From the Archives of
Historic-Military Institute in Belgrade
On the Present Situation of the Albanian Question and Its Development
The Albanians live in a compact mass, that is scarcely inhabited by Serbian population in the space from the Adriatic Sea to the old Serbian-Turkish border. Even though the tribes living in this territory are strongly bound among themselves, yet not only blood revenge but also hatred between Catholics and Muslims exist. Nevertheless, immediately after the Congress of Berlin, and especially due to the fact that Plava and Gucia were decided to be handed over to Montenegro, the idea appeared of creation of greater Albania which would include all the area between Montenegro of that time, Serbia, Kaanik and Greek kingdom (without the Vilayet of Salonika). This idea sustained by official Turkey, put together all the patriot Albanians soon, who initially had their club in Prizren. How powerful that idea was may be best witnessed the fact that the Albanians in Gjakova killed Marshal Pasha, who was sent by the Port to carry out the decision of the Congress of Berlin to hand over Plava and Gucia to Montenegro. In agreement with the Port, the Albanians in this way did not allow the will of the whole Europe of that time to be accomplished, and Plava and Gucia remained further in the structure of the Ottoman Empire, and to satisfy Montenegro, Europe ordered the Ottoman state to hand over Tivar and Ulqin to it. Nevertheless, to carry out this decision, the Float of all the participant countries at the Congress of Berlin was planned to demonstrate along the Adriatic coast...
The idea once born on greater Albania could not vanish. As Italy and Austria intended to expand their influence in the Balkans, they sought to adopt some authoritative personalities, and through them to carry out (by money) their policy, disseminating in this way unconsciously the idea of greater Albania, that found its powerful expression at continuous uprisings of the Albanians in the last years of Turkish administration, and played a great role in Turkish harassment.
By intervention of our military in 1912 and occupation of Kosova and Metohia, the idea of greater Albania was given a mortal attack, but the Albanian leadership, suported by Austria, managed to create their small independent state, which played the role of Piedmont in the eyes of all the Albanians. As Serbian population was in minority, and a large number of Albanians had remained outside the borders of Albania, the political borders fixed between Serbia and Albania did not have any importance for the Albanians that were subjugated by us, who made their efforts to be found within the structure of the Albanian state, and due to this Albanian riots were raised immediately after the peace was made with Bulgaria.
The war between Serbia and Austria in 1924 gave full hope to all the Albanians, who thought that time had come for their ideals to be accomplished. But although greater Albanian was not formed, immediately after its arrival at these regions Austria allowed the club of the Albanian nationalists, whose centre was in Mitrovica, to develop greater agitation and strengthen their influence. In the beginning, Luk Lukaj, a Catholic, professor from Shkodra, was president of the club, and later when he was interned, Hasan Bey Vushtria played the most important role in it, whose desire to become an Albanian ruler was supported by Austrian authorities, and his ambitious wife, who was born in Salonika, encouraged him greately.
Owing to the proclaimed principle of nationality, the Albanians were happy when our military came, as they thought that Europe would respect that principle as well, and so they helped in turning out the Austrian regime. But neither we nor Europe showed even the least readiness to respect that principle of nationality, and although the Albanian leaders in Prizren and Gjakova delivered a memorandum on the intentions of the Albanians to French officials, we occupied those regions that had not belonged to us on the basis of London Convention (Malsia, Has and Dibra), and the Italians occupied whole Albania, so that the Albanians separated between us and the Italians fell into a hard position and their leaders did not know what to do for some time, that is proved by two Albanian delegations represented at the Peace Conference in Paris. However, as soon as Albanian nationalists formed their clubs in Shkodra and Durrs, their influence was felt in our territory as well, especially in the part belonging to Montenegro, as the Montenegrins and Albanians could not get along at all.
Since the influence of tribal chiefs is very great in Albania, it is obvious that the will of the members of the clubs of Shkodra and Durrs could easily be imposed and implemented by all the Albanians in our territory, who acquired a conviction that if they rebelled in large proportions, Europe would be forced to send them a commission to find out the real situation. The best proof for this was the rebellion of the Albanians of Plava and Gucia in February, the rebellion of Sadik Rama in May and of Azem Bejta in the same year. The more the solution to the question of the Albanians was prolonged, the more the idea for greater Albania grew up. Our enemies, the Italians and Bulgarians, Austrians and Turks, sought how to make use of the Albanian leaders, who sought support and aid from all sides, but not from us, to get saved from the Serbs.
However, our internal hard position, due to unsolved political circumstances, frequent replacements of officials and officers, weak means of communication, the unjust and apathetic attitude towards administration, and other reasons, influenced powerfully the creation of a terrain for agitation against our administration, and the Montenegrins assisted very much in this direction through their efforts to settle their own special accounts with the Albanians. In addition, our foreign policy towards Albania was not followed by some steady directive and there was no programme elaborated, but every official felt himself obliged to accomplish a policy of his own. They sent people from Belgrade, who did not have all the elements of the Albanian question available, nor did they know sufficiently enough the existing circumstances. There were even such persons who were delegated to apply the Albanian policy only last year, and now were in Albania as kaaks' (major Bedri bey Mahmudbegoviq).
The proclamation of constitutional liberties and the discussion of article 51 of the Peace Convention dealing with protection of minorities, that was brought up in our newspapers, definitely formed the viewpoint of the Albanians that they were a people who have all the rights to free and equal life, but not also the right to their own state.
What was said above can be best seen in the present situation in Kosova, Metohia and the region of Dibra, and I think one should not look for other reasons, but I consider that it ought to be emphasised that there is no political border between our Albanians and those in Albania. However, since our interests can be seriously endangered by such attitudes of the Albanians, I think that the idea of greater Albania could be paralysed to some degree by taking these measures. I find it reasonable to emphasise the following:
1) Opening a central office in Skopje (Shkup) for the accomplishment of Albanian policy.
2) Taking a certain position to independent Albania. Our clear declarations on the existence of an Albanian independent state, as well as offering material aid to the present government, would be gladly accepted by our Albanians and they could accept the lost of Malsia and Has. The most natural politics is that Albania should request our support.
3) The Albanian leaders should be won over for our political intentions.
4) The rebellions should get interned.
5) Colonisation of Montenegrins in Metohia should take place and our population get strengthened in those regions...
16 June, 1920 Commander, honoured adjutant
His Lordship, King Milosavljevic.