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Opinion / Editorial

Not a Greek minority in Himara, but Himarians with Albanian and Greek citizenship

Not a Greek minority in Himara, but Himarians with Albanian and Greek

Again, official Athens, triggered by the ban of a self-proclaimed Greek Albanian, repeated the old thesis that Himara is Greek. Foreign Minister Dendias and Prime Minister Micotaqis himself threatened that, without respecting the rights of the Greek minority, Albania will have its doors closed to the EU. Is there a Greek population in Himara? Albanian historians and researchers have answered this question with a series of works, among which we are mentioning "The History of Himara (2002) by the Himarjot researcher Aleko Rrapo, "Himara and the ethnic affiliation of the Himarjots" (2005) by Acad. Kristo Frashërit, "Ipet e Iperi - Himariotes)" (2004) by Foto Bixhili, etc. The author of this article also answered this question in the book "Himara in the light of historical, linguistic and ethnological data" (2004). as well as in articles published in the scientific and daily press. As is known, distinctive criteria for an ethnic minority are its territory, history and cultural tradition. From the point of view of the territory, the territory of Himara is far from the Greek border and inside the Albanian lands, that is. there is no territorial connection with Greece, which is a condition for a population to be called an ethnic minority. From a historical point of view, this territory was part of ancient Kaonia and history does not recognize Greek colonies on the Albanian coast of the Ionian Sea. Himara was inhabited by Illyrians, Epirotes and their Arber descendants, and then by Albanians, and not by Greek settlers, as the Greco-Romans of Himara say. Starting from the end of the century XV and up to the century. XVIII, Himarë was called the province south of Vlora and west of Vjosa and Drino, i.e. today's Labëria. The medieval chronicler K. Sathas, writing about the rebellion of Kostandin Muzaka in 1481, speaks of "the mountains of Himara" and of "the peoples of that highland which are more than 50 villages". And this province was inhabited by Albanians. Another chronicler, Stefano Magno, when he talks about the Himara uprising of 1484, describes the Himarjotes as Albanians (Queli di Zimera, the Albanian people). And this chronicler says that in the military actions of the Venetians against the Turks in the gorge of Vjosa in 1501, "the Himarjo Albanians also took part (albanesi zimarioti). The French traveler Denis Possot shows more clearly what was meant by Himare, who in his notes of 1532 writes that the province of Albania is divided into three parts: the first part under the possession of the Venetians, the second under the occupation of to the sultan and "the third is in the possession of the Albanians", that "are kept in a place and in a part of Albania that is now called Himare". With the Islamization of the hinterland villages, which was completed there at the end of the century. the 18th, the extension of the name Himarë came to be used only for the 7 villages of the Upper Coast, while the entire region south of Vlora and between Ion, Vjosa and Drino was called Labëri. The ancient and new history of Himara is connected with the history of Labëria. Assemblies were held in Himare from 1577 to 1593, letters were sent for help to the popes of Rome and in 1759 to the Tsar of Russia, in which they addressed them on behalf of the clergy and laity of 50 villages "from Himare, ie. from Epirus of the Albanians". From the administrative point of view, in the Ottoman register of 1431, these 7 villages appear as part of the Himara nahija, which was connected to the vilayet of Gjirokastra. In later reorganizations, Himara sometimes appears as part of Kurvelesi's kaza and sometimes as Delvina's sanjak kaza. From a religious point of view, the town of Himara was an episcopal center, at first dependent on the metropolitanate of Nikopoja (Preveza), from 1019 to 1767 by the archbishopric of Ohrid and from that time on dependent on the metropolitanate of Gjirokastra. So, the bishopric of Himara has never been connected with the Greek church, despite the fact that the Greek bishops and priests of Corfu and Ioannina have been involved in the affairs of the Albanian church of Himara. Even ethnographically, the villages of Himara belong to the large ethnographic unit of Labëria. The Himarjotes combine with the Labëria dresses and other traditional clothing, polyphonic songs and Albanian mourning for the dead, the same rites of birth, marriage and death, Albanian language is also known. What separates the three villages of Himara (the town of Himara, Dhërmiu and Palasa) from the rest of Himara and from the whole of Labëria, is that they are bilingual, Greek- and Albanian-speaking. As an argument in defense of the thesis that the Himarjotes are Greek, the fact that these three villages speak Greek is presented. According to the supporters of this thesis, Iliazi, Vunoi, Qeparoi and Kudhesi were also Greek speakers, but they lost their Greek under the pressure of the Albanian language! But historical evidence shows the opposite. In an Italian book published in Ferrara in 1598, it is said that "the Himarjotes speak Albanian". The Himarjots themselves, in the letter sent to the Tsar of Russia, say that "we speak Albanian, the language that is spoken in neighboring Albania and Bosnia, but in different countries all the learned speak Greek and the most prominent families also use Italian". Milinger, Byron's doctor, writes that the 200 Himarjotes who went to help the Greek revolution, "did not know a word of Greek". However, the fact that the above three villages were bilingual cannot be denied. There is also historical evidence for this. Thus, in a memorial from the year 1500 that is preserved in the library of Florence, published by the Romanian historian Nikolae Jorga, it is said about the Himarjotes that "the inhabitants of this country are Illyrians who are now called Albanians, although they also use the Greek language, but in a very foreign". Missionary Filoteo Zasi, who served in Himarë, in a report made around 1700, writes that "the essential languages ??for these peoples are Greek and Albanian. Martin Liku, the British consul next to Ali Pasha says that "Himarjo women spoke only Albanian, while the men, in addition to Albanian, knew either Italian or Greek". Grandfather Sheldija, 100 years ago, characterizing the linguistic situation of this province, wrote that: "even the latter (Albanian-speaking villages - RM) know Greek, just as the first ones (Greek-speaking villages) are Albanian". So, there has never been monolingualism in Greek in the villages of Himara. There, the Albanian-speaking element only and the Albanian-Greek-speaking element live in two enclaves - one bilingual enclave of Himara and the other of Dhërmi-Palasë, separated from the Albanian-speaking community of Vuno-Iljaz and surrounded on all sides by monolingual Albanian speakers. Based on this state of affairs, it can never be accepted that Himara as a province constitutes a linguistic minority. In order to linguistically prove that, even though they speak Greek, these three villages are Albanian, we have only focused on the patronymics (people's nicknames). From the study we have made of the latter, it has emerged that the number of foreign names of the families of Himara is not large. In 1583, only seven family names are Greek and five Turkish; in 1791, only five out of 59; and, in 2003, about 40 Greek, two Jewish, two Romance and eight Turkish dialects, i.e. something less than 7 percent of today's dialects in the province. And the specific weight of the foreign element in the patronymic of these three has remained almost unchanged and negligible over the centuries. Greek patronymics encountered in the territory of Himara are: Alexi, Anagnosti, Andoni, Andrea, Apostoli, Athanasi, Dhimaqi, Dhimitraqi, Dhimolea, Foto, Ilia, Harito, Janaqi, Janila, Jorjani, Jorgo, Jorgonllu, Jovani, Karali, Konomi, Kristofori, Llambro, Llanduri, Lazari, Manoli, Marko, Martini, Mihali, Mihallo, Nikola, Odhisea, Panajoti, Panajoti, Pavlo, Proto, Polimeri, Paskali, Pavli, Stavro, Stefani, Stimaqi, Stolaj, Triandafillu, Trolaj Thanasi, Theodhori/Todori, Vasili and others. These slangs of Greek origin are not of Greek bearers, but names of the Greco-Byzantine Christian world, ie. such as have come under the influence of the Orthodox Church, which performed liturgies and religious services in the Greek language. Many of these manholes are also found in the interior of the country, where there can be no question of the presence of the Greek population. This means that the presence of such gutters in Himare cannot be taken as an argument that their bearers are not Albanians, but Greeks. In the book "Himara in the light of historical data, linguistic and ethnological", dealing with the explanation of patronymics, we have stated that "in Himara, there are Trolais of Greek origin; Stolaj, coming from Dropulli; Konomajt (not Konomët), who came from Sopik; and Zisaj, who came from Pogon". But, from later investigations, we found out that Zisaj and Konomajt are Albanian families from Sopot, Stolajt came from Rrëzoma and Trolajt came from Vithkuqi. To conclude, talking about the Greek minority in Himara based on the fact that dozens of Himarjos who live there also have Greek passports, is a big lie. There may be Albanians with Greek passports all over Albania, but they cannot form a Greek ethnic minority, just as several hundred thousand Albanian immigrants in Greece do not form an ethnic minority.