The Italo–Yugoslav Conflict over Albania: A View from Belgrade, 1919–1939
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After the Great War, Yugoslavia found her most dangerous enemy in Italy, which made every effort to destabilise its Adriatic neighbour—Albania played an important role in this policy. This analysis examines the Yugoslav stance towards aggressive Italian policy, arguing that Belgrade firmly believed it a matter of utmost importance to prevent the Italians from creating a foothold in the Balkans from which they could stir Albanian irredentism in Kosovo and menace Yugoslavia in its strategically sensitive southern regions in conjunction with Bulgaria. To prevent Italian interference, Yugoslavia championed the independence of Albania with its 1913 frontiers from the Paris Peace Conference onwards: it dropped Serbia’s—Yugoslavia’s pre-war predecessor’s—territorial ambitions centred on the town of Shkodra. Yugoslav policy-makers, however, could not maintain the allegiance of Ahmed-bey Zogu, a major Albanian chieftain, who took power in Tirana with Yugoslav support; but he then turned to Rome..., which was more capable of and willing to provide financial means for the maintenance of the Albanian administration than Belgrade. There were also a number of officials who favoured a more forward policy that would put northern Albania under Yugoslavia’s control and thus more efficiently keep Italian aggressive designs in check.