Bulgarians in Albania

Bulgarians in Albania

Bulgarians in Albania are ethnic Bulgarians living in nowadays Albania and most particularly in Mala Prespa and Golo Bardo. In the 1989 census a total of 782 people claimed either Romanian, Bulgarian or Czechoslovakian Nationality. State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad states that about 40,000 to 50,000 persons with Bulgarian origin are living in Albania [cite web
title=Bulgarians in Albania
] , but another Bulgarian source estimate their number to 100,000.INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR MINORITY STUDIES AND INTERCULTURAL RELATIONS (IMIR)ALBANIA:LANDMARKS OF TRANSITION Valeri Grigorov p.18] There is lack of stable ethnic consciousness of this population who easily change their allegiance to either Bulgarian or Macedonian depending on the benefits expected.


The first reference to a Slavic presence in Albania dates to 548, when the Slavs reached Epidamnos (Durrës), capturing many fortresses in the vicinity. They proceeded to settle in south Albania, particularly Epirus and around Durrës, from the 570s to the 9th century. According to a note in a 10th-century transcript of Strabo's "Geographica", "Scythians-Slavs inhabit the entirety of Epirus". An addition to the Middle Bulgarian translation of the Manasses Chronicle notes that the "Bulgarians filled the lands of Drach (Durrës) and beyond". [Гюзелев, "Албанци…", pp. 12-13.]

According to toponymic evidence, the mass Slavic colonization of these lands was between the Vjosë and the Devoll Rivers. The Slavic placenames in this region indicate an eastern South Slavic (i.e. Bulgarian, as opposed to Serbo-Croatian) dialect. [Гюзелев, "Албанци…", pp. 15-16.] Those Bulgarian Slavs were the majority of the population in the area at least in the Early Middle Ages, but they were still a sizable population of middle and south Albania by the 15th century. [cite journal|last=Заимов|first=Й|title=Болгарские географические названия в Албании XV века|journal=Studia balcanica|pages=pp. 179-180|language=Russian] In the 950s and 960s, Simeon I's First Bulgarian Empire included the Slavic-inhabited areas of what is today western Macedonia and south Albania to its possessions, forming the Kutmichevitsa administrative province. This Bulgarian province included the cities of Ohrid, Glavinitsa (Ballsh), Belgrad (Berat) and Devoll (at the village of Zvezdë). The Bulgarian enlighteners Clement of Ohrid and Naum of Preslav are known to have worked in Kutmichevitsa, where Clement had 3,500 students according to the 11th-century account of Theophylact of Bulgaria. Clement and Naum's activity, as well as the consolidation of Bulgarian religious and state authority, helped establish the Bulgarian identity of that Slavic population. [Гюзелев, "Албанци…", pp. 19-21.]

Much of Albania was under the rule of Samuel of Bulgaria from 989-995 to 1005, when it was reconquered by the Byzantine Empire; during Samuel's rule, those lands were governed by Ivan Vladimir, his vassal and husband of his daughter Kosara. [Гюзелев, "Албанци…", p. 24.] During the Byzantine rule, a Bulgarian leader by the name of Tihomir headed an uprising against the Byzantines near Drach; he was supported but then killed by another insurgent Peter Delyan, who proceeded to head the uprising and briefly rule much of Albania, Macedonia, Serbia and western Bulgaria. [Гюзелев, "Албанци…", pp. 25-26.] In 1078, it was noted that the usurper Nikephoros Vassilaki, recruited an army from the localities around Drach, which consisted of "Franks [that came from Italy] , Bulgarians, Romans [Byzantine Greeks] and Arvanites [Albanians] "; this is the first ever reference to the Albanians in a medieval source. [Гюзелев, "Албанци…", pp. 26-27.]

The area was once again under Bulgarian control between 1231 and 1240, under Ivan Asen II, who "routed the Greek army … and conquered the entire Greek, Albanian and Serbian land from Odrin [Edirne] to Drach." [cite book|last=Malingousid|first=P|title=Die mittelalterlichen kyrillischen Inschriften der Haemus-Halbinsel. Teil I. Die bulgarischen Inschriften|location=Thessaloniki|date=1979|pages=pp. 53-59|language=German] John Kukuzelis, a famous medieval composer of Bulgarian descent, was born in the city in the late 13th century. [cite web |publisher=Orthodox America |url=http://www.roca.org/OA/104/104g.htm |title=St. John Kukuzelis |accessdate=2008-09-16 ] During the Angevin period of Albanian history (1250-1350), the Slavic population was mainly present in the cities and villages near the sea, along the Drin River and in the vicinity of Lake Ohrid. In the late 14th century, Venetian records note a number of Bulgarians ("de genere Bulgarorum") from south Albania being sold as slaves, indicating the Albanians may have subjugated the Slavic population, which ultimately led to its extermination, migration and assimilation. [Гюзелев, "Албанци…", pp. 47-48.]

In 1878, the Slavic-inhabited regions of Mala Prespa and Golo Bardo were ceded to Bulgaria according to the Treaty of San Stefano [cite book|last=Гюзелев|first=Васил|title=Българската държавностmdash в актове и документи|publisher=Наука и изкуство|location=София|date=1981|pages=pp. 193-202|chapter=Санстефански мирен договор, сключен между Русия и Турция на 19 февруари/3 март 1878 г. |oclc=164617231|accessdate=2008-09-16|language=Bulgarian|chapterurl=http://www.omda.bg/bulg/hystory/San_stefano.htm|quote=By going south along the Drin River and thereafter along the western border of the "kaza" of Ohrid towards the Lina mountain, the border will follow the western borders of the "kazas" of Korçë and Starova up to the Gramos mountain] and were under the jurisdiction of the Bulgarian Exarchate. [cite news|url=http://www.segabg.com/online/article.asp?issueid=3012&sectionid=5&id=0001101|title=Докато се бием в гърдите, българските старини изчезват|last=Русева|first=Ралица|date=2008-06-28|publisher=Сега|language=Bulgarian|accessdate=2008-09-16|quote=This is the Saint Nicholas Church in the village of Ginevets in "Golo Bardo", which was erected "by the Bulgarian Exarchate" in 1911 and is probably the westernmost preserved church "in the Exarchate".] In the 1930s the orthodox Slavs living in Albania were regarded as Bulgarians by the local Albanian population. [cite book
last =Poulton
first =Hugh
title =Who Are the Macedonians?
publisher =C. Hurst & Co. Publishers
date =2000
pages =79
isbn =1850655340
] The new Albanian state did not attempt to assimilate this minority or to forcibly change the names of local towns and villages. During the second Balkan Conference in 1932 the Bulgarian and Albanian delegations signed a Protocol about the recognition of the ethnic Bulgarian minority in Albania. [Ташев 1994: 141-162 стр.]

After the Second World War, the creation of People's Republic of Macedonia and the policy of the new Communist states about the founding of Balkan Federative Republic changed the situation and an ethnic Macedonian minority [http://www.southeasteurope.org/documents/0009albminorities.pdf On the status of minorities in the Republic of Albania] , Albanian Helsinki Committee with the support of the Finnish Foundation ‘KIOS’ and “Finnish NGOFoundation for Human Rights”] ["Finally, Albania recognizes a Greek and a Macedonian minority" - [http://www.greekhelsinki.gr/bhr/english/organizations/ghm/ghm_14_05_01.doc Partly or Fully Unrecognized National Minorities: Statement to the UN Working Group on Minorities, 7th session, Geneva, 14-18 May 2001] , Greek Helsinki Committee] was officially recognized. Schools and radio stations in Macedonian were founded in the area.

Recognition of the minority

Albania denies the existence of a Bulgarian minority in the Mala Prespa and Golo Bardo and Gora regionsFact|date=August 2008. Other officially recognised Slavs in Albania include Macedonians, Montenegrins and the Gorani people. The Bulgarian government and some of the people in the regions in question claim that a Bulgarian minority does exist. [Българите в Албания [http://www.omda.bg/BULG/news/Bulgaria%20news/Bulgaria_Albania.htm] bg icon] The CIA World Factbook also supports the existence of the minority based on a 1989 estimate. [ [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/al.html Albania (see Demographic section)] - CIA World Factbook] In the 1989 Albania census a total of 782 people claimed either Romanian, Czechoslovakian or Bulgarian nationality. [ [http://www.osce.org/publications/hcnm/2004/10/10605_14_en.pdf Albanian census results] ]

In 1998 Paskal Milo, the then-foreign minister of Albania, gave the following answer to the minority puzzle: "After World War II, we know this minority is Macedonian. I’d rather not elaborate on why we chose this way, but the Communist regime made this decision and it’s difficult for us now to change that." ["The Balkans" magazine, 18 ed., 2001, p.5-7 Ibid] Recent official reports from Albania have not stated that any people have identified as Bulgarian in the last census. The Albanian statistics institute [http://www.instat.gov.al/ INSTAT] denies the existence of a Bulgarian minority in Albania. (source: [http://www.makfax.com.mk/look/novina/article.tpl?IdLanguage=10&IdPublication=2&NrArticle=83165&NrIssue=454&NrSection=20 Makfax Agency] ) mk icon] This often led to protests from the Bulgarian Parliament. [http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/features/setimes/newsbriefs/2002/03/020307-GEORGI-008 Bulgarian Parliament Speaker Demands Albania Recognise Bulgarian Minority] - Southeast European Times] Arben Xhaferi, the president of the Democratic Party of Albanians in Republic of Macedonia stated in an interview for Albanian newspaper "Sheculi" in 2006 that in his opinion the Slavic-speaking inhabitants of Mala Prespa and Golo Brdo are Bulgarians, he is known for referring to ethnic Macedonians as Bulgarians. [Утрински весник Број 1402 понеделник, 16 октомври 2006. Џафери тврди дека Македонците во Голо Брдо се измислица ВИКТОР ЦВЕТАНОСКИ [http://star.utrinski.com.mk/default.aspx?pBroj=1402&stID=8309&pR=3] mk icon] There exist two organisations of the Bulgarians in Albania: "Prosperitet — Golo Brdo" [cite web
] and the cultural association "Ivan Vazov" in Mala Prespa. [cite web
title=Osservatorio sui Balcani — Albania: le minoranze contese
] More than 800 Albanian citizens of Bulgarian descent have acquired Bulgarian passports on the grounds of having Bulgarian origin. [cite web
title=ALBANIA: Over 800 Albanians Acquire Bulgarian Passports | seeurope.net

References and notes


External links

* [http://www.bulgarivalbania.info Website of the Bulgarian associations in Albania]
* [http://albania-bulgaria.blogspot.com Bulgarians in Albania website] bg icon en icon
* [http://www.vmro-rousse.hit.bg/bulgarite_po_sveta/Albania2.html Bulgarians in Albania] page on the IMRO Rousse website bg icon

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