Albanians was Albanianism. In 1967 the communist regime declared Albania
the only atheist and non-religious country in the world and banned all forms of religious
practice in public. Within the space of several months the communist
regime destroyed 2,169 religious buildings (mosques, churches and other monuments) while
Muslim and Christian clergy were imprisoned, persecuted and in some cases killed.===Name changes===
Within the context of anti religion policies the communist regime ordered in 1975 mandatory
name changes, in particular surnames for citizens in Albania that were deemed “inappropriate”
or “offensive from a political, ideological and moral standpoint”. The regime insisted that parents and children
attain non religious names that were derived from Albanian mythological figures, geographical
features and newly coined names. These names were often ascribed a supposedly
“Illyrian” and pagan origin while given names associated with Islam or Christianity were
strongly discouraged. Non-Albanian names were replaced which went
alongside the regime’s brutal version of Albanian nationalism. These approaches resulted for example in the
Albanianisation of toponyms in areas where some Slavic minorities resided through official
decree (1966) and of Slavic youth though not outright of the Macedonian community as a
whole. The communist regime also pursued a nationalistic
anti-Greek policy. Greeks in Albania were forced to Albanianise
their names and choose ones that did not have ethnic or religious connotations resulting
in Greek families giving children different names so as to pass for Albanians in the wider
population. Albanian nationalism in the 1980s became an
important political factor within the scope of Hoxha’s communist doctrines.==Within Yugoslavia (Kosovo and Macedonia)
==During the interwar period and after the Second
World War, parts of Kosovar Albanian society lacking Albanian language education such as
those residing in villages were mainly illiterate, and folk music was the main driver of nationalism. The 1950s and 1960s were a period marked by
repression and anti Albanian policies in Kosovo under Aleksandar Ranković, a Serbian communist
who later fell out and was dismissed by Tito. During this time nationalism for Kosovar Albanians
became a conduit to alleviate the conditions of the time. In 1968 Yugoslav Serb officials warned about
rising Albanian nationalism and by November unrest and demonstrations by thousands of
Albanians followed calling for Kosovo to attain republic status, an independent Albanian language
university and some for unification with Albania. Tito rewrote the Yugoslav constitution (1974)
and attempted to address Albanian grievances by awarding the province of Kosovo autonomy
and powers such as a veto in the federal decision making process similar to that of the republics. Between 1971 and 1981, the rise of Albanian
nationalism in Kosovo coincided with a revival of Albanian culture that opened new avenues
of national expression and awareness that came about when Yugoslavia conceded some cultural
and political rights to Kosovar Albanians. The issue of Albanian nationalism in Yugoslavia
during this time was left mainly for Kosovar Albanian communists to deal with and they
withheld intelligence about activities on some underground organisations from Belgrade. Albanian nationalism in Kosovo is based on
the idea of historic rights that Albanians are descendants of ancient Illyrians making
them the first population entitled to Kosovo and predating the arrival of Slavs, the ancestors
of the Serbs. Scholarship by (patriotic) Kosovar Albanian
historians (1970s-onward) revolved around researching and attempting to demonstrate
Illyrian-Albanian continuity alongside the precedence of that population in Kosovo and
Macedonia over Serbs and Macedonians. Kosovar Albanian historians also focused on
the Second World War partisan struggle and the Albanian contribution to the liberation
of Yugoslavia as being proportionate to other nationalities. These arguments were used to justify Albanian
claims toward a right to Kosovo and for the Albanian desire to elevate Kosovo as a seventh
republic of the Yugoslav federation. Education in the Albanian language became
a source of Albanian nationalism and was confined to Albanian language texts being inaccessible
to non-Albanians while school text books were to some extent nationalistic. Albanian historiography in Albanian language
texts were viewed by critics in Yugoslavia as a root cause of the “indoctrination of
the youth” in nationalism.In 1981 there was an outburst of Albanian nationalism. Prishtina university became a centre for some
nationalistically orientated students that generated Kosovar Albanian protests (1981)
over social grievances that marked the first large-scale expression of nationalism in Yugoslavia
since the Croatian Spring (1971). Kosovar Albanian communists condemned the
protests and supported Yugoslav unity while leading the campaign against Albanian nationalism
and in that sense shared the view of other Yugoslav communists. The unification of Albanians in the Balkans
into one state was also a feature of Kosovar Albanian nationalism and these views were
confined to dissident and underground groups. Within the context of the 1981 protests these
groups, many with left-wing political orientations united to form the People’s Movement of Kosovo
(LPRK) in Germany (1982). Unification of Albanians into one state was
a demand viewed as separatism and irredentism in Yugoslavia which was banned. Kosovar Albanian nationalists were divided
into groups with one that wanted to focus on the Albanian question as a whole and the
other mainly focusing on Kosovo. Political dissent by Kosovar Albanians followed
resulting in imprisonment and comprising the majority of political prisoners during the
1970s and 1980s. The high birthrate in Kosovo was viewed by
Albanians as a way of achieving a pure Kosovo by outnumbering local Serbs while communist
politicians held the view that Albanian irredentists were attempting to rid Kosovo of Serbs. In the 1970s and 1980s, sentiments of Albanian
nationalism had spread from Kosovo to Macedonia worrying Macedonian communist authorities
which resulted in measures of state sociopolitical control over Albanian cultural and linguistic
affairs suppressing expressions of Albanian nationalism in a campaign referred to as differentiation.===Dissidence and rise of nationalism===Repression of Albanian nationalism and Albanian
nationalists by authorities in Belgrade strengthened the independence movement and focused international
attention toward the plight of Kosovar Albanians. The recentralisation of Yugoslavia was promoted
due to events in Kosovo, while Serbian nationalism within cultural institutions and the media
gained strength. Expressions of Albanian national identity
were perceived as overwhelmingly anti-Yugoslav and increasingly anti-Serb. Within that context Albanian language education
was viewed as threatening Serbian borders and sovereignty and was identified with Albanian
nationalism. By 1989 the degree of autonomy that Kosovo
had attained within Yugoslavia was rescinded by Serbian leader Slobodan Milosević. Albanian nationalists created a non-governmental
organisation called the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) that also gained many dissatisfied
Kosovar Albanian communists who joined its ranks after autonomy was rescinded. It was led by the intellectual Ibrahim Rugova
who began a period of pacifist resistance and the league created a parallel form of
government and civil society while maintaining as its goal to achieve an independent Kosovo. The Kosovo education system became the place
where Serbian and Albanian nationalisms played out their conflict. Serbs asserted control of the education system,
while educational opportunities for Albanians became limited as they were excluded from
university and schools. This prompted Kosovar Albanians to establish
a parallel education system where private homes served as schools. Albanian students became immersed in nationalist
culture by learning an Albanian history of Kosovo and were no longer exposed to Yugoslav
“Brotherhood and Unity” era principles and to learning the Serbian language.===Late 1980s and early 1990s===Kosovar Albanian national identity making
unique claims to Kosovo became homogenised during the 1990s and included multiple factors
that led to those developments. Of those were Albanian civil disobedience
and popular resistance, the creation of a parallel society in opposition to the Serb
state and some underground cells initiating conflict which in all was a reaction to Serbian
government policies and repression. From the late 1980s onward Islam within the
scope of Albanian identity was downplayed by many Kosovar Albanian intellectual and
political figures while Christianity was promoted as a Western marker of “European identity”. Post-communism, Kosovo Albanians alongside
Albanians in Macedonia became the main force steering Albanian nationalism, while Islam
did not become a main focal point in articulating Albanian political nationalism. Islam was not a significant factor in the
recent political mobilization of Kosovar Albanian Muslims who joined with Catholic Albanians
during their struggle against the Serbs. During these years Rugova as elected president
by Albanians promoted an Albanian identity that stressed their Europeanness and antiquity,
in particular one based on ancient Dardania. With the Kosovo issue sidelined at the Dayton
Peace Accords (1995) ending the dissolution of Yugoslavia, more militant and younger voices
disillusioned with Rugova’s pacifism dominated like the Kosovo Liberation Army (founded 1992)
that began attacks against Serbian forces. The KLA had emerged from the LPRK as many
of its members belonged to the political movement. As its founding goal was to unite Albanian
inhabited lands in the Balkans into a Greater Albania, the ideological underpinnings of
the KLA were overwhelmingly that of Albanian nationalism stressing Albanian culture, ethnicity
and nation. Post-independence, a referendum was held in
Albanian majority Western Macedonia for autonomy and binational state federalisation of which
some Albanian politicians from Tetovo and Struga declared the Republic of Ilirida (1991-1992)
aiming to unite all Yugoslav Albanians into one entity.===Kosovo conflict (1990s) and Kosovan independence
(2000s)===Conflict escalated from 1997 onward due to
the Yugoslavian army retaliating with a crackdown in the region resulting in violence and population
displacements. Myths of first settlement and Illyrian descent
served to justify for Kosovar Albanians the independence struggle seen as one to eventually
unite Albanian lands into a unitary state recreating the mythical state of Illyicum
encompassing contemporary Balkan Albanian inhabited lands. A shootout at the Jashari family compound
involving Adem Jashari, a KLA commander and surrounding Yugoslav troops in 1998 resulted
in the massacre of most Jashari family members. The event became a rallying myth for KLA recruitment
regarding armed resistance to Serb forces. By 1999 international interest in Kosovo eventuated
into war resulting in NATO intervention against Milosević, ethnic cleansing of thousands
of Albanians driving them into neighbouring countries with the cessation of conflict marking
the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces. Many people from non-Albanian communities
such as the Serbs and Romani fled Kosovo fearing revenge attacks by armed people and returning
refugees while others were pressured by the KLA and armed gangs to leave. Post conflict Kosovo was placed under an international
United Nations framework with the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) overseeing
administrative affairs and the UN Kosovo Force (KFOR) dealing with defence.==Contemporary Albanian Nationalism in the
Balkans=====
Albania===Due to the legacy of Hoxha’s dictatorial and
violent regime, Albanians in a post communist environment have rejected Hoxha’s version
of Albanian nationalism. Instead it has been replaced with a weak form
of civic nationalism and regionalism alongside in some instances with a certain anti-nationalism
that has inhibited the construction of an Albanian civil society. Post-communist Albanian governments view the
tenets of the Albanian National Awakening as being a guiding influence for Albania by
placing the nation above sociopolitical and religious differences and steering the country
toward Euro-Atlantic integration. Themes and concepts of history from the Zog
and later Hoxha era have still continued to be modified and adopted within a post communist
environment to fit contemporary Albania’s aspirations regarding Europe. Trends from Albanian nationalist historiography
composed by scholars during and of the communist era onward linger on that interpret Ottoman
rule as being the “yoke” period, akin to other Balkan historiographies. The legacy of understanding history through
such dichotomies has remained for a majority of Albanians which for example they view Skanderbeg
and the anti-Ottoman forces as “good” while the Ottomans are “bad”. The Albanian government depicts Skanderbeg
as a leader of the Albanian resistance to the Ottomans and creator of an Albanian centralised
state without emphasizing his Christian background. Figures from the Muslim community such as
state founder Ismail Qemali is revered by the government and viewed by Albanians as
a defender of the nation though their religious background has been sidelined. The figure of Saint Mother Teresa, an Albanian
nun known for missionary activities in India has been used for nationalist purposes in
Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. Within Albania she is promoted inside and
outside Albania by the political elite as an Albanian symbol of the West to enhance
the country’s international status regarding Euro-Atlantic aspirations and integration.====Influence of origin theories in contemporary
society and politics====Within the sphere of Albanian politics, the
Illyrians are officially regarded as the ancestors of the Albanians. Catholic Albanians are generally in favour
of the Illyrian theory while Arshi Pipa asserts that Orthodox Albanians do not support it
due to associations with the Illyrian movement of Catholic Croats or Roman heritage and they
do not oppose it openly as power is held mainly by Muslim Albanians. The Illyrian theory continues to influence
Albanian nationalism, scholarship and archeologists as it is seen as providing some evidence of
continuity of an Albanian presence in Kosovo, western Macedonia and southern Albania, i.e.,
areas that were subject to ethnic conflicts between Albanians, Serbs, Macedonians and
Greeks. For some Albanian nationalists claiming descent
from Illyrians as the oldest inhabitants of the Western Balkans allows them to assert
a “prior claim” to sizable lands in the Balkans. Greek and Roman figures from antiquity such
as Aristotle, Pyrrhus of Epirus, Alexander the Great and Constantine the Great are also
claimed. Those from the elite like Ismail Kadare, a
prominent Albanian novelist has repeated in his writings themes from communist nationalistic
Albanian historiography about Albanian closeness to ancient Greeks based on Homeric ideals,
claiming that the Albanians are more Greek than the Greeks themselves, and initiating
debates on Albanian identity claiming Albanians as being a white people and Islam as foreign.Rejected
by modern scholarship, during the late 1990s and early 2000s the Pelasgian theory has been
revived through a series of translated foreign books published on Albania and other related
topics and plays an important role in Albanian nationalism today. Among them are authors Robert D’Angély, Edwin
Everett Jacques, Mathieu Aref and Aristeidis Kollias, whose works have revitalised 19th
century ideas about Albanian descent from ancient Pelasgians (shared with the Greeks)
and being a European “white race” originating from them alongside many Greek words having
an Albanian etymology. In Albania the Pelasgian theory has been used
by Albanians in Albania and Albanian immigrants in Greece as a tool to rehabilitate themselves
as an ancient and autochthonous population in the Balkans to “prove” the precedence of
Albanians over Greeks. The revival of the alternative Pelasgian theory
has occurred within the context of post-communist Greek-Albanian relations to generate cultural
hegemony and historical precedence over the Greeks and sometimes toward other (historical)
European cultures by Albanians. Albanian schoolbooks, mainly in relation to
language, have also asserted at times that the Illyrians are the heirs of the Pelasgians.===Kosovo and Republic of Macedonia===The Kosovo war (1999) generated enthusiasm
for using the internet among Balkan Albanians and diaspora (Europe and North America) for
information and communication between communities separated by borders and geography and cyberspace
has increasingly become an ethno-political space where Albanian irredentists promote
Greater Albania through content like maps on websites. In post conflict Kosovo Rugova as first president
in his drive toward emphasizing aspects of statehood spent time researching and pursued
an identity management project that centred on ancient Dardania and designed state symbols
like the presidential flag for a future independent Kosovo. Some Kosovar Albanians have referred to Kosovo
as Dardania and Rugova at times supported those moves. To define Kosovo as an Albanian area, a toponyms
commission (1999) led by Kosovar Albanian academics was established to determine new
or alternative names for some settlements, streets, squares and organisations with Slavic
origins that underwent a process of Albanisation during this period. Those measures have been promoted by sectors
of the Kosovar Albanian academic, political, literary and media elite that caused administrative
and societal confusion with multiple toponyms being used resulting in sporadic acceptance
by wider Kosovar Albanian society. In Kosovo, Albanians view themselves as being
the oldest nation in the Balkans and descendants of the ancient Illyrians with their self-determination
struggle being interpreted as one of first settlers in the area fighting against the
Slavic Serb “interlopers”. Serbs are regarded by Albanian nationalists
in generalised terms as “Slavs” and view them without historic territorial rights within
an expanded Albanian state. In Kosovo, the additional Dardanian-Illyrian
theory also exists that claims contemporary Kosovar Albanians as direct descendants of
Dardanians, a subgroup of the Illyrian people who inhabited the area in antiquity. The Dardanians are viewed by Kosovar Albanians
as having been Catholics and interpreted as making Albanians historically part of Western
civilisation in opposition to the Slavs who are alleged to have taken Catholic churches
and converted them into Orthodox ones. The myth has impacted the struggle for Kosovan
self-determination from the Serbs in that an independent Kosovo is viewed separate from
Albania and as a recovery and recreation of the ancient Dardanian kingdom. Albanian unification has however been interpreted
by Kosovar Albanians in the context of reuniting ancient Dardanians into a larger Illyrian
whole or modern Albanians of Kosovo into a Greater Albania. The myth has also served to justify expulsion
and dispossession of the perceived enemy understood as either temporary or hostile occupiers. A strong link exists in Kosovo for Albanians
between nationalist politics and archeology. Kosovar Albanian archeologists continue to
attempt through archeological excavations and their interpretations to connect Kosovar
Albanians with the local ancient Dardanian and Illyrian populations.In 2004, prolonged
negotiations over Kosovo’s future status, sociopolitical problems and nationalist sentiments
resulted in the Kosovo riots. Organised and spontaneous acts of violence
and damage by Kosovar Albanians was directed at properties of the Serbs, their churches
and the Romani leaving some dead and many displaced. International legal precedents based on territorial
sovereignty overriding self-determination were brushed aside in the case of Kosovo when
parts of the international community recognised the declaration of Kosovan independence (2008). This was put down to fears that not doing
so would result in Albanian nationalism possibly making the situation difficult and worse for
the international community in Kosovo had conflict eventuated. Albanian nationalism is viewed in the Balkans
as having furthered events in Kosovo which has caused concerns about the phenomenon of
nationalism and generated fears among Serbs, Croats, Macedonians, Romanians and Bulgarians. The ending of the Kosovo war resulted in the
emergence of offshoot guerilla groups and political organisations from the KLA continuing
various violent struggles. In the Preševo valley the Liberation Army
of Preševo, Medveđa and Bujanovac (UÇPMB) fought Serb forces (1999-2001) attempting
to unite the area with neighbouring Kosovo with conflict ending in peace talks and greater
Albanian rights in Serbia. In northern parts of the Republic of Macedonia
the National Liberation Army (NLA) fought against Macedonian forces (2001) with conflict
ending in peace talks and the signing of the Ohrid Agreement granting greater Albanian
rights in Macedonia. 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. 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 (nationalist)
Albanians as an ethnic collectivity with the term Shkie (Slavs) that also carries pejorative
connotations. 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 half of the territory of the republic. 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. In post conflict Kosovo KLA fighters have
been venerated by Kosovar Albanian society with the publishing of literature such as
biographies, the erection of monuments and sponsoring of commemorative events. The exploits of Adem Jashari have been celebrated
and turned into legend by former KLA members, some in government, and by Kosovar Albanian
society resulting in songs, literature, monuments, memorials with streets and buildings bearing
his name across Kosovo. In the context of de-emphasizing Islam, Kosovar
Albanians have shown interest in and referred to Albanian Christian origins and heritage,
in particular the Laramans (Kosovan crypto-Catholics) assisted to present Albanians as originally
European despite being Muslim. Old Albanian traditions within the Drenica
region hailing as a local the medieval Serb figure Miloš Obilić (Albanian: Millosh Kopiliq)
who killed Sultan Murad I have been utilised within Kosovo school textbooks and by some
Albanian nationalists to claim the knight as an Albanian. Establishing the participation of Albanians
at the Battle of Kosovo has been a means for Kosovar Albanians to claim roots of being
European and to sideline the historic conversion to Islam. Within the context of the Kosovo battle and
nation building, some in government circles and wider Kosovo Albanian society have promoted
a narrative of continuous Albanian resistance from medieval until contemporary times to
states and peoples considered foreign occupiers. With the declaration of independence (2008),
the Kosovo government has promoted the country both internally and internationally as Newborn
generating an ideology that attempts to break with the past and establish a democratic multicultural
future. Albanian nationalism in Kosovo is secular
while Islam is mainly subsumed within the parameters of national and cultural identity
that entails at times dominant clan and familial identities. Within the public sphere Islam at times resurfaces
to challenge the dominant nationalistic view of Albanians being superficial Muslims however
the political sphere remains mainly secular.==Pan Albanianism and Albanian politics in
the Balkans==Political parties advocating and willing to
fight for a Greater Albania emerged in Albania during the 2000s. They were the National Liberation Front of
Albanians (KKCMTSH) and Party of National Unity (PUK) that both merged in 2002 to form
the United National Albanian Front (FBKSh) which acted as the political organisation
for the Albanian National Army (AKSh) militant group. Regarded internationally as terrorist both
have gone underground and its members have been involved in various violent incidents
in Kosovo, Serbia and Macedonia during the 2000s. In the early 2000s, the Liberation Army of
Chameria (UCC) was a reported paramilitary formation that intended to be active in northern
Greek region of Epirus. Political parties active only in the political
scene exist that have a nationalist outlook are the monarchist Legality Movement Party
(PLL), the National Unity Party (PBKSh) alongside the Balli Kombëtar, a party to have passed
the electoral threshold and enter parliament. These political parties, some of whom advocate
for a Greater Albania have been mainly insignificant and remained at the margins of the Albanian
political scene. Another nationalist party to have passed the
electoral threshold is the Party for Justice, Integration and Unity (PDIU) representing
the Cham Albanian community regarding property and other issues related to their Second World
War exile from northern Greece. The current socialist prime minister Edi Rama
in coalition with the PDIU has raised the Cham issue, while at PDIU gatherings made
comments about ancient Greek deities and references to surrounding territories as being Albanian
earning stern rebukes from Greece. Some similar views have also been voiced by
members from Albania’s political elite from time to time. Within the sphere of Albanian politics anti-Greek
sentiments exist and have for instance been expressed by the nationalist movement turned
political party the Red and Black Alliance (AK). Anti-Greek sentiments expressed as conspiracy
theories among Albanians are over perceived fears of hellenisation of Albanians through
economic incentives creating a “time-bomb” by artificially raising Greek numbers alongside
Greek irredentism toward Southern Albania. There are conspiracy theories in which the
identification with Greek expansionist plans would classify them as potential enemies of
the state. Some Albanians are in favour of Albania being
more self-assertive and having a more ethnonationalist strategy toward the “Greek issue”. The Kosovo question has limited appeal among
Albanian voters and are not interested in electing parties advocating redrawn borders
creating a Greater Albania. Centenary Albanian independence celebrations
in 2012 generated nationalistic commentary among the political elite of whom prime-minister
Sali Berisha referred to Albanian lands as extending from Preveza (in northern Greece)
to Preševo (in southern Serbia), angering Albania’s neighbors. In Kosovo, a prominent left wing nationalist
movement turned political party Vetëvendosje (Self Determination) has emerged who advocates
for closer Kosovo-Albania relations and pan-Albanian self-determination in the Balkans. Another smaller nationalist party, the Balli
Kombetar Kosovë (BKK) sees itself as an heir to the original Second World War organization
that supports Kosovan independence and pan-Albanian unification. Catholic and Orthodox Albanians hold concerns
that any possible unification of Balkan areas populated by sizable amounts of Albanian Muslims
to the country would lead to an increasing “Muslimization” of Albania. The ambiguity of Islam, its place and role
among Balkan (Muslim) Albanians, especially in Albania and Kosovo has limited the ability
of it becoming a major component to advance the cause of Great Albania. During the Kosovo crisis (1999) Albania was
divided between two positions. The first being an Albanian nationalism motivating
Albania to aid and provide refuge for Kosovar Albanian refugees while being a conduit for
arming Kosovar Albanians and the second that the country was unable to provide those resources,
aid and asylum. Greater Albania remains mainly in the sphere
of political rhetoric and overall Balkan Albanians view EU integration as the solution to combat
crime, weak governance, civil society and bringing different Albanian populations together. In the 2000s onward polling data on Kosovo-Albania
unification has waned among Kosovans with support for an independent Kosovo being overwhelming
(90.2%) indicating that alongside their Albanian identity a new Kosovan identity has emerged. This factor has been strongly disliked by
Albanian nationalists.However, Albanian nationalism remains popular, with Kosovar Albanians at
present supporting the “two states, one nation” platform. This ensures a sustainable Kosovo state, outside
of Serbian and foreign control, and a united internal and external front between Kosovo
and Albania. Recently, Kosovo’s and Albania’s governments
have signed numerous treaties and memorandums of cooperation which synchronize their policies
at home and abroad, including in the diaspora, to create a Pan-Albanian approach without
the need for ground unification. The rise of Vetevendosje in Kosovo has further
cemented Albanian nationalism and pride within the country, as has a lack of EU integration
which has pushed Kosovars to supporting a direct Kosovo-Albania unification to combat
isolation, such as with visa liberalization. Gallup surveys between 2008 and 2013 showed
73% of Kosovo Albanians wanted a union with Albania, with independence support being at
high over being a part of Serbia. In 2009,
one year after Kosovo declared independence, support for Kosovo-Albania unification increased
to 77%. Today, Kosovo Albanians see Kosovo as the
second Albanian state and unification thus being achieved, yet Albanian loyalty remains
higher than loyalty to the new Kosovar/Kosovan state (primarily symbols), as seen with support
for the use of the Flag of Albania

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