||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, and spelling. (September 2014)|
"Atdheu mbi te gjitha"
"Homeland above all"
Himni i Flamurit
Hymn to the Flag
|-||Lower Chamber||Chamber of Deputies|
|Historical era||Interwar period|
|-||Constitution adopted||31 January 1925|
|-||Monarchy proclaimed||1 September 1928|
|a.||Also served as Prime Minister.|
Part of a series on the
|History of Albania|
The Albanian Republic (Albanian: Republika Shqiptare) was the official name of Albania as enshrined in the Constitution of 1925. Albania became a de facto protectorate of the Kingdom of Italy after the signing of the Treaties of Tirana of 1926 and 1927. Albania was later declared a constitutional monarchy in 1928. Upon its inception, the republic was strongly influenced by Italy which demanded in 1925 that the two states be allied. This was done largely to increase Italy's influence in the Balkans but also aided both Italian and Albanian security of their interests against Greece and Yugoslavia, with which both countries had territorial feuds.
Abolishing the Principality
After defeating Fan Noli's government, Ahmet Zogu recalled the parliament, in order to find a solution for the uncrowned principality of Albania. The parliament quickly adopted a new constitution, proclaimed Albania a republic, and granted Zogu dictatorial powers that allowed him to appoint and dismiss ministers, veto legislation, name all major administrative personnel, and a third of the Senate.
The new constitution provided for a parliamentary republic with a powerful president serving as head of state and government. On January 31, 1925, Ahmet Zogu was elected president for a term of seven years by the National Assembly, prior to his proclamation as King of Albanians. Zogu maintained good relations with Benito Mussolini's fascist regime in Italy and supported Italy's foreign policy. He would be the only Albanian to hold the title of president until 1991.
The Zog regime was marked by curbed freedoms and an ever-tightening grip on power: opposition parties and civil liberties disappeared, opponents of the regime were murdered, and the press suffered strict censorship. Zogu ruled Albania using four military governors responsible to him alone. He appointed clan chieftains as reserve army officers who were kept on call to protect the regime against domestic or foreign threats.
Economy and Social Conditions
In early 1925, a series of reforms were begun, focusing on the economy, but results were mixed. Some of the reforms were organizing private initiatives in industry, construction and transportation. That same year, the first coin of Albania (Albanian Gold Franga) was minted. Foreign capital was introduced, as a part of official policy of the government of Zog I, but the aim of regime was actually to strengthen personal power and to enrich his supporters. The foreign capital, loans and other forms, was used as a tool to provide income for the regime, which was later used for overcoming economic crises.
At this time they were created 14 new societies. Their initial capital was 7.6 million gold francs, about 28% more than the capital of the societies in the period 1921-1924. In 1928, the number of enterprises reached 127, and domestic capital was 6 times greater than in 1927. The economy began to stabilize.
In 1925 the Albanian National Bank was created, which was awarded concessions to Italian investors. In the same year it was established, the SVEA society (Society for the Economic Development of Albania) was established, which would help facilitate a loan to Albania worth 50 million gold francs. In 1927, the loan was estimated at 65 million gold francs. Annual interest for this 40 year loan was 7.5%. Repayment amounts consisted of 30-40% of the entire country's income. Under these conditions Italy gained a very strong position in Albania. In this bank, the Albanian state had 49% share, while Italy 51%. During the 1925-1928 period, the Albanian government also significantly increased its costs.
In 1925, agreements between Albanian financial agencies (such as SVEA) and Italian financial groups, financed 96.4% of the road building projects in Albania. These loans were not just for the country's immediate economic needs, but to create conditions for further penetration of foreign capital into the country. To increase the pace of building roads, government departmental responsibilities were also shuffled.
In 1928, fiefdoms occupied an area of 200,000 hectares (100,000 were private fiefdoms). Berat was the city with the largest amount of fiefdoms, with about 36,000.
Infrastructure was deplorable. Roads served only for the passage of lighter vehicles, and poorly maintained bridges hampered car transport. After the First World War in Albania,lorries could barely move at walking speed, around 20–25 km/h. In 1926, the number of vehicles reached 150. Maritime transport was primarily conducted by foreign companies. Mail air transport was operated by Italians. Trade was the main areas of the economy, and during this time, circulation of goods grew. Raw materials and livestock were the main exports.
Many Italian, English, French and American companies began to do business in the Albanian market, and they were helped by trade agreements or through direct investment. Examples of agencies involved in trade were: SISMA society (Societa Italiana Sfrutamento Miniere Tanzania); SEIA Society (sociate Electrica Italo-Albanese); ALBA society (Azienda LAVORI Boschi Tanzania); EIAA society (Ente Italiano Attivita Agraria); SESA society (responsible for wiring electricity to 7 cities in Albania); Anglo-Persian society (petroleum); Standard Oil Company; Franco-Albanian union (kerosene); and German society INAG (timber). During the period 1925-1926, 23% of Albanian territory was included in concessions granted by the governments of King Zog, to allow foreign capital investment from other governments. All this gave bolstered to the country's economy, which introduced some modest developments, in the period 1925-1928.
Another aspect that Italy's position was strengthened Maritime Trade Treaty, which gave the state the status of "most favored nation". This legalized the Italian monopoly on foreign trade.
In return for aiding Zogu's invasion, Belgrade expected repayment in the forms of territory and influence in Tirana. It is certain that Zogu promised Belgrade frontier concessions before the invasion, but once in power, the Albanian leader continued to press Albania's own territorial claims. On July 30, 1925, the two nations signed an agreement returning the monastery of Saint Naum on Lake Ohrid, and other disputed borderlands, to Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia, however, never reaped the dividends it hoped for when it invested in Zogu. He shunned Belgrade and turned Albania toward Italy for protection.
Italian advocates of territorial expansion in Albania gained strength in October 1922 when Benito Mussolini took power in Rome. His fascist supporters undertook an unabashed program aimed at establishing a new Roman empire in the Mediterranean region that would rival Britain and France. Mussolini saw Albania as a foothold in the Balkans, and after the war the Great Powers in effect recognized an Italian protectorate over Albania.
In May 1925, Italy began a penetration into Albania's national life that would culminate fourteen years later in its occupation and annexation of Albania. The first major step was an agreement between Rome and Tirana that allowed Italy to exploit Albania's mineral resources. Soon, Albania's parliament agreed to allow the Italians to found the Albanian National Bank, which acted as the Albanian treasury even though its main office was in Rome and Italian banks effectively controlled it. The Albanians also awarded Italian shipping companies a monopoly on freight and passenger transport to and from Albania.
In late 1925, the Italian-backed Society for the Economic Development of Albania began to lend the Albanian government funds at high interest rates for transportation, agriculture, and public-works projects, including Zogu's palace. In the end, the loans turned out to be subsidies. In mid-1926, Italy set to work to extend its political influence in Albania, asking Tirana to recognize Rome's special interest in Albania and accept Italian instructors in the army and police. Zogu resisted until an uprising in the northern mountains pressured the Albanian leader to conclude the First Treaty of Tirana with the Italians on November 27, 1926. In the treaty, both states agreed not to conclude any agreements with any other states prejudicial to their mutual interests. The agreement, in effect, guaranteed Zogu's political position in Albania, as well as the country's boundaries.
In November 1927, Albania and Italy entered into a defensive alliance, the Second Treaty of Tirana, which brought an Italian general and about forty officers to train the Albanian army. Italian military experts soon began instructing paramilitary youth groups. Tirana also allowed the Italian navy access to the port of Vlorë, and the Albanians received large deliveries of armaments from Italy.
- Aristotle A. Kallis. Fascist ideology: territory and expansionism in Italy and Germany, 1922-1945. London, England, UK: Routledge, 2000. Pp. 132.
- Zara S. Steiner. The lights that failed: European international history, 1919-1933. Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University Press, 2005. Pp. 499.
- Roy Palmer Domenico. Remaking Italy in the twentieth century. Lanham, Maryland, USA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002. Pp. 74.
- Roselli, Alessandro (2006). Italy and Albania: Financial Relations in the Fascist Period. I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd. p. 41. ISBN 978 1 84511 254 7.
- History of [the?] Albanian People, Albanian Academy of Science. ISBN 99927-1-623-1.