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news 18 Aug 16

Montenegro Could Admit 'Greater Albania' Campaigner

Unlike Greece and Serbia, Montenegro could allow controversial historian Tahir Veliu to enter the country to promote his book about his project to create a 'Greater Albania'.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica
Tahir Veliu. Photo: Movement for a United Albania.

The Police Administration in Montenegro told BIRN that if Albanian politician and historian Tahir Veliu were to approach a border post to enter the country, he would be allowed to come in “if he meets the legal requirements”.

The police did not explain exactly what that means, but under Montenegrin law, border officers can deny enter to foreigners if they pose a “threat to the constitutional order and security of Montenegro”.

Tahir Veliu has announced that he will hold a promotional event for his book about a pan-Albanian state in Montenegro on August 20. 

The event is reportedly scheduled to take place in the majority Albanian town of Tuzi, near the capital Podgorica. 

A spokesperson for the Police Administration, Tamara Popovic, told BIRN that a public meeting in Tuzi related to Veliu’s visit had not been announced to or approved by the police. 

“The obligation to seek police permission applies only to gatherings in public areas and when they include more than 20 people,” Popovic said.

Veliu is the leader of the recently-founded Movement for a United Albania, LSHB, an organisation which “intends to unite Albanians into a single state”.

“A united Albania, besides being the most valuable ideal of every Albanian, proposes a true Albania with its legal and historical borders, and guarantees permanent stability in the region,” Veliu wrote on his website earlier in August. 

On Sunday, the Greek authorities refused Veliu entry into the country for a planned promotional event for his book, according to Serbian TV station N1, which quoted Greek media reports. 

Veliu tried to enter Greece at the Kakavija crossing on the Greek-Albanian border. He had previously been declared ‘persona non grata’ because of his claim that parts of Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia “belong to Albania”. 

Veliu reportedly intended to present his book in Yannian, an area predominantly inhabited by Albanians in the 19th Century.

On August 7, Serbian police banned Veliu from entering the country and declared him ‘persona non grata’ after the Movement for a United Albania announced a promotion in the majority-Albanian town of Presevo. 

But two weeks ago, Veliu visited the Macedonian capital Skopje, and gave a speech promoting his United Albania idea.

In the speech, Veliu said that the only rightful solution for Albanians who were living “under the occupation of an artificial Macedonia” was self-determination.

Veliu’s view match those of Albanian opposition politician Koco Danaj, another promoter of a campaign to create a pan-Albanian state in the Balkan region. 

Danaj, leader of an opposition party called the List for a Natural Albania, has served as an adviser to several Albanian prime ministers, and launched an initiative in 2013 to collect a million signatures from Albanian expatriates living in Europe to convince Western governments of the need to unite all Albanians into one state.

According to Danaj’s plan, ‘Natural Albania’ should include all areas inhabited by Albanian-speaking people, both where they currently form the ethnic majority in Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece, and areas where they were in the majority in the past but were expelled over the past century. 

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