Serb minority in Albania
|2011 Albanian Census: 366 Montenegrins
c. 2,000–30,000 (est.)
|Regions with significant populations|
|Mostly in Shkodër County|
|Albanian and Serbian|
|Orthodox Christianity, Sunni Islam|
Serbo-Montenegrins (called the Serbo-Montenegrin minority by the Council of Europe) are estimated between 2,000 - 30,000 people. Most of the community adhere to the Orthodox Church, while a minority professes Islam.
- 1 Human rights
- 2 Economy
- 3 Population
- 4 History
- 5 Demographic history
- 6 Culture
- 7 Serbian and Montenegrin graves in Shkodra from the First World War
- 8 Notable people
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
According to the Serbian Ministry of Diaspora in 2009, the most vulnerable minority of Europe were 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.
In 2000, the Albanian Helsinki Committee estimated that there were ca. 2,000 "Serb–Montenegrin" people in Albania. The Morača-Rozafa Association had 4,000 members in 2009, while President Pavle Brajović claimed a number closer to 30,000. The 2011 census in Albania was boycotted by the national minorities. According to the Assembly for the Diaspora, the Serb minority in Albania number ca. 30,000 people.
- Boriç i Vogël (Stari/Mali Borič), in Gruemirë, majority of Serbs–Montenegrins and minority of Albanians
- Boriç i Madh (Mladi/Veliki Borič), in Gruemirë, majority of Slavic Muslims hailing from Podgorica (the "Podgoričani") and minorities of Albanians and Serbs–Montenegrins
- Grilë (Grilj), in Gruemirë, majority of Serbs–Montenegrins and minority of Albanians
- Omaraj (Omara), in Gruemirë, majority of Serbs–Montenegrins and minority of Albanians
- Rrash-Kullaj (Ras i Kule), in Gruemirë, inhabited by Serbs–Montenegrins until World War II
According to a 2003 paper, the Serb-Montenegrin community currently inhabited the following villages near Shkodër: Brodica, Bardoš, Griža, Vraka, Koplik, Puka, Vafa, Kamenica, Omara, Veliki Borič, Mali Borič, Gril, Raš, Stari Štoj, Novi Štoj, Dobrač, Golem, Mušan, Bušat, etc.
Smaller communities live outside northern Albania. Several hundred families live in Durrës and Tirana. There are also communities in Elbasan and Korça. In two villages of Fier, the inhabitants declare as Serbs of Islamic faith. In Fier, there are some 2,000 Serbs of Orthodox faith, living mostly in the settlements of Retli Bouša and Hamir.
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 South Slavs ("Sklavenoi") began raiding Byzantine territories in the 520s and had conquered Durrës and most of Epirus and Macedonia in 548. According to Emperor Constantine VII (r. 913–959) the early Serbs lived in the former Roman provinces of Dalmatia, Praevalitana and Moesia. 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 main Serb state and it included much of the land north of Durrës, with Shkodër being an important city. 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 for the South Slavs. In the 1030s, Stefan Vojislav expelled the last strategos and defeated the Byzantines (1042), then set up Shkodër (Skadar) 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 Nemanjić Zeta province. In 1330 Stefan Uroš III appointed his son Stefan Dušan as the "Young King" and ruler of Zeta seated in Shkodër. According to the study of a Serbian chrysobull dating 1330, northern Albania was populated by Orthodox Serbs and several town names 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 the Balšić family of Zeta 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.
- Gorje Šestan (Džebel-i Šestan) with 7 villages; majority had personal names with a Serbian character, minority with an Albanian 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.
- Altin (Altun li) with 41 villages; relative majority had names with a Serbian character, minority with an Albanian character
- Petrišpan with 33 villages
- Komoran 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, which Nikola Musulin attended.
- Skadar: 105 households in a part of the town Skadar, parish under protojerej Obrad Popović, the Metropolitan's vicar for the Skadar protopresbyteriate. 84 in the other part, with villages Deregnjat, Brdica Bušat, parish under Mihailo Štirkić. Churches in Skadar: Church of St. Nicholas and Church of St. Alexander Nevsky.
- Vraka: 119 households (villages Novi Borič, Stari Borič, Grilj, Raš, Kule, Omara, Turajlije, Kamenica) with Church in Novi Borič dedicated to Assumption of the Holy Virgin, parish under Petar Mreković.
- Vranj: 69 households (villages Vranj, Mataluž, town of Tuzi), Church in Vranj dedicated to St. Nicholas, parish under Filip Majić.
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. With the establishment of Yugoslavia, almost all of the ethnic Serbs had been united into one state, except for those scattered in Hungary, Romania and a small number in Albania. In 1920, the following villages had Serb majority or plurality: "Brch, Basits, Vraka, Sterbets, Kadrum" and farming was the chief occupation.
According to Russian consulate Ivan Yastrebov's estimations published in 1874, there were 80.000 Catholic males, 20.000 Orthodox males, and 9.500 Muslim males in the Sanjak of Scutari. The majority of the population spoke the Albanian language. He asserted that the Orthodox, and a number of Catholics and Muslims spoke the Serbian language.
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. An 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.
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.
Socialist Albania (1944–1992)
Enver Hoxha decided to destroy the Serbian cemeteries and 2 of the Serb temples. In 1966, the state abolished religion, and in 1968 the state forced parents to name their children with contemporary and revolutionary (Illyrian) names. The surnames were forcibly changed by the Albanian government, from Slavic into Albanian ones, as part of Albanianization.
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.
- 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.
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 Shkodra-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 Shkodra. 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 Shkodra from the First World War
- Allegedly some 10,000 Serbian and Montenegrin soldiers were buried in the surroundings of Shkodra with the First World War.
- Stefan Marinović (fl. 1563), Venetian printer, born in Shkodër.
- Jovan Četirević Grabovan (c. 1720 - c. 1790), Serbian painter of Aromanian origin
- Nikola Musulin (1830–fl. 1897), Serbian teacher who found the Prizren manuscript of Dušan's Code.
- George Berovich (1845–1897), Ottoman official, born in Shkodër.
- 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. 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Serbs in Albania.|
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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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Kastrati, kojima je embrio sjedio kod ruševina rimskog "Kastra" (tabora, Iminacium?) viđenih još g. 1559. na cesti Skadar - Oroši
- Konstantin Jireček (1923). Istorija Srba. Izdavačka knjižarnica G. Kona. p. 58. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
По предању, родоначелник Куча био је Грча Ненадин, од чијих пет синова, Петра, Ђурђа, Тиха, Леша и Мара потичу њихова братства. Праотац Кастрата је Крсто, а Шаљана Шако; обојица су тобоже били браћа нареченог Грчина, док би Берише били потомци баш самога Грче.
- Mary Edith Durham (1928). Some clannish origins, laws and customs of the Balkans. George Allen & Unwin. p. 22. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
The Kastrati were evidently a powerful clan, for in 1403 we find Alexius Kastrati headman in a list of Albanian chiefs who are rewarded by the Venetians with gifts of cloth.
- Marko Miljanov; Milorad Stojović (1963). Sjaj legende. Grafički zavod. p. 261. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
Кастрати су од Крста
- Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti (1983). Glas. p. 109. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
Почетком XV века сусрећу се и клице данашњег племена Кастрати, чији је праотац био неки Крсто. Алекса Кастрати добио је 1403...
- Jovan Cvijić (1987). Sabrana dela: pt. 1. Govori i c̆lanci. Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti. p. 130. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
У најновије време сам сазнао од мог ученика Ј. Мајића да у арбанашком племену Кастрати, у селу Каменици, превлаћују православни Срби.
- George Walter Gawrych (2006). The Crescent and the Eagle: Ottoman Rule, Islam and the Albanians, 1874-1913. I.B.Tauris. p. 95. ISBN 1845112873.
- M. Edith Durham (30 June 2009). High Albania. ECHO LIB. p. 466. ISBN 978-1-4068-2855-9. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
Kastrati. — Consisting also of about 500 houses, lies between the Licheni Hotit and the Skreli clan. 300 houses trace descent from one Delti or Dedli, who came with his seven sons from the hariak of Drekalovich of the Kuchi. This in turn traces origin from Berisha (see below). The other 200 houses trace from people already on the spot when Delti arrived. They are said to have been Slavs. All are now Albanophone and the majority Catholic, the rest Moslems.
- Carl Coleman Seltzer; Carleton Stevens Coon; Joseph Franklin Ewing (1950). The mountains of giants: a racial and cultural study of the north Albanian mountain Ghegs. The Museum. p. 45. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
Two hundred out of the 500 houses of Kastrati are pre-invasion, and are said to be of Slavic origin.
- Sanja Lubardić. "Život Srba u Albaniji, Razgovor sa Pavlom Brajovićem, predsednikom Udruženja Srba u Albaniji" [Life of Serbs in Albania, Conversation with Pavle Brajović, President of the Association of Serbs in Albania]. Pravoslavlje, 996 (in Serbian).
- Krestić, Vasilije (2004) . Great Serbia: truth, misconceptions, abuses. SANU. ISBN 978-86-7025-377-3.
- Историјски институт СР Црне Горе. "Становништво словенског поријекла у Албанији". Project Rastko.
- Gordana Tomovic (1990). "Алтин у XIV и XV веку Гордана Томовић".
- Bošković, Branko (1990). "Naseljavanje Vračana u Metohiji, njihov progon i rastur".
- Šćepanović, Slobodan (1990). "Najnoviji demografski i drugi podaci o Vraki".
- Drašković, Aleksandar (1990). "Nacionalne manjine u Albaniji poslije Drugog svjetskog rata".
- "Muslimani u Albaniji" (PDF).
- Marko Lopušina (1998). Svi Srbi sveta: vodič kroz dijasporu. IP PRINCIP.
- Aleksandar Deroko, "U Bodinovoj prestonici. Putopisne arhitektonske zabeleške iz Skadra - grada Rosava - i okoline", Starinar, Beograd 1930,129-151.
- Projekat Rastko - Skadar
- Association of the Serbo-Montenegrin minority in the Republic of Albania "MORAČA-ROZAFA"
- Rts.rs Kvadratura kruga, Kako su Srbi postali Albanci (Documentary in Serbian)