Protocol of Corfu

Protocol of Corfu
Protocol of Corfu
Protocol of Corfu 1914.JPG
Signed 17 May 1914
Location Corfu, Greece
Signatories Albania Principality of Albania
Flag of Autonomous Epirus.jpg Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus

The Protocol of Corfu (Greek: Πρωτόκολλο της Κέρκυρας, Albanian: Protokolli i Korfuzit), signed on May 17, 1914, was an agreement between representatives of the Albanian Government and the Provisional Government of Northern Epirus, which officially recognized the area of Northern Epirus as an autonomous region within the Albanian state.[1] The protocol granted to the Greeks of the two southern districts of Albania which form Northern Epirus wider religious, educational, cultural and political autonomy. However the protocol’s terms were never implemented because of the politically unstable situation following the outbreak of World War I, and after the final cession of the region to Albania in 1921, it was totally ignored.



Georgios Christakis-Zografos, president of the Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus.

During the First Balkan War, the Greek Army defeated the Ottoman forces and pushed north through the region of Epirus, reaching a line from Himara in the Ionian coast to Prespa lake by February 1913. Pending the final abjudication of the Great Powers as to the new borders between Greece and the newly-established Albanian state, the region remained under Greek military occupation. On 17 December 1913 however, the Protocol of Florence ceded the northern part of this occupied area, which became known as "Northern Epirus", to Albania. This turn of events was highly unpopular among local Greeks, who decided to declare their independence and secure the region against any opposing threat.[2] The Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus was thus proclaimed in Argyrokastro (Gjirokastër) on February 28, 1914, while Georgios Christakis-Zografos, a distinguished Epirote politician from Lunxhëri, became the head of the Republic.[3]

Meanwhile, the Greek army evacuated the region, and on 1 May, Korçë was ceded to the newly formed Albanian Gendarmerie. Serious disturbances broke out in a number of places between the Autonomist forces and Albanian Gendarmerie and irregulars. An International Commission formed by the Great Powers to secure stability and peace in the region was unable to achieve an agreement between the two sides.


Soon however, to avoid direct confrontation, Prince William of Wied of Albania asked the International Commission to initiate negotiations. Under such circumstances, on May 6, Georgios Ch. Zografos received a communication from the Commission asking to proceed to negotiations and reach an agreement. These were carried out in the island of Corfu, where, on May 17, 1914, Albanian and Epirot representatives signed an agreement that it became known as the Protocol of Corfu.

The Protocol is prefaced by a signed agreement of the Commission[4]:

The International Commission of Control, in order to avoid the resumption of hostilities, believes it to be its duty to reconcile as much as possible the point of the Epirote populations with regard to the special disposition which they ask for, and that of the Albanian Government.
It is with this idea in mind that the Commission has agreed to submit to the Great Powers which it represents, as well as to the Albanian Government, the enclosed text, which is the result of discussions between the members of the Commission and the Epirote delegates.
—Corfu, May 17, 1914.


According to its terms, the two provinces of Korytsa and Argyrokastro that constituted Northern Epirus would become autonomous under Albanian sovereignty and under the auspices of Prince William of Wied – who, however, was granted no effective power whatever.[1]

The Albanian government had the right to appoint and dismiss governors and upper rank officials. Other terms included the proportional recruitment of natives into the local gendarmerie, and the prohibition of military levies from non-indigenous people of the regio. In Orthodox schools, the Greek language would be the sole medium of instruction, except for the three first classes. Greek was also made equal to Albanian in all public affairs.

As for the coastal area of Himara, the Ottoman-era privileges were renewed, and a foreigner was to be appointed as its "captain" for 10 years.[1] Moreover, the Protocol, stated that the city of Korçë which was under control of the Albanian gendarmerie has to came under automonist administration. The Great Powers would guarantee for the implementation of terms of the Protocol.

Approval and reactions

On June 1 the Great Power (including Italy and Austro-Hungary) approved the results of the negotiations and on June 23 the terms of the Protocol were officially approved by the Albanian Government.[5]

The Greek Government without being involved in the situation was aware of the negotiations and the possibility of a final agreement. Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, advised Georgios Christakis-Zografos to approve the protocol’s terms without asking for even wider form of autonomy.[6]

The Northern Epirote representatives in the following Panepirotic Assembly of Delvino had to take the final decision whether to accept this agreement or not. The Protocol was finally accepted; however the representatives of Himara found the terms too humiliating, arguing that the only viable solution would be union with Greece and not autonomy inside the Albanian state.[7]

Political situation and outbreak of World War I

Soon after the outbreak of World War I (July 1914), the situation in Albania became unstable and political chaos emerged. While the country became split into a number of regional governments, Prince William departed the country in September 1914. On 27 October, after approval from the Great Powers, the Greek army re-entered the area.[8] The provisional government formally ceased to exist, declaring that it had accomplished its objectives. The region was de facto annexed to Greece until 1915, when Italian troops evicted the Greek army from the area.

When peace was restored in Europe, the region was finally ceded to the Albanian state but contrary to the Protocol of Corfu, and the country’s commitment to the League of Nations (1921), the Greek minority didn’t acquire any form of local autonomy. As an eminent consequence Greek education was limited and for a time virtually eliminated (1935).


The Protocol of Corfu is often mentioned by Northern Epirote and human rights organizations when referring to the discrimination of the Greek minority in Albania and the possibility of asking about certain human and minority rights.[9] On the other hand, in the Albanian historiography this agreement is scarcely mentioned or its interpretation is often grounded on different positions.[10] Notably, during the 1960s, the Soviet General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev asked the communist leader of Albania Enver Hoxha about giving autonomy to the minority, but this initiative was without any result.[11]


  1. ^ a b c Miller (1966).
  2. ^ Douglas, Dakin (1962). "The Diplomacy of the Great Powers and the Balkan States, 1908–1914". Balkan Studies 3: 372–374. Retrieved 2010-11-09. 
  3. ^ Stickney.
  4. ^ Ruches (1965) pp. 90-96
  5. ^ Boeckh (1996): p. 116.
  6. ^ Documents officiels concertant l'Epire du Nord. 1912-1935. Athens 1935.
  7. ^ Historical Archive of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs (A.Y.E.). A-5ιγ no. 24141, G. Zographos to E. Venizelos. Ioannina 21 July 1914.
  8. ^ The Albanian Question in British Policy and the Italian Intervention, August 1914-April 1915 Nicola Guy "Greek troops crossed the southern Albanian border at the end of October 1914, officially reoccupying all of southern Albania, exclusive of Vlora, and establishing a military administration by 27 October 1914."
  9. ^ Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. Conference Report Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization International. Conference held in The Hague, The Netherlands January 22–23, 1993. p. 24
  10. ^ Contested Spaces and Negotiated Identities in Dhermi/Drimades of Himare/Himara area, Southern Albania. Nataša Gregorič Bon. Nova Gorica 2008.
  11. ^ Albania: From Anarchy to a Balkan Identity. Miranda Vickers, James Pettifer C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 1997 ISBN 1850652902, 9781850652908. P. 188-189.


Further reading

The full text of the Protocol:

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