During the “Anniversary of the No”, a day that is celebrated throughout Greece, Cyprus and the Greek communities around the world on 28 October each year, Constantine Katsifas was killed by the Albanian special force RENEA.
No Day commemorates the rejection by Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on 28 October 1940, the Hellenic counterattack against the invading Italian forces at the mountains of Pindus during the Greco-Italian War, and the Greek Resistance during the Axis occupation.
Katsifas was killed by Albanian fire, defending the Greek cemetery in Vouliarates, a village in Northern Epirus (the Albanians claim the region as southern Albania).
The murder, coupled with the climate in the Balkans and the strong relations between Albania and Kosovo, clear the air, for a larger plan that leads the Balkans step by step in serious crisis.
A declassified CIA report warns of the chances of a very high instability in the Balkans, which may be caused by the mistreatment of the Greek minority in Albania.
The report stresses that this instability may be detrimental to US interests.
The June 1994 report was designed and executed during a period of intense tensions between the two countries following a violent border intervention in April of the same year.
Two Albanian soldiers were killed by a little-known Greek nationalist organization, the Northwest Liberation Front (MABH).
The report then highlighted the US’s concern to support post-communist Albania, which was seen as its closest ally to the Balkans.
Although, the current crisis that occurred after the assassination of Constantine Katsifa in 28th October (Α national day for Greece) is different. The document highlights the American thought of a possible Greek-Albanian conflict now and/or in the future.
In 1994, Greece strongly criticized the Albanian behavior against the Greek minority, while Tirana expressed fears that Athens had plans to occupy the Greek minority region in southern Albania.
The CIA report said that a crisis on the issue of the minority would lead to retaliation in Greece, which “could destabilize the pro-American government of Tirana for the benefit of the former Communists.”
“Continuing tensions with Greece would also have a negative internal impact on Albania,” said in a statement to policy makers in Washington on strategic relations with the former communist country.
He adds that the Greek population of Albania “could become the focus of a serious and destabilizing crisis between the two countries.”
Although CIA analysts have not found evidence that Albania is pursuing a policy of systematic intimidation of the Greek minority or attempting to expel Greeks, they underlined that “some Greeks’s complaints against Tirana are legitimate.”
The report acknowledged that the Greeks are being harassed by the Albanian authorities in matters relating to education and under-representation in police and military.
Greek minorities have been excluded from funded education in “minority areas” in the south of Albania (Northern Epirus), where the majority of Greeks live, according to the report.
There was only one “Greek presence in the Albanian police and army” and virtually no Greek was in positions of power.
The Greeks also complained about the refusal of the Albanian government to return large areas of land previously belonging to the Orthodox Church.
If tensions remain the Greek minority in Albania, it will become a target of forced “ethnic cleansing”, while Athens will be subject to intense public pressure for more extreme action, including military action, “the US report warns.
On the other hand, the report says that Tirana’s concerns about perceived Greek irresponsibility would push the Albanian authorities to curb Greek minority political activities, which would probably be controlled by Athens.
The report also warned Greece that, in the long run, mutual hostility would undermine its ambitions to take political and economic leadership in the region.
“Greek intransigence in the Balkans will further remove Greeks from their European and American partners.”
The CIA report pointed out that while there were no reliable statistics, the Greeks were the largest minority in Albania and probably account for between 3 and 5% of the population, with about 100,000-150,000 people.
Half of Albania’s Greek minority is in Greece.
The size of the Greek minority in Albania remains a matter of conflict between Tirana and Athens. Albanian authorities claim there are about 60,000-80,000 Greek expatriates in Albania, while Athens says there are between 300,000 and 500,000.
It is an appreciation that Albanians will in any case not continue to provoke after the Albanian Special Forces RENEA executed Constantine Katsifas, because they are exposed to international public opinion.
Besides all that, Kosovo creates an illegal tactical army, with the warm support of Albania, which stimulates events and looks to take advantage of every opportunity, with the sole aim of creating the “Greater Albania”.
A major issue has come after the information on proclaiming the establishment of regular Kosovo armed forces in violation of UN article 1244, drawing the justified wrath of Moscow and Belgrade.
Since early October, the US has suddenly changed its position, and the US Embassy in Pristina has given the “green light” to the Kosovo government to build an army and set up a Ministry of Defense.
Over the next three years, Kosovo authorities will buy weapons worth 300 million euros for their army.
According to Serbian media, Albanians will buy 100 M1A1, 300 Jeep and Toma M113 A2 as anti-tank systems from US stocks.
The plans for the purchase of heavy weapons were announced shortly after the adoption of the law establishing the army of Kosovo, consisting of 5,000 soldiers and a “multinational” on paper, as the Albanians will dominate while the Serbs have a mandate not to participate.
Kosovo’s parliament decided with a majority vote (101 out of 120 deputies) to change its Security Force (KSF) into a regular army, in violation of UN article 1244.
Serbia speaks clearly about the beginning of the plan to create “Greater Albania”, which will seriously destabilize the Balkan region.
The confirmation of this extremely dangerous scenario for Greece, as well as for other countries in the Balkans, is indirectly confirmed by the current Albanian Diaspora Minister, Pantelis Maiko, who speaks about dealing with security issues jointly by the Albanian and Kosovar army.
Pantelis Maiko welcomed the first approval of the three laws to transform the Kosovo Security Force into a regular army and stressed that the national security of Albania and Kosovo is inseparable.
Former Prime Minister and current Minister of Diaspora in the Albanian government, in a recent interview, said Kosovo’s army would also make Albania stronger.
“It is a form of legal issues that will have to be definitively closed in Kosovo, which has the right to procure heavy weapons, as all nations buy, because Kosovo is a country that builds its security policy with my country.
What is important to say is that the national security of Albania and Kosovo is inseparable. If Kosovo cools or coughs, and vice versa, it also concerns us, “said Maiko.
With the pressure on the Greek minority in Albania and North Epirus to escalate after the murder of the Greek, Constantine Katsifas, as well as the apparent support of the Albanian state in Kosovo, Albania’s Balkan aspirations are clear.
The one and only goal for Albanian nationalists is the composition of the “Greater Albania”.
Greater Albania is an irredentist concept of lands that are considered to form the national homeland by many Albanians, based on claims on the present-day or historical presence of Albanian populations in those areas.
According to the Albanians, in addition to the existing Republic of Albania, the term incorporates claims to regions in the neighboring states, the areas include Kosovo and the Preševo Valley of Serbia, territories in southern Montenegro, northwestern Greece (the Greek regional units of Thesprotia and Preveza, referred by Albanians as Chameria, and other territories that were part of the Vilayet of Yanina during the Ottoman Empire), and a part of western Republic of Macedonia.
Top Photo: Isa Boletini statue. Mitrovica, 2010. He was a Kosovo Albanian nationalist figure and guerrilla fighter in the Ottoman Kosovo Vilayet. His figure plays an important role in the modern nationalist propaganda in Kosovo. IMAGE: FitimSelimi/Wikimedia