Kjo letër i ishte shkruar Selisë së Shenjtë nga Gjon Markagjoni. Ai përshkruan një takim të zhvilluar në vitin 1948 midis Ambasadorit Grek në Romë, Dimitirios Apostolos Capsalis, Dr. Verlaci dhe Prof. Koliqi.
This letter was written to the Holy See by Gjon Markagjoni. It details a meeting held in 1948 between the Greek Ambassador to Rome; Dimitirios Apostolos Capsalis; Dr. Verlaci and Prof. Koliqi, members of Bloku Kombetar Independent.
(English Translation follows)
These are the historical chain of events leading up to the first mission led by the BKI into Albania:
1946 – The BKI was established as the most anti-communist group in exile.
1947 – Members of the BKI were contacted by U.S. and British Intelligence regarding possible anti-communist missions into Albania.
1948 – The Greek question.
1949 – 1st Mission into Albania.
This letter is a historical part of the chain of events leading up to the first mission executed by members of the BKI, in conjunction with Allied forces, in 1949 and has great historical value as to the influence the Markagjoni name had on the events leading up to the mission.
After Gjon Markagjoni and his son Ndue took refuge in Rome in 1945 they, along with other well known personalities from Albania, immediately began to organize the anti-communist group known as BKI. In this group partook many intellectuals and esteemed members of the high society of Albania, both Catholic and Muslim, all having a common goal, ‘to rid Albania of the communist and restore democracy’.
The BKI was founded in Rome in 1946.
In 1947 members of the BKI were contacted by U.S. and British Intelligence regarding possible anti-communist missions into Albania, requesting their input into the needs as well as their vision for a free Albania. At the same time the BKI leaders sent an appeal to then President Truman asking for his support.
In 1948 the Greek government intervened and requested meetings with members of the BKI, in order to explore their intentions and possibly offer a Greek solution. In light of this request, we see here a plea to the Holy See asking to “influence the Allies so that they decide to fulfill the desire of the Albanians tending to gravitate towards the West and suggest to them to have direct contacts with the Albanians, without the intervention of the Greeks, for a possible organization of their forces in exile and employment of these in an anti-communist activity“. Such request was sent because the BKI did not feel that the Greek government had their best interest at heart, as well as their fear of a greater influence over Albania, which would jeopardize their culture and history. The Greek government’s interest occurred one year prior to a joint Allied mission into Albania in August 1949.
It is evident that the value of the Markagjoni name was held in high esteem by the Vatican, as the relationship between the House of Gjomarku and the Kapidan’s legacy with the Catholic Church was undeniable.As a result we can surmise that the plea was most likely granted by the Holy See, as nothing became of the Greek effort and in November of 1949, the first mission, assisted by Allied forces, Italy-Britain-USA, was ordered and organized by leaders of the BKI and led by Ndue Pjeter Gjomarkaj.
More missions were to follow, always in close alliance with Western powers.
1948 Directed to the Holy See through P(rince) Markagjoni
The Greek Ambassador to Rome, Mr. Capsalis1, a few days before the Italian elections (18 April), invited two members of the Independent National Bloc (one of the three Albanian anti-communist groups) to the headquarters of his Legation, namely Dr. Verlaci, President of the aforementioned group, and Prof. Ernest Koliqi, member of the Board of Directors. In the days that followed other representatives received the same invitation separately and were presented with approximately the same communications.
The Ambassador, who said he spoke on behalf of his government, made the following statements:
Greece is ready to help the Albanian anti-communist emigrants to carry out an activity with the aim of freeing their country from the Soviet yoke, putting as the only condition the coalition of all parties. This aid, granted in agreement with the allies, would be immediate and equal to an act of wide-ranging action.
It offered hospitality and assistance to all Albanian emigrants today in Italy if the results of the Italian elections were to endangered them.
He stated that Albanian refugees currently in Greece were already receiving good assistance, but that better provisions would be made as soon as possible.
He had received orders to immediately grant a monthly subsidy to the newspaper “l’Albanie Libre”, an organ of the Independent Bloc.
Dr. Verlaci and Prof. Koliqi, on behalf of the Independent National Bloc, thanked the Ambassador for the interesting communication and generous offers and promised to work for a coalition of the three parties (Legalitet, National Front and Bloc) but objected that before taking on any commitment to the preparation of a common plan of action it was necessary that Greece assured the Albanians of:
Putting Albanians in direct contact with the Allies if they intend to organize the Albanian emigration forces for their possible use in the mutual interest, bearing in mind that in the Soviet iron curtain, Albania, non-Slavic and anti-communist by tradition and particular national characteristics, represents the only potentially usable tool.
Finding means to assist the best part of Albanian emigration so that it is not forced into a precipitated adherence to the Greek proposals, but, if necessary to national interest, can collaborate with the possibility of retreating in case of any impositions.
To facilitate the trip to America of two exponents of the Bloc who, by creating an Albanian representative, which is now missing in the meetings of other representatives of the Balkans and Danubian people, oppressed by Bolshevism, manage to insert the Albanian problem into the multifaceted complexity of those of the aforementioned peoples, thus removing it from the one-sided Greek interest.
After a profound examination of the Greek proposals, the Independent National Bloc, which gathers in itself the most notable exponents of Albanian Catholicism and Muslim personalities best known for their Western sentiments, considers these proposals dangerous, since if the majority of the emigrants should adhere to it the future of the small nation may be jeopardized.
Until now, Albanian Catholics, albeit in a numerical minority, with the warmth of their culture shaped the spirit and mindset of the Albanian people. If political ties between the Greeks and Albanians intervened it would allow the former to control every manifestation of the country’s political, social, economic and cultural life. The Catholic minority, from the possibility of a safe irradiation of its intellectual and cultural strength, would first pass to a defensive position to be later overwhelmed in a second by the Byzantine spirit of Fanaro, for a propagation in which the Greeks would find ready and enthusiastic allies among the 250,000 Albanians of Greek schismatic religion, who are not nationalists.
The enlightened work that the Catholic Clergy, with their intellectual preparation; with the esteemed works of its schools and social organizations carried out for centuries in Albania, and with a more intense rhythm in the last seventy years, would find obstacles as to its further development, with serious damage to the nation. This work today, which was consecrated with the copious bloodshed under the Soviet yoke by numerous Albanian priests, instead of bearing fruit for a faster spiritual elevation of the people in the future, would run the risk of being completely abolished.
Even the great majority of Muslims, who, having loosened their ties with Turkey, turned decisively towards the West since 1912, fear the influence of both the Serbs and the Greeks, while willingly opening spirit and mind to the currents of civilization which comes from western countries, as evidenced by the large number of young men and women that the best Albanian Muslim families sent abroad to study in Catholic religious institutes, first in Austria and then in Italy.
The Catholic exponents of the Bloc, sure to be also supported by the Muslims, dare to ask the authoritative support of the Holy See to avoid the slightly suspicious Greek solution of the Albanian question, support which can materialize as:
Influencing the Allies so that they decide to fulfill the desire of the Albanians tending to gravitate towards the West and suggest to them to have direct contacts with the Albanians, without the intervention of the Greeks, for a possible organization of their forces in exile and employment of these in an anti-communist activity; keeping in mind that in the Soviet iron curtain, Albania, non-Slavic and anti-communist by tradition and particular national characteristics, represents the only potentially usable tool.
Advising the Italian Government to grant Albanian emigrants, known as friends of Italy, assistance such as to avoid their transfer from Italy to Greece or, in any case, their total adherence to Greek proposals and directives.
To facilitate the trip to America of two members of the Bloc who, by creating an Albanian representation that is now missing in the meetings of the other representatives of the Balkan and Danubian people, oppressed by Bolshevism, would insert the Albanian problem into the poetic complexity of those of the aforementioned peoples, thus removing it from the unilateral Greek interest.
1Dimitirios Apostolos Capsalis (Ambassador to Rome 1947-1950)