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Albania: Autonomous and provisional governments (1912-1914)

Last modified: 2018-07-21 by ivan sache
Keywords: albania |
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Autonomous Albania, 1912


Autonomist flag - Image by Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996 (reconstructed flag)

The struggle against the Ottomans increased in 1912 and the red flag with the black double-headed eagle flew in Priština. A few weeks later, the flag was seen all over Southern Albania. In May 1912 the Albanians took Uskub, and Turkey recognized the autonomy of Albania in June 1912. A white star was added to the flag, symbolizing that Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims shared the same sky. The star on the flag became popular.

Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

Ismail Qemal's provisional government, 1912


Flag of the provisional government - Image by Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

During the Balkanic wars (1912-1913), Serbia and Montenegro occupied northern and central Albania, whereas Greece occupied Epirus. The Albanian leader Ismail Qemal entered Durrës before the arrival of the Serbs and from there advanced on Vlorë, where a National Assembly representing all the regions of Albania (the valiats of Shkodra, Kosovo, Janina and Monastir) proclaimed the independence on 28 November 1912. A national flag was formally adopted on that day. The above image is a reconstruction, after Vexilloteca [vxt] by Mario Fabretto. The original image is from an illustration in the album Shqipëria e Illustruar from 1927.
The independence was not recognized by the great powers (France, United Kingdom, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia), which granted only autonomy (20 December 1912), later confirmed by the treaty of London signed with Turkey in May 1913. The autonomous government kept the flag, though part of the liberated territory was transferred to Serbia and Montenegro, thus ending the use of the flag in these areas.

Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

The Albanian Independence Monument was unveiled in 1972 in the centre of Vlorë. On a high irregular rock pillar stands a flag bearer, while below are depicted famous figures of the struggle for the independence of Albania, including Ismail Qemal. The monument is a joint work by the sculptors Kristaq Rama, Shaban Haderi and Muntaz Dhrami. In honour of the Day of Independence, the main square in Vlorë is called "The Flag Square" (Sheshi i Flamurit). The monument often appeared on post stamps during the Communist period.
A popular image of the independence proclamation shows the warlord Isa Boletin kissing the flag. Qemal is the white-haired and bearded man standing behind him. On this image, the flag is shown as the today's Albanian flag, which was indeed adopted in 1928.

Ivan Sache, 26 November 2008

Essad Pasha's provisional government, 1913


Essad Pasha's flag - Image by Jorge Candeias, 15 July 1996

On 19 July 1913, the powers (France, United Kingdom, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia) decided to recognize Albania as an independent state and to appoint a sovereign. Almost simultaneously, taking advantage of the Serbian and Montenegrin evacuation, the pro-Ottoman warlord Essad Pasha constituted a provisional government in Tirana, which used a red flag with a white star placed in the lower right corner.
In January 1914, Qemal transferred the power to an International Commission, while Essad also agreed to dissolve his government and to be incorporated into the government formed by the powers. Essad's flag became the national flag.

Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

Essad Pasha Toptani (1863-1920) supported the Young Turks' revolution in 1908 and was a member of the resulting Turkish parliament. In the First Balkan War, he could not keep Shkodra and surrenderred the city to the Montenegrins in 1913. He welcomed Prince Wilhelm of Wied but rapidly turned against him. Essad then governed Albania with the the support of Serbia and Italy until defeated in 1916 by the Austro-Hungarians. He exiled first in Italy with the Serbian troops, where he attempted to be recognized as the leader of the Albanian government in exile and then to Paris. While in France to represent his country at the Versailles Peace Conference, a hastily convened Albanian National Assembly composed mostly of his own supporters, proclaimed him as their King. He was assassinated by Averni Rustam in front of the Hotel Continental on 13 June 1920, while preparing to return to Albania for his inauguration.
In court, the murderer explained he had never met Essad before and that his only motive was to avenge the honour of the Albanian nation humiliated by Essad's dictature. He was acquitted.


Ivan Sache, 12 April 2006

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