The Search for Greater Albania

July 2003 9781850655961 416pp


In this topical text Paulin Kola challenges the accepted notion that there is widespread support for a ‘Greater Albania’ among the Albanian-speaking people of the Balkans, and argues that Albanians do not wish to join a single, politically-recognised 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.


‘… a valuable work, clearly written, based on serious research, which … contributes in a new way to the analysis of a large slice of recent Balkan history. It will of course be of interest to people concerned with current problems in Kosovo and Macedonia, but it will also have a more lasting place on the library shelves, even when (or if) those problems are resolved.’ — Noel Malcom

‘… a comprehensive, complex and coherent narrative history of the Albanian-inhabited lands of today’s Kosovo and Albania from ancient times until today, with special weight given to their internal developments as well as their bilateral and international political relations and diplomacy in their state-building processes in the twentieth century.’ —Stephanie Schwander-Sievers, SSEES, University College London

‘Carefully crafted, unusual, and interesting … in addition to the account of Albanian diplomacy in the early 1990s, The Search for Greater Albania provides particularly perceptive reports on Kosovo politics during the same period, as well on the origins and development of armed Albanian groups. A talented author, Kola has provided a valuable addition to the literature on nationalism and the Balkans.’ — Slavic Review

‘An interesting, in-depth, descriptive survey of the Albanian nation.’ — Choice



Paulin Kola is an international news writer and editor with the BBC.

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