Bulgarians in Albania
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Ethnic Bulgarians in present-day Albania live mostly in the areas of Mala Prespa and Golo Brdo. In the 1989 census, a total of 782 people claimed either Romanian, Bulgarian, or Czechoslovakian nationality. The US Department of State background note for Albania, dated 4 January 2011, further reported that the population is composed of various ethnic groups including Bulgarians. The Encyclopaedia of the Nations in its section on Albania's ethnic groups, undated, has also included Bulgarians. The CIA World Factbook 2011 has also counted Bulgarians in Albania. The State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad states that about 40,000 to 50,000 persons of Bulgarian origin are living in Albania, but another Bulgarian source estimates their number at about 100,000. Most Slavic speakers in Albania were converted to Islam during the centuries when the Ottoman Empire ruled the Balkans. There is also a lack of stable ethnic consciousness of this population who easily change their allegiance from Albanian to either Bulgarian or ethnic 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". In addition, the Middle Bulgarian translation of the Manasses Chronicle notes that the "Bulgarians filled the lands of Drach (Durrës) and beyond".
On the other hand, the prominent archaeologist from Republic of Macedonia, Ivan Mikulchik, revealed the presence of a Bulgar archaeological culture not only throughout Macedonia, but also in eastern Albania. He describes the traces of Bulgars in this region, which consist of typical fortresses, burials, various products of metallurgy and pottery (including treasure with supposed Bulgar origin or ownership), lead seals minted with the image of Khan Kuber, amulets, etc. However, it is possible that this could represent traces of Avar presence. The Avar material culture, known to have raided as far south as Macedonia, was very similar to the Bulgars.
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. 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. In the 850s and 860s, 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.
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. 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. 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 (i.e. Byzantine Greeks) and Arvanites (i.e. Albanians)"; this is the first ever reference to the Albanians in a medieval source.
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." John Kukuzelis, a famous medieval composer of Bulgarian descent, was born in the city in the late 13th century. 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.
At the end of the eighteenth century, Daniel Mоscopolites, a Vlach-speaking native priest of Moscopole, compiled a quadrilingual lexicon of Greek, Vlach, Bulgarian and Albanian, with the purpose of helping them to learn Greek. In this work, which was first published in 1794 and republished in 1802, Daniel writes inter alia, as follows: Albanians, Vlachs, Bulgarians and speakers of other tongues, rejoice and prepare yourselves one and all to become Greeks. Leaving behind you your barbaric tongue, speech, and customs. That shall seem as myths to your descendants.. Francois Pouqueville described in his book “Travels in Epirus, Albania, Macedonia, and Thessaly” Bulgarian villages in Devol region.
In the 1920s the orthodox Slavs living in Albania were regarded as Bulgarians by the local Albanian population. 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. 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 was officially recognized. Schools and radio stations in Macedonian were founded in the area.
After the fall of communism
Albania denies the existence of a Bulgarian minority in the Mala Prespa and Golo Bardo and Gora regions. 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. The CIA World Factbook also supports the existence of the minority based on a 1989 estimate. In the 1989 Albania census a total of 782 people claimed either Romanian, Czechoslovakian or Bulgarian nationality. 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 as 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." Recent official reports from Albania have not stated that any people have identified as Bulgarian in the last census. This often led to protests from the Bulgarian Parliament. Arben Xhaferi, the president of the Democratic Party of Albanians in Republic of Macedonia stated in an interview for Albanian newspaper Shekulli 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. There exist two organisations of the Bulgarians in Albania: "Prosperitet — Golo Brdo" and the cultural association "Ivan Vazov" in Mala Prespa.  More than 800 Albanian citizens of Bulgarian descent have acquired Bulgarian passports on the grounds of having Bulgarian origin. According to the Macedonian authorities, the Slav minority of Albania consists only of ethnic Macedonians and not Bulgarians. In 2008, the Bulgarian government reported it had reached an agreement with the Albanian government that the next census forms in Albania would allow to count the Bulgarian community in the country. In 2011 Bulgaria's Finance Minister, who is charge of ties with the Bulgarian diaspora, has met with members of the Bulgarian community in Albania. He announced the future opening of a Bulgarian cultural center in Tirana.
In the 1989 census a total of 782 people claimed either Romanian, Bulgarian or Czechoslovakian nationality. The US Department of State background note for Albania, dated 4 January 2011 further reported that the population is composed of various ethnic groups including Bulgarians. The Encyclopaedia of the Nations in its section on Albania's ethnic groups, undated, also has included Bulgarians. The CIA World Factbook 2011 has also counted Bulgarians in Albania. The State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad states that about 40,000 to 50,000 persons of Bulgarian origin are living in Albania.
- Macedonian Question
- Albania under Bulgarian Empire
- Ballshi inscription
- Gorani (ethnic group)
- Macedonians of Albania
- Macedonians (Bulgarians)
References and notes
- US Departament of State Background note - Albania.
- Encyclopedia of the nations online - Albania.
- CIA The World Factbook Albania.
- "Bulgarians in Albania". www.omda.bg. Retrieved 23 April 2008.
- INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR MINORITY STUDIES AND INTERCULTURAL RELATIONS (IMIR)ALBANIA:LANDMARKS OF TRANSITION Valeri Grigorov p.18
- Гюзелев, Албанци..., pp. 12-13.
- Иван Микулчиќ, "Средновековни градови и тврдини во Македониjа", Скопjе, "Македонска цивилизациjа", 1996, стр. 29-33 / "Medieval towns and strongholds in Macedonia", Skopje, Publishing house "Macedonian civilization", 1996, p. 29-33, in Macedonian
- Гюзелев, Албанци..., pp. 15-16.
- Заимов, Й. "Болгарские географические названия в Албании XV века". Studia balcanica (in Russian): 179–180.
- Гюзелев, Албанци..., pp. 19-21.
- Multiculturalism, alteritate, istoricitate «Multiculturalism, Historicity and “The image of the Other”» by Alexandru Niculescu, Literary Romania (România literară), issue: 32 / 2002, pages: 22,23,
- Angeliki Konstantakopoulou, Η ελληνική γλώσσα στα Βαλκάνια 1750-1850. Το τετράγλωσσο λεξικό του Δανιήλ Μοσχοπολίτη [The Greek language in the Balkans 1750-1850. The dictionary in four languages of Daniel Moschopolite]. Ioannina 1988, 11.
- Peyfuss, Max Demeter: Die Druckerei von Moschopolis, 1731-1769. Buchdruck und Heiligenverehrung im Erzbistum Achrida. Wien - Köln 1989. (= Wiener Archiv f. Geschichte des Slawentums u. Osteuropas. 13), ISBN 3-205-98571-0.
- Kahl, Thede: Wurde in Moschopolis auch Bulgarisch gesprochen? In: Probleme de filologie slavă XV, Editura Universităţii de Vest, Timişoara 2007, S. 484-494, ISSN 1453-763X.
- Гюзелев, Албанци..., p. 24.
- Гюзелев, Албанци..., pp. 25-26.
- Гюзелев, Албанци..., pp. 26-27.
- Malingousid, P (1979). Die mittelalterlichen kyrillischen Inschriften der Haemus-Halbinsel. Teil I. Die bulgarischen Inschriften (in German). Thessaloniki. pp. 53–59.
- "St. John Kukuzelis". Orthodox America. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
- Гюзелев, Албанци..., pp. 47-48.
- „Petermanns geographischen Mitteilungen” 1915, table 44. Map by a collective of Bulgarian professors led by Prof. Anastas Ishirkov. Taken from THE BULGARIANS in their historical, ethnographical and political frontiers (Atlas with 40 maps). Preface by D. RIZOFF, Minister of Bulgaria in Berlin. BERLIN, Königliche Hoflithographie, Hof-Buch- und -Steindruckerei WILHELM GREVE, 1917. ASIN:B000UUZN4S
- "The Bulgarian National Awakening and its Spread into Macedonia", by Antonios-Aimilios Tachiaos, pp. 21-23, published by Thessaloniki's Society for Macedonian Studies, 1990.]
- ... A league north-north-west from Gheortcha, after crossing the Devol on a stone bridge, if you turn north, you enter a derven or narrow gorge of the mountain, watered by a small stream. Following it for a league and a half below the village of Panta-Vinia, are seen the remains of an acropolis, probably the site of Sation; and nearly opposite, a league to the westward, is the village Mocrena. To the northward, and below these villages, inhabited by Bulgarians, commences an open space of ground, which expands for a distance of four miles on to the lake of Ochrida or Lychnidus...(London: Printed for Sir Richard Phillips and Co, 1820)
- Poulton, Hugh (2000). Who Are the Macedonians?. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. p. 79. ISBN 1-85065-534-0.
- Ташев 1994: 141-162 стр.
- On the status of minorities in the Republic of Albania, Albanian Helsinki Committee with the support of the Finnish Foundation ‘KIOS’ and “Finnish NGO Foundation for Human Rights”
- Finally, Albania recognizes a Greek and a Macedonian minority - Partly or Fully Unrecognized National Minorities: Statement to the UN Working Group on Minorities, 7th session, Geneva, 14-18 May 2001, Greek Helsinki Committee
- Българите в Албания (Bulgarian)
- Albania (see Demographic section) - CIA World Factbook
- Albanian census results[dead link]
- "The Balkans" magazine, 18 ed., 2001, p.5-7 Ibid
- The Albanian statistics institute INSTAT denies the existence of a Bulgarian minority in Albania. (source: Makfax Agency) (Macedonian)
- Bulgarian Parliament Speaker Demands Albania Recognise Bulgarian Minority - Southeast European Times
- Утрински весник Број 1402 понеделник, 16 октомври 2006. Џафери тврди дека Македонците во Голо Брдо се измислица ВИКТОР ЦВЕТАНОСКИ (Macedonian)
- "Default". prosperitetgolloborda.awardspace.com. Retrieved 23 April 2008.
- "Osservatorio sui Balcani — Albania: le minoranze contese". www.osservatoriobalcani.org. Retrieved 23 April 2008.
- "ALBANIA: Over 800 Albanians Acquire Bulgarian Passports". www.seeurope.net. Retrieved 23 April 2008.
- Integration of immigrants discussed in Sofia, Sat 05 2008.
- Highlights of FM Kalfin's official visit to Albania, 26 April 2008. Source: BTA
- March 2008&article=18041 Albania Counts Ethnic Bulgarians During Next Census, Standart, 11 March 2008.
- Djankov Woos Ethnic Bulgarian Community in Albania, 9 May 2011. NOVINITE.COM
- Mangalakova, Tanya (2004). Ethnic Bulgarians in Mala Prespa and Golo Brdo. International Centre for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations (IMIR).
- Гюзелев, Боян (2004). Албанци в Източните Балкани (Albanians in the Eastern Balkans) (in Bulgarian). София: Международен център за изследване на малцинствата и културните взаимодействия. ISBN 954-8872-45-5.