The Establishment of the Principality
of Albania, 1912-1913.


The principality of Albania was established by act of the powers at the London Conference of Ambassadors at the special instigation of Austria and Italy. Its boundaries were to be established on ethnographic lines by an international commission. The new situation inherited two problems from the one previous to 1912. (1) The hostile relations between Serbia and the Albanians owing to the incursions into Serbian territory of Albanian bands and the soreness in Serbia on account of the refusal of the Conference of Ambassadors to grant her access to the Adriatic through Albania. (2) The status of the Greeks in Epirus, provisionally included in Albania and constituting a source of difficulty between Greece, Albania, and the powers.


Under pretext of defense against Albanian bands Serbia closed her frontier in June, 1913, shutting off Albanians from access to markets at Dibra and Djakoritza. The powers protested against this as hampering to the economic life of Albania and Serbia yielded on the question of these markets. Incursions of Albanians continued and on September 20, 1913, Serbia warned the powers she would take defensive measures in case these raids continued. On September 23 further attacks occurred and Serbia sent troops to the frontier and occupied positions within Albania. Serbia explained this to the powers as a defensive measure. Austria protested, at first "amicably," warning Serbia against any violation of the Albanian frontier. Serbia replied again that her measures were only defensive, but October 18 Austria sent an ultimatum ordering Serbia to evacuate Albania within eight days. Serbia yielded to this.


October 30, 1913, Austria and Italy sent a collective note to Greece charging that Greek terrorization in Epirus prevented the delimitation work of the commission, that in such cases of terrorization the commission would consider the village ipso facto Albanian, and finally demanded that Greece evacuate Albanian territory by December 31, 1912. The Greek reply (November 3) denied these charges and declared that the trouble arose from the inclusion of Greek population in Albania. December 13 Sir Edward Grey sent a note to all the powers urging postponement of date for Greek evacuation of Epirus, division of contested territory (without waiting for completion of the work of the commission) between Greece and Albania, and compensation for Greece in the acceptance of her claims in the Aegean Islands. This compromise, evidently aimed at saving the peace and ending a dangerous question, was accepted at once by France and Russia and finally (December 31) were agreed on in principle by the powers of the Triple Alliance, but securities were demanded that Greece would evacuate at the agreed time. After another interchange of notes an agreement was reached between the powers on the general basis of Sir Edward Grey's first proposals. Collective notes of the powers to Turkey and Greece were accepted by both with relation to Epirus boundary and settlement of Aegean Islands. But Greece, in her note of acceptance also demanded: (1) guarantees of religious equality for Greek Christians in Albania; (2) rectification of frontier; (3) permission for Greeks in Southern Albania to be enrolled in the Albanian gendarmerie as a protective measure. The first and last of these were accepted by the powers, the frontier rectification was refused. On April 27, Greece finally evacuated Albanian Epirus and the question was closed.

Source: Anderson, Frank Maloy and Amos Shartle Hershey, Handbook for the Diplomatic History of Europe, Asia, and Africa 1870-1914. Prepared for the National Board for Historical Service. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1918.

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