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to Constantinople in 1821. South Albania then fell entirely into Turkish hands.
The Bushatli Pashas ruled yet awhile in the north. In 1829 the Russians attacked Turkey, and the Pasha of Scutari seized the moment when the Russian army was approaching Constantinople to march also against the Turks. Unfortunately, the Russian general mistook the Pasha's object and believed him to be coming to reinforce the Sultan. He therefore concluded a hasty and unexpected peace which left the Turks free to throw the whole of their forces against the rebellious Pasha. A large Turkish army fell upon North Albania and ravaged it, killing or sending into exile all the leaders and exiling the Bushatlis to Asia Minor. Turkish governors were appointed everywhere, and Turkish garrisons placed in the larger towns. All Albania thus fell under Turkish rule though the mountain clans retained their autonomy throughout. But quiet was there none.
The beginning of the nineteenth century was a time of great stress and struggle in the Balkan Peninsula. Repeated attacks by the Russians and Austrians, who each pretended they were animated by a desire to free the Christians from Turkish rule, and were in truth aiming only at territorial gains, had greatly weakened Turkish power and roused, too, the hopes of the subject peoples. Serbia rose first and, with the aid of both Austria and Russia, attained autonomy. Greece rose shortly afterward and, also with European help, obtained her freedom.
The Greeks were greatly helped, too, by the Albanians of the south, of whose valor Lord Byron tells. In return for this help they hoped that Greece would aid them, too, when their time came. But Greece has known no gratitude. Far from aiding Albania to gain freedom, Greece has had but one object, and that is to obtain more and more of Albanian territory. The hatred of the Albanian for the Greek is therefore as intense as his hatred for the Serb.
We Albanians wish only to dwell in peace with our neighbors, but this we cannot do so long as these neighbors strive and intrigue to annex Albanian territory.
Imperial Russia has been Albania's worst foe, for, aiming always at hegemony in the Balkans, she has supported every Slav claim to territorial aggrandizement at Albania's expense.
In 1876-1877 came the supreme Pan-Slav effort. Much as Albania detested Turkish rule, she found herself forced to fight on the side of the Turks in order to save her own lands from Slavonic aggression. The Turks, however, were beaten. Russia's terms were hard. The Treaty of San Stefano did not even recognize the existence of Albania. Large tracts of it, including the wholly Albanian town of Koritza, were by this treaty allotted to Bulgaria. The Treaty of San Stefano was overthrown by the Powers, but the Treaty of Berlin which replaced it was but little better. It has, in fact, been called the "Treaty of Albania's Burial." Koritza was saved, it is true; but large tracts of Albanian-inhabited lands were given over to Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece. It was monstrously unjust.
The Albanians seized their arms and formed the Albanian League, whose center was at Prizren, but whose branches spread throughout the land.
By order of the Powers, their resistance was crushed by the Turkish Army, but not without severe fighting, in which more than one Turkish general lost his life. Nevertheless, the Albanians managed to save much territory in the north. Their seaport of Dulcigno, a wholly Albanian town, was, however, torn from them by a naval demonstration of the combined Powers— surely the most disgraceful example of how a powerful armed gang can bully a small nation that history relates.
Albania's rising was by no means fruitless. She succeeded in retaining all her southern territory and also in attracting the attention of some impartial judges.
In 188o an International Commission, called the Eastern Roumelian Commission, was appointed to regulate the affairs of Turkey. Great Britain was ably represented by Lord Edmund Fitzmaurice, who recognized the important fact that if peace were to be permanent in the Balkan the rights of each nationality must be considered. Convinced, after careful examination, that the Albanians had been treated with great injustice, he made strong representations on the subject, and recommended the immediate formation of a large and autonomous Albania, which should become independent on the break-up of the Turkish Empire in Europe. Having caused inquiries to be made about the population of the various vilayets, he recommended that the state of Albania should consist of the whole of the vilayets of Scutari and Janina, the larger part of the vilayet of Kosovo, and a large part of the vilayet of Monastir. In this scheme he was strongly supported by H. B. M. Ambassador at Constantinople, Lord Goschen.
The formation, however, of an independent Albania did not suit the ambitious plans either of Austria or of Russia. And, unfortunately for Europe, nothing was done save to recommend certain reforms to the Turks.
The Albanian question remained and remains unsolved—a menace to future peace.
Though by means of the Albanian League a certain amount of Albanian territory was saved, yet the Treaty of Berlin resulted disastrously for Albania.
Among other places, it gave the town and district of Vranje to the Serbs, who at once proceeded to forcibly evict the whole Albanian population and confiscate their property. Wholesale confiscations and evictions took place also in the districts given to Montenegro. And in none of the annexed districts were any of the Albanians who remained allowed schools in their own language. They had to choose between denationalization or emigration. Albania was now in an evil plight. Not only her neighbors, but the Turks, too, conspired to crush her nationality and prevent the development of national aspirations.
The Turks, having broken the power of the Albanian Pashas, held the land in an iron grip. Other Balkan races, when they awakened to the necessity for education, received the support and assistance of the Powers. Russia in particular spent lavishly on Slav propaganda.
This had taught the Turks that the formation of national schools was followed by a speedy uprising of the subject peoples. They therefore forbade, under heavy penalties, the teaching and printing of the Albanian language. And in order to denationalize the Albanians they permitted the Greeks to open schools for the Christians, while they themselves started Turkish schools for the Moslems. The results are not those which were anticipated. Albanians trained in foreign schools are some of the most enthusiastic nationalists. Nor can they easily forgive the falsehoods with which it was attempted to poison their minds as children, when Greek teachers even told them that it was useless to pray in Albanian, for Christ would not understand them. A certain Greek admitted to the writer a few years ago the failure of these efforts. "We have reared," he said, "serpents! The Greek schools, instead of creating for us Greek partisans in Albania, have created our worst foes."
We pointed out in reply that, as several centuries have failed to change the language and national sentiments of the Albanians who live in Greece, in spite of the efforts of the Greek schools in which Albanian children are forbidden to speak their mother tongue, it was mere folly to suppose that a few Greek schools in Albania could possibly influence the national and patriotic feelings of the inhabitants.
King Constantine gave the writer an overwhelming proof of the fact that the Albanians of Greece retain their national feelings. "During the Balkan war," said the King, "the Greek navy disembarked marines on the coast of Epirus for the purpose of attacking the Albanians. But a large part of the Greek navy is recruited among the Albanians of Greece, and two whole battalions of marines so soon as they found themselves face to face with their brother Albanians, promptly deserted without firing a shot. National sentiment proved to be stronger than duty." King