Thursday, May 15, 2008
"We spent the 1990s worrying about a Greater Serbia. That's finished. We are going to spend time well into the next century worrying about a Greater Albania," said Christopher R. Hill, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia at the close of the last century.
Why did he say this? Why did he think "we" will be "worrying about a Greater Albania" now and for years to come?
I focus on Hill's perspective, and question his core assumption, as we begin to look into the situation in Albania because this notion of a "Greater Albania" appears to be a key to the different perspectives on the country comprising an area of 28,750 square kilometres, which we in the West call Albania (i.e the Medieval Latin name that we apply to a land that the local people have since the 16th century called Shqipëria, "Land of the Eagles.")
The notion that the Shqiptarët (aka the Albanians), wherever they may be, regard their domicile as part of a "Greater Albania" and will undertake all efforts necessary to secure such an outcome is obviously something of concern to non-Albanians in this part of the world. There are those who claim that "unification of all territories where Albanians live in the Balkans has been and will remain the most serious threat to regional stability and European integration."
The fact is that a century of shifting borders has indeed left Shqiptarët scattered across Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece; but how real is the prospect of a "Greater Albania"? How real is the "threat" of a "Greater Albania"? Could it be mere myth, used by politicians of the Balkans for their own purposes; to fuel fears; to drum up support; and to drive wedges between people who could live peacefully together?
To arrive at answers reflecting the truth of the situation involves sifting through great volumes of biased material; some of it blantant propaganda, some of it more subtle. Arriving at answers will take much time and it is necessary to also develop an understanding of the situations in Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece. So keep an eye on comments to this post and the posts on those other places, for the true story of the situation in this part of the world is complex and something we'll need to keep returning to and updating.
[More to come ...]
News Archive for Albania
Wikimedia Atlas of Albania
Amnesty International: Human Rights in Albania
Global Peace Index Rank 2010: 65
Human Development Index: 0.807 (Rank 2008: 69)
Literacy rate: 98.7%