League of Prizren
|Albanian League of Prizren
Lidhja Shqiptare e Prizrenit
“Një komb – një vilajet”'
"One nation one vilayet"
“Shqip ku flitet âsht Shqypni”'
|Religion||Islam, Roman Catholic,
|-||1877–1881||Iljaz Pashe Dibra|
|Legislature||Assembly of Noblemen|
|Historical era||19th century|
|-||Established||10 June 1877-78|
|-||Disestablished||30 April. ca. 1881|
|Today part of|| Albania
Part of a series on the
|History of Albania|
The League for the Defense of the Rights of the Albanian Nation (Lidhja per mbrojtjen e të drejtave te kombit Shqiptarë) commonly known as the League of Prizren (Albanian: Lidhja e Prizrenit) was an Albanian political organization founded on 10 June 1878 in the old town of Prizren, in the Kosovo Vilayet Mainland Gegeria (Upper Albania) (vilayet) of the Ottoman Empire.
The treaties of San Stefano and Treaty of Berlin both assigned areas that were also inhabited by Albanians to other states. The inability of the Porte to protect the interests of Albania's political and territorial integrity forced the Albanian intellectuals, beys and pashas not only to organize their own defensive and political organization, but also to create an autonomous administration for Albania, like those Serbia, Bulgaria and the other Danubian Principalities had enjoyed before their independence throghout the 19thcentury.
The 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War dealt a decisive blow to Ottoman power in the Balkan Peninsula, leaving the empire with only a precarious hold on Albania and eastern Balkans. The Albanians' fear that the lands they inhabited would be partitioned among Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece fueled the rise of resistance. The first postwar treaty, the abortive Treaty of San Stefano signed on 3 March 1878, assigned areas claimed by the League of Prizren to Serbia, Montenegro, and Bulgaria. Austria-Hungary and the United Kingdom blocked the arrangement because it awarded Russia a predominant position in the Balkans and thereby upset the European balance of power. A peace conference to settle the dispute was held later in the year in Berlin.
The Treaty of San Stefano triggered profound anxiety among the Albanians and Bosnians meanwhile, and it spurred their leaders to organize a defense of the lands they inhabited. In the spring of 1878, influential Albanians in Constantinople—including Abdyl Frashëri, the Albanian national movement's leading figure during its early years—organized a committee to direct the Albanians' resistance. In May the group called for a general meeting of representatives from all the areas that existed Albanian communities that time. The Committee's members were Ali Ibra, Zija Prishtina, Sami Frashëri, Jani Vreto, Pashko Vasa, Baca Kurti Gjokaj and Abdyl Frashëri.
During the meeting in Prizren a kararname was signed by 47 beys in June 18, 1878. The document represents an initial position, mainly supported by landlords and individuals related to the Ottoman administration. In Article 1 of this document, these Albanian leaders rSultaestated their intention to preserve and maintain the territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans by supporting the porte, Islamic Shariah law, and "to struggle in arms to defend the wholeness of the territories of Albania". Article 6 of the same document restates the hostility of Albanians, as Ottoman loyalists, to the independence of both Bulgaria and Serbia. "We should not allow foreign armies to tread on our land. We should not recognize Bulgaria's name. If Serbia does not leave peacefully the illegally occupied countries, we should send bashibazouks (akindjias) and strive until the end to liberate these regions, including Montenegro."
On September 27, 1878, Sami Frashëri published in the in Istanbul newspaper Tercümân-of-Sark the Program of the Albanian League. For the first time the general public and the Ottoman porte was introduced about the Albanian league political demands.
The program consisted of 7 points. 1. The High Gate sovereignty will be preserved in Albania, no inch of albanian land should be given to other states. 2: Creation of the supra province of Albania will be formed, Unite of all Albanian vilayets will be created in a single political-administrative unit, with an Albanian Wali (governor) in head of the vilayet, its capital will be Ohrid. 3: All officers will be of albanian speakers, in the administration and in the school will the language of the natives will be teached. The ottoman language will be used only in correspondence with the Sublime Porte. 4: The Albanian Vilayet will also have its own national army, Autonomous Albania would be ruled by a democratic regime. All residents, regardless of social and religious differences, would have equal rights and duties before the high council. 5: The country will be governed by democratically elected bodies. Each adminis-trative (locality),and each sanjak (prefecture) will have its own elected council periodically. 6: The highest will be the Grand Assembly elected by the council of Sandzaks, vested with legislative and executive powers. Grand National Assembly will elect the government of sainthood (Vilayet Council). The government will prepare laws, will study reforms would draft budget and will solve the general court, which shall submit for approval the the Great Assembly. 7: Decisions of the Albanian Vilayet Council, will apply to all residents of the province. Once the new program was announced publicly, all the branches of the League of Prizren were to adopt the program in Dibra Assembly on November 1, 1878, and loading a delegation composed of 12 well-known Albanian personalities of the time to get officially presented the program to the ottoman government.
The Berlin Congress
The Congress of Berlin ignored the league's memorandum, and Germany's Otto von Bismarck even proclaimed that an Albanian nation did not exist—later he declared he had made a mistake proclaiming Albania was 'just a geographic notion'. The congress ceded to Montenegro the cities of Bar and Podgorica and areas around the mountain villages of Gusinje and Plav, which Albanian leaders considered Albanian territory. Serbia also gained some territory which included also ethnic Albanians. The latter, the vast majority of them loyal to the empire, vehemently opposed the territorial losses. Albanians also feared the possible loss of Epirus to Greece. The League of Prizren organized armed resistance efforts in Gusinje, Plav, İşkodra, Prizren, Preveza, and Yanina. A border tribesman at the time described the frontier as "floating on blood."
On 10 June 1878, about eighty delegates, mostly Muslim religious leaders, clan chiefs, and other influential people from the Ottoman vilayets of Kosovo, Monastir and Ioannina, met in the city of Prizren, (Kosova then Ottoman Empire). Around 300 Muslims participated on the assembly, including delegates from Bosnia and mutasarrif (administrator of sanjak) of Prizren as representative of the central authorities, and no delegates from Scutari Vilayet. The delegates set up a standing organization, the League of Prizren, under the direction of a central committee that had the power to impose taxes and raise an army. The league of Prizren consisted of two branches: the Prizren and the southern branch. The Prizren branch was led by Iljas Dibra and it had representatives from the areas of Kirçova (Kicevo), Kalkandelen (Tetovo), Pristine (Pristina), Mitroviça (Kosovska Mitrovica), Viçitirin (Vucitrn), Üsküp (Skopje), Gilan (Gnjilane), Manastir (Bitola), Debar (Debar) and Gostivar. The southern branch, led by Abdyl Frashëri consisted of sixteen representatives from the areas of Kolonjë, Korçë, Arta, Berat, Parga, Gjirokastër, Përmet, Paramythia, Filiates, Margariti, Vlorë, Tepelenë and Delvinë.
At first the Ottoman authorities supported the League of Prizren, but the Sublime Porte pressed the delegates to declare themselves to be first and foremost Ottomans rather than Albanians. Some delegates led by Sheikh Mustafa Ruhi Efendi of Kalkandelen, supported this position and advocated emphasizing Muslim solidarity and the defense of Muslim lands, including present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina. This initial position of the league, based on the religious solidarity of the landlords and the people connected with the Ottoman administration and the religious authorities, was reason for naming the league The Committee of the Real Muslims (Albanian: Komiteti i Myslimanëve të Vërtetë). Other representatives, under Frashëri's leadership, focused on working toward Albanian autonomy and creating a sense of Albanian identity that would cut across religious and tribal lines.
The establishment of the Provisional Government
In July 1878, the 60 member board of the League of Prizren, led by Abdyl Bey Frashëri, sent a letter to the Great Powers at the Congress of Berlin, asking for the settling of the Albanian issues resulting from the Turkish War. The memorandum was ignored by the congress, which recognised the competing claims of Serbia and Bulgaria to territories surrendered by the Ottoman Empire, and over those of Albanians. The League of Prizren feared that Albanians would not win their claims to Epirus to Greece, and organized an armed resistance in Gusinje, Iskodra, Prizren, and Yanina.
In 1881 in the founding of the Autonomous provisional government that was formed in Prizren in early 1881, headed by President Ymer Prizreni, Secretary, Shuaib Spahiu, Abdyl Frasheri was elected Minister of Foreign Affairs. The League made important contributions to the political and military preparations that were made for the protection of its autonomy against the Ottoman military expedition against the League.
The San Stefano treaty was later superseded by the Treaty of Berlin at the insistence of Austria-Hungary and Britain. This latter treaty, however, recognized the rival claims of other nations in the region over those of the Albanian nationalists.
Cabinet Of The Provisional Government
- Ilias Pashe Dibra - President of Assembly
- Ymer Prizreni - Prime Minister
- Shuaib Spahiu – Minister of Internal Affairs
- Abdyl Frasheri – Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Daut Borici – Minister of Justice
- Haxhi Zeka – Minister of Finance
- Sami Frasheri – Minister of Education
- Sulejman Vokshi – Minister of Defence
- Mic Sokoli – General of the Armed Forces.
Failing to win their claims on a diplomatic level, Albanians embarked on the route of military conflict with their Balkan neighbours.
The Prizren League had 16,000 armed members under its control, who launched a revolution against the Ottoman Empire after the debacle at the Congress of Berlin and the official dissolvement of the League ordered by the Ottomans who feared the League would seek total independence from the empire. The first military operation of the league was the attack against Mehmed Ali Pasha, the Ottoman marshal who would overview the transfer of Plav-Gucia area to Montenegro. After the breakout of open war the League took over control from the Turks in the Kosovo towns of Vučitrn, Peć, Kosovska Mitrovica, Prizren, and Đakovica. Guided by the autonomous movement, the League rejected Turkish authority and sought complete secession from Turkey. The Ottoman Empire sought to suppress the League and they dispatched an army led by Turkish commander Dervish Pasha, that by April 1881 had captured Prizren and crushed the resistance at Ulcinj. The leaders of the league and their families were either killed or arrested and deported.
In August 1878, the Congress of Berlin ordered a commission to trace a border between the Ottoman Empire and Montenegro. The congress also directed Greece and the Ottoman Empire to negotiate a solution to their border dispute. The Albanians' successful resistance to the treaty forced the Great Powers to return Gusinje and Plav to the Ottoman Empire and grant Montenegro the mostly Albanian-populated coastal town of Ulcinj. But the Albanians there refused to surrender. Finally, the Great Powers blockaded Ulcinj by sea and pressured the Ottoman authorities to bring the Albanians under control. Albanian diplomatic and military efforts were successful in wresting control of Epirus, however some lands were still ceded to Greece by 1881. The Great Powers decided in 1881 to cede Greece Thessaly and the district of Arta.
End of the league
Faced with growing international pressure "to pacify" the refractory Albanians, the sultan dispatched a large army under Dervish Turgut Pasha to suppress the League of Prizren and deliver Ulcinj to Montenegro. Albanians who were loyal to the empire supported the Sublime Porte's military intervention. In April 1881, Dervish Pasha's 10,000 men captured Prizren and later crushed the resistance at Ulcinj. The League of Prizren's leaders and their families were arrested and deported. Frashëri, who originally received a death sentence, was imprisoned until 1885 and exiled until his death seven years later.
Formidable barriers frustrated Albanian leaders' efforts to instill in their people an Albanian rather than an Ottoman identity. Divided into four vilayets, Albanians had no common geographical or political nerve center. The Albanians' religious differences forced nationalist leaders to give the national movement a purely secular character that alienated religious leaders. The most significant factor uniting the Albanians, their spoken language, lacked a standard literary form and even a standard alphabet. Each of the three available choices, the Latin, Cyrillic, and Arabic scripts, implied different political and religious orientations opposed by one or another element of the population. In 1878 there were no Albanian-language schools in the most developed of the areas claimed by the League, Gjirokastër, Berat, and Vlorë—where schools conducted classes either in Turkish or in Greek.
The League of Prizren was among the most obvious Albanian reactions to the dramatic withdrawal of the Albanians' imperial patrons, the Ottoman Empire, after almost four centuries of dominance in the Balkans. In contrast with their predominantly Orthodox Christian neighbours, Serbs, Greeks, and Bulgars, the Albanian population pursued a policy of collaboration with the Ottoman Empire. The aftermath of the Russo-Turkish war of 1878 produced the Treaty of San Stefano, which recognised the independence and/or territorial claims of Bulgaria, Montenegro and Serbia. After the Russo-Turkish war of 1877–1878. Albanian leaders from Peć, Đakovica, Gusinje, Luma, and from Debar and Tetovo met in Vardar Macedonia to discuss the development of what would only later be regarded as a national platform. The group of proto-nationalists received all manner of material and financial support from the Ottoman Empire, which was faced with the realities of having to withdraw yet again from its occupied territories in the Balkans. The League of Prizren received funding, the highest quality weaponry, and diplomatic support from the Porte, which established the Central Committee for Defending Albanian Rights in Constantinople in 1877.
The Ottoman Empire continued to crumble after the Congress of Berlin. The empire's financial troubles prevented Sultan Abdül Hamid II from reforming his military, and he resorted to repression to maintain order. The authorities strove without success to control the political situation in the empire's Albanian-populated lands, arresting suspected nationalist activists. When the sultan refused Albanian demands for unification of the four Albanian-populated vilayets, Albanian leaders reorganized the League of Prizren and incited uprisings that brought the region, especially Kosovo, to near anarchy. The imperial authorities again disbanded the League of Prizren in 1897, executed its president in 1902, and banned Albanian-language books and correspondence. In Macedonia, where Bulgarian-, Greek-, and Serbian-backed guerrillas were fighting Ottoman authorities and one another for control, Muslim Albanians suffered attacks, and Albanian guerrilla groups retaliated. In 1906 Albanian leaders meeting in Bitola established the secret Committee for the Liberation of Albania. A year later, Albanian guerrillas assassinated Korçë's Greek Orthodox metropolitan. While it was active, the league managed to bring Albanian national interests before the Great Powers and paved the way for the League of Peja, which had greater foreign support from both Italy and the Austria-Hungarian Empire.
Despite the final failure, the League of Prizren had accomplished a great deal. Both Montenegro and Greece had received less Albanian claimed territory than what they would have otherwise received without the organized protest. This was the first step toward a national organization.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Jelavich, Barbara (1999). History of the Balkans: Eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Cambridge University: Cambridge University Press. p. 361. ISBN 0-521-25249-0.
- Elsie, Robert. "1878 The Resolutions of the League of Prizren". Archived from the original on February 20, 2011. Retrieved February 20, 2011. "we will not allow any foreign troops to enter our territory. We will not recognize Bulgaria and do not even wish to hear its name mentioned. If Serbia does not agree to give up the regions it has occupied illegally, we will deploy volunteer corps (akindjiler) against it and do our utmost to bring about the return of these regions. We will do the same with Montenegro."
- Kopecek, Michal; Ersoy, Ahmed; Gorni, Maciej; Kechriotis, Vangelis; Manchev, Boyan (2006), "Program of the Albanian League of Prizren", Discourses of collective identity in Central and Southeast Europe (1770-1945) 1, Budapest, Hungary: Central European University Press, p. 347, ISBN 963-7326-52-9, retrieved January 18, 2011, "there were no delegates from Shkodra villayet and a few Bosnian delegates also participated. Present was also mutasarrif (administrator of sandjak) of Prizren as representative of the central authorities"
- Skendi, Stavro. "Beginnings of Albanian Nationalist and Autonomous Trends: The Albanian League, 1878-1881Author". American Slavic and East European Review (American Slavic and East European Review) 12: 4. JSTOR 2491677. "The southern branch of the League was formed at Gjinokastër (Argyrokastro), where;Albanian leaders held a meeting at which the districts of Janina, Gjinokastër, Delvina, Përmet, Berat, Vlora (Valona), Filat, Margariti, Ajdonat, Parga, Preveza, Arta, Tepelena, Kolonja, and Korca were represented."
- Nuray Bozbora, The Policy of Abdulhamid II Regarding The Prizren League
- Kopecek, Michal; Ersoy, Ahmed; Gorni first4=Vangelis, Maciej; Kechriotis; Manchev, Boyan (2006), Discourses of collective identity in Central and Southeast Europe (1770-1945) 1, Budapest, Hungary: Central European University Press, p. 348, ISBN 963-7326-52-9, retrieved January 18, 2011, "The position of the League in the beginning was based on religious solidarity. It was even called Komiteti i Myslimanëve të Vërtetë (The Committee of the Real Muslims)... decisions are taken and supported mostly by landlords and people closely connected with Ottoman administration and religious authorities.."
- Jelavich, Barbara (1999). History of the Balkans: Eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Cambridge University: Cambridge University Press. p. 366. ISBN 0-521-25249-0.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: League of Prizren|