Cevdet Pozhari: A Bulgarian-Albanian alliance is needed against the common enemy

Cevdet Pozhari is a well-known Kosovar publicist and analyst. For many years he has been working at Macedonian Television, TV Alsat-M and TV21. He is a former spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works and Director at the Ministry of Diaspora in Pristina. Pozhari, who is well versed in Balkan issues, is the creator of several news portals such as sakte.net and 24-ore.info, as well as the host of several popular journalism shows.

Historically, the Albanians have had the worst problems with the Serbs. The Serbian invasion of Vardar Macedonia and Kosovo made Bulgarians and Albanians look at each other as friends. After the Balkan Wars, Serbian politics was reduced to genocide of the Albanians and Serbization of the Bulgarians. In the period between the Balkans and the Second World War, Sofia became home to many Albanian immigrants. The good relations between the two nations must continue in the present to protect themselves from their sworn enemy, said Cevdet Pozhari for the Macedonian news portal Front Online.

In this world, everything changes, including the social order. Only this earthly sphere remains constant, which today we, who live in it, burden, and in which our ancestors lived and, as a continuation of us, descendants will live. The people who live next to each other and who have sometimes faced conflicts and disagreements, and sometimes mutual cooperation, for the sake of a better common future, are no different.

When we, the Albanians, talk about our situation on this peninsula and about our friendships and enmities with the neighbouring peoples, we cannot help but face the truth that in general on this peninsula we lived "alone" or in the vicinity of "enemies" and "friends" who wanted to use, and sometimes even abused, our position as a hermit who has neither "brothers" nor "cousins" in these spaces.

As for our enmities with the other peoples of these areas, they are mostly connected with the Serbian and Montenegrin people, who in stormy and turbulent times, like today, wanted to occupy and have occupied the Albanian lands. While with the Croatian and Bulgarian people, with whom our common enemy - the Serbian - often befriended, we had "friendships".

In this context, the relations of the Albanians with the other Balkan peoples in most cases depend on the ambition of the neighbors to absorb the Albanian lands. For example, the Serbian invasion of Kosovo and Vardar Macedonia in the fall of 1912 brought much suffering to the Albanians. And not only to them but also to the Bulgarians, which made these two peoples look at each other and see the possibilities of a common defence against the enemy, which was also common to them.

Meanwhile, from the Balkan Wars onwards, the Serbian program was very clear regarding its "natural" enemies: the Albanians were to be completely exterminated through genocide and emigration, and the Bulgarians were to be Serbized.

This danger, of a different type but with the same goal - their ethnic annihilation - encouraged Albanians and Bulgarians to see opportunities to support each other and together face the enemy, who had a specific project of their destruction through various methods and occupation on the Albanian and Bulgarian lands.

As for this cooperation, the activity of the Albanian colony in Sofia in the last decades of the 19th century should be highlighted, whose representatives played an extremely important role in all aspects of the Albanian national revival.

According to Bulgarian historians, after the Balkan Wars and before the Second World War, Sofia was attractive for Albanian emigration. There were also many patriots and Renaissance Albanians who acted unhindered for the cause of their people.

According to the official population census of 1926, the number of Albanian citizens of the Kingdom of Bulgaria was 1,536 men and 619 women, i.e. a total of 2155 people, the vast majority of whom live in the Bulgarian capital.

Meanwhile, always according to Bulgarian historians, in the 1930s. In the 20th century, together with temporary economic emigration, the total number of Albanians in Bulgaria was around 7,000-8,000 people.

The Albanians in Bulgaria were organized into two associations - "Deshira" and "Djerji Skenderbeu", where they had a rich cultural and national life. Delegations of these organizations visited Albania almost every year and held meetings with King Zog, ministers and prominent public figures.

It is assumed that what strengthened the relations of a local people with neighbouring peoples was determined by the fact that its ethnic part remained outside the borders of the mother state, and the ethnic part of others remained within the borders of, for example, Albania.

Even in the matter of others in our country and neighbouring countries, the Albanians have had the worst problems with the Serbs, who have always been guided by the belief that Serbia extends to where there is even a single Serbian grave. So they are guided by the belief that the earth belongs to the dead, not the living.

Unlike Serbian leaders, these Bulgarians since the post-Balkan wars have tried to ensure that ethnic minorities are bridges of rapprochement, not high walls that prevent you from seeing your neighbor. Therefore, on January 9, 1932, in Sofia, the delegations of Bulgaria and Albania agreed to draw up a summary protocol in which the issues of minorities would be considered.

However, the commitments set out in this protocol were not implemented for various reasons, mainly due to Yugoslav and Greek pressure on the government in Tirana. This pressure is the result of the Yugoslav-Greek policy of suppressing minorities and not allowing any initiative to regulate them at any international level, even bilaterally.

On the Yugoslav and Greek sides before World War II, opening up the question of minorities in the Balkans was seen as something that harmed their national interests, which interests were mainly based on the expulsion or assimilation of other ethnic groups.

Meanwhile, the truth must be told, which is emphasized by many Bulgarian historians: Bulgaria and Albania in the 20s and 30s of the 20th century had many internal problems. Therefore, they have not been able to do anything more for themselves and for bilateral relations. And when to this is added the Greek-Serbian efforts to prevent any cooperation between the Albanians and other neighboring nations, for example with the Bulgarians, then everything takes on the dimensions of Balkan games.

With the examples of how the Albanians experienced their loneliness in the Balkans, one could continue ad infinitum. One truth becomes clear: that we also need others, but they also need us. But above all, we must understand that we must be able to maintain friendly relations with neighbouring nations with whom we share the same interests, the main of which is to protect ourselves from the hostility of our sworn enemies, at all times. /BGNES