In this topical text Paulin Kola challenges the accepted notion that there is widespread support for a "Greater Albania" among the Albanian-speaking peoples of the Balkans, and argues that Albanians do not wish to join a single, politically-recognized entity. He explains how the Albanians are marked by ideological, religious and other divisions, many of which were exacerbated by their differing reactions to nationalism, as experienced in Tito's Yugoslavia and Hoxha's Albania. When Kosovars (Albanians from Kosovo) came to Albania after the fall of communism, they were surprised to find an impoverished motherland uninterested in anything but survival, whereas Albania's citizens were dumbstruck by the relatively opulent lifestyles of the Kosovars and could not understand what more they could want. The violence that followed the dissolution of Yugoslavia brought the two groups closer together, but not enough to prompt Albanian citizens to fight alongside the Kosovars in the 1998-9 war, or the Macedonian Albanians in 2000-1. Moreover, Albania itself imploded at a crucial moment.
While a "Greater Kosovo" - incorporating the border regions of Macedonia - remains a remote possibility, there is little change of the Albanians of Albania or of the American and Swiss diasporas supporting moves to dissolve the present international borders in dispute of an "Albanian homeland". Albanians appear content to retain their discrete political entities, while travelling and trading freely.
Paulin Kola was one of the founders, in 1990, of Albania's first opposition party, then served as an Albanian diplomat. He has a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and is now with the BBC World Service.
The Albanians in history; Albanian-Yugoslav relations during and after the Second World War; Soviet-Yugoslav-Albanian relations; a republican in all but name; we want to be equal - Kosovo, 1981-90; the fall of communism in Albania and in Kosovo; post-communism.