The only correct approach for the Hellenic national issues in terms of foreign policy is to base it, on scientific analysis and on some basic principles of a long-term strategy, which should be specialized in all specific circumstances. Needless to say, that strategy is an unknown word to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hellas and in the Hellenic political parties… This is also true in the case of North Epirus, which is the south part of the state of Albania.
The Hellenic strategic aim of Hellas in Albania should be the cultural, linguistic and economical re-hellenization of its southern territories, which constitute the Hellenic land of North Epirus.
The relative dehellinization of North Epeirus (which was Greek for thousands of years) happened during the communist regime of Hodja. Since 1990 the wrong Hellenic policy, due to lack of a clear and long-term national strategy, lead the majority of the Voreiopeirotes (North Epirus Greeks) in Greece and weakened the Hellenic element in North Epirus. Let’s all remember that North Epirus has always been inhabited by Greeks, it was liberated 3 times by the Greek army in the 20th century, it became autonomous with the still existing Protocol of Kerkira (Corfu) in 1914 (it is not cancelled by any other international treaty). In 1945 the Greek government had asked for union with Greece, (but the great powers postponed the demand after the end of the German problem-1989). Let’s not forget that the southern Albanians, the Tosks, are related to Hellenes from an anthropological and national point of view. They «lost» their Greek language after the Roman conquest, but they preserved the feeling of their belonging to Hellenism. Today almost all of them speak Greek and are Greek-Orthodox Christians.
1914, The Chronicle of the Struggle for Autonomy
In 1913 Northern Epirus was freed by the Hellenic Forces. For reasons beyond its control, Northern Epirus lost the chance for joining the mother-country Hellas.
The timeline of historic events, concerning the Northern Epirus case, was unfolded as follows:
Prior to the freedom of the town of Ioannina (21st Dec.1913), the Greek Army had entered in the northernepirotan territory from the east and, after the battles that took place, freed Corytsa raising the Hellenic cross-flag (7th Dec.1912).
Following the liberation of Ioannina, on 3rd March 1913, Hellenic Forces came in to Argyrokastro and Delvino and the next day to Tepeleni. The way to Avlona was now open. Nevertheless, this course of action was never taken.
The Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, according to the telegraph sent to the heir apparent, Constantine, was stating that the territorial borderline not to be crossed was, on the one side, reaching Tepeleni and on the other ending to Mochopolis. Areas located in the south of Moschopolis and already taken over by the Hellenic Army were supposedly the first to be joined to Hellas. Areas in the north and up to the Gennousos River would not be freed.
Besides Avlona, which represented the second target zone of the Hellenic Army, the first one included the areas of Aghioi Saranda, Chimara, Argyrokastro, Premeti and Corytsa that had already been liberated. Hellas, «allured» by the Great Powers, agreed to settle down with the overtaken areas and not to proceed further.
Unfortunately, even the liberated territory, was not indisputably defined. On May 1913 after the treaty of London was signed, the 1st Balkan War was terminated. According to the articles 2 and 3 of the present agreement, Turkey gave up and transferred its authority on the Balkan countries to the local leaders. The area of Albania was left out of these articles. Its ruling and «care» was handled by the Great Powers (Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Austro-Hungary and Italy). Furthermore, according to the 5th article of the pact, the responsibility of the designation of the Aegean Islands was held by the Great Powers. That would cause in the future the reason for a dilemma of Hellas choosing between Northern Epirus and Aegean Islands.
On July of the same year, Great Powers had taken under their protection Albania, which was established as inherited monarchy, independent and neutral. On December 1913 on the grounds of the «Florence Protocol», the territory of Northern Epirus was passing on to the newly-formed Albanian state.
Now we will present the necessary principles, of the suggested Hellenic policy on the Northern Epirus issue:
1) Hellas should promote a small Marshall Plan for the rebuilding and development of Southern Albania, especially of North Epirus.
2) The demanded autonomy of North Epirus can be legally claimed, based on the Protocol of Kerkira (Corfu) of 1914 if the Voreioepeirotes demand it. This does not seem possible because the great majority of them are in Greece.
3) As it is for the greatest national interest to protect the Hellenic national place of North Epirus, all Greek politicians and journalists must refer to south Albania as North Epirus. Providence must be taken to keep the Greeks, Orthodox and Greek-speaking Albanians in North Epirus, and for the return of those who went to Greece during the last 18 years…
4) The re-hellinization of the Tosks (the southern Albanians).
By Michael D. Rellos