Dr Bogdan Krisman
Report of Dr. Ivo Andric on Albania, in 1939
...Italian foreign minister, Count Galeazzo Ciano, returned to Yugoslavia in January 1939 and held frequent, long and confidential talks with Stojadinovic in Belje and Belgrade... In these talks they devoted their greatest attention to Albania, in regard to which Stojadinovic informed Ciano that there were two possible solutions: 1) that they should replace King Zog on the Albanian throne with a worthier person, although he himself did not know who this might be; 2) that Italy and Yugoslavia should partition Albania between them. As for this, he added that he could not discuss it then, since he had not studied the problem in details. Nevertheless, while Stojadinovic spoke about the partition of Albania, Ciano always spoke about rectification of the border with Yugoslavia!
After Ciano's departure, Stojadivonic asked the ministry to find the respective studies on Albania and the problem of the division of the Albanian territory. Two internal studies on this have been kept: one by Ivan Vukotic, a senior officer of the ministry, on 3 February, 1939, and the other by Stojadinovic's assistant at that time, Ivo Andric, on January 30, 1939...
In our political and diplomatic combinations and our Balkan policy, Vukotic wrote, we have always aimed to defeat all the demands of the Albanians for the creation of an independent state, simply for the reason that this state could be created against us and against our national aspirations. In this case Vukotic also mentions the following: While the Ambassadorial Conference in Paris defined the borders of Albania, Pai held talks with the Italians in July 1921, and gave his approval for the division of Albania between us and Italy, provided that we reached a more suitable solution than the one envisaged by the Treaty of London of 1915. Our Government at that time did not agree to this proposal and nothing was done about its implementation ...
In 1926 more serious efforts were made for the last time for entering our relations with Italy on the Albanian problem. Then, too, the efforts failed due to many reasons. Vukotic continues, The question arises why our official circles were afraid of dividing Albania with Italy. Arguments were brought up that Italy, as a great power and a non-Balkan state, should not be permitted to take steps towards the Balkans. Such a rapid increase in the international strength and importance of Italy had not been foreseen. It was believed that Albania could not consolidate its positions for many years and we would strengthen our position in Albania, if we could displace Italy. None of these predictions, on which our policy of the independence of Albania had been based, came true. On the contrary, everything turned out quite the opposite ...
In such a state of affairs, it is simple and clear that it is in our interests to ensure that Italy should hold only a part of Albania and not the whole of it. When there were no other arguments for the division of Albania, this alone would be sufficient. 2) According to Vukotic, owing to its geographical position, Albania is a hindrance to the economic development of the Yugoslav state, while with the division of Albania our land border would be shorter for about 300 km. 3) The Albanian state and the monarchy are centres of attraction for a considerable number of the Albanians who live in our country along the border. By the occupation and annexation of Northern Albania, the Albanian irredentists who are dangerous to our southern provinces would be killed. The Albanian militant element in our territory would be encircled from east and west and would more readily submit to assimilation. 4) Whenever the division of Albania has been discussed, the most that we demanded was to reach the valley of the Shkumbin River. Certainly, the line Struga-Librazhd and Elbasan-Durres would fully satisfy our demands. This territory has about 400,000 inhabitants, 130,000 of them Catholics, 50,000 Orthodox, and the remaining 200,000 or so Muslims. The partition of Albania and the annexation of its northern and central regions to our Kingdom would be a great national success for us and the accomplishment of our natural aspirations. Our geographical position would be improved on this part of the border. Incalculable economic profits would be made and two important provinces, of Zeta and Vardar, would be united with natural links. Albanian irredentism (!) and the Albanian state, which had been thought of and created by our enemies, would be liquidated. Vukotic concludes that we must take advantage of the favourable situation and complete a great popular project with the partition of Albania.
Andric's study amounts to 12 printed pages of Cyrillic text ...
Conducting a friendly policy towards one another, Italy and Yugoslavia could come to an agreement on Albania on the following basis: Italy has its vital interests in Vlora, this part of the Albanian coast should not be endangered by us. We must understand and respect this interest. The vital interest of Yugoslavia is that the border of Southern Serbia, or Kosova (inhabited by Albanians), or Shkodra and Montenegro, should not be endangered...
In this way, the Treaty of friendship of 25 March, 1937, is a tolerable modus vivendi between us and Italy as regards the Albanian territory, over which so many clashes and suspicions have been in the past years.
An other issue is whether this cease-fire in Albania could withstand the test of some graver and more complicated situation in the Mediterranean Sea and the Balkans...
In assessing this whole question, we must bear in mind the necessity to avoid every possible conflict, either open or disguised, with Italy. Likewise, we must avert the contingency that Italy occupies the whole of Albania, where it would endanger us at many sensitive spots in the direction of Boka-Kotor and Kosova.
Bearing in mind all that we said above, the division of Albania may seem to us only as an obligatory and inevitable evil that cannot be helped and a great harm which we have to make the best of, i. e., choose the lesser of the two evils.
Our compensations are found in the material compiled twenty years ago when the question of the partition of Albania was raised.
The maximum we demanded at that time was that the border would pass along the rivers of Mat and Drin i Zi and which would provide us with strategic security of Montenegro and Kosova. We ought to secure, also, the tectonic valleys of Ohri Lake and Prespa Lake, annexing Pogradec and the Slav villages of Golloborda, as well as those between Prespa and Kora.
The taking of Shkodra would, in this case, be of great economic and moral importance. This would give us the possibilities to carry out major hydro-techincal projects and gain fertile land to provide food for Montenegro. Northern Albania within the borders of Yugoslavia would enable the creation of new lines of communication of Northern and Southern Serbia with the Adriatic.
With the partition of Albania, the centre of attraction for the Albanian minority in Kosova would be eliminated and, that minority would be assimilated more easily in this new situation. In the long run, we would gain another 200,000 - 300,000 Albanians, but most of them are Catholics whose relations have never been good with Muslim Albanians. Likewise, the emigration of the Muslim Albanians to Turkey would be done under new circumstances, because there would be no powerful action to prevent it.
(The fragments present aspects of the Yugoslav state platform in the thirties of this century towards Albania and Albanians on the whole, including the Albanians of Kosova and other territories annexed by Yugoslav Kingdom.)