Ismail Qemali

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Ismail Qemali
Ismail Qemali.jpg
1st Head of State of Albania
1st Prime Minister of Albania
1st Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
29 November 1912
4 December 1912 as Minister of Foreign Affairs – 22 January 1914
June 1913 as Minister of Foreign Affairs
Preceded by Independence declared
Succeeded by Prince William of Wied (as Head of State)
Fejzi Bej Alizoti (as Head of Government)
Myfit Libohova (as Minister of Foreign Affairs)
Personal details
Born 16 January 1844 (1844-01-16)
Avlonya, Ottoman Empire (today Albania)
Died 24 January 1919 (1919-01-25) (aged 75)
Perugia, Italy Italy
Nationality Albania Albanian
Occupation Politics , Writer
Religion Folk Islam
Ismail Qemal Vlora Monument in Tirana

Ismail Qemal Bej Vlora or commonly Ismail Qemali About this sound listen  and in Turkish İsmail Kemal Bey or İsmail Kemal Vlora (16 January 1844 – 24 January 1919), was a distinguished leader of the Albanian national movement, and founder of the modern Albanian state as its first head of state and government.


Qemali was born in Avlonya (present-day Vlorë) to a noble family. Having finished the primary education in his hometown, and the gymnasium Zosimea in Ioannina, in 1859 he moved to Constantinople where he embarked on a career as an Ottoman civil servant, being identified with the liberal reform wing of the service under Midhat Pasha, and was governor of several towns in the Balkans. During these years he took part in efforts for the standardization of the Albanian alphabet and the establishment of an Albanian cultural association. By 1877, Ismail seemed to be on the brink of important functions in the Ottoman administration, but when Sultan Abdulhamid II dismissed Midhat as prime minister, Ismail Qemali was sent into exile in western Anatolia, though the Sultan later recalled him and made him governor of Beirut. However, his liberal policy recommendations caused him to fall out of favour with the Sultan again, and in May 1900 Ismail Qemali boarded the British ambassador's yacht and claimed asylum. He was conveyed out of Turkey and for the next eight years lived in exile, working both to promote constitutional rule in the Ottoman Empire and to advance the Albanian national cause within it. After the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, he became a deputy in the restored Ottoman Parliament, working with liberal politicians and the British. In 1909, during a rising against the Young Turks, he was briefly made President of the Ottoman National Assembly but was forced to leave Constantinople forever a day or two later. Thereafter his political career concentrated solely on Albanian nationalism. The Athens embassy of the Ottoman Empire reported that Qemali negotiated with organization financed by wealthy Tosks and Greece about forging a union.[1]

During the Albanian Revolt of 1911 he joined the leaders of the revolt at meeting in a village in Montenegro (Gerče) on 23 June and together they draw up "Gerče Memorandum" (sometimes referred to as "Red Book" because of the color of its covers[2] ) which addressed their requests both to Ottoman Empire and Europe (in particular to the Great Britain).[3]

Ismail Qemali on the first anniversary of the session of the Assembly of Vlorë which proclaimed the independence of Albania.

He was a principal figure in the Albanian Declaration of Independence and the formation of the independent Albania in 28 November 1912. This signaled the end of almost 500 years of Ottoman rule in Albania. Together with Luigj Gurakuqi, he raised the flag on the balcony of the two-story building in Vlorë where the Declaration of Independence had just been signed. The establishment of the government was postponed for the fourth session of the Assembly of Vlorë, held on 4 December 1912, until representatives of all regions of Albania arrived to Vlore.[4] Qemali was prime minister of Albania from 1912 to 1914.

During World War I, Ismail Qemali lived in exile in Paris, where, though short of funds, he maintained a wide range of contacts and collaborated with the correspondent of the continental edition of the Daily Mail, Somerville Story, to write his memoirs. His autobiography, published after his death, is the only memoir of a late Ottoman statesman to be written in English and is a unique record of a liberal, multicultural approach to the problems of the dying Empire. In 1918 Ismail Qemali travelled to Italy to promote support for his movement in Albania, but was prevented by the Italian government from leaving Italy and remained as its involuntary guest in a hotel in Perugia, much to his irritation. He died of an apparent heart attack at dinner there one evening.

Ismail Qemali is depicted on the obverses of the Albanian 200 lekë banknote of 1992–1996,[5] and of the 500 lekë banknote issued since 1996.[6] On 27 June 2012, Albanian President, Bamir Topi decorated Qemali with the Order of the National Flag (Post-mortem).[7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Blumi, Isa (12 September 2013). Ottoman Refugees, 1878-1939: Migration in a Post-Imperial World. A&C Black. p. 84. ISBN 978-1-4725-1538-4. "For example, the Ottoman embassy in Athens reported that Ismail Qemali held negotiations with an orgaization called Hellenismos, funded by wealthy Tosks and the Greek state. This prominent ex-Ottoman governor apparently was ready to forge a union with the enemy." 
  2. ^ Skendi, Stavro (1967). The Albanian national awakening, 1878–1912. Princeton University Press. p. 417. Retrieved 10 October 2011. "The Gerche memorandum, referred to often as "The Red Book" because of the color of its covers" 
  3. ^ Treadway, John D (1983), "The Malissori Uprising of 1911", The Falcon and Eagle: Montenegro and Austria-Hungary, 1908–1914, West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, p. 78, ISBN 978-0-911198-65-2, OCLC 9299144, retrieved 10 October 2011 
  4. ^ Universiteti Shtetëror i Tiranës; Instituti i Historisë dhe i Gjuhësisë, Universiteti Shtetëror i Tiranës. Instituti i Gjuhësisë dhe i Letërsisë, Universiteti Shtetëror i Tiranës. Instituti i Historisë, Instituti i Historisë (Akademia e Shkencave e RPS të Shqipërisë), Instituti i Gjuhësisë dhe i Letërsisë (Akademia e Shkencave e RPS të Shqipërisë), Akademia e Shkencave e RPS të Shqipërisë. Seksioni e Shkencave Shoqërore (2004), "Essential Characteristics of the State (1912—1914)", Studia Albanica 36, Tirana: L'Institut, p. 18, OCLC 1996482, "Essential Characteristics of the State (1912—1914) ... The setting up of the government was postponed until the fourth hearing of the Assembly of Vlora, in order to give time to other delegates from all regions of Albania to arrive." 
  5. ^ Bank of Albania. Currency: Banknotes withdrawn from circulation. – Retrieved 23 March 2009.
  6. ^ Bank of Albania. Currency: Banknotes in circulation. – Retrieved 23 March 2009.
  7. ^


Political offices
Preceded by
Independence declared
Head of State of Albania
Succeeded by
William of Wied as a prince
Preceded by
Independence declared
Prime Minister of Albania
Succeeded by
Fejzi Bej Alizoti
Preceded by
Independence declared
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by