Northern Epirus History

October 16, 20194 MinutesIn History, News

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For the autonomous state formed in the region at 1914, see Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus.

Northern Epirus (Greek: Βόρειος Ήπειρος, Vorios Ipiros, Albanian: Epiri i Veriut) is a term used to refer to those parts of the historical region of Epirus, in the western Balkans, which today are part of Albania. The term is used mostly by Greeks and is associated with the existence of a substantial ethnic Greek population in the region.[a] It also has connotations with political claims on the territory on the grounds that it was held by Greece and in 1914 was declared an independent state[3] by the local Greeks against annexation to the newly founded Albanian principality.[b] The term is typically rejected by most Albanians for its irredentist associations.

The term “Northern Epirus” was first used in official Greek correspondence in 1886, to describe the northern parts of the Janina Vilayet.[c] It started to be used by Greeks in 1913, upon the creation of the Albanian state following the Balkan Wars, and the incorporation into the latter of territory that was regarded by many Greeks as geographically, historically, culturally, and ethnologically connected to the Greek region of Epirus since antiquity.[d] In the spring of 1914, the Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus was proclaimed by ethnic Greeks in the territory and recognized by the Albanian government, though it proved short-lived as Albania collapsed with the onset of World War I. Greece held the area between 1914 and 1916 and unsuccessfully tried to annex it in March 1916.[d] In 1917 Greek forces were driven from the area by Italy, who took over most of Albania.[7] The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 awarded the area to Greece, however the area reverted to Albanian control in November 1921, following Greece’s defeat in the Greco-Turkish War.[8] During the interwar period, tensions remained high due to the educational issues surrounding the Greek minority in Albania.[d] Following Italy’s invasion of Greece from the territory of Albania in 1940 and the successful Greek counterattack, the Greek army briefly held Northern Epirus for a six-month period until the German invasion of Greece in 1941.

Tensions remained high during the Cold War, as the Greek minority was subjected to repressive measures (along with the rest of the country’s population). Although a Greek minority was recognized by the Hoxha regime, this recognition only applied to an “official minority zone” consisting of 99 villages, leaving out important areas of Greek settlement, such as Himara. People outside the official minority zone received no education in the Greek language, which was prohibited in public. The Hoxha regime also diluted the ethnic demographics of the region by relocating Greeks living there and settling in their stead Albanians from other parts of the country.[d] Relations began to improve in the 1980s with Greece’s abandonment of any territorial claims over Northern Epirus and the lifting of the official state of war between the two countries.[d] In the post Cold War era relations have continued to improve though tensions remain over the availability of education in the Greek language outside the official minority zone, property rights, and occasional violent incidents targeting members of the Greek minority.

Source : Wikipedia