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An American in the Court of the Pascha of Tepelena

By Auron Tare When Lord Byron and his traveling companion Hobhouse, bid farewell to the Albanian guards back in the spring of 1810, little did they know that their journey through Albania and Greece would exert an influence on a

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Forsaken Albania

By Artan Lame Southern Albania, August 1949. Following World War Two, Greece was engulfed in the flames of civil strife that became more and more aggravated, until. in 1949. Stalin accepted to withdraw support for the communist partisan forces, hence

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Albania as a sanctuary for the Jews during the Nazi Holocaust

By Apostol Kotani After the Nazi invasion of Albania, orders were issued to capture all Jews. Four members of the Arditi family in Shkodra were arrested and then taken to the extermination camps. Jasha Baruchovic was detained but, owing to

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Forsaken Albania

By Artan Lame Tirana, in the forties’. Sometimes very little separates the heroic from the ridiculous. The Italians who had been producing masterpieces of the Fine Arts for centuries, often came up against difficulties to find motifs in a country

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Forsaken Albania

By Artan lame Vlora, 1919, 1932. On 22 January, 1914, Ismail Qemal Bey Vlora resigned as Prime Minister of the first Albanian government and state. The Albanians, who for hundreds of years on end, with their endless capcrices, had elevated

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Ich bien ein Belgrader

By Alba Cela If it was not for a seminar addressing the complex dynamics of investigative journalism, I think the likelihood of me taking the initiative to go to Belgrade on elections’ eve would have been rather slim. As one

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“Kosova’s independence can neither be limited nor conditioned by developments in Serbia”

Kosova’s Prime Minister Agim ȥku in an exclusive interview to “Tirana Times” TT: Mr. Prime Minister, can you quickly summarize the official position of your government on Kosova’s independence? At this moment Kosova is de facto independent. In a manner

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Forsaken Albania

By Artan Lame Tirana, April 1937. Irrespective of their intensity, Italo-Albanian relations during the period of King Zog were constantly a source of friction, mutual distrust, imposition and diplomatic games, which irrespective of the victories of one or the other,

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From Albania with love

It’s a cold January evening and the lights around the center of Tirana flicker just before the usual evening power cut. At the same time, the lights in the Balsha room of Hotel Tirana are lit and there is violin

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Forsaken Albania

By Artan Lame The 20-ties. This is also Albania. It is an undeniable fact that Albania of the first decades of the 20th Century, had very little to be envied from the viewpoint of the general standard of well being.

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                    [post_content] => By Auron Tare
When Lord Byron and his traveling companion Hobhouse, bid farewell to the Albanian guards back in the spring of 1810, little did they know that their journey through Albania and Greece would exert an influence on a considerable number of European personalities of the 19th Century who were to follow in their footsteps?
It is true that Albanian lands were visited in those times by several Europeans, like William Martin Leake, an agent of the British Secret Service, or the Consul of France Dr. Francois Pouqueville, but, until that time, no one had ever written with such truthfulness and majesty about these harsh mountainous regions.
Lord Byron and his companion Hobhouse not only traveled rough and rugged roads and dirt tracks, frequently waylaid by bands of brigands who stripped the travelers of their belongings, but they managed to cross wild mountainous terrain and penetrate deep into Albanian lands to meet the famous Pascha of Tepelena.
Ali Pascha, a figure as controversial as he was exotic to innumerable personalities of the period, thanks also to the immortal verse of Byron, was to be transformed into a point of reference for anyone who wished to explore the lands under the power of the Albanian Pascha. Although several interesting personalities of the 19th Century visited the Court of the Albanian Pascha, very few of them have managed to record on paper, and so brilliantly, the beauty of the nature and the character of the people, and all of this accomplished with an eye so observant and a mind so critical, than Byron and Hobhouse. The publication of the first Song of 'Childe Harolde's Pilgrimage' in London following Byron's return to England, not only won great fame for the English poet, but for the first time ever, a broad public had the opportunity to read about the lands and the inhabitants of a country which previously no one knew anything about.
Albania and the Albanians, unknown up until that moment to the European public, suddenly found their own Bard, who sung their praise with so much love, hence generating a great deal of inquisitiveness and curiosity in all persons who were travel in these regions.
And little by little, in the footsteps of a poet who managed to inspire several generations on end, a number of travelers, artists, agents and adventurers began to arrive in the environs of the Court of the Pascha who had inspired the Poet of Genius, Lord Byron.
It is a recognized fact that the predominant figure of Lord Byron is at the center of the works of everyone who wrote about that period of travels by Europeans to the territories of Albania, Greece and Macedonia in the 19th Century. However, it must be pointed out that he was not the only "Levant Madman", as he often laughingly described himself and the travelers he came across in those parts.
Although travels in Turkey and Greece were impeded for some time due to the European Wars of Napoleon, thanks to the persistence of a Society of young aristocrats known as the "Society of Dilatants," a number of architects, archeologists, writers and adventurers traveled to these parts with the objective of studying and researching ancient monuments, peoples, the culture and traditions of these countries. A group of "Levantine Madmen" but just as enthusiastic and persistent as Byron were to follow in his footsteps through Athens, in the residence of the Macri sisters, past the ancient monuments of Nicopolis or were to try to meet the enigmatic character-Ali Pascha of Tepelena, who by this time, thanks to the Poems of Childe Harolde's Pilgrimage (which sold 20.000 copies in one day), had become one of the most well known figures in European intellectual circles.
Although so much has been written about Lord Byron's travels throughout Albania, to this day very little is known about his immense interest in issues related to Albania or "our dear friend," as he wrote describing Ali Pascha, after Byron's return to England. A series of his letters he wrote from London or Venice plainly indicate that the great poet not only continued to be deeply interested in any news about Albania, but it seems very obvious that he kept up an on-going correspondence with Ali Pascha right up to the last days of the life of the Pascha. Naturally, a far more detailed study is required to create a clearer idea about this correspondence, but from the letters made available to us recently from the personal archives of the poet's descendants, many interesting facts surface and it is quite clear that Lord Byron and Ali Pascha regularly corresponded. This was the first time such a fact was drawn to the attention of the Albanian scholars interested in the period.
Byron's interest in the people he met on his travels in Albania and Greece is astonishing in terms of details about them that he describes, down to most minute. Byron not o nly wants to know about the famous Pascha, but also about his personal guard Vasili and his relationship with one of the Macri sisters, Dudu Roque; the interpreter he was provided with  in Yannina Andreas Zantachi, as well as another one of the Pascha's guards - Moslem Dervish Tahiri.

"I received a letter yesterday from Ali Pascha sent with Dr. Holland," Byron writes to his friend Thomas Moore, "who has just returned from Albania. The letter is in Latin and begins with "Excellentissime, nec non Carissime" and ends with the description of a weapon which he wants made for him. Its signed, Ali Vezir. What do you think, what did you do all this time? Holland tells me that last Spring he took the city of a foe, who forty two years earlier had shamed his mother and sister. He took the city, selected amongst the survivors, about 600 persons and he had them all slain before his eyes. However, he spared the rest and took control of himself-more than I would have done. These were the latest about our dear friend.

8 September 1813, Byron
However, in the correspondence between Byron and Ali Pascha made available to us, one exceptionally interesting fact is mentioned which testifies to the proportions the fame of Ali Pascha had assumed following the publication of Childe Harolde's Pilgrimage. George Ticknor, an American Harvard Professor, the founder of the first Library ever in Boston, the friend of a series of American personalities, including Thomas Jefferson, who was traveling throughout Europe, asked for a private meeting with Byron during a visit to England. This meeting, according to the information we have, between Professor Ticknor and Lord Byron took place in London, in the presence of Ticknor's companion, Edward Everett, the future President of Harvard, on the 23 June 1815 and the subject of this meeting was Ali Pascha of Tepelena and Byron's travels throughout Albanian territories. In the manuscripts published by George Ticknor, there is also a description of his meeting with Byron, where amongst other things, he says, "He gave me endless details about the history, sentiments, thoughts, impression and difficulties under which he wrote Childe Harold." 
It appears that the Harvard Professor, inspired by Childe Harolde, intended to travel to Albania and for these reasons he not only asked Byron about Ali Pascha of Tepelena, but also for a letter of recommendation signed by Byron. It seems that Byron supported this journey, because we have in our possession a letter he wrote addressed to Ali, in which he speaks about the journey of a very rare visitor all the way from distant America, about whom we do not know whether Alia received information or not. This letter bears the date of 25 June 1815 and it was written only one week after the famous Battle of Waterloo.
"Vezir-I am greatly honored by the letter Your Highness sent with Dr. Holland. I am happy to hear of Your health and wellbeing-I hope it will continue for years to come. An American Gentleman (Mr. Ticknor) has promised he will bring a gift from me to Your Highness, a very special weapon (the use of which he will show You), which I would be deeply honored if you accepted. - I hope that one day I will be able to visit Albania again- a country- where memories of the care You show to foreigners remain most dear to me.
With the greatest respect, I remain your humble servant,
Byron

25 June 1815.
To this day, from the studies of the letters of Byron we do not have a clear idea whether or not Professor George Ticknor undertook his journey through Albanian lands. Equipped with excellent recommendations and the special gift Byron sent Ali Pascha, it seems that this would b a very probable journey for the American Professor, but so far, from the documents we have we do not sufficient facts that the Harvard Professor met the old Pascha of Yannina. The further study and research of the letters and correspondence of Professor Ticknor will produce more detailed information so that we learn how he undertook his journey through the Albanian highlands to meet the friend of Byron, the Pascha of Tepelena. But, nevertheless, we have stumbled onto the traces of an interesting fact related to the figure of this famous Albanians, who, it seems also attracted the attention of American personalities, one of whom was Professor Ticknor, Everret and Joseph Coolidge, the future son-in-law of the American President Thomas Jefferson.
So far the information we have is very scarce to clearly comprehend why the American academic of Harvard wished to meet the Albanian Pascha. Nonetheless, if we were to bear in mind that the name of Lord Byron was known in American aristocratic circles too and that his poetry was read by a substantial number of readers, we can state with some conviction, that Ali Pascha was a well known figure to American intelligentsia. Naturally, so far we don't have the facts to back up this hypothesis, but if we recall that the subject of the meeting between the professor and Lord Byron in London was precisely Ali Pascha, then we could say that the hypothesis is not without grounds. Byron's journey throughout Albania certainly was of tremendous importance for the time, because the publications of the English poet made this country known to foreign travelers, but also to the European public. But, it is for the first time that we learn that Albania and the name of Ali Pascha of Tepelena had traveled across the Ocean and become an object of discussion in the top literary saloons of the elite of America.

George Ticknor  
The first Professor of the University of Harvard for modern languages. Writer, co-founder of the first Public Library of Boston. He studied at Dartmouth College and became an expert in Latin and Ancient Greek, where his teacher was Pastor John Gardiner of Trinity Church. After completing several classes at the University of Massachusetts for Magistrate, he decided to travel Europe to acquire a better education than what he could find in America. With the downfall of Napoleon in 1815, the European continent was once again open to those who wished to move freely through the European states. Together with his companion from Boston, who was to become one of America's most renowned orators, Edward Everett, he registered at the University of Gottingen, where he remained for about two years. The rich library of this university and the influence of the book by Madam de Stael "l'Allemagne" on the superiority of German philosophy and literature obviously had a very important bearing on Tichnor's decision to stay in Gottingen.
However, before Ticknor left on his European travels, he met the American President, Madison and he went to the Monticello Farm where Thomas Jefferson wrote him several letters of introduction for a number of influential European friends. Equipped with the letters of contact from these two American personalities, when Ticknor arrived in Paris, he was received as a new representative of American Republicanism by the liberal circles of Europe. Madam de Stael, although very ill, wanted to meet this young American at all costs, and she wrote about this meeting with Ticknor and the ideas he brought from across the Ocean. "You are the avant-garde of the human race; you will be the future of the world."
For two years, Ticknor traveled throughout Europe, where he met a large number of scientists, historians, writers and other persons of influence.
During his stay in Europe, Harvard College offered him the Chair of French and Spanish Languages. Ticknor remained for a long time at the head of this Chair, and when he finally resigned in 1835, he was replaced by the famous poet, Robert Longfellow.

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                    [post_content] => By Artan Lame
Southern Albania, August 1949. Following World War Two, Greece was engulfed in the flames of civil strife that became more and more aggravated, until. in 1949. Stalin accepted to withdraw support for the communist partisan forces, hence respecting the Yalta Agreement which foresaw that Greece would remain under British influence. In these circumstances, within a short period of time, the Greek partisans took up positions of retreat, ending up grouped at the foot of Mt. Gramoz, the last area of their occupation. At this location, they repelled the attacks of the Monarchist Government Forces for some time, also enjoying secret assistance in the form of Soviet supplies smuggled in across the Albanian border. The government troops then crossed into Albanian territory, to sever this supply line and to hit the communist forces from behind. This marked the beginnings of the conflict between the Albanian Army, which protected its own borders and the Greek Army, a conflict which has gone down in history under the name of "The August Provocations." The confrontations between the two sides continued at intervals from 2 August until 5 September 1949 in the zones of Billisht, Kapshtica, Leskovik and Konispol, causing Albania hundreds of civilian and military casualties and extensive material damage in border villages. The Greek monarchist forces also left behind dozens of soldiers killed on Albanian soil. The August Provocations remained the only series of armed confrontations in which the Albanian Army became involved in the post-World War Two period.
In the photograph you can see several Albanian soldiers carrying a casualty on a stretcher. On the back is the original caption, "Sergeant Gjon Marku, seriously wounded remained behind enemy lines for five days."
In the other photograph there are two Albanian soldiers in position in a machine gun nest, watching the far side of the valley, where Greek troops were positioned. The machine gun is of Soviet make, and  the first supplies of these guns had just arrived in Albania.
In this photograph there is a group of officers studying a military map. Their uniforms stand out made of a collection of different materials. Their helmets and belts are all Italian, naturally remnants of the First World War. Their uniforms are Soviet production, while their epaulettes are Yugoslav, final tokens of "the grand friendship" broken off a year earlier in 1948, while the soldier behind them is carrying a Soviet-made automatic gun. And even though they are "fitted out" in the manner of   "wear whatever you can find", these people resisted the pressure of the front and discharged their duty.
                    [post_title] =>  Forsaken Albania 
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                    [post_content] => By Apostol Kotani
After the Nazi invasion of Albania, orders were issued to capture all Jews. Four members of the Arditi family in Shkodra were arrested and then taken to the extermination camps. Jasha Baruchovic was detained but, owing to the help of Ali Sheqer Pashkajt in Lajthize, his life was saved. Similarly, Nisim Bahari was to be executed by shooting if it had not been for the intervention of Ismail Gjata; just as it was that Mark Menahemi was helped by Vasil Noli in Elbasan, or doctor Ludovik Kalmari who was saved by Selim Ram Selimusaj. 
In those decisive moments, Albanian hospitality and the Albanian pledge or "Besa" would emerge visibly with all its sublimity. They were sheltered, hidden, given false documents, moved from one safe place to another, from the countryside to towns, or the other way around, and no Jew was ever maltreated. They were taken from Tirana to the villages of Zall-Herr, Shupal, Shengjergj, Picall, Koder-Kamez, as far as Qaf-Muher of Dibra; or from Berat to the villages of Molisht, Tozhar, Vrion, etc; from Vlora to the villages Three-Brethren, from Durresi to Shkozet, and so on. Thus, Albania became such a unique country in Europe for its role in saving Jews. The research has revealed that 122 Albanian families, inside and outside the official borders, sheltered and saved Jews by risking their own lives. Furthermore, they did that without any material interest or moral obligation, driven just by the age old tradition of hospitality, tolerance and humanism. 
After they left Albania, some at the end of 1944 and others at the beginning of 1945, almost all the Jews that came during the war years began to send regards and thanks to the Albanian families that had provided them shelter and saved their lives. For instance, Samuel Mandili, in a letter sent and published by the Union Newspaper, on 20 February 1945, wrote: "All Israelis that came to Albania were saved owing to the generous feelings of the Albanian people, who considered it a moral obligation to offer a shelter and to protect in their own homes, as guests, every persecuted emigrantƔhe positive stand of Albanians should be known and notably underlined, because it deserves worldwide recognition and that of each educated personƅven the poor peasants had heard about the arrival of these innocent people, prosecuted by the Nazis, and not only did they open the doors of their homes to the Jews, but split with them their last morsel".
Whereas the Jewish Committee of ex-Yugoslavia, in the letter sent to the Albanian Government in May 1945, wrote: "The first reaction of the Jews of Yugoslavia, immediately after their departure from Albania, was to express their enthusiasm towards the Albanians who took an admiring stand in the most critical moments of their lives, in the most difficult times of civilized mankindŮAt a time when the Jews of Yugoslavia, Poland, Germany and so on were vanishing in the gas chamber and by other cruel means, with no distinction between men, women and children, in the Balkans there existed a nation that stood up against any racist theory, even higher than western civilization; the nation of heroes and hospitalityƏur brothers that returned from Your Motherland told us that the Albanian families had accepted them good-handed in their homes, had protected them from all difficulties and whenever they heard of the plans against them, the sort of plans that caused Albania a great many deep woundsƉn the history of this world war, it will be noticed a small but generous and heroic country, the Albanian nation, who perhaps will be remembered as the only occupied country in Europe that forbade and stopped the persecution and extermination of the Jews". Nisim Bahar, saved from what would be a certain death, as he was going to be executed, in the early 1950's wrote to Zhulia Kantozi: "I'm in Oher, I'm on top of a mountain clip looking at the city of Pogradec. I miss that place. I wish I had wings to fly towards and kiss the Albanian land, the one that saved my life". 
The chief executive of the research center of the Holocaust Museum in the USA, Mr. Michel Berembaun, in 1995, in the presence of 100 members of the Jewish and Albanian communities in USA, pointing at the names of the Albanian families inscribed on the Memorial Wall, among other things said: "The Albanian people proved to have an extraordinary courage, by hiding the Jews during the extermination campaign led by the Nazis, each of these brave souls is an example of the human courage and nobleness and most of all an oath (vow) toward the human race". Whereas the Chief Counsel of the Holocaust Museum, Mr. Miles Lerman, said: " We are here to thank Albania that gave life to such noble sons and daughters who knew what to do in a time when the Jews were isolated and abandoned, in a time when they felt that even God had forgotten them. Therefore we are very proud of the Albanian nation and very grateful to them". This is only some of the appreciation given by many other personalities, such as the Director of the Yad Washem Museum, Doctor Mordehaj Paldiel, Jozef Jakoen, Johana Gerechter, Dr. Ana Kohen, Jasha Baruhovic, Mordehaj 術hllomo Llazar, Elio Gani, Moise and Trazina Batino, and so on, the rest of whom are impossible to be all listed here.
The Albanian state prior to the 90's never perceived the possibility that the Jews left in Albania should leave the country, no matter what the diplomatic relationship with Israel was. Even when asked by the Israeli government in the 50's about the issue of transfer, the Albanian government replied that it had not taken it into consideration and did not intend to do so, and that the Jews themselves had never made any request. When diplomatic relations were established on 19 August 1991, the way was clear for the approval of the return of their citizenship. The reinstatement of citizenship was made official in April 1991, but it was applied not only to the Jews but also to a number of Albanians that had created marital ties.
Their departure was very emotional. They said goodbye to the Albanians that had accompanied them to the airport with tears in their eyes, just as brothers say goodbye to brothers, or other close family members; scenes similar to those of refugees. The journalist Enri Kamp who witnessed their welcoming to Jerusalem on 11 April 1991 described those emotional moments. He wrote in the New York Times: "Comparing to the Israelis arriving from other parts of Europe, the Albanian Israeli had a greater emotional state, felt not only by the adults, but kids also". Although many years have gone by, they do not forget each other and continue their correspondence and visits to each other's homes. 

Why Albania?
Jewish-Albanian relations date back to the second century BC. Those early, friendly relationships left a mutual trail in later contacts between these two communities. That fact has been mentioned in the writings of Apollodarius (a great ancient writer of the second century BC), the geographer Scymi, Zaharia Majani, the historian Meillet and Kohen, Joseph Flavius (an historian of first century), etc. There are also a significant number of foreign publications dealing with Jews in the Southeast Europe and in today's territory of Albania, as well as the conditions of their mutually friendly relations. 
The same can be said for the first group of Jews that dropped on the Albanian shores in the year 70 AD. This time it was a convoy of slavery ships owned by emperor Titus that was transporting slaves to Rome taken hostage after the occupation of Palestine. One of the ships was hit hard by the sea and floated away into the Ionian Sea, and then anchored at the port of Saranda.  
The Albanians also offered refuge and a warm welcome to groups that arrived here in the 15th century when trying to escape the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions. Largely, those groups settled in the Albanian towns of Vlora, Berat and Elbasan, with fewer in Prishtina, Prizren Shkup, and Manastir. A small number of Jews were also accommodated in other towns like Durres, Lezhe, Danje and Gjinokaster. Later, during the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th other small groups also came to Albania.
The US Ambassador in Albania in 1932, Herman Bernstein, undertook a study on this phenomenon in Vlora and Saranda, which was documented in the "Daily Jewish Bulletin" in 1934. Amongst other things, he wrote: "In Albania, this small, beautiful Adriatic country, there weren't any kind of problems with the Jews. There are no signs of them being discriminated against, not only because the Jewish community here is small in number, but because Albania is one of the few countries in Europe, where today religious prejudices and racial hatreds do not exist, although Albania itself is divided into three religious beliefs".  

The echo of the good Jewish-Albanian relationship surpassed the Albanian borders.

This is the reason why, when the Nazi persecution of the Jews began in Germany, representatives of the Jewish communities of Vienna and Florence presented the High Commission for the Refugees of the United Nations the proposal to transfer to Albania all the German Jews, and even offered 8 million francs in gold to be invested in the irrigation of the rivers Buna and Drin. The same interest was shown to exist among the Jewish communities of Switzerland, Poland and the Czech republic. The Albanian government received requests to give life to the project. 
Many equilateral meetings took place between diplomatic representatives and finally a deal was signed. But the negotiations with the Albanian government in the years of 1934-1935 ended without result, due to the intrusion of the Italian fascist government, which aimed to bring Italian colonists to Albania. Despite that, hundreds of Jews from Germany, Austria, Poland and so on, found a way to Albania, either as a transit country or they came as tourists, while some settled permanently to Albania. 
Those arrivals had an audible echo amongst the Italian political circles of that time. The issue was mentioned in many newspapers and Albanian consulates. This compelled Zog's government to take precautions to stop the large number of Jews entering Albania. The Council of Ministers voted on two important decisions. The first, on 28th January 1939, declared that each Jew who entering Albania must be carrying 250 francs in gold, while the second, on 25th February 1939, declared that all Jews entering Albania must have 500 francs of gold and that his passport contained a signature from the country of issue that he was welcomed in that country. Those decisions were communicated to the Albanian diplomatic representatives in Rome, Paris, Istanbul, Geneva, Brussels, Bucharest, Vienna, Egypt, Manastir, Skopje, Corfu, Washington and so on. 
After the Italian fascists took over Albania and King Zog was in exile, the collaborating Albanian government drafted many orders and laws to impede Jews entering Albania from neighboring states, and to evict quickly those who had already entered Albania. After the Nazi Meeting of Vanza on 20 January 1942, cruel times were ahead for Jews, not only for those in Albania but also for those living in the rest of Europe. The conference decided that the Jews were to be apprehended and exterminated; a decision that concerned not only the German Jews but all of them living in the satellite states of the Nazi-fascists. The echo of those horrible decisions reached Albania too. The true threat to the Jews in Southeast Europe followed the Nazi invasion of ex-Yugoslavia. Then, hundreds of Jews from Kosova, ex-Yugoslavia, Austria, Bulgaria, Poland, Macedonia, Greece, etc, poured to Albania.
Immediately after they entered Mitrovica, the Nazis ordered the Italian authorities in Prishtina to gather all the resident Jews and submit them to the authorities. An Italian officer, who was later killed by the Nazis, informed the Albanian authorities about the order: Hysen Prishtina, vice-prefect of the state, Preng Ullini, secretary to the mayor, and Doctor Spiro Lito, the director of the hospital. All these men went immediately to the Italian command center and begged them not to surrender the Jews to the Nazis, but instead to find a way to save them. The voices crying for their protection also came from higher posts, such as from the Albanian Prime-Minister of that time, Mustafa Kruja, who also notified the representative of the Italian King to Albania, Francesco Jacomoni. The latter gave his approval to bypass procedure and to bring the Jews to Albania. Then, the authorities of Prishtina, Prizren and Peja received orders to provide Jews with escort passes so that they could enter Albania. 
Expecting the application of that order, the Albanian authorities of Prishtina organized a medical visit to the Jewish camp where they found that 60 of them were infected by typhus and that they should be quarantined so that the disease would not be transmitted to others. According to the statement of an eyewitness, Zhulia Kantozi, they were sent to Albania at the beginning of 1942. On 5th April 1942, the first group with 100 people arrived and settled in Berat. The second group of 195 people came later and settled in Kavaja, where they were isolated in a large building. A third group of 175 people settled in Kruja. Also, in the period of 1942-1943, other individuals or small groups came to Albania either with false documents or illegally, departing from Shkup, Manastir, Tetova, Uroshovaci, Prizreni, Peja, Viena, Belgrade, Bulgaria, Greece, etc. Altogether, about 1000 people arrived in Albania, not including the 200 Jews already resident in the pre-war period and the many that used Albania as a transit country while looking for a safe place.
They knew that they would find the Nazis and the fascist invaders even in Albania, but still they came hoping that Albanians, well known for their hospitality and honesty, would welcome and protect them. That opinion can be ascertained in the reports of the border authorities when they had asked them about the reason that brought them to Albania. Here it is worthy mentioning the expression of a driver coming from Bulgaria after escaping from a concentration camp, who was hindered by the authorities at the border. He implored them with the words: "I beg of you not to send me back to Bulgaria, if you wish to kill me, I would rather be killed here in Albania."
Even in Albania, Jews were placed under strict supervision, especially by the fascist interrogation offices of Berat and Kavaja. But for the sake of truth, it should be noted that due to the tolerance of the Italian authorities no arrests took place, except for 15 people that had been taken to the German concentration camp in the district of Mat. Also, money transfers to the Jews of Durres were tolerated by the merchants of Switzerland through the Bank of Naples. Immediately af ter the surrender of the Italian fascist army, the command-in-chief of the concentration camp in Kavaja called upon three Jews, tore their names off the list and advised them to run wherever they could to save their lives from the Nazis.  
                    [post_title] =>  Albania as a sanctuary for the Jews during the Nazi Holocaust 
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                    [post_content] => By Artan Lame
Tirana, in the forties'.  Sometimes very little separates the heroic from the ridiculous. The Italians who had been producing masterpieces of the Fine Arts for centuries, often came up against difficulties to find motifs in a country full of rocks and stones which they had crossed the Adriatic to invade. At given moments they needed to create symbols and you could almost see the smoke coming out of their ears as they strove to create these symbols that reflected both the links between our two peoples, their ancient civilization, but also the traditions found in the country they'd occupied. As if this were not enough, in this Land of the Arbers, they had to find dignified personalities who were to "rub elbows" highly distinguished members of the Roman Empire Re-born. They were the ones who wracked their brains, because I don't believe that the Albanians cared very much about style. Of course, such forced efforts often rendered products of a very suspicious flavor, like the following. The first medallion is a model in plaster of Paris by the Italian artist Panacea, of the year 1942. It presents portraits, in profile of Mussolini and Skanderbeg. These two persons have very little in common and are divided by five centuries in time, but the exaggeration of a desperate artist who wishes to be politically correct with the times, brings the two profiles together on the one medallion. Nonetheless, the artist has successfully brought out the most significant elements of each character. Mussolini is wearing a helmet on his head, as he himself preferred to be captured on by iconography and also the tightly clasped and curled lips are more than clear. This was an exclusive element of mimic of Il Duce. The artist has also found the two features of Kastrioti. But even more than the helmet of Skanderbeg, no so evident behind Il Duce's helmet, what makes an impression is the hooked nose of our Gjergj Kastriot Skanderbeg, which he passed on to his fellow countrymen.
The second medallion is made of silver and was produced in commemoration of the participation of the "Julia" Alpine Division, in the Italo-Greek War in 1941. In this case, the unknown designer places an Italian Alpine soldier beside Skanderbeg. The soldier can be distinguished by the feather in his cap, and this is still the style of the Italian Alpine divisions to this day. To comply with this style, the horns of the goat atop the helmet of Skanderbeg seem to have assumed a straighter, feather-like shape. Although both figures sport beards, the Italian's beard is much smaller, a motive that was repeated years later, but along the same lines, in the case of presenting the four Classics of Marxism Leninism, in the transition from Marx to Engels and later on to Lenin, the beard gets progressively smaller, whilst Stalin loses his beard altogether. On this medallion, the portraits occupy less space so that mountains can be added with their peaks in the clouds.
                    [post_title] =>  Forsaken Albania 
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                    [post_content] => By Artan lame
Vlora, 1919, 1932. On 22 January, 1914, Ismail Qemal Bey Vlora resigned as Prime Minister of the first Albanian government and state. The Albanians, who for hundreds of years on end, with their endless capcrices, had elevated to an art  their ability to create trouble for the Sultans of Turkey, had really exhausted the aging Albanian diplomat. In line with the Agreement made, he retired to Italy but never divorced himself from the political life of his country. In Italy he also wrote his memoirs, that describe his life and activities all over the immeasurable territories  of the Ottoman Empire. He passed away on 28 January, 1919, in Peruggia of Italy. The official medical report says he died of a cerebral haemorrhage, which he had suffered five days earlier. There have been suspicions that he was poisoned, bit this was never proven. 
12 February 1919 (first photo). The body of Ismail Qemali, shipped back tfrom Italy to Vlora, is seen off to the cemetary. Vlora, at the time, was still under the administration of the Italian Military and they organized the entire ceremony. The coffin has been placed on a gun carriage, with the national flag draped over it. Italian soldiers and police officers are lined up on both sides, escorting the coffin in the form of a Guard of Honour. Guns are held in the hand according to military rules for funeral ceremonies. Following up to the rear of the coffin are a group of religious Moslem dignitaries, and behind then the long lines of the people of Vlora.
28 November 1932. It is now 13 years later. On the occasion of 20th anniversay of Independence, Zog, now Albania's monarch, had built in Vlora, on the former lands of the Vlora family and where Ismail Qemali was born, a monumental grave dedicated to the individual whose name was now irrevocably linked to the act of Independence. This monument is the work of Albanian sculptor Odhise Paskali; the grave of Ismail Qemali was made out of blocks of stone, at the head of which stood a monument of this Freedom Fighter, holding a rifle in one hand and waving the national flag with the other.  
The second photo captures a moment when the remains of Ismail Qemali were disinterred from where they had been laid in Kanina, in the graveyard of the Vlora Family. The photo shows the coffin being carried by the authorities present. The Military Officer is General  Gilardi, special envoy of the King representing him at the ceremony. Hil Mosi is also seen in their midst, at the time Minister of Education, also representing the government in the ceremony. They are flanked by school children, who salute in the King Zog fashion, arm stretched acorss the chest. Following religious ceremonies a the exisiting mosque of the time, the long caravan descended towards Vlora, where his remains were laid to rest in his new grave. 
The third photo is a shot of the monumental place of burial, covered in wreathes of flowers.
The grave remains the same to this day, seventy odd years later. The brave men of Laberia are so proud of the Father of the Flag who sleeps in the middle of their city. This is pride has not waned at all as you can see on approaching the monument and you gaze upon the bronze letters "...AIL...ALI." The rest of the letters have fallen off or been wrenched off for whatever reason. It is true though that Ismail Bey Vlora is very dear to our hearts, even without the letters, but please replace those letters all you brave and courageous men of Laberia!!
                    [post_title] =>  Forsaken Albania 
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                    [post_content] => By Alba Cela
If it was not for a seminar addressing the complex dynamics of investigative journalism, I think the likelihood of me taking the initiative to go to Belgrade on elections' eve would have been rather slim. As one should always be grateful to coincidental tunes, I set out to this trip which proved to be rather tedious (with one annulled flight and a subsequent delay.) Fortunately, Belgrade was worth it. 
At the beginning of my journey I frankly did not know what to expect: would there be awkward reactions to my nationality? How would this city look like after being subject to so different historical developments? A fan of the element of surprise I refrained from google-ing up images. 
The seminar is blessed with a short duration and plenty of time is allocated to exploring. What better choice for journalists who could debate (at their highest pitch) the responsibility of investigation and truthfulness to provide a challenge to all existing power structures, can take days! 
As a former student in Budapest, I must say Belgrade satisfied my nostalgic cravings of the beautiful Hungarian capital. The resemblance, from the wide and peaceful Danube to the picturesque avenues lined up with glorious shadows cast by the buildings, is mind satiating. The streets are vivid and the people are beautifully tall. The stone paved alley of Skadarska (Belgrade's Bohemian quarter) with walls full of intriguing poetry or graphics  , the bars of "Silicon Valley" (no match for their extremely poshy counterparts in Tirana), the Austro-Hungarian traditional buildings, the charming churches and the quiet waters of Sava all combine in a atmosphere common to Vienna, Budapest and Prague. The so very European culture of leisuring around on foot, enjoying coffee on the street-sides proves to be reassuring no matter where I find myself.  
I think back at the most recent televised reports on Belgrade. Named spectacularly (yet wrongly!) as "living with the enemy", they misrepresent the beauty that one can discover here. The developing artistic spirit of the city, its diverse and rich collection of rakia-s made from any fruit you can think of, and most of all: its mind blowing cleanliness. Nevertheless, to my hopelessly optimistic Serbian friend the fact that contacts are being started can be only positive.
 "We should make a report on Tirana!" Zoran adds enthusiastically. I shiver to the idea of what the report would be. An explosive combination of muddy streets, horrible traffic jams and crowded luxurious bars. Hmmō
My short visit includes a visit at the Royal  Palace, lately re-inhabited by the Karadjordjevic family. The polite royal couple greets us warmly and starts showing us around the gracefully decorated palace. As we, the visitors, are all journalists, a short press conference is improvised in one of the halls. Provocative questions and diplomatic answers are exchanged for a while. Silence over my question about Kosovo, then the recognition of the fact that it is a hard issue to deal with. No pushing. After all we are here to enjoy the Belgrade sunset from the royal rose balcony.
The hospitality is sordidly Balkanian, same as the obsession with history, distorted or not. An eerie silence accompanies me and my guide, a Belgrade connoisseur despite not being a native, when we reach the bombarded Army quarters that have not been rehabilitated yet. "We should do something about this- Zoran says, - after all we can't enter NATO carrying the relics of our conflict with them." 
From graffiti on a balcony, I read "Ne damo Kosovo." My rusty and insufficient Bulgarian comes handy in deciphering "We don't give Kosovo!" Well, neither do the rest of us! So let those diplomats handle it if they can. The afternoon sun is just too warm and the joining point of Danube with Sava too beautiful to miss among the nationalistic cacophony.
 In the landing dusk, one can see the lights of Zemun, an historical little town where Zoran lives to escape the noise and chaos of the capital. "Zemun used to be under the Austro-Hungarian when the rest of Belgrade and especially the Kalameydan quarter were under the Turks. Even today, he tells me- my roommate jokes when we come downtown, 'Lets go see what the Turks are up to!' he says."
If history could always lead to heartfelt jokesš I tell him about another little town at the outskirts of Budapest, Szentendre, founded by Serb villagers escaping the ottoman onslaught. It is quite a tourist attraction nowadays. Its streets carry Serbian names and there is a gorgeous monastery there. Zoran has heard about it. When he dwells upon the account of the Ottoman times we again feel the pressure of two different historiographical narratives looming around the fragile link of friendship. 
At the end of the day it's the Serbian New Year's Eve and they inform me, in the central square, Kostunica has joined hands with Ceca to deliver an address that is both celebratory and political. I am not interested. I am to wake up early and walk through every street I can. And in the evening, try some cevapcici (the next best thing to what you can get in Sarajevo) or a mouth-watering Moskva torta.
And at the end of this experience, I rediscover that the longest distance is the one that two people have to travel in order to know each other. At the end I feel like borrowing (and inevitably adapting to the situation) an expression from the beloved departed J.F. Kennedy: Ich bin ein Belgrader!
                    [post_title] =>  Ich bien ein Belgrader  
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                    [post_content] => Kosova's Prime Minister  Agim ȥku in an exclusive interview to "Tirana Times"

TT: Mr. Prime Minister, can you quickly summarize the official position of your government on Kosova's independence?
At this moment Kosova is de facto independent. In a manner of speaking, since 1999 Kosova has been independent and any solution other than independence would have been impossible to implement on the ground. Since the sovereignty of Kosova was transferred to the United Nations in 1999, we have had a continuous transfer of sovereignty to Kosovar institutions.  We are about to complete that process now.

TT: How do You view the progress of the final status negotiations process? Did the Kosovar negotiating team (the "Unity Team") articulate Kosova's position in the best way possible?
The final status negotiations have progressed very well. We knew from the beginning that the possibility of an agreement with Serbia was very slim. But, in this process there are in fact three actors. The third actor is the international community. In other words, these were not negotiations in the classic sense. But, the process did give us a chance to talk to each other and to understand that we agree to disagree on Kosova. 

TT: Often one hears the argument that Kosova will not be able to function as an independent state because of what some have called "Kosova's Greek tragedy"شhat is, no matter which authority governs it, Kosova cannot achieve sustainable economic growth in order to control unemployment, to increase exports, improve its infrastructure and so on. According to this argument, Kosova needs a "Big Brother" in order to finance the minimal expenses of a functioning state. How do you respond to this argument? 
There exists a misunderstanding about Kosova's economy: Kosova is economically viable today. In the last six-seven years we have created a clear and stable framework for a functional state. The big obstacle to attracting foreign direct investment has been the absence of final status. Nevertheless, Kosova has achieved stable economic growth throughout this period. Last year we had 3 percent growth despite the political tensions and uncertainty surrounding the final status process. Two factors guarantee our economic growth. First, we have plentiful natural resources such as lignite and other minerals. Second, we have a young and dynamic population. Soon we expect a number of large foreign investments. At the moment we have two open tenders for the second mobile phone operator and for a thermo-power station, Kosova C that will transform Kosova into a net exporter of power in the region. The economic paradox will be solved after Kosova's international sovereignty is recognized. 

TT: The decision of the international community to postpone the final status decision brought about a strong counter-reaction in Kosova. Many accused Kosova's negotiating team of lack of transparency, and of needlessly raising people's hopes for independence within 2006. What is your comment?
Kosova's independence is not only the vision and desire of the Kosovars anymore. Nowadays Kosova's independence is the common project of Kosova's institutions and the international community. For us, the postponement of the final status decision was neither necessary nor reasonable. But, we accepted it. Of course it is in our interest that Serbia moves forward towards a consolidated democracy and the progressives there get stronger because we share a common European agenda. But, Kosova's independence can neither be limited nor conditioned by developments in Serbia. 

TT: Lately You undertook a diplomatic offensive in capitals which are known to be skeptical or against Kosova's independence. Do You believe that You were able to calm their fears or soften their positions on Kosova?
The final countdown has begun and we will soon be an independent state. Then we will have our own Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our diplomatic representations in different countries. At the moment, we do not have them. That is why it was necessary to begin an intensive campaign to establish bilateral contacts with different states in our region and elsewhere. During these visits we put forward Kosova's intentions to build friendly partnerships with other countries, its European future. We argued that Kosova's independence should not raise fears of insecurity in the region but, on the contrary, it will guarantee stability. Moreover, we argued that Kosova's independence is sui generis and, as such, it cannot be used as a precedent or cause a domino effect elsewhere in the world. 
TT: The very act of international negotiations and Your diplomatic offensive are important in themselves for Kosova. After all, they constitute Kosova's debut in international diplomacy. Before these processes began, a number of diplomats argued that a great deal would depend on Kosova's performance. What was it like for You personally? Was it difficult to leave the "military offensives" behind and to engage successfully in "diplomatic offensives"?
It is difficult to convince professional soldiers to give up their profession, but when they decide to get into politics they are usually successful. 

TT: Can You tell us briefly about the positions of the countries in our region on Kosova's independence? How influential can such positions be on the eventual decision on final status?
The only real enemy to Kosova's independence is Serbian nationalism. The greatest part of Serbia's political elite knows that Kosova's independence is a kind of liberation for Serbia. Serbia can and must "return to itself" and deal with the great unsolved challenges that are the baggage of the lost two decades of nationalist domination. The other countries in the region are already well on the path to European integration and therefore they have a pragmatic approach on Kosova. Certainly, I need to thank Albania for its positive contributions, but also our two neighbors, Macedonia and Montenegro, who have a very good approach on Kosova. All other ex-Yugoslav republics share a good understanding of Kosova's problems and the best solution which is independence. Greece too has shown itself to be Kosova's friend, and has been engaged positively in the process. 
TT: You have been co-opted from outside the political sphere to lead a political government. Has this had any impact on the efficiency of Your government?
This has not proven to be a major concern. The main challenge has been the leadership vacuum left after the death of President Rugova which brought about a reorganization of the main political party in Kosova, the DLK (Democratic League of Kosova). But this would have been a challenge for anyone who would be a Prime Minister at this time. 

TT: Lastly, let us speak of bilateral relations between Albania and Kosova. How have these relations progressed during Your government? How would You value Albania's role in the final status negotiations process? If for a moment we assume Kosova will be independent soon, how do You foresee our relations to evolve? 
Albania is natural ally and no one needs to feel threatened by the rapport we enjoy with Albania. We share a common agenda on European integration and we will share a capital in Brussels. But the agenda of European integration calls for regional integration and, from this perspective, our relationship with Albania ought to serve as an example in the region. There are no areas in which we have no interest in cooperation and, in fact, we are often complimentary. For example, we have energy sources useful to Albania while Albania has tourism potential. Through cooperation we are rebuilding our dignity. Once again, I want to express my happiness about Albania's role in the last phase of defining Kosova's final status. 

TT: Thank You Mr. Prime Minister.
                    [post_title] =>  "Kosova's independence can neither be limited nor conditioned by developments in Serbia" 
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                    [post_content] => By Artan Lame
Tirana, April 1937. Irrespective of their intensity, Italo-Albanian relations during the period of King Zog were constantly a source of friction, mutual distrust, imposition and diplomatic games, which irrespective of the victories of one or the other, in the final account, the winner was always the stronger side and not the more diplomatic side, in other words, Italy. In one of these moments when Zog tried to pander to the Italians, it was the organization of the visit of Mussolini's Foreign Affairs Minister to Tirana in April 1937 Galeaco Ciano, Count, son of an Admiral, Foreign Minister and Mussolini's son in law, was the typical representative of that stratum of Italians, indulged by good fortune and who loved the benefits of being a Great Power, the brilliance that this lent Italy, the pomposity of the uniforms and the parades, but without the implications and the trouble that followed. When the parades ended and the real war broke out, not everyone rose to the occasion as they should have according to their duties and fortune reserved most of them a miserable fate. Ciano himself, captured by the Germans, was sentenced to death and was executed by a firing squad in January 1944, tied to a chair.
Anyhow, we are now seven years prior to this unhappy ending. Ciano arrives in Albania on 28 April and was received by King Zog on the same day.  The next day he visited the south of the country, whilst on the 30th of April he was once again given an audience by the King. This photo presents this second meeting, although it did not have all the protocol. The King was in civilian dress and not in uniform as two days earlier, while Ciano preferred to attend wearing the uniform of the Italian Fascist Militia. The reception was held in one of the halls on the first floor of the newly completed Royal Villa which was precisely for official receptions and served as the government residence. After the war this building became the Palace of Pioneers and some months ago it was handed back by the State to the former Royal Family.
Count Ciano's visit was considered successful. One year later, in April 1938, he returned to Albania as the witness at the marriage of King Zog and the following year he came to Albania in April 1939 to be this time round the player and the witness of the toppling of the monarch with whom he is having a conversation in this photograph.
"This is how the glory of the world goes," say the Latins, who witnessed more than we did.
                    [post_title] =>  Forsaken Albania 
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                    [post_content] => It's a cold January evening and the lights around the center of Tirana flicker just before the usual evening power cut. At the same time, the lights in the Balsha room of Hotel Tirana are lit and there is violin music played by children groups. Everyone is focused on the new postcards of the third edition of a very interesting activity. Young artists are presenting their works for the competition "greetings from Albania", which gathers the postcards designed and awards prizes to the most original ones. These designs are aimed at presenting a different Albania, away from the loathed images of multiple crisis that are striking our country as hard as ever in the endless transition we are living. Thus the children and teenagers contributing to this edition of the exhibition have left the political, economic, and energy crisis behind for this evening. They have brought their colors, their imagination and that bit of love for this country that hasn't managed to disappear yet. The three winning postcards are focused on representing colorful images of folklore. They are only some selected representing over 700 Over 700 youth from 18 communities across Albania that contributed their creativity and artistic talents to create drawings, paintings and photographs for the competition. The traditions of history and music are intertwined and presented with artistic grace. It is all they can do to promote the image of Albania. It is a lot. The winner children get digital cameras in order to capture more beauty in a more professional way. Some of them would not afford such an expensive and fancy gadget otherwise. It is reassuring that their love, talent and passion will be the introductory card of our Albanian tourism industry and Ministry in several international tourism events and the trade fairs across Europe to promote different tourist products and packages in Albania.

                    [post_title] =>  From Albania with love 
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                    [post_content] => By Artan Lame
The 20-ties. This is also Albania. It is an undeniable fact that Albania of the first decades of the 20th Century, had very little to be envied from the viewpoint of the general standard of well being. The Turkish Empire had left this forsaken corner of the Empire to its own fate, together with the backward independence due to the local economy, ravaged by a World War which did not spare a single corner of the country, and all this helped form the kind of pictures you see here, by no means rare for the roads of the country. However, it must be stressed that here we have to do with unfortunate representatives of the poorer strata of society; beggars, and the poverty stricken loners.
In the first photo is a highlander, living in solitude, in a cave turned into a makeshift place of abode, somewhere in the mountains of the North. Having emerged from the darkness of the cave , this figure with a goat hide thrown over his shoulder, looks as though he has been catapulted by mistake from the Stone Age to the 20th Century.
The second photo was taken by an Austrian officer and on the back are written the words, "Albanian beggar called FUKURA." The word "Fukura" is in Albanian. The third photo has an exceptional human charge.  The sense of love, presented through this couple, who, traipsing through the dust like this make one think they are on their last legs in this life; the sorrowful looks of the two persons; the utter exhaustion their bent figures convey; the way the hands of the old woman hang down, her back bent beneath the weight of her load; the walking stick of the old man, his slightly tilted head; altogether this portrays an endless human drama. None the less, even in this general state of deplorable sorrow, the elderly couple do struggle for a little dignity. The old woman walks slightly behind the old man, she carries the heavy burdens, the old man wears opinga (flat leather footwear used by villagers), he carries a walking stick, possessions his wife does not own. Obviously, life has not been kind to these poor old people, whose remains, at least today, after so many years, finally rest in peace in some corner of Albania and probably without graves. It is a shame that this photo does not bear the name of the person who took the photo, because it is obvious that this was a very professional take.
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            [post_content] => By Auron Tare
When Lord Byron and his traveling companion Hobhouse, bid farewell to the Albanian guards back in the spring of 1810, little did they know that their journey through Albania and Greece would exert an influence on a considerable number of European personalities of the 19th Century who were to follow in their footsteps?
It is true that Albanian lands were visited in those times by several Europeans, like William Martin Leake, an agent of the British Secret Service, or the Consul of France Dr. Francois Pouqueville, but, until that time, no one had ever written with such truthfulness and majesty about these harsh mountainous regions.
Lord Byron and his companion Hobhouse not only traveled rough and rugged roads and dirt tracks, frequently waylaid by bands of brigands who stripped the travelers of their belongings, but they managed to cross wild mountainous terrain and penetrate deep into Albanian lands to meet the famous Pascha of Tepelena.
Ali Pascha, a figure as controversial as he was exotic to innumerable personalities of the period, thanks also to the immortal verse of Byron, was to be transformed into a point of reference for anyone who wished to explore the lands under the power of the Albanian Pascha. Although several interesting personalities of the 19th Century visited the Court of the Albanian Pascha, very few of them have managed to record on paper, and so brilliantly, the beauty of the nature and the character of the people, and all of this accomplished with an eye so observant and a mind so critical, than Byron and Hobhouse. The publication of the first Song of 'Childe Harolde's Pilgrimage' in London following Byron's return to England, not only won great fame for the English poet, but for the first time ever, a broad public had the opportunity to read about the lands and the inhabitants of a country which previously no one knew anything about.
Albania and the Albanians, unknown up until that moment to the European public, suddenly found their own Bard, who sung their praise with so much love, hence generating a great deal of inquisitiveness and curiosity in all persons who were travel in these regions.
And little by little, in the footsteps of a poet who managed to inspire several generations on end, a number of travelers, artists, agents and adventurers began to arrive in the environs of the Court of the Pascha who had inspired the Poet of Genius, Lord Byron.
It is a recognized fact that the predominant figure of Lord Byron is at the center of the works of everyone who wrote about that period of travels by Europeans to the territories of Albania, Greece and Macedonia in the 19th Century. However, it must be pointed out that he was not the only "Levant Madman", as he often laughingly described himself and the travelers he came across in those parts.
Although travels in Turkey and Greece were impeded for some time due to the European Wars of Napoleon, thanks to the persistence of a Society of young aristocrats known as the "Society of Dilatants," a number of architects, archeologists, writers and adventurers traveled to these parts with the objective of studying and researching ancient monuments, peoples, the culture and traditions of these countries. A group of "Levantine Madmen" but just as enthusiastic and persistent as Byron were to follow in his footsteps through Athens, in the residence of the Macri sisters, past the ancient monuments of Nicopolis or were to try to meet the enigmatic character-Ali Pascha of Tepelena, who by this time, thanks to the Poems of Childe Harolde's Pilgrimage (which sold 20.000 copies in one day), had become one of the most well known figures in European intellectual circles.
Although so much has been written about Lord Byron's travels throughout Albania, to this day very little is known about his immense interest in issues related to Albania or "our dear friend," as he wrote describing Ali Pascha, after Byron's return to England. A series of his letters he wrote from London or Venice plainly indicate that the great poet not only continued to be deeply interested in any news about Albania, but it seems very obvious that he kept up an on-going correspondence with Ali Pascha right up to the last days of the life of the Pascha. Naturally, a far more detailed study is required to create a clearer idea about this correspondence, but from the letters made available to us recently from the personal archives of the poet's descendants, many interesting facts surface and it is quite clear that Lord Byron and Ali Pascha regularly corresponded. This was the first time such a fact was drawn to the attention of the Albanian scholars interested in the period.
Byron's interest in the people he met on his travels in Albania and Greece is astonishing in terms of details about them that he describes, down to most minute. Byron not o nly wants to know about the famous Pascha, but also about his personal guard Vasili and his relationship with one of the Macri sisters, Dudu Roque; the interpreter he was provided with  in Yannina Andreas Zantachi, as well as another one of the Pascha's guards - Moslem Dervish Tahiri.

"I received a letter yesterday from Ali Pascha sent with Dr. Holland," Byron writes to his friend Thomas Moore, "who has just returned from Albania. The letter is in Latin and begins with "Excellentissime, nec non Carissime" and ends with the description of a weapon which he wants made for him. Its signed, Ali Vezir. What do you think, what did you do all this time? Holland tells me that last Spring he took the city of a foe, who forty two years earlier had shamed his mother and sister. He took the city, selected amongst the survivors, about 600 persons and he had them all slain before his eyes. However, he spared the rest and took control of himself-more than I would have done. These were the latest about our dear friend.

8 September 1813, Byron
However, in the correspondence between Byron and Ali Pascha made available to us, one exceptionally interesting fact is mentioned which testifies to the proportions the fame of Ali Pascha had assumed following the publication of Childe Harolde's Pilgrimage. George Ticknor, an American Harvard Professor, the founder of the first Library ever in Boston, the friend of a series of American personalities, including Thomas Jefferson, who was traveling throughout Europe, asked for a private meeting with Byron during a visit to England. This meeting, according to the information we have, between Professor Ticknor and Lord Byron took place in London, in the presence of Ticknor's companion, Edward Everett, the future President of Harvard, on the 23 June 1815 and the subject of this meeting was Ali Pascha of Tepelena and Byron's travels throughout Albanian territories. In the manuscripts published by George Ticknor, there is also a description of his meeting with Byron, where amongst other things, he says, "He gave me endless details about the history, sentiments, thoughts, impression and difficulties under which he wrote Childe Harold." 
It appears that the Harvard Professor, inspired by Childe Harolde, intended to travel to Albania and for these reasons he not only asked Byron about Ali Pascha of Tepelena, but also for a letter of recommendation signed by Byron. It seems that Byron supported this journey, because we have in our possession a letter he wrote addressed to Ali, in which he speaks about the journey of a very rare visitor all the way from distant America, about whom we do not know whether Alia received information or not. This letter bears the date of 25 June 1815 and it was written only one week after the famous Battle of Waterloo.
"Vezir-I am greatly honored by the letter Your Highness sent with Dr. Holland. I am happy to hear of Your health and wellbeing-I hope it will continue for years to come. An American Gentleman (Mr. Ticknor) has promised he will bring a gift from me to Your Highness, a very special weapon (the use of which he will show You), which I would be deeply honored if you accepted. - I hope that one day I will be able to visit Albania again- a country- where memories of the care You show to foreigners remain most dear to me.
With the greatest respect, I remain your humble servant,
Byron

25 June 1815.
To this day, from the studies of the letters of Byron we do not have a clear idea whether or not Professor George Ticknor undertook his journey through Albanian lands. Equipped with excellent recommendations and the special gift Byron sent Ali Pascha, it seems that this would b a very probable journey for the American Professor, but so far, from the documents we have we do not sufficient facts that the Harvard Professor met the old Pascha of Yannina. The further study and research of the letters and correspondence of Professor Ticknor will produce more detailed information so that we learn how he undertook his journey through the Albanian highlands to meet the friend of Byron, the Pascha of Tepelena. But, nevertheless, we have stumbled onto the traces of an interesting fact related to the figure of this famous Albanians, who, it seems also attracted the attention of American personalities, one of whom was Professor Ticknor, Everret and Joseph Coolidge, the future son-in-law of the American President Thomas Jefferson.
So far the information we have is very scarce to clearly comprehend why the American academic of Harvard wished to meet the Albanian Pascha. Nonetheless, if we were to bear in mind that the name of Lord Byron was known in American aristocratic circles too and that his poetry was read by a substantial number of readers, we can state with some conviction, that Ali Pascha was a well known figure to American intelligentsia. Naturally, so far we don't have the facts to back up this hypothesis, but if we recall that the subject of the meeting between the professor and Lord Byron in London was precisely Ali Pascha, then we could say that the hypothesis is not without grounds. Byron's journey throughout Albania certainly was of tremendous importance for the time, because the publications of the English poet made this country known to foreign travelers, but also to the European public. But, it is for the first time that we learn that Albania and the name of Ali Pascha of Tepelena had traveled across the Ocean and become an object of discussion in the top literary saloons of the elite of America.

George Ticknor  
The first Professor of the University of Harvard for modern languages. Writer, co-founder of the first Public Library of Boston. He studied at Dartmouth College and became an expert in Latin and Ancient Greek, where his teacher was Pastor John Gardiner of Trinity Church. After completing several classes at the University of Massachusetts for Magistrate, he decided to travel Europe to acquire a better education than what he could find in America. With the downfall of Napoleon in 1815, the European continent was once again open to those who wished to move freely through the European states. Together with his companion from Boston, who was to become one of America's most renowned orators, Edward Everett, he registered at the University of Gottingen, where he remained for about two years. The rich library of this university and the influence of the book by Madam de Stael "l'Allemagne" on the superiority of German philosophy and literature obviously had a very important bearing on Tichnor's decision to stay in Gottingen.
However, before Ticknor left on his European travels, he met the American President, Madison and he went to the Monticello Farm where Thomas Jefferson wrote him several letters of introduction for a number of influential European friends. Equipped with the letters of contact from these two American personalities, when Ticknor arrived in Paris, he was received as a new representative of American Republicanism by the liberal circles of Europe. Madam de Stael, although very ill, wanted to meet this young American at all costs, and she wrote about this meeting with Ticknor and the ideas he brought from across the Ocean. "You are the avant-garde of the human race; you will be the future of the world."
For two years, Ticknor traveled throughout Europe, where he met a large number of scientists, historians, writers and other persons of influence.
During his stay in Europe, Harvard College offered him the Chair of French and Spanish Languages. Ticknor remained for a long time at the head of this Chair, and when he finally resigned in 1835, he was replaced by the famous poet, Robert Longfellow.

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