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might pass through the country-side and find nothing but Albanians, where an observer of Greek sympathies, proceeding in the same manner, might find nothing but Greeks. It is not race or language that separates the two camps, but religion. The inhabitants are divided into 120,000 Christians and 80,000 Mussulmans.
Many Albanian sympathizers feel that religion should not be taken so seriously in deciding the future disposition of peoples. In the Orient, however, religion is virtually nationality, a truth quite unintelligible to Western peoples. Bulgars in Macedonia, who have lost their Christian religion and have adopted Mohammedanism, are no longer Bulgars, but Turks. Greeks in Epirus, who, under Ali Pasha, were forced to adopt Mohammedanism, are fanatic Turks in sentiment. The same is true of the Greek Cretans who adopted Mohammedanism. After all, what is nationality, if not the will to live with this or that political organization? Take the Republic of Switzerland. Here we have people of various races, and of various languages living together and constituting one nationality by virtue of their will to live together and work together. An even more concrete case of the real significance of nationality may be found in America. Here we have men of every race, speaking various languages, but united in a will to live together and to coöperate under the same political organization.
In deciding, therefore, upon the nationality of the Northern Epirotes, we should not consult history. For, in the words of Lord Cromer, "when a cause invokes historical sentiment in its behalf, that cause is bankrupt of arguments reasonably applicable to the actual situation.” We should look only to the will of the Northern Epirotes. We should ask them whether they wish to form part of the Greek family or of the Albanian family. And if the majority wishes to belong to Albania, Greece should renounce her claims to the Province.
We have now brought the issue to this: Do the Northern Epirotes want Greece, or do they want Albania?
How are we to know the will of the majority? There are many ways. There is, first of all, the direct vote of the people.
In 1913, when the Ambassadors of the Powers at London were deciding upon the question of including Northern Epirus in Albania, the Greek Government asked for a plebiscite. It proposed that an international commission be appointed to determine the will of the inhabitants. Italy and Austria objected. Instead, a Commission was appointed to go to Epirus and report on the nationality of the Epirotes only on the basis of the language spoken at home. The Commission came to a complete disagreement from the very outset. It had been sent to determine the nationality of a bilingual people on the basis of language only! “It would have been hardly less sensible to have divided the inhabitants into those who had a left leg and those who had a right leg."1 By firmly closing their eyes to all right legs, in other words, by ignoring the Greek speech of all bilinguals, the Commission succeeded in arrivingatthe conclusion that the country should belong to Albania.
Colonel Murray, of the British Army, who visited Epirus in 1914, writes in connection with the Commission's work: 'E. Hilton Young, Contemporary Review, May, 1919.
“There is not a great deal to be said about these gentlemen or their work, and if there were, it would be only wasting your time to talk about it. For they began to disagree among themselves almost from the first day they met together at Monastir, and when they referred their differences to their governments, the reference led to so much discussion that Sir Edward Grey determined to end matters by proposing a frontier of his own, which runs in a northeasterly direction from Cape Stylos, to where it meets the Serbian frontier at Lake Ochrida. This frontier, as proposed by England, has been accepted by the Powers, and has now been delimited in detail by the Commissioners, who completed their work on the 18th of December last, and have presumably returned to their respective countries. Ladies and gentlemen, I have no desire to hold up the Commissioners to ridicule, for it was not their fault, but the fault of the great Powers of Europe, that they were put into a ridiculous position, which only came to an end when Sir Edward Grey took matters out of their hands into his own. Their instructions were to go over the country lying between the frontier claimed by Greece, and the frontier proposed by Italy (which is very nearly identical with that now approved by the Powers) and find out whether the inhabitants were Greeks or Albanians. But they were forbidden to receive any addresses or deputations, or make any inquiries, except about the language spoken by the people. And, as everyone knows what language the Epirotes speakan Albanian patois at home, and the Greek language outside the home—the Commissioners' inquiries were useless, and had no determining effect one way or the other in regard to the nationality of the people. What
added to the absurdity of the position was that only two members of the Commission could speak either Greek or Albanian, and one of these, Herr Bilinski, was too ill to leave his house, while the other, Captain Castoldi, made so many mistakes in translating answers that the Commissioners lost all faith in him as interpreter, and decided to ask for further instructions from their Governments, with the result I have already mentioned.”
As Colonel Murray put it, Sir Edward Grey, under pressure? from Italy and Austria, drew an arbitrary line through the heart of the Province and split it into two parts, one going to Greece, and the other to Albania.
On orders from London, the Greek troops evacuated Northern Epirus. The inhabitants immediately rose, offered armed resistance to the Albanians, and declared Northern Epirus an autonomous state in sympathy with Greece.
After some months of fighting with the Albanians, a meeting was arranged at Corfu, between the representatives of the autonomous government and those of Albania and of the Great Powers. Here, after protracted discussions, the representatives of the Albanians and of the Powers conceded to the Epirotes the right to be denominated Epirotes, and not Alban
On May 17, 1914, the Protocol of Corfu was signed by all the representatives, and Northern Epirus was
Prince Lichnowsky, then Ambassador of Germany, at London, revealed last year that the Albanian frontiers were drawn not in accordance with the principle of nationality, but according to the wishes of the Triple Alliance; he adduces as a proof of the conciliatory spirit which animated Sir Edward Grey the fact that the latter yielded on the important Epirote problem.
recognized autonomous, with the Greek language as the official language in school, state, and church.
After the European War broke out, the British Minister at Athens asked Mr. Venizelos to assume the mandate over the province. With the approval of the Entente Powers, as well as of Italy, Greece reoccupied it. The Northern Epirotes were very happy.
In the same year, an unhampered election was held, and the representatives were returned to the Greek Parliament. Like the Cretan Deputies in 1910, they were not admitted into the Greek Chamber, because Greece had been given power of mandate only, not of incorporation of the province in the kingdom of Greece. Whereupon, the Northern Epirotes established by themselves, through the medium of delegates sitting at Premeti, electoral regulations, on the basis of which Deputies were elected who claimed the union of their country with Greece, and asked to be allowed to sit in the Greek Chamber at Athens. The aspirations for union with Greece were thus manifested in complete conformity with the most generally recognized principles: an open election, a method of plebiscite fulfilling all the conditions for the unhampered election by a people of the government of its choice.
Then came the Italian occupation in 1916. Italy apologized for this unwarranted act, claiming as a justification military necessities. Unfortunately, while those necessities have disappeared, Italy shows no desire to evacuate the province and to abate the unworthy processes of violent denationalization of the Greek Epirotes.
It appears from the facts stated that the majority of the Northern Epirotes, on every occasion on which