Serbs in Albania
|Regions with significant populations|
|Albanian and Serbian|
|Orthodox Christianity, Sunni Islam|
|Part of a series of articles on|
The Serbian-Montenegrin minority in Albania number from 2,000 to 4,000 people.
According to the Serbian Ministry of Diaspora in 2009, the most vulnerable minority of Europe are the Serbs in Albania, who since Communist Albania have not had their right to the use of the Serbian language, the religious orientation (Serbian Orthodox), while during the rule of Enver Hoxha, they were forced to change names and are not able to reclaim them.[verification needed]
The community lives largely on trade with Montenegro.
The Morača-Rozafa Association had 4,000 members in 2009, and President Pavle Brajović claim a number as high as 30,000. In 2000, the Albanian Helsinki Committee estimated that there were ca. 2,000 Serb-Montenegrin people in Albania.
- Boriç i Vogël (Stari Borič), Gruemirë, majority of Serbs and minority of Albanians
- Boriç i Madh (Mladi Borič), Gruemirë, majority of Slavic Muslims hailing from Podgorica (these are known as "Podgoričani") and minority of Serbs and Albanians
- Grilë (Gril), in Gruemirë, majority of Serbs and minority of Albanians
- Omaraj, Gruemirë
- Rrash-Kullaj (Raš)
Smaller communities live outside northern Albania, notably in two villages of Fier, where the inhabitants declare as Serbs of the Islamic faith. Several hundred families live in Durazzo and Tirana. There are also communities in Elbasan and Korçë.
With short interruptions, the territory that later became a part of Sanjak of Scutari in the Ottoman Empire, belonged to the Slavic medieval feudal states for many centuries. The army of South Slavs (Sklavenoi), who began raiding Byzantine territories in 520s, conquered Durrës and most of Epirus and Macedonia in 548. According to Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (r. 913–959) in his work "Administration of the Empire", described the many peoples in proximity to the Eastern Roman Empire. The Early Serbs lived in the former Roman provinces of Dalmatia, Praevalitana and Moesia; in parts of northernmost Albania (around Lake Skadar) and were initially organized in Sclavinias (Slavdom, i.e. "Slav area") where powerful patriarchal tribes had autonomy under the Byzantine Empire. During the rule of Časlav Klonimirović (r. 927-960), most of Albania was part of Bulgaria (eastern) and the Byzantine Empire (Dyrrhachium (theme), western maritime). After the Byzantine annexation of Raška, the Serbian principality of Duklja succeeded as the peripheral entity of the Serbs and had much of the land north of Durrës, with Shkodër being an important city in the dominion. Khan Samuel of Bulgaria (r. 997–1014) had by 997 conquered all of Thessaly, Epirus, Macedonia, and most of modern Albania. Jovan Vladimir ruled Duklja during the war between Byzantine Emperor Basil II and Samuel. Vladimir allegedly retreated into Koplik when Samuel invaded Duklja, and was subsequently forced to accept Bulgarian vassalage. Vladimir was later slewn by the Bulgars, and received a cult; Shingjon (the feast of St. Jovan Vladimir), which is celebrated by the Albanian Orthodox Christians. In 1018 Basil II conquered most of the Balkans and established the Archbishopric of Ochrid, an Eastern Orthodox see for the South Slavs. In the 1030s, Stefan Vojislav from the Serbian principality of Travunia expelled the last strategos, and successfully defeated the Byzantines by 1042. Stefan Vojislav set up Shkodër as his capital. Constantine Bodin accepted the crusaders of the Crusade of 1101 in Shkodër. After the dynastic struggles in the 12th century, Shkodër became part of the Nemanyid Zeta province. In 1330 Stefan Uroš III appointed his son Stefan Dušan as the governor of Zeta and its seat Shkodër. According to a 1330 Serbian chrysobull northern Albania is populated by Orthodox Serbs and several town name also attest to a prominence of Serbs: Trebo polje, Bajbane, Luzane, Gorane, Buljane etc. During the fall of the Serbian Empire (14th century), Shkodër was taken by Zetan Balšić family who surrendered the city to Venice, in order to form protection zone from the Ottoman Empire. During Venetian rule the city adopted the Statutes of Scutari, a civic law written in Venetian, which also contained Albanian elements such as Besa and Gjakmarrja. Principality of Zeta, a former Ottoman vassal, lost its status as an independent state and was largely incorporated into the Sanjak of Scutari in 1499. In 1514, this territory was separated from the Sanjak of Scutari and established as a separate sanjak, under the rule of Skenderbeg Crnojević. When he died in 1528, the Sanjak of Montenegro was reincorporated into the Sanjak of Scutari as a unique administrative unit (vilayet) with certain degree of autonomy. The first Ottoman censuses (1431, 1467 and 1485) show such substantial presence of Slavic toponyms.
1582 Ottoman census
In 1582, in Ottoman defter "Tahrir defterleri", most of northern Albania had Serb populations; the Sanjak of Scutari had 81,700 Serbs, while Durrës Sandjak had 8,600 Serbs.[verification needed] In the east of the Shkodra lake there were Serb enclaves, also attested in place-names: Zlogora, Brezje, Grnčar, Podgor, Kosmač, Gradič, Dobre, Trnoslav, Gradec, Rumište, Maličevo, Kosovo, Brdence, Poljičani, Popine, and the village Srbin and city of Šklav. The 1582—1583 Scutari defter show many nahiyah with a total of 709 villages, of which the following were located within Albania
- Shkodër with 128 villages
- Dušmen (Dushmani) with 24 villages; majority had personal names with an Albanian character, minority with a Serbian character.
- Toponyms show some South Slavic influence, indicating a presence of a South Slavic-speaking population that later depopulated the region
- Islamisation was slowly occurring within the nahiyah, based on the presence of characteristically Muslim names within its population
- Zabojana with 48 villages; majority had personal names with an Albanian character, minority with a Serbian character.
- Krajina with 18 villages; majority had personal names with an Albanian character
- Toponyms show an overwhelming South Slavic influence, indicating a presence of a South Slavic-speaking population that later depopulated the region
- Gorje Šestan (Džebel-i Šestan) with 7 villages; majority had personal names with a Serbian character, minority with an Albanian character.
- Hoti with 8 villages; majority had personal names with an Albanian character, while a minority had with a Serbian character.
- Pobor with 11 villages; overwhelming majority had personal names with a Serbian character
- Klemente with 2 villages; majority had personal names with an Albanian character, minority with a Serbian character.
- Kuči with 13 villages; majority had personal names with a Serbian character, minority with an Albanian character.
- Altin (Altun li) with 41 villages; relative majority had names with a Serbian character, minority with an Albanian character
- Petrišpan with 33 villages
- Komoran[disambiguation needed] with 20 villages; overwhelming majority had personal names with a Serbian character
- Presence of Muslim inhabitants shown in two villages within the nahiyah
Montenegrins and Serbs began migrating to Vraka in the late 17th century. From confirmed documents, one of the first families to inhabit the area of Vraka was in 1705 were the Đurčevići from the village of Momče in Kuči. A certain Jerko Đurčević was the only one from his clan in Vraka to convert to Islam. His descendants later became known as the Jerkovići, who are found in the village of Štoj, near Ulcinj.
In 1828, a Serbian school was opened in Shkodra. Nikola Musulin attended it.
In 1918, besides the Serb Orthodox in Scutari, there were communities in different neighbouring villages such as Vraka, Vramenica, Derigniat, etc., as well as several thousands of Slavic Muslims of Montenegrin and Bosnia-Herzegovina origin. In 1920, the following villages had Serbian majority or plurality: Brch, Basits, Vraka, Sterbets, Kadrum. Farming was the chief occupation of the villages.
In 1939 there were ca. 4,000 Serbs west of Ohrid, and several villages were inhabited by Serbian refugees.
According to Jovan Erdeljanović, in his book "Stara Crna Gora",[when?] all descendants of Jovan Martinović, who has been mentioned since 1687, have emigrated to Vraka.
In the Zog period, the Yugoslav-Albanian borders offered free movement. In 1921, Albanian government declared that the Greeks were to be registered as a minority, the Orthodox Serbs however were to register themselves as Albanians (thus becoming nationals of Albania) in a two-year period. In the Albanian census the Greeks numbered 15,000 while Serbs and Bulgarians numbered 200 families. During the time of 1921-1928 the Serb community in Albania was strengthened through efforts of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which opened several Serbian private schools in 1923-1924 of which the school of Vrake had 72 pupils in 1930, three schools in Shkodra. A ethnic Serb football team existed in Shkodra that competed in the Albanian league. Two youth organizations (Guslar and Obilich) existed in Shkodra. The formation of Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania weakened the Serbs and Greeks in the country. The active 14 churches and Monastery were slowly closed by the Albanian government. The Serb school in Vrake was destroyed in 1934. Enver Hoxha decided to destroy the Serbian cemeteries and 2 of the Serb temples.
1928 data shows that Albania had 65,000 (7.83%) Serbs and Montenegrins.
Following the liberation of the Balkan states, Serbs from Albania began to migrate to Serbia and Montenegro. A period of migration occurred between 1925 and 1934. This wave marked the return of many Montenegrin families to Montenegro, leaving their homes in Vraka behind.
In 1992, the Morača-Rozafa Association was established.
During the Yugoslav Wars, there were incidents of violence against the Serb-Montenegrin minority in places like Vraka, Boriç i Vogël and Boriç i Madh, where the Albanian government also tried to forcibly take land from them. The Albanian government also planned to forcibly resettle Serb-Montenegrins and Podgoričani from Boriç i Vogël, Boriç i Madh, Vraka and other places. Many moved to Serbia and Montenegro. Another wave came with the Kosovo War.
- In 1912, Serbian Orthodox bishop Nikolaj Velimirović registered more than 60,000 Serbs in the region of Shkodra and Tirana and 39 ethnic Serb villages inside Albania. In Korçë 1,400 South Slavs were registered, however a much higher estimation exist.
- According to the 1928 population census, there were ca. 65,000 Serbs in Albania, forming around 8% of Albania's total population and the largest of its minorities.
|This section requires expansion with: Murzaku 2009. (March 2014)|
Serb-Montenegrins in Albania are adherents of two rellgions: Eastern Orthodoxy and Sunni Islam.
As part of assimilation politics, Serbs were not allowed to have Serbian names. Many Serbs took simple words as surnames: Druri (drvo, tree), Arra (orah, walnut), Guri (kamen, stone), Hekuri (gvožđe, iron), Qershia (trešnja, cherry), Dritarja (prozor, window).[dubious ]
Many towns with historical Serb population derive their name from the early Middle Ages when Slavs ruled Albania.
In the Shkodra region, especially in Vrakë, and on the outskirts of Elbasan, Korça, there were villages with Serbian population. Albanized Serbs exist in Cermenikë, Bulqizë, in Mokër, in Malësia, etc.
The Ljumljani were Serbs that were Islamicized and subsequently Albanised.
There are sources that point that the Kelmendi are of Serb origin, that the founder came from the Morača i.e. Piperi i.e. Herzegovina. A certain Klmen (or Amati) from Kuči settled first in Hoti then re-settled in the present clan area. Among some Kelmends, Nikola Oštroumni Kolmendija (Nikola "Sharp-minded" Kolmendija) is the founding father. There are sources that point that the Kelmendi are of Serb origin, that the founder came from the Morača i.e. Piperi i.e. Herzegovina. A certain Klmen (or Amati) from Kuči settled first in Hoti then re-settled in the present clan area. Among some Kelmends, Nikola Oštroumni Kolmendija (Nikola "Sharp-minded" Kolmendija) is the founding father.
The Kastrati clan was recorded for the first time in 1416. The clan's centre was once at the ruins of a Roman castra on the Scutari-Orosh road. According to a local legend they are descendants of Krsto who was a brother of Grča, the ancestor of Kuči. It was also recorded that Alexius Kastrati, a lord of three villages, had in 1403 received a gift from the governor of Scutari. In a work of Jovan Cvijić it was recorded that in one of the villages (Kamenicë) of the Kastrati region the majority of the population were Orthodox Serbs. Cvijić also recorded that the Kastrati themselves have a story about their mixed Serbian-Albanian origin. The region had 300 Catholic and 200 Muslim households. According to the founding legend of the clan, 300 houses descend from a Delti or Dedli from Drekalovići of Kuči, while 200 houses descend from Slavs who were living on the territory before arrival of Delti.
Serbian and Montenegrin graves in Skadar from the First World War
- Allegedly some 10,000 Serbian and Montenegrin soldiers were buried in the surroundings of Skadar with the First World War.
- Stefan Marinović (fl. 1563), Venetian printer, born in Shkodër.
- Nikola Musulin (1830–fl. 1897), Serbian teacher who found the Prizren manuscript of Dušan's Code.
- Kosta Miličević (1877–1920), Serbian painter, born in Vrakë.
- Millosh Gjergj Nikolla (1911–1938), Albanian poet, born in Shkodër. 
- Branko Kadia and Jordan Misja (d. 1942), Albanian communists and Heroes of Albania, born in Shkodër. 
- Vojo Kushi (1918–1942), Albanian communist, Hero of Albania and Hero of Yugoslavia, born in Shkodër.
- Anastas Bocarić (1864–1944), Yugoslav painter, born in Durrës.
- Nikola Vulić (1872–1945), Serbian historian, classical philologist and archaeologist, born in Shkodër.
- Vasilije Popović Cico (1914–1962), Yugoslav painter and caricaturist, born in Shkodër. 
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The following villages are in whole or part occupied by Orthodox Serbs — Brch, Borich, Basits, Vraka, Sterbets, Kadrum. Farming is the chief occupation.
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In 1939 there were about 4,000 Serbs west of Ohrid, and a few Montenegrins near Scutari. On the left bank of the Rrjoll, between Prroni i thate and Kir valleys, Vrake and several other villages were inhabited by Serbian refugees and gave ...
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Nërrethinat e Shkodrës, sidomos në Vrakë, në rrethinat e Elbasanit e të Korçës, ka pasur fshatra me popullsi serbe. Serbë të shqiptarizuar ka pasur në Cermenikë, Bulqizë, në Mokër, në Malësi etj.
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