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Join date : 2011-02-24

PostSubject: Northern Epirus and the Balkan Wars   Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:07 am

Northern Epirus and the Balkan Wars
See also: Epirus front (First Balkan War)

In March 1913, during the First Balkan War, the Greek Army, after breaching the Ottoman fortifications at Bizani, liberated Ioannina and soon afterwards advanced further north.[6] Himarë was already under Greek control from 5 November 1912, after a local Himariote, Gendarmerie Major Spyros Spyromilios, led a successful uprising without initially facing resistance.[7] At the end of the war Greek armed forces controlled most of the historical region of Epirus, reaching a line from the Ceraunian mountains (above Himarë) in the Ionian coast to Lake Prespa to the east.[8]

At the same time, the Albanian independence movement gathered momentum. On 28 November 1912, in Vlorë, Ismail Qemali declared the independence of Albania, and soon, a provisional government was formed, which however exercised its authority only in the immediate area around Vlorë. Elsewehere, the Ottoman general Essad Pasha formed a "Central Albanian Senate" at Durrës,[9] while conservative Albanian tribesmen still hoped for an Ottoman ruler.[10] Most of the area that would form the Albanian state was occupied by the Greeks in the south and the Serbs in the north.[11]

The last Ottoman census conducted in 1908 counted 128,000 Orthodox Christians and 95,000 Muslims in the region.[12] Of the Orthodox population, an estimated 30,000 to 47,000 spoke Greek exclusively. The rest of the Orthodox community were bilinguals, speaking an Albanian patois at home and being literate in Greek only, which they also used in their cultural, trading and economic activities.[citation needed] Moreover, they expressed a strong pro-Greek feeling and were the first that supported the following breakaway autonomist movement.[13] Considering these conditions, loyalty in Northern Epirus to an Albanian government, headed by a competing variety of exclusively Muslim leaders, could not be guarantied.[14]
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