THE KOSOVO COMMITTEE AND YUGOSLAV-ALBANIAN RELATIONS
The Party of South Muslims (Dzemiet) and the Kosovo Committee, by different methods of work but with the same final objective, influenced decisively on the political determinations of the Albanian population in the Yugoslav state.
At the Congress in Skopje, held in mid December 1919, it was decided to found a political organization of “South Muslims” which would include Arbanas, Turks, and Muslims of Slavic origin in the area of Macedonia, Kosovo, Metohija, Sandzak and Montenegro i.e. regions that were annexed to Serbia and Montenegro after the Balkan wars. The Party of South Muslims (Dzemiet) appeared for the first time on the political scene at the elections for Constituent Assembly (November 1920), when it won 12 representatives’ mandates. Parallel with the legal political action the leaders of Dzemiet maintained close connections with illegal organizations (the Kosovo Committee or the Arnaut Club in Constantinople) and the kacac groups. Its political performance was based on illusory keeping of good relations with the leading political parties (People’s Radical Party and Democratic Party), unyielding in their fundamental demands (accomplishment of religious and educational autonomy, schools in native language, larger participation of Muslim representatives in local organs of power, exclusion of begluk (bey’s estate) from measures of agrarian reform, return of land allotted to čivčija (peasants) after 1913, introduction of Shari’a courts) and readiness to use all means (blackmail, concession, bribes) for realization of their objective. At the elections from March 1923 the electors in the south regions gave trust to Dzemiet 30.9% (4.5% votes in the Kingdom SCS). With 14 representatives’ mandates the Dzemiet represented a respectable political power which, in certain situations was in the opportunity to appear politically more independent, to “calculate” with the opposition or, again, to achieve their political goals by blackmails. In that way, in the beginning of December 1923, when the Parliament due to boycott of the opposition had no quorum, the leader of the Dzemiet, Ferat bey Draga, conditioned the presence of the representatives of his party at parliamentary sessions by precisely defined claims: passing the law on Shari’a courts, urgent providing of autonomy of vakuf (property of Muslim religious community), opening of Muslim religious schools, guarantee of right on “necessary maximum of land” for Muslims and annulling of sequester from estates. The non fulfillment of the mentioned requests affected the distancing of Dzemiet from power and his approaching to the opposition. Tying to the opposition block at the parliamentary elections from February 1925 resulted in election defeat, internal conflicts, losing of political and economic positions. The division and final split of the party, on its Muslim-Albanian and Muslim-Turkish part, led to complete marginalization of the organization and termination of its work. Its president Ferat bey Draga, as well as part of the Muslim-Albanian wing, continued illegal political activity mainly binding to the ideas, program and activities of the Kosovo Committee.
The relations of the Kingdom SCS and Albania, from the first day, were significantly determined by the Kosovo Committee. Established on November 7, 1918 the Kosovo Committee continued the activities of the Kosovo Defense Committee from 1913, and started its own political work in the manifestations on the occasion of the day of Albania’s creation, held in Skadar on November 28, 1918. In the political platform of this Committee the following were pointed out as main program objectives: decisive struggle for protection of territorial entirety in the area where Albanians lived, renewal of the Prizren League and liberation of Kosovo and other Albanian areas from “occupiers”. By this the nationalistic and terrorist activity of the Kosovo Committee found its strongpoint in history. Arising with the objective of protecting for the issue of Albanian borders at the forthcoming Peace Conference in Paris, the Kosovo Committee in the beginning of 1919 announced itself by calling the Albanians from Kosovo and Metohija to help by rebellion to the annexing of the mentioned territories to Albania. Directing the activity of outlaw groups towards that goal, the leadership of the Committee succeeded in Drenica and Prekorupa to gather around 10,000 rebels that would, in the following years be included in various forms of terror (“kacac” movement) with an objective of annexing Kosovo and Metohija, western Macedonia, and eastern part of Montenegro to Albania. The Kosovo Committee led the “kacac” movement. Its activities were a sensitive “barometer” for measuring relations between Rome, Tirana and Belgrade during the whole period between the First and Second World Wars. Even after formal dismissal in 1925 its illegal activity was felt and recognized in unofficial positions of the Albanian government, behavior of politicians in the Yugoslav state, and political conduct of the Albanian population.
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The beginning of the second government of Ahmed Zogu indicated deeper changes in the political relations of Albania and Yugoslavia. In January 1925, Ahmed Zogu formed a government in which his son-in-law Cena-bey Kryeziu was appointed for Minister of Internal Affairs. The government obliged itself that it would, along with defense of independency and integrity, lead a policy of friendship and good neighbors. The Government in Belgrade considered the return of Zogu to power as its big political success which guaranteed that, within a short period of time, numerous disputable issues with Albania would be solved. Namely, Zogu, during his stay in Belgrade gave many promises among which and those about definitive bordering at St. Naum and Vrmoš and prohibition of Kosovo Committee activity. Judging that the change of government in Tirana favored Yugoslav interests, the Italian government responded with propagandistic action and strengthening of work of military intelligence services. Determining between Italy and the Kingdom of SCS, Zogu essentially behaved in compliance with his favorite motto “Sell yourself but do not let yourself be bought, as others will not bargain you.”
By the prohibition of work of the Kosovo Committee, Zogu strived first of all to free from political opponents (Hasan Prishtina, Bajram Curi) but not to dismiss the organization whose program objectives he experienced as his own and strived to realize. While Fan Noli and Hasan Prishtina, not waiting for his return to Tirana, moved to Italy, Zogu’s biggest opponent Bajram Curi stayed in Malësia. After numerous chases after his groups and accomplices’ strongpoints, Bajram Curi was liquidated on March 28, 1925.
A number of members of the Kosovo Committee and the organization “Holy Unity” hid in Italy. Convinced that by their engagement they would influence more easily on the events in Albania, the Italian government “encamped” them in the area of Bari and Brindzi and transformed them in means of political pressure against А. Zogu. They counted particularly on Hasan Prishtina, Redzepi and Dervis Mitrovic and Bedri Pejani. In that purpose cooperation and with the dismissed “Dzemiet” – Ferat-bey Draga was continued.
The “usage” of this still very heterogeneous Albanian emigration was also felt by Zogu upon concluding Agreement of Loan and Emission Bank, in the beginning of 1925. As help from Belgrade was missing regarding the requested loan, Zogu submitted to the one who gave more and whose threats, at that time, were more dangerous regarding him. In that way Italian prestige was provided and a basis for economic and political penetration created.
Reduced to means of pressure against Zogu in obtaining political, economic and military arrangements from Italy, the Albanian and Kosovo emigration exactly from 1925 represented an important trump in the hands of the Italian operative policy. Penetration of Italy on the Balkans through Albania meant constant usage of Albanian emigration and stimulating of Albanian-Yugoslav contradictions primarily based on territorial aspiration and the position of the Albanian minority in the Kingdom of SCS.
After economic-financial and military arrangements with Italy and Zogu’s splitting up with Cena-bey Kryeziu, the relations with political circles of Belgrade weakened rapidly. About the changes which took place the warning of Cena-bey, Albanian member of Parliament in Belgrade, said in the end of 1925 strikingly spoke,: “Can’t you see that Ahmed-bey has become Mussolini’s exponent on the Balkans and that he has created a bridge from Albania across which Mussolini encroaches into the interests of the Balkan states today, in order to go over tomorrow and straightly attack Yugoslavia”.
In Belgrade, however, it was counted on the always unsafe and uncertain situation in North Albania. The breaking of the so-called Dukadjin rebellion in November 1926, in which some Albanian emigrants from Yugoslavia took place, gave a pretext to the Italian intelligence services to influence on Zogu pointing out that “Serbs have set in motion Albania again”. Indirectly after this rebellion the First Tirana Agreement was concluded between Albania and Italy on November 27, 1926.
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In Rome, despite the more and more stronger influence on Zogu, it was counted on that part of Kosovo emigration which with Hasan Prishtina and Mustafa Kruja put themselves in the service of Italian interests. The activity of the Kosovo Committee matched into the method of political struggle of the Ustashi and “Makedonstvojuscih”. All the more frequent meetings of Hasan Prishtina and Ivan Vanco Mihajlov in Rome, Sofia and Budapest – were becoming a part of Mussolini’s plans on destabilization of the Kingdom of SCS. From this cooperation the Agreement on common activity of the Kosovo Committee, the Ustashi and the “Makedonstvujuscih” came out. The separatist-secessionist movements for breaking the Kingdom of Yugoslavia became in that way an operative basis of strategic projects of fascism, which within the unsolved national and minority issues within the Kingdom of SCS kept finding a wider and wider area for activity.
In the beginning of 1927, the Yugoslav-Albanian relations were in the sign of mutual suspecting created by the “Dukadjin rebellion” and Italian-Albanian agreement from November, 27 1926. By arresting the interpreter of the Yugoslav Consulate in Durrës, at whom compromising letters of Cen-bey were founded, the Yugoslav-Albanian relations were completely disturbed and broken. Although this dispute, by mediation of England and France was smoothened out and diplomatic relations established (August 8 1927), the mutual suspecting did not stop either after appointment of Cen-bey for representative of Albania in Prague. By being appointed for representative in Prague, Cena-bey arrived to his already long ordered liquidation. By his murder in Prague on October 14, 1927 one more evident danger for Zogu was removed and Yugoslavia was left without “confidential man”.
Part of Italian-Albanian propaganda was the “Petition” of Hasan Prishtina, addressed to the League of Peoples on September 1927, which turned attention of the international public to the difficult position of the Albanian minority in Kosovo and Metohija. After that, the Albanian chargé d’affairs in Belgrade Tahira Stila, using data from the “Petition” of Hasan Prishtina, pointed out especially that in the Kingdom of SCS there lived as much as 900,000 Albanians without any minority rights. Although not real and false, this data was used as position of the Albanian government during the entire up to the war period.
News on proclamation of Ahmed Zogu of “King of all Albanians” and open striving of Italy to help him in that intention and win him over to their side for accepting the terms of military pact, gave a new instigation to the rebelled Albanian irredentism in the end of 1928. By concluding a new agreement with Italy – Second Tirana Pact on November 22, 1927 – Zogu tied the political destiny of Albania with strategic interests of Rome. Repressed on the political and military plan and crushed with greater and greater internal difficulties, the government of the Kingdom of SCS in these years was before complete defeat of political and military conceptions based on the principle “Balkan – to Balkan peoples”.
Neither on the economic plan was the situation better. Insufficient public security, weak central power, kacac traditions, unsafe roads, frequent “closing of borders” influenced the economic balance with Albania to be almost 38 times less that the one that country was making with Italy. Financial support given by Serbian-Albanian Bank (founded in August, 22 with the purpose of strengthening political relations by economic interests) to the economic relations of the two countries lost on its intensity after signing the Italian-Albanian pact in Tirana and closing of the bank (1927). Participation of Yugoslavia in the Albanian import in the decade 1921-1931 was between 2.7% and 9.4%, while the share of Italy varied from 48.4% to 76.1%. In the same period Albanian export to Yugoslavia amounted from 1.5% to 3.4%, while import to Italy amounted from 44.8% to 68.8%. During the years of dictatorship (imposed on January 6, 1929) an attempt of more aggressive economic engagement in Albania was made. This was to be served by, among others, the opening of the Commercial-Economic Section with the Yugoslav Legation in Tirana and founding of the Political-Economic Committee for Albanian relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Belgrade (1934). But these efforts gave no significant results.
From the beginning of 1930 Albania, on the basis of the agreement with Italy from 1926 and 1927, was rapidly transforming the strongpoint of Italian imperialist policy for final settlement with the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
To the warnings of the government in Belgrade that Italy was transforming Albania into a colony and bridgehead for future war with Yugoslavia, appropriate attention was not given either in Paris or London.
Failed assassination attempt on Zogu during his stay in Vienna (February 20, 1931), warned the international public of the political ferments in Albania. From the Yugoslav side certain attempts were made that no riots occur on the Albanian border and regarding this attention was turned to Gani-bey Kryeziu, brother of Cena-bey, Zogu’s opponent who already in 1928 left Albania and returned to Djakovica, that no subversive activity on his side would be tolerated.
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At the end of the third decade work of the Italian military intelligence services, especially in the zones along the Yugoslav-Albanian border were intensified. Upon arrival of Angelo Antica for inspector of physical fitness activities at the Kosovo boarding school in Kukës (1928), this part of the Kosovo emigration was found under control of Italian intelligence service and secret political police for stamping out anti-fascism. By including youth in Kosovo boarding schools Antica developed a whole series of anti-Yugoslav activities in compliance with the platform of the Kosovo Committee. Further economic penetration of Italy into Albania was tied with conclusion of loan at the amount of 100 million golden francs with return period of ten years, at the end of June 1931.
During strenuous negotiations Zogu, confronted with extremely big Italian influence, tried to provide improvement of relations with the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Continuing with political abolition of emigrants who moved to Yugoslavia, the government in Tirana accepted the agreement on extradition in September 1931 and in compliance with its stipulations promised undertaking of all necessary measures to prevent intrusions of kacac groups. Encouraged by the initiatives of the Balkan Conferences from 1930 and 1931 and by better and better relations with the governments in Belgrade and London, Zogu at the end of 1931 denied to prolong the validity of the First Tirana Agreement with Italy from 1926. Because of this and because of destructive impact of the economic crisis Albania fell into economic difficulties. Italy conditioned giving of new financial installments from the loan from June 1931 by concluding of “customs union” and request to replace the British instructors in the army and the gendarmerie with Italian. This caused reaction of the Yugoslav government which estimated that conclusion of “customs union” with Italy meant a step towards a fuller annexation of Albania. From efforts of Yugoslav-Albanian approaching a new Commercial Agreement was signed on December 20, 1933, which predicted increase of Yugoslav import and decrease of Albanian commercial deficit. In May 1934 an Agreement on Regulating Local Border Traffic was signed and a branch of the Yugoslav Export Bank opened in Tirana. Negotiations were also led about approving Yugoslav loan at the amount of 3 million francs to Albania. However, all the cited attempts did not give expected results since big economic and financial difficulties simply pushed Albania into Italian arms. The Italian government undertook actions of further preventing of Yugoslav-Albanian approaching. In that purpose it approved of a loan to Albania at the amount of 3 million francs and by this increased the import of Albanian goods. But for giving new installments from the loan signed in 1932 it insisted on regulating the disputable issues, so the Italian-Albanian relations fell into difficulties again. Using the policy of “maneuvering” Zogu expressed readiness of Albania to join the Balkan agreement in summer 1935. This stimulated the government of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia to mark the admission of Albania into the pact of Balkan Agreement as one of the most important issues of Balkan security. On the contrary, the government of Greece did not believe in the honesty of Zogu’s policy and, from there, did not show readiness for Yugoslav initiative.
And while on the foreign political plan Zogu approached Yugoslavia, through his services he speeded up settling of accounts with his political opponents. In August 1933, in Thessaloniki, the ideological leader of Kosovo emigration and organizer of emigrant Committees in Vienna, Paris, Budapest and Thessaloniki, Hasan Prishtina was killed. The murder of Hasan Prishtina was exploited for propaganda as final liquidation of the Kosovo Committee, but, in essence, it enabled Zogu to take over the leading role in realizing the policy of Greater Albania. Metaphorically determining for this policy, Zogu preparing best wishes on the occasion of Bairam in 1934 sent a message: “As a man can not do anything without his right hand, so Albania can not without Kosovo”. In the beginning of September 1934, as reaction to the beginning of the Yugoslav-Albanian negotiations about moving around 200,000 Muslims from Macedonia, Kosovo, Metohija, Sandzak and Montenegro into Turkey, a Committee on examining the position of the Kosovars was formed upon Zogu’s recommendation (special duties were given to Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania and representative in Belgrade) whose assignment was to consider the issue of position and moving out of Albanians from Yugoslavia. Engaged in that way on preventing the moving out of Albanian population and at the same time calculating and negotiating with the government in Belgrade around possible acceptance of “up to 40,000 Albanians” who would move to Albania, the government in Tirana internationalized this issue to quite an extent and reduced it to relation towards Albanian minority in Yugoslavia.
To Zogu’s “political maneuvers” Italy answered by seductive political alternative on broadening Albania with Yugoslav Kosovo and Greek northern Epirus (Cameria). In this context activities of the Kosovo Committee were renewed. At the same time a brochure – pamphlet of Mehmed Vokshi was published in Rome, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of “waiting” for accomplishment of the program of the Prizren League, in which the ethnographic territories of future Albania were marked.
Carrying out a rough pressure on Zogu, Italy instigated dissatisfaction which in August 1935 led to rebellion in Fieri (southern Albania). These events influenced on Zogu’s decision to abandon “policy of maneuvering”. The political turning point reflected on refusal of Albania to vote for economic sanctions against Italy because of attack against Ethiopia (October 1935) in the League of Peoples and signing of 12 economic-financial agreements with Italy (March 19, 1936). The cited agreements had a particular political and economic importance and let to new aggravation of Yugoslav-Albanian relations. Because of changes indicated by these agreements, the diplomatic representatives and the military envoy of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, in reports from Albania, warned that the following should be taken into consideration that besides the official the secret agreements by which the issues of common engagement of Albanian and Italian services about propagating political objectives of the Kosovo Committee are regulated should also be considered.
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In the majority of reports from Albania and the ones which the Command of border groups addressed to competent ministries, it was confirmed that, under the influence of propaganda from Albania about “near” annexation of Kosovo, the resistance towards policy of displacement and colonization kept strengthening among the population of border districts. It was also emphasized that the “Djakovica district” represented the safest support for destructive action against our country. In reports of the Border Troops Command it was pointed out that “the stronger movement of Kosovars” started from March 1936, that Ferat-bey Draga through his agents kept relations with Murat-bey from Peć who after escape to Albania had become one of the “officials of the Kosovo Committee”, and that organized “secret courts” represented local bureaus for the intelligence service through which local leaders kept relations with Albania. From the beginning of 1936 a larger activity of the Islam spiritual leaders through Muslim religious schools – mejtefs was noticed. From the center of local religious organizations alarming messages were sent that Albania would, with the help of Italy, soon broaden “all up to Kačanik”. In reports it is stated that under the influence of Albanian irredentist propaganda the general situation in the border districts, and especially in the Djakovica district, during May 1936, left an impression of organized separatist movement. Similar activity was felt and in other border districts where the local leaders worked according to instructions of Ferat-bey Draga, Sherif Voka and Gani-bey Kryeziu. In expanding Albanian propaganda, besides consulates in Skopje and Bitola, a more noticeable role had the members of the Students’ association “Besa”, founded in Belgrade in 1935 according to instructions of Albanian legation in Belgrade.
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In the purpose of surpassing Yugoslav-Italian oppositions, secret Yugoslav-Italian negotiations started in the end of 1936, which were terminated by the Agreement signed on March 25, 1937 in Belgrade. As special attention was paid to the issue of Albania during the negotiations, on the occasion of signing the agreement, confidential letters were exchanged between Yugoslav and Italian diplomacy of Milan Stojadinović and duke Ciano in which mutual consent on accepting the existing position and not undertaking of measures that would, in the future, in any way prevent discrediting of Albanian independency was confirmed. By such a position the government of Milan Stojadinović accepted the up to then accomplished Italian prestige in Albania, and the Italian government obliged to restraint from undertaking measures of military engagement in Albania.
Convictions which duke Ciano gave to king Zogu on the occasion of his official visit to Tirana, end of April 1937, calmed down the Albanian government and for short drove away fears that signing of the Yugoslav-Albanian agreement could endanger Albanian independency or be to the disadvantage of the already accomplished Albanian-Italian relations. Zogu’s regime used Ciano’s visit to point out Italian-Albanian “deep friendship” but also the necessity of approaching with Yugoslavia. In that purpose, during the summer months of 1937, Albanian initiatives for concluding political and economic agreement with Yugoslavia followed. These initiatives did not find understanding by the Yugoslav side which the just concluded agreement with Italy obliged to “conserving” the existing state of events. The insisting of Tirana on increase of size of economic cooperation, resulted in double increase of Albanian deficit in trade ratio with Yugoslavia in 1937 (import from Albania covered only 3.2% of the value of import from Yugoslavia). With this the Italian policy of “peaceful” penetration was essentially additionally intensified. The Munich Agreement and the breaking of Czechoslovakia represented that needed political framework necessary for the liquidation of Albanian independency, which on the economic plan already did not exist. In order to escape opposition of Yugoslavia the government of Milan Stojadinović was offered participation in division of Albania. In that purpose negotiations were led during the visit of the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs duke Ciano to Yugoslavia.
In the meantime in Albania during 1937 manifestations on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Albanian state were organized. In these manifestations a “new moment” of Albanian foreign policy was noticed which consisted of direct engagement on the issues of displacing Albanians from Yugoslavia. The Albanian government dealt with these displacements transforming it during 1937 to a particular political campaign. Their place in it had diplomatic representatives in Yugoslavia who, through consulates in Skopje and Bitola, engaged representatives of the Kosovo Committee in stopping the displacements. The campaign against displacement defined anew the “Albanian area” and its borders. This is testified by circular of the Albanian Ministry of Internal Affairs sent to schools of northern and middle Albania which spoke that “national borders of Albania spread to Priština, Skopje, Bitola and Ohrid”. Expectations that the application of the “Belgrade Agreement” would contribute to stoppage of “Kosovo irredentism” were not realistic, as the organization and secret activity of various leaderships of the Kosovo Committee in Albania and abroad coincided more and more with the mentioned strivings of the Albanian government.
On preventing Albanian-Yugoslav cooperation regarding the started negotiations about moving one part of the Albanian population from Kosovo and Metohija into Albania and conclusion of agreement on extradition, was under the influence, to an important degree, of the spreading of irredentist propaganda through Kosovo emigrants, placed along the border zones of Kukës, Tropaje and Debar. Rejecting of Turkey to initial the Convention on Displacement convinced the Albanian political circles that the started activities against displacement should be continued.
Expectations that in the spirit of Italian-Yugoslav agreement there would be removing of Kosovo emigrants from the regions of Tropaje, Kukës and Bicaj were not realized. Moreover, the Yugoslav authorities did not succeed in enabling the action of Albanian emigrants in Djakovica, Prizren and Debar in an adequate way, although from the beginning of March 1938 the Ministries of Foreign and Internal Affairs of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Command of the Third Army Region, disposed of many data about the work of certain emigrants in organizing secret boards of the Kosovo Committee. Following these activities, the Command of Border Troops pointed out to the necessity of more efficient removal of Albanian emigrants from the areas of the Djakovica, Prizren and Debar district. It so happened that, at first glance, two irreconcilably confronted political groups, because of their positions and conflicts had to leave the territory of their home land and find shelter in the neighborhood, realized on both sides of the Yugoslav-Albanian frontier the same political program – program of which the final goal was Greater Albania.
Overestimating the necessity of unreduced engagement of military forces on the territory of the Third Army Region, the military authorities, under the influence of the events in Czechoslovakia, stated: “The Arnaut population on the territory of this army region, and especially on the territory of the Kosovo division region, rose its head under the influence of events in Czechoslovakia, and the Arbanas irredenta is strengthening its propaganda in our territory spreading further voices that Metohija and areas settled by Arnauts shall be returned to Albania.” At the trail of such expectations in the Albanian Parliament, on the occasion of manifestations organized in the honor of Zogu’s birthday (October 10, 1938), slogans such as the following were heard: “Kosovo, Debar and Cameria are boiling and from each side joyful shouting is heard live king Zogu and Albania.” Demostrations in Korçë, at which the participants requested annexing of Kosovo and Cameria to Albania, were only a confirmation of the already for a long time propagandistically indicated revenging requests. This was connected also with the frequented writing of Albanian press about territorial and ethnical concepts of the Prizren League from 1878. Reports of the Yugoslav legation in Tirana for October, November and December 1938 showed that in renewing “irredentist requests” towards Yugoslavia the Albanian government earmarked a key role to the Kosovo emigration. The Yugoslav-Turkish Convention on Displacement was commented persistently both in official and in emigrant press as challenge for all Albanians wherever they were, and about Kosovo and Cameria it was more and more often written as “unliberated Albanian provinces”.
The Italian government did not keep its promise that it would not instigate “Albanian irredentism” or “Kosovo separatism”. During April and May 1939 at the time of consolidation of Italian fascist regime in Albania, the activities of the Kosovars were controlled. However, after short crisis created by Italian intervention, rumors were renewed that what Zogu did not succeed in shall be realized by Mussolini’s regime. In that purpose, at the beginning of June 1939, an Irredentist bureau in Rome was founded. In talks with Ribentrop (May 21,1939) duke Ciano pointed out particularly the importance of Albania for future strategic penetration of the Axis Powers to the Balkans and in the Mediterranean. In relation to this Ciano wrote: “I’m enthusiastic by our intention to transform Albania into a fortification which will inexorably rule the Balkans”. On that basis alarming news about near annexation of Kosovo and Cameria to “new” Albania were spread. From May 1939 in Kukës his earlier started mission Angelo Antica continued by spreading agents of the Kosovo Committee on both sides of the Albanian-Yugoslav border. In that way Ciano’s thought that the separatist movement of Kosovo Albanians would as soon as possible become “knife pointed at the spine of Belgrade” was being realized. Following these events well informed Ferat bey Draga strived to make use of hinting on usage of Kosovo emigration for his own political promotion maintaining relations with Zogu and keeping in state of alert the relations with escaped emigrants in Macedonia, Kosovo and Metohija during the Italian intervention. Draga recommended himself to the Albanian and Italian services.
Uniting of Italian and Albanian diplomatic representative offices in Yugoslavia also influenced on the spreading of propaganda “about new” and “great” Albania. This influenced during summer 1939 on the change of political mood among the Albanians in Yugoslavia. Reports of certain Italian officials as well as the visit of Marshall Badoglio to Tirana and Skadar on June 20, 1939 contributed to this significantly. In his speech held on this occasion Badoglio, besides other, sent a message that “Albania will be enlarged”. The representatives of the fascist party in Albania (Tefik M. Borija) also emphasized that soon, under the auspices of fascism, a strong Albanian state would be created “in its real borders”. In spreading the Albanian propaganda duke Ciano gave instructions on June 22, 1939 regarding the case of crisis in Yugoslavia counting on the possibility of unrests in Croatia and in Kosovo and Metohija. During the second half of 1939 a rapid gathering of refugees and emigrants from Kosovo and Metohija were noticed in the zones along the Albanian-Yugoslav border. “Kosovars” were entrusted with the help of Italian intelligence to “clear” the way to Greater Albania. In that purpose the leadership of the Kosovo Committee returned to Tirana, and afterwards a new one was established under the name “Komision” led by Bedri Pajani. During July 1939 the Albanian prime minister Vrlaci, in talks with the members of the Kosovo Committee, explained the annexation of Albania to Italy as necessity to annex entire southern Serbia and “all places where Arnauts live today as majority” with their help. Following the activities of Italian and Albanian services in Yugoslavia (Ferat bey Draga) sent a message to the Muslims and Arnauts in south Serbia to gather and prepare for the time that was coming.