Albanians are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the signing of their declaration of independence from the Ottoman Empire. The “100 years of independence” isn’t exactly true: Albania was occupied multiple times during that span. Still, the celebration is bringing renewed attention to long-standing ambitions among some Albanian nationalists to a so-called “Greater Albania.”
The nationalists believe that all ethnic Albanians must, as a matter of course, be ruled by the Albanian government. Though this ambition has often fallen by the wayside in the face of regional warfare, it has also found currency as the primary casus belli for many Kosovar Albanians in the establishment of an independent Kosovo.
That’s not the end of the story for the nationalists, who see Kosovo’s separation from Serbia as the first step toward its annexation by Albania. Parts of other nearby nations, including Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece also have territory with ethnic Albanians which the nationalists have designs on.
Wanting and having are two different things, but as Albanians celebrate a festival, their prime minister sparked a diplomatic row with Greece by announcing that a Greek town on the other side of the border was “Albanian land.” Prime Minister Berisha went on to claim both Montenegro and Macedonia’s capitals, as well as territory inside Serbia, on the opposite side of Kosovo.
Many of the lands don’t even have many ethnic Albanians living in them anymore, and the claim rests on there having been ethnic Albanians there at some point in time. Greece, Albania’s top trading partner, withdrew their Foreign Minister from the celebration in protest.
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