Page 731 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
P. 731

thodox theologian, Fan Noli) and the conservatives (led by ahmet Zogu) were seeking to control the government. The chieftain of the Mati tribe, Zogu, was either unusually lucky or especially capable, because he rose to the position of the country’s minister of interior at the age of 26. in that posi- tion he was ideally placed to watch the conspiracy work of the Kosovo exiles. He charged them with obstructing the normalization of relations with a neighboring country, took away their parliamentary immunity, and made it clear that he intended to bring albania into the family of Balkan na- tions. in the meantime, he became head of the government, just in time to face the attempt of the Kosovo exiles to over- throw him. That was either a poorly organized coup at- tempt or Zogu’s position was in 1923 far sounder and stron- ger than that of the Turkish government in 1911. Kosovo bands in albania were crushed by Zogu’s forces with the support of some Yugoslav units.
The internal situation in albania, however, was far from stable. in February 1924, an assassination attempt was made on Zogu (in Vienna). in june, the liberals staged a coup, and Bishop Fan Noli formed the government, but his rule was short-lived. Looking for a foreign protector, he picked Moscow. That move alarmed the West, as well as King al- exander of Yugoslavia. already in December 1924, ahmet Zogu, leading a motley crew of albanians, White Russians, and Yugoslav border troops, was back in Tirana, reinstalled as the future leader of albania (1925–1939). after 1928, as King Zog i, he ruled by a combination of despotism and benevolence. He forbade albanians to carry guns, outlawed archaic customs (such as vendetta), concluded several treaties with italy and Balkan countries, secured internal stability, established the authority of the albanian central government, and gave albania a sense of national identity. Stavro Skendi describes Zog’s contribution as follows: “Whatever his flaws, he made a nation and a government where there had been a people and anarchy.” (Cited in Paul Lendvai, Eagles in Cobwebs, Garden City, N.Y. 1969, p. 181.)
Relations with Yugoslavia were mixed. Zog conceded St. Naum (Ohrid) in exchange for another border point,
Between Two World Wars
but misunderstandings and distrust between the two coun- tries continued. in 1926 Zog signed two pacts with italy that gave Rome freedom of action in albania. The italian army built roads, fortifications, and airports that would later be used in attacks against Greece and Yugoslavia. in 1927, albania broke diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia, but dialogue was reestablished shortly thereafter. Full mu- tual confidence, however, was never achieved. in the mean- time, albania had some contacts with Bulgarian irreden- tists and Croatian separatists, with italian blessings. in 1937, however, Yugoslavia and italy signed an agreement “not to permit, nor support, on their respective territories any ac- tivitythatcouldharmmutualrelations,”whichmayexplain why certain Bulgars and Croats had to be moved from italy to albania.
On january 21, 1939, Count Ciano and Yugoslav pre- mier Milan Stojadinović conferred in Belgrade about the “albanian question.” Stojadinović was told of italy’s inten- tion to occupy albania, and apparently was promised Scu- tari in return, as well as the cessation of anti-Yugoslav pro- paganda with regard to Kosovo. a few days earlier, King Zog had received an italian plan—in effect an ultimatum— for a reorganization of the state, which amounted to a loss of independence and practical annexation. With 30,000 italian troops landing at four albanian ports, Zog fled, and the albanian parliament offered the albanian crown to Victor emmanuel iii. in the meantime, Stojadinović had resigned, and Ciano felt no obligation to his successor.
The italian occupation was humiliating to many alba- nians, but the Kosovo albanians felt rather good about it. Finally, the dream of a Great albania was to become a real- ity, after the fall of Yugoslavia in 1941, even if under the ae- gis of the italian crown. it meant a reverse of the Serbian- ization process in Kosovo, with encouragement by the ital- ians. it also meant the resurgence of hostilities, and the coming of civil war, both in albania proper and in Kosovo. it meant a new beginning of an old struggle.
Kosovo, ed. B.W.R. jenkins, Serbian Western american Diocese 1992, pp. 134–137.
Holy Prince Lazar and Miloš Obilić, featured on Yugoslavia stamps in 1939, celebrating 550th anniversary
of the Battle of Kosovo

   729   730   731   732   733