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The attitude of the Albanian delegation to the Peace Conference 1919-1920




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1.Introduction

European policy had created the view that the Albanians were unable to govern themselves, which seemed more as a result of its various interests.

Under these circumstances the status of Albania was a very difficult problem to solve. This sharp issue of government control could not be avoided nor the delegation of Durres Government.

He called the care establishment of power as an opportunity to enable the rescue of Albania by a curtailing of land for the benefit of the neighboring states. This constituted the meaning of note that the delegation led to the chairman of peace conference, Klemanso, on April 14-th in 1919.

Mehmet Konica, Mihal Turtulli e Midhat Frashëri, in this memorandum express themselves that Italy,

  1. Is asking its establishment in Albania,
  2. «I will return against to her the wish to cause hatred of races that will arise threatened by her ambition.”.
  3. According to them, politically, it would be a foreign one and Balkan nations would expel it by violence from their lands.
  4. They predicted the possibility of an imminent threat, taking into account the Balkans nationalities, and under these conditions they recommended the options to eliminate possible risks.

On the first point they recommended that the Great Powers should confirm the independence of Albania, which will enable Albanians to change opinion on the old policies of Europe.Therefore, to Albania it should apply sacred principle of the nationality, «as to Poland, Alsace and Lorraine, as shown by official statements allied and the associated powers” Politically, the Great Powers had to make a qualitative step through «cancellation of the provisions in the Treaty of London in 1915, dealing with Albania”.

They demanded by European policies to ratify the borders between Albania and the countries of the Balkans in accordance with ethnic principles.

It expressed the Albanian national aspirations. But in the concrete conditions in which Albania was, it seemed to be rather a simple political idea, and more should be conceived as a tactical application than a real and resolvable idea. But what best expresses the idea of their political group, on the status of Albania, was the fifth point.

  1. They felt that the leadership of Albania in its first step formation, would be entrusted to a power state, which would be able to surround with an atmosphere of sympathy and kindness in order not to » cause the distrust of the Balkan peoples».

In note were reaffirmed the requirements of the Albanian people for a free and independent life with all possible prerogatives of a sovereign state and lord of his own political fate. It was clearly posed a concern for a new curtailing to Albania threatened by those who regarded Albania as a «small new Turkey in Europe». This was not just propaganda effect, but essentially this formula was used to mask the desires of the States concerned to the detriment of the integrity of Albania.

  1. The Albanian Status of the country will be safer in terms of stewardship from a benevolent power state which would not incite jealousy Balkans.

This document, which have referred, constitutes a material which presses us even more to justify that:

  1. This trend was of the opinion that the future of Albania would be safer with the submitters of a great power, which may be the US. As well, were given guarantees that the Albanian recovering state would be a progressive state based on the principles of freedom and equality for all without distinction of region and religion.This would also be a guarantee for minorities, which would remain within the borders of this country, however «facing charges and insinuations opponents». Albanian were ready to make a concession, expressing readiness – was said in the note of the Albanian delegation, — to accept at a certain time the benevolent assistance of one of the Great Powers allies, which will help Albania in its first steps on the path of progress.

2.The reasons of their  omission

The reasons were as follows:

Firstly, that the Albanians express their wish for choosing the Power caretaker.

Secondly, to respect the sovereignty of an independent Albanian state, and this is expressed by internal autonomy, not excluded from abroad representation. But this was nonsense, because the mandate was a limitation of sovereignty, both within the country and beyond the political borders.

As third condition, was put the prohibition of any systematic colonization and organized one coming from abroad, in order to prevent turning the country into a colony in the center of Europe.

This political attitude was related to interests around Albania, which can deepen the national crisis. First in this respect, the neighboring propaganda, which was closely following the political situation, on 29 June 1920,draw the attention that Albania was in a state of anarchy. There, according to her, there was civil war between the one and the other party, between one region and another. «Albania is threatened by neighboring peoples who want to conquer each of them any part of it.”.

According to the Italian parliamentary interpretations, Albania was unable to maintain the state to concretize the issue of Vlora.

Albania, according to them, have no ships, no boats, it was unable to defend the independence of the city and the port, «so we — emphasized Giolotti in parliament —  we can not leave Vlora without the assurance in order not to be invaded by any other power, which would use  Vlora against us.  So, occupying Vlora, we guarantee Albania no permanent occupation by any other power State”

Konica thought that the situation in Albania was not as they had presented to Giolotti: «Only a few weeks ago some foreign agents were trying to cause turmoil, the lbanian Government knew how to extinguish these unnatural situations, in the bud».

And further explained that Albania did not have provincial struggle «and policies of the new royal government that Your Excellency lead us,makes us to hope that in the end will be respected the full independence and the integrity of Albania land. «

These were some arguments that political group of Konica brought to explain the conservatorship of a great power and compassion, so that the existence of this power in Albania not to encourage the ambition among various political forces in Albania, but also in international plan relations of Albanian state.

It remained to be determined which will be the power that will take custody of Albania. It was officially presented by the Treaty of London of 1915, as the only candidates was that of Italy. This was the idea that prevailed during the debate in the Commission. for choosing Power caretaker, the memorandum of 14-th April in 1919 required to be taken into account the opinion of Albania.

But it turns out that this was never considered among the circles of Paris in Peace Conference. Furthermore it should be noted that this was one of the topics that have sparked debate as to European political opinion, as well as within the delegation. The result appeared in  two streams, one in favor of Italy, and the second in favor of the US.

While other currents, consisting of Louis Bumçi, Mustafa Kruja, Turhan Pasha LIBOHOVA Mehdi Myfit Frashëri were demanding:

  1. Albania of 1913, in the way it was determined at the London Conference and Florence. Seeing in this plan Albania
  2. they accept the assistance of the Italian state,but this assistance should not be of the nature of «violation of the sovereignty of the Albanian State”.

This flowed from the reason that the Albanians were not politically mature and,   therefore, they went even further, thinking that they should not disrupt the politic with Italy.

They supported this view with the decision that they took in their permanent meetings which were developing in Paris.

Thus, on 24-th May 1919 in Paris, he was admitted an Italian Prince from the house of Savoy for the throne of Albania.

This political initiative would not be effective if there will be accompanied by their commitment as political power «to create preferences and conditions to Italian companies in all economic and financial concessions in Albania”.

This political stream had made concessions in favor of Italian politics influenced by critical conditions of Albania in order to guarantee the territorial integrity of Albania. This political group had to approve the right of military occupation of strategic places of Vlora like Sazan Island and Zvërnec. But, on the other hand, they did not compromise with the international Treaty of London of 1915, stating in particular that: «We can not recognize the possession of Vlora to Italy under any international agreement.»

In order to process the status of Albania, they were shown the «brave», enabling Italy to establish a military naval base in the harbor of Pasha, in the eastern part of the peninsula of Karaburun. But it is impressive the fact that  in the end of processing  the issue that we are considering, they were preoccupied about  the right of sovereignty over the territory of Vlora, which must remain intact in terms of civil, administrative, financial and judiciary system: Vlora must «remain under the Albanian governing.»

This political group wanted Albania of 1913 to be under the protection of Italy and to argue this, in this study it is being referred to the letter of Turhan Pashë Përmetit sent to Baron Soninos, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, joined to the military forces of Serbia that were sent in Dibër, Lumë, Has who had the task to organize a civil administration. Residents of these areas living in the borders of Albania that were created by the London Conference of 1913 were against civil authorities appointed by Serbian military forces. But seeing «the rage» that existed against this unfair possession which could lead to dangerous situation, he believed that the Royal Government of Italy should intervene «in order to replace Serbian troops with Italian troops, which have (enjoyed) the full trust of the Albanians. For this purpose, I give my support to the most urgent possession of these regions from the Italian Royal troops «.

At the same time members of the delegation observed with a special attention  the work of the commissions at the Peace Conference, judging that the Great Powers were more interested in neighboring countries than the existence of Albanian territories. This is evidenced better in some records kept by Turhan Pasha in March 1919 in Paris, in which he  analysed the committee that had considered several Greek issues , on February 27, 1919. He had created the impression that the delegates of the Great Powers proceeded with a great haste, which favored the  Greek interests in the southern part of Albania and consequently the contraction of Albanian territories.

The arguments opposing this trend had historic, ethnic and linguistic character. But these were apparently not enough to convince the peacemakers. For this reason they thought of organizing a plebiscite to express the political will of the provinces, to give a right to the US government,  «to administer for a two-year period  the required territories, which were occupied by the Greeks, and the territories in the north-west of the state occupied by Montenegro and Serbs «.  Here it is discussed for those provinces which could not be controlled by the Albanian state, not only from the failure, but also from the fact that a considerable part of the Albanian population exposed to massacre and fire had been dislocated. This was one of the most barbaric acts and decision against Albania taken from the Great Powers.

3.Political views of different Albanian politiciens

Luigj Bumçi stated that:’’ Albania was created politically in 1913 and  as an independent and neutral state has  a ‘won right’ and «could not see it right,» so it can not allow that her independence and integrity is exterminated in the most cruelty way.  From his point of view, he thought that protesting against even Italian policies was the right thing to do. In January 1920 he declared: «Italy has no legitimate right over Vlora and its territory. Greece and Yugoslavia would not be allowed to act against the small and weak Albania. They do not have any rights over the other parts of Albanian territory «.

The status defined by the European Great Powers of the political treaty of 1913, would be preserved if the  Article 22 of the Treaty of Versailles would be respected, which prevented the  interference in the internal affairs of Albania by the interested powers. Thus it was possible to avoid a Balkan conflict, because Albania was a junction in terms of geographical but even in political interests. Thus, such interference in the affairs of Albania would enable the fragmentation and loss of independence, but on the other hand, it would provoke confusion all over the Balkans.

Political view of Turhan Pasha, was the same as the memorandum of 14 April, directed towards Italy, although was out of question the desire of Albania itself. This was discussed all over Albania press of the time and positions were stated clearly. On the same day that Turhan Pasha sent the memorandum to the chairman of the Peace Conference, a group within the delegation was opposed contrary to Italy and sent a special letter to Turhan. The letter was signed by both Turtulli and Konica and was written with a critical tone. It was noted that the delegation was not performing the mission entrusted by the Congress of Durrës, while it was not explicitly expressed for «emptying Vlora» from Italy. Italy was seeking desperately Vlora and its surroundings and this created the possibility of other land and termination of the existence of the union of Albanian territories.  Therefore, in these conditions, they wanted the delegation to protest against Italian tendencies of taking Vlora, as it was clearly stated that in such purpose Italy has to abdicate the right to be the protector of Albania.

Mehmet Konica and Turtulli as signatories of the letter were distanced from the other pro – Italian group that was led by Turhan Pasha and declared that they would protect the interests of Albania in the name of the mission entrusted by Albanian people. This thesis was supported even through a letter that Midhat Frashëri sent to Luigj Gurakuqi on 22 March 1919 , where among other things he wrote that he was against the Italian protectorate, otherwise Albanians would be called Italian political instruments of that  Italy that had signed the London Treaty «. This political movement had not remained isolated. They had contacts with many Albanian groups of  who worked intensively for the Albanian cause, but especially Mehmet Konica and Turtulli had stronger ties with Albanians in America and by supporting them, they came up with the argument that if Albania would be placed under «international trusteeship»  that would be USA. This was applauded even from different Albanian groups that sent a note to the Presidency of the Paris Peace Conference.

Discussions and debates continued even later, but the thesis in favor of Italy had gained more ground, perhaps because it was closest to Albania than USA. This was followed by new questions to the Italian government, especially in the last week of May and early June of 1919. But the basis for this motion was the letter of Turhan Pasha, through which it was, announced the decision of Durres government to recognize «strategic interests» of Italy in Albania to have some military bases near Vlore as Sazan Island, Karaburun and Zvernec. This proposal was presented on 28 May 1919 to the Italian delegate at the Peace Conference, A. De Martino. But at meantime countries of Conference in Paris were continuing their discussions regarding the concept of the mandate as a form of control that the Great Powers of Europe would have upon former colonies in Africa. Of course it was not accepted the idea that Albania be put on the same position as former African colonies. As a response a note was sent to the Presidency of the Peace Conference on June 1, 1919, through which it was opposed the issue of Vlora to be left to Italy.

4.Conclusions
Albanian delegation in Paris was of the idea that Albania would accept only a guard protector to help Albania towards independence. This idea was created after analyzing political European groups which operated actively in Europe. Albanian delegates wanted to show to Europe that Albanian intellectuals were able to create an independent state and could take actively part in foreign political affairs not just in Europe but over the boundaries as well.

Literature

AMPJ,  Letter of M. Konica, M. Turtulli, M. Frashëri, sent to president of Pace Conference in Paris. file no. 10,  April 1919, pp, 150, doc. 739, copy (French).

AMPJ. Dosja nr. 4, Paris, 24 May 1919, p. 23

Puto, A. Diplomatic history of the Albanian question 1878-1929,  Tirana, Albin 2003, p. 304. Macmilan, M. “ Paris 1919” Tiranë, Plejada 2006, p.123

Dako, K. AQSH, dosja nr. 7, Paris 15 janar 1920, f. 8. Letër e Luigj Bumçit drejtuar Klemansosë, Kryetar i Konferencës së Paqes.

The attitude of the Albanian delegation to the Peace Conference 1919-1920
The attitude of Albanian official delegation in Paris, was one of the most important moment of the history of Albania. It expressed the fact that the Albanian political class understood the interests of the European Great Powers emerged from The First World War as winners and so they had to follow a new policy. In Albania there were two political groups who had different attitudes towards the policy Albania had to follow with the European countries. The aim of this article is to present these trends.
Written by: Lavdosh Ahmetaj
Published by: БАСАРАНОВИЧ ЕКАТЕРИНА
Date Published: 01/19/2017
Edition: ЕВРАЗИЙСКИЙ СОЮЗ УЧЕНЫХ_28.11.15_11(20)
Available in: Ebook