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Albania

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Albania

BACKGROUND

Information: A country.

Albania, officially the Republic of Albania, is an eastern Balkan Peninsula country in southern Europe. It is bordered by the Adriatic Sea to the west, Montegro to the north, Kosovo to the northeast, Macedonia to the west, and Greece to the south.

In 1912, the Serbs, with an assist from Cernagorans (Montenegrins) occupied Kosovo under the pretext of saving the Kosovars from the ravages of rogue Turkish and other elements still running rampant throughout the area. The real reason was to protect the Serbian colonial enclaves, who earlier had forced their way to set up a presence. The other reasons were a mix of greed and jingoism. The West did nothing to stop the Serbs, and later gave its blessing in the creation of Yugoslavia in 1914, with the stipulation that Kosovo was to remain autonomous. The West's real reason was to keep Kosovo away from Albanian control.

In their infinite wisdom, Medieval Serbian rulers graciously granted the Orthodox Monasteries large tracts of Albanian farmland, orchards and vineyards. Typical of Byzantine times, the rulers neglected to ask the Albanians for permission to dispense this largesse.

Kosovo Albanians associate the name Metohija with the illegal appropriation of their ancestral lands by the Serbs. For this reason, the Kosovars (Albanians from Kosovo) drop the name Metohija, and refer to their country as Kosovo.

Metohia has pejorative connotations among the Indo-European Albanians, who, ironically, settled this area over 5,000 years ago, 3,000 years before the Indo-European Greeks arrived. The Indo-European Serbs and other related South Slavs began their incursions into the Balkans during the years Six, Seven, Eight and Nine A. D.

The Albanian name for this western section of Metohia is Rrafsh I Dukagjinit (the Dukagjin Plateau). Dukagin is the name of a ruling Albanian family. The name Albania comes from an old Indo-European root word, alb, meaning mountain. Compare the related cognate ALP of Swiss fame.

During Marshall Tito times, Kosovo-Metohija became the administrative political entity abbreviated Kosmet. (Tito refered to Josip Broz, b 1892 in northwestern Croatia near the Slovene border).

As Turkish armies began their sweep through the Balkans, they met and defeated the Bulgarian army in 1371 at the Marica (Maritsa) River. The main Serbian army, along with contingents of Albanians, Croatians, Hungarians, Volkdeutsche (German-Balkan residents), Vlachs (Romanian shepherds), Macedonians, and Greeks, were attached to the Bulgarian Army.

This was the major battle and turning point for the Turkish Army. The 1371 Marica River defeat resulted in the loss of Macedonia for the Serbs, who were now reduced to the confines of their original ethnic borders.

Thereafter, the Turks engaged in battles with smaller Christian Armies, whom they defeated handily.

One of these minor battles was that of Kosovo Polje (Field of Crows), June 15, 1389. Despite the defeat of the small Serbian Army and its other ethnic Balkan Christian allies, Serbian statehood survived yet another 70 years, before the Turks occupied the territory to set up its own administration.

Located northwest of Priština at the confluence of the Lab and Sinica Rivers, Kosovo Polje had been an Albanian-Illyrian enclave since prehistoric times.

The Serbian Orthodox Church built monasteries in Kosovo; the isolation was conducive for training young priests, and the land was free. It also consolidated the Serbian hegemony over Kosovo-Metohia.

The Albanians of Kosovo are mostly Muslims, having converted from Christianity in earlier times to avoid confiscation of lands and paying oppressive taxes imposed on Christians by the Turks.

Albania, itself, was 100% Christian before the Turkish onslaught. Today 70% are Muslims, 20% are Eastern Orthodox Christians, and 10% are Roman Catholic Christians.

Last interesting note: When census was taken during Byzantine and Turkish times, Macedonians were grouped with Bulgarians, since both languages are mutually intelligible.

For further delving into the challenge of Kosovo, please consult Noel Malcolm's book, "Kosovo, A Short History," Harper-Collins, Copyright 1998. There are many other references, if you're so inclined. My agendum is that Kosovo needs to be an independent state like the other breakaway republics. Vojislav Koštunica, the president of Yugoslavia from 2000 to 2003, is still a Serb, and over the long hall cannot be trusted with a land which wasn't Serbia's territory in the first place.

     Thanks to Frank Wilhelm for this information.

Other Name: Arviniti (in Greek).

Language: Albanian

Religion: Predominantly Muslim

Note: The western half of Kosovo used to be called Metohija (Greek = Metochia, Byzantine Greek for monastic estates). See also the Kosovo-Metohija region of Serbia.


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