« ПретходнаНастави »
of them; but whether in the character of civilizing agents, or as the seed of material regeneration, they are the only possible inheritors of the soil which is historically their own.
In a few months the New Armenia should be a reality. The lifting of the dreadful shadow in which the country has been shrouded is the greatest service that the war has done for civilization in the East. Full reparation is impossible, but the liberation of a people whose name has become synonymous with martyrdom, and who have long been threatened with extinction, will have been achieved. The extraordinary endurance of the Armenians under persecution, their faithfulness to their nationality and religion, is a certain pledge of the future solidarity of the race.
THE ALBANIAN QUESTION1
Reprinted from The Adriatic Review, December, 1918
At last we have reached the end of the terrible war which for over four years has drenched humanity with blood.
Begun, as it was, by lust for territorial and commercial conquest, it will finish by the triumph of justice. Had not Imperial Russia collapsed, she would have extended her bear's paws, crushing the weak and threatening even her Allies. But Russia's collapse permitted Germany to carry out her program, and in either case the safety of nationality was imperilled.
Europe, the enemy of all innovation, clinging to her old diplomacy, was unable to change her system. America has fortunately saved the situation by coming forward on the side of the Entente, which preached democracy without entirely believing in its triumph. President Wilson has entered the arena and has begun slowly but firmly to calm its passions.
1 We reproduce herein below the text of a small but very learned and comprehensive review of the whole Albanian Question as circulated throughout Great Britain, in pamphlet form, by Mehmed Bey Konitza. Its author has been in London ever since the beginning of 1916 to represent in England the Pan-Albanian Federation of America "VATRA."
Mehmed Bey Konitza is one of the foremost nationalist leaders and he held for a short time the post of Albanian Minister to Greece under the government of the Prince of Wied. Shortly after he was appointed to represent his country in the International Commission of Control for Albania, and on its dispersion he went to London as delegate of the Vatra.
The complete debacle of the enemy's camp is due as much to the moral effect as to the material force of the Allies. President Wilson's principles have gone straight to the hearts of the peoples as a ray of consolation and hope, in the lands not only of the Entente but of the Central Powers also.
It is true that the problems to be solved in Europe are complex and difficult. But one thing is certain, and that is that no lasting peace can be made unless the solution of these problems is based upon the principles of nationality.
It is therefore the duty of the governments of the Great Powers to study the problems of race attentively and impartially before attending the Peace Conference.
One of these questions-one indeed which ought to command the serious consideration not only of statesmen but of all those who have any influence upon the redrawing of maps and the destinies of peoples—is the Albanian Question, a question which is little understood, and which appears to be small, but which is nevertheless of the greatest importance. It is big with consequences, and if those whose duty it is to consider it persist, as in the past, in regarding it from the standpoint of foreign aspirations, and not from the point of view of the Albanian people and public interest, those consequences may prove disastrous.
It is in order to facilitate the study of our national question that we present the following short account of our history, our position, and our national aspirations, and we ask only that they may be considered
impartially and carefully before any judgment be formed.
The Albanian population may be reckoned at about two and a half million souls, the large majority of whom inhabit the southwestern portion of the Balkan Peninsula.
The Albanians belong to three religions: the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, and to Islam. The Mohammedans exceed in number both the Catholics and Orthodox put together. The members of these three faiths all live together, but the Catholics are more numerous in the north and the Orthodox in the south. The Mohammedans are found everywhere, but form compact masses in the center of the country.
Among the many falsehoods which have been circulated with the object of proving that the Albanians cannot form an independent state, are the statements that they are divided by religious differences, and that they do not all speak the same language. Religion having always and everywhere exercised a great influence on the mind of man, and being even today a frequent cause of division in West Europe, the lies which have been spread about the religious differences of the Albanians have, not unnaturally, been widely credited. Nevertheless, Albania is perhaps the only country in Europe where religion has produced no dissensions among the inhabitants, who have remained united at every period of their national history.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, in her celebrated letters, writing in 1717, describes vividly the Albanian guard which escorted her on her journey across Turkey, and mentions as a unique fact that the Albanians make no distinction between Christians and Moslems.
Marriages between Christians and Mohammedans are common in Albania, in spite of the fact that they are contrary to the respective religions. Christians and Moslems may be found in the same family, dwelling amicably under one roof. There are Christian chiefs to Mohammedan clans, and vice versa. Impartial observers have, in fact, written much that is true upon this fact. It will suffice to quote one official document, which destroys the legend of religious dissension.
Monsieur Aubaret, the French Commissioner at the Eastern Roumelian Commission on the affairs of Turkey, in 1880, presented the following memorandum on the Sandjak of Scutari: “The people live together in perfect harmony. They are Albanian before everything. If it be true to say that the Catholics are sincerely attached to their religion, it is none the less true that for them, as well as for their Mohammedan compatriots, national sentiment, love for their land and respect for their ancient customs take the first place beyond all else. The spirit of dignity and independence, possessed alike by all Albanians, is strengthened among them by their markedly warlike characteristics. It is thanks to their indomitable vigor that in spite of the frequent endeavors of the Sublime Porte, these mountaineers have succeeded in preserving, almost intact, the privileges which they have enjoyed from the earliest times."
The Greeks, Serbs, and Bulgars who, in large numbers, have been converted to Islam, have renounced their nationality and have indeed out-Turked the