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Albania: Autonomous and provisional governments (1912-1914)

Last modified: 2004-12-22 by
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Autonomous Albania, 1912

[Autonomous Albania, 1912]by Jaume Ollé (reconstructed flag)

The struggle against the Ottomans increased in 1912 and the red flag with the black double-headed eagle flew in Priština. Few weeks later, the flag was seen all over southern Albaniai. In May 1912 the Albanians took Uskub, and Turkey recognized the autonomy of Albania in June 1912. A white star was added to the flag, symbolizing that Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims shared the same sky. The star on the flag became popular.

Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996


Ismail Qemal's provisional government, 1912

[Provisional government, 1912]by Jaume Ollé

During the Balkanic wars (1912-1913), Serbia and Montenegro occupied northern and central Albania, whereas Greece occupied Epirus. The Albanian leader Ismail Qemal entered Durrës before the arrival of the Serbs and from there advanced on Vlora, where a National Assembly representing all the regions of Albania (the valiats of Shkodra, Kosovo, Janina and Monastir) proclaimed independence on 28 November 1912. A national flag was formally adopted on that day. The above image is a reconstruction (source: Vexilloteca [vxt], by Mario Fabretto). The original image is from an illustration in the album Shqipëria e Illustruar from 1927.

The independence was not recognized by the great powers (France, United Kingdom, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia), which granted only autonomy (20 December 1912), later confirmed by the treaty of London signed with Turkey in May 1913. The autonomous government kept the flag, though part of the liberated territory was transfered to Serbia and Montenegro, thus ending the use of the flag in these areas.

Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

The Albanian Independence Monument was unveiled in 1972 in the centre of Vlora. On a high irregular rock pillar stands a flag bearer, while below are depicted famous figures of the struggle for the independence of Albania, including Ismail Qemal. The monument is a joint work by the sculptors Kristaq Rama, Shaban Haderi and Muntaz Dhrami. In honour of the Day of Independence, the main square in Vlora is called "The Flag Square" (Sheshi i Flamurit). The monument appeared often on post stamps during the Communist period.

Ivan Sache, 1 May 1999


Essad Pasha's provisional government, 1913

[Essad Pasaha's flag, 1913]by Jorge Candeias

On 19 July 1913, the powers (France, United Kingdom, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia) decided to recognize Albania as an independent state, and decided to appoint a sovereign. Almost simultaneously, taking advantage of the Serbian and Montenegrin evacuation, the Ottoman warlord Essad Pasha constituted a provisional government in Tirana, which used a red flag with a white star placed in the lower right corner.

In January 1914, Qemal transferred the power to an International Commission, while Essad also agreed to dissolve his government and to be incorporated into the government formed by the powers. Essad's flag became the national flag.

Jaume Ollé, 15 July 1996

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