March 29, 2011, Bronx, NY -- Ignorance comes in many forms. And all of them are dangerous. As Albanians around the world eagerly anticipate the 100-year anniversary of the Albanian Uprising of 1911, or “Kryengritja e Malësise Madhe”, an interesting development is taking shape, or lest I say, an interesting stasis, that one can argue is advocating ignorance of historic proportions. Podgorica’s neglect of Malesia’s celebrated milestone should not surprise anyone, but even the most loyal democratic adherents have to shake their heads at how ignorant a state can behave with its most important ethnic minority.
Albanians make up a sizeable population in Montenegro, and with the national census soon approaching, the numbers will have significant impact on society, culture and development, both in Malësia and among its Slavic towns to the north. "Kryengritja" is one of the most important dates in Albanian history. Yet, Podgorica has made no effort to promote this event, nor sponsor any activity associated with the week-long celebrations currently under way in Hoti, Gruda, Trieshi, or even along its neighbor in Shkodra. To all the naysayers, 1911 was just as significant to Montenegro as it was to Albanians. By all accounts, had Albanians not engaged the Asian invaders head on, Montenegro would cease to exist as a state today. This is a fact. Moreover, due to external policies with her neighbors, Montenegro was in no position to devote its military towards the Turkish insurrections coming from the south and east. Had it not been for the brave men who assembled from the villages, valleys, and mountains of Malësia, the landscape of Podgorica today would resemble that of Istanbul. Indeed, the Montenegro of today would look, feel and smell very different.
Who is remembering 1911 one-hundred years later?
Will the week-long celebrations, which will culminate on April 6th, be broadcast on Montenegro’s national TV? Will Podgorica be handing out medals to the families of those who died for freedom? Will non-Albanians be attending this historic day? Will schools throughout Montenegro be talking about Kryengritja? Will students learn to appreciate the ethnic minorities that live down their streets, and gain a better understanding of their culture, history, and contributions to their state? Will April 6th ever become a national holiday in Montenegro?
Sadly, the answer to all of these questions is, NO. This is only a wrinkle in the ethnic cleavages that exist today in Montenegro. If Albanians who have gathered in towns and villages this week to remember Deda and his fellow compatriots do not engage the state to recognize this historic feat, and provide Albanians with the recognition they legally and morally deserve, Kryengritja will soon be an after-thought in history.
Out of curiosity... who wrote this article? I see it was published in Bronx, NY.
I couldn't have said it better. Amen!
I would suspect that the webmaster wrote this, or whomever has access to the blog. But a name would be nice.
I would never count on Slavs to promote anything Albanian. Melsores will have to fight this forever.
It was written by a colleague of this blog, published only here.
A very poorly written article. It's completely one-sided (no surprise), contains zero facts, and is littered with platitudes.
Yea so is your fucking country. The truth hurts doesn't it Miroslav?
"A very poorly written article"?
Can you enlighten us all with a proper two-sided response?
"Zero facts"? Do you refute any of the comments in this article? If so, which ones, and as you rebuttal, please provide facts.
"littered with platitudes"?
I have read this piece twice and I cannot disagree with anything in it. What do YOU disagree with? As tradition has it with Slavistic xenophobia, when faced with facts (and yes these are facts), you attempt to (miserably) discount the obvious ... it was attempted in Kosovo, Macedonia, and Souther Serbia for decades.
When your tail is caught under the tire, you cry foul. No more my Montenergin friend.
Be sure that you do not need citations to prove anything false in that piece.
But just for fun, I await your response.
If you want facts, just read the article below this. Its all neatly organized (with facts), but sorry its not written in Serbian.
When is the Kryengritja party in Detroit?
PODGORICA, Montenegro – Montenegro and Kosovo are holding their first census since gaining independence, rekindling the bitter ethnic rivalries that tore the Balkan region apart.
Billboards championing different ethnicities line Montenegro streets, with pro-Serb and staunchly patriotic Montenegrins accusing each other of pressuring citizens into declaring their ethnicity amid campaigns that include nationalist rhetoric.
"This census is a test of Montenegrin national awareness," says Goran Lukacevic, a 35-year-old teacher from the capital, Podgorica.
The pre-census atmosphere in this tiny country of around 600,000 has turned into a battle between pro-Serb groups and Montenegrins who narrowly split the country from Serbia in a referendum in 2006.
Pro-Serb politician Andrija Mandic this week accused Montenegrin authorities of leading an aggressive campaign.
They have "violently assimilated some national communities, especially the Serb community," he charged.
Another pro-Serb politician has asked for citizenship in neighboring Serbia. Montenegrin authorities promptly stripped him of his Montenegrin identification documents until his final status is resolved
Census are a sensitive topic in the Balkans, as they determine the number of Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks, Muslims, Montenegrins and ethnic Albanians who make up new states created after the violent breakup of Yugoslavia in 1990s. Millions of people were forced to leave their homes during the orgies of violence that accompanied the dissolution, and many had to resettle elsewhere. The census will illustrate how many have returned.
Croatia started its second census Friday. During its first population count in 2001 the minority Serbs — a majority of whom fled the Croatian region in fear of their lives after Croatia retook Serb-held areas in 1995 — numbered around 200,000, some 5 percent of the population.
Croatia has since pledged to facilitate the return of Serb refugees and the country is hoping numbers will have risen in the spirit of reconciliation — an important sign if Croatia is to reach its goal of joining the European Union.
Other Balkan countries are also moving toward reconciliation as they seek to join the EU — but the tensions that led to wars remain.
In the Montenegrin capital Podgorica, the patriotic Montenegrin camp stirred local emotion by erecting a giant billboard outside Parliament: "Isn't Montenegro dear to you?" the image of a 19th century Montenegrin king questioned from above.
Not to be defeated, the pro-Serb camp has responded with billboards picturing another 19th century monarch from the same royal family — this ruler, however, proclaims he is Serbian and proud.
According to the 2003 census, 620,145 people live in Montenegro — 43 percent Montenegrins and 31 percent Serbs. The rest declare themselves Bosniaks, Muslims, ethnic Albanians or Croats.
Lukacevic says Montenegrins should state who they are to confirm their statehood.
"If we fail this test, our referendum victory from 2006 will have a bitter taste," he said. "The Balkans is quiet now, but our neighbors are always eyeing our property, name and our soul."
Montenegrins decided to separate from Serbia in a tense referendum in 2006, when pro-independence voters won by a slim majority. The narrow difference — 55 percent in favor of independence and 45 percent against — illustrated the divisions in the country.
In neighboring Kosovo, which — with the help of the West — declared independence from Serbia in 2008, the census is the first in three decades. However, the minority Serbs have announced a boycott out of a profound loyalty to Serbia, which does not recognize the independence.
Kosovo has about 2 million people, mostly ethnic Albanians — the leaders of the 1998 rebellion. Belgrade responded with a bloody crackdown, which triggered NATO bombing that ended Serbia's rule in 1999.
The prewar Serb population was estimated at around 300,000, but many left after 1999 fearing revenge attacks from the ethnic Albanian majority. Those remaining have refused to recognize the country's ethnic Albanian authorities.
In Belgrade, Serbian officials have sought to encourage Serbs in other Balkan countries to freely declare their ethnicity and religion. President Boris Tadic said on the eve of the census Thursday that "each person has the right to a free declaration of their identity ... and I am certain that this European value will be respected."
Earlier, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej, encouraged his followers to say they are Serbs of Orthodox Christian faith.
Croatia's minority Serbs remain faithful their second census will help further improve their position in the country.
"Atmosphere in the society has improved in the past several years," politician Sasa Milosevic recently said. "We have started an important job, but this is just a beginning."
This is so damn true. Don't hold your breath for any recognition anytime soon. Montenegro would rather see Albanians become extinct more than anything else.
What have Albanian civic associations done to lobby the government to recognize such an event? What have the bloggers on this website done to organize Malsors to lobby the government on recognizing Kryengritjen e Malsis?
If the answer is nothing, what are you complaining about?
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