« ПретходнаНастави »
Published monthly by the
I. NORTHERN EPIRUS AND THE PRINCIPLE OF NATIONALITY. By N. J. Cassavetes
H. THE PROBLEM OF EASTERN GALICIA. By
III. TREATY SIGNED BY POLAND AND THE ALLIED AND ASSOCIATED POWERS
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR INTERNATIONAL CONCILIATION
NORTHERN EPIRUS AND THE PRINCIPLE OF NATIONALITY
By N. J. Cassavetes
Director of the Pan-Epirotic Union in America
The importance of the territorial problems which have confronted the Conference at Paris can be measured neither by the extent of territory, nor by the numbers of the population involved. The question of Fiume has well proved the truth of this statement. Northern Epirus is one of those small territories whose strategic position makes it a great problem. The average American knows very little about Northern Epirus. It is well to state this problem, which, like Fiume, may prove to be one fraught with many dangerous possibilities.
Northern Epirus is inhabited by 200,000 inhabitants, who are of two religions—Christian and Mussulman—and of two nationalities—Greek and Albanian. The Christians number 120,000, and the Mussulmans nearly 80,000. Between the Christians and the Mussulmans there exists a traditional hatred.
The Moslems had, under the Turkish regime, occupied the land and had reduced the Christian population to slavery. The Mohammedans looked to Turkey as their own country, while the Christians looked to Greece for deliverance. Since 1453, the Northern Epirotes have made twenty-one revolutions against the Turks, and their twenty-second was recorded in 1914 against Albania.
By the Congress of Berlin (1878), Northern Epirus was given to Greece. But Turkey managed to evade giving up the Province.
In 1908, on the advent of the Young Turks, the late Ismael Kemal Bey, organizer of the Albanian Provisional Government at Valona in 1913, asked the assistance of Greece against Turkey. To a question put by the Greek Premier, Theotokis, as to what would be the southern limits of the Albanian State, Kemal Bey replied that they should run north of a line from Valona to Lake Ochrida.
In 1913, the Greek Army occupied Northern Epirus and was welcomed as liberator by the inhabitants. In the same year, the Province was awarded by the Ambassadors at London to the new State of Albania.
In 1914, the Christians revolted and, after a nine months' successful struggle, secured complete autonomy. In the fall of 1914, the country was reoccupied by the Greek troops at the order of the Allied Powers.
In 1916, the Italians entered some districts, and the French occupied the districts of Korytsa and Kolonia. General Bandini promised the autonomous state complete freedom of religion and education and respect for the autonomous status of the Province.
In June, 1917, General Giacinto Ferrero issued a proclamation which ended the autonomy of Northern Epirus, by declaring it a province of Albania, and Albania an Italian protectorate.
In 1918, the Greek schools and churches were closed. Italy refused to recognize the Protocol of Corfu which gave autonomy to Northern Epirus, and insisted upon holding the Albanian port of Valona permanently. Against the wishes of the inhabitants, she occupies the Province even now, and refuses to reopen the Greek schools or to respect the autonomous state.
The issue in the problem of Northern Epirus is this: Should the Province be included in Greece, or should it go to the new state of Albania?
In trying to answer this question, many factors must be taken into consideration. In the first place, the nationality of the majority of the inhabitants must be determined. Then, it is necessary to consider the economic, cultural, and strategic questions which may be of such paramount importance as to be of even more weight than the superiority of numbers.
We shall take up the question of numbers first. We have already mentioned that the inhabitants of Northern Epirus are divided into two hostile camps— the Mohammedan Albanian Epirotes, and the Orthodox Greek Epirotes. Between the two, competent observers are agreed that there is no clear distinction of race. Amongst the Mohammedans there may be more Albanian blood, amongst the Christians more of the indigenous Epirote blood, which it may be said, is now very difficult to distinguish from the Greek race. But, on the whole, the inhabitants are much alike physically, and their disagreements are not due to differences of descent. Language affords no clear dividing line. The Christians all speak Greek, and nearly all the Mohammedans speak Albanian; but very many of the Christians speak Albanian too; and many of the Mohammedans speak Greek. Wherever the two camps come into close contact, the population is in fact bilingual; and an observer of Albanian sympathies who relied solely on language as a guide