Sunday, June 23, 2013

Greater Albania

Nick Danforth, Georgetown University

A few weeks back we posted a map of Greater Greece. Today we have one of Greater Albania. It's still pretty small. While Greece in the past claimed part of what is now southern Albania (referred to as Northern Epirus), this map shows the region in northwestern Greece claimed by Albania (Southern Epirus). Albanian irredentists also claimed all of Kosovo, as well as Albanian-populated parts of western Macedonia (over which low-level fighting broke out in the late 1990s).
In contrast to this vision of greater Albania, the chaotic years surrounding World War One in fact saw several smaller states declared on Albanian territory. There was the Republic of Koritsa (set up with the support of the French army), the Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus (set up by local Greeks with the hope eventually joining Greater Greece) the Republic of Mirdita and the Republic of Central Albania.

Koritsa Republic
Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus

Albania is widely recognized as having the best flag in the world, at least since Libya abandoned its all green one. The two headed eagle was a Byzantine symbol, which is why it is so widespread today among anyone who ever coveted a piece of the Byzantine's glory. The Greek church still uses it, as did the Russian Czars when they claimed the Byzantine mantle after the fall of Constantinople. The Seljuks occasionally made use of the double-headed eagle, and in the Balkans it served as the a symbol for both Serbs and Kosovar Albanians. It gained prominence as an Albanian symbol because of its association with the 15th century Albanian hero George Kastrioti, or Skanderbeg. The double-headed eagle has subsequently appeared in one form or another representing all of Albania's many incarnations. Add some tricolor and its the flag of the French-sponsored Koritsa Republic. A blue cross makes it the flag of the ethnically Greek Republic of Northern Epirus. With a pair of fasces or a communist star it can accommodate different political ideologies as well. These flags pay tribute to Albania's many incarnations during the 20th century, beginning with its organization as an autonomous region within the Ottoman Empire.

Autonomous Vilayet of Albania
Provisional Government of Albania
Principality of Albania, 1914
Principality of Albania, 1920
Albanian Republic
Kingdom of Albania
Under Fascist Occupation
People's Socialist Republic of Albania