Courtesy Reuters

Albania and Her Protectress

THE signature of the "Pact of friendship and security between Italy and Albania," at Tirana on November 27, 1926, has caused widespread comment in the Balkans and considerable surprise in diplomatic circles. The excitement in Belgrade was such that the Italophile Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nintchitch, resigned, and the Jugoslavs talked of a new orientation of their foreign policy. In Greece, where the signature was announced and the text published on the eve of the entry of the new "(Ecumenical" Ministry into office, the Foreign Minister, Mr. Michalakopoulos, has cautiously watched the attitude of Great Britain and France, and the Greek press has displayed calmness and prudence. But obviously any change in the condition of Albania must directly affect her Greek and Jugoslav neighbors, and indirectly the other states of southeastern Europe.

First, let us examine the text. The preamble states the object of the Pact to be to "tighten the mutual relations of friendship and security resulting from the geographical situation" of Italy and Albania, to "contribute to the strengthening of peace," and to "maintain the political, juridical and territorial status quo of Albania." These phrases sound somewhat vague. "Peace" has not usually been "strengthened" by the intervention of a Great Power in the affairs of a Balkan state: Russia and Austria-Hungary brought "not peace but a sword" by their interference in the Serbia of the Obrenovitch dynasty; Russia's intrusion into Bulgarian politics led to the abdication of the first Prince of Bulgaria and the long social ostracism of the second; in Greece, the reign of Otho was embittered by the quarrels of the three "Protecting Powers;" German influence was largely responsible for the losses of Turkey in the late war. The principle of "the Balkan Peninsula for the Balkan peoples" is sound and nowadays generally accepted. Nor is it clear what is meant by "maintaining the political, juridical and territorial status quo." Probably, from the standpoint of Ahmed Zogu, the President of the Albanian Republic, the "maintenance" of "the political status quo" means the "maintenance" of himself in power by the strong arm of his ally, whose cannon would protect the huge mansion built for him on the hill overlooking the roadstead of Durazzo and connected (according to a local story) by a secret underground passage with the shore. Who, again, was threatening "the juridical and territorial status quo" of Albania? Neither Greece, who under the Republican system (especially under Pangalos, himself of Albanian origin) has been on particularly good terms with her smaller neighbor, nor Jugoslavia, who would scarcely have dared such an affront to the public law of Europe and was the supporter and host of Ahmed Zogu, a fugitive in Belgrade at a time when Italy was the friend of Fan Noli.

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