On February 1914 the native Greek majority population of the areas of Argyrokastro, Delvino, Agioi Saranta, Himara, Premeti, Ersekas and Korytsa begun their armed fight as they denied to be placed under Albanian rule. These areas had been liberated the previous year by the Greek Army during the Balkan Wars after five centuries(!) of Ottoman oppression. But the Great Powers of those days decided to give these lands to the newly formed Albanian state! This way, for the first time ever, Epirus was divided and the Northern Epirus issue was created.
This should be a reminder to everyone of how the Balkans got their reputation of the “arsenal of Europe”, where “only a spark is enough to make everything there explode”…
The provinces from where the Greek Army was leaving, where forced by the circumstances to declare their Autonomy in order not to be part of a country they didn’t want.
Their struggle ended with the signing of the Protocol of Corfu, on May the 17th 1914 by which the Great Powers where granting Autonomy to Northern Epirus. However, the Treaty was applied for only a very short period of time due to the beginning of WWI later the same year.
The Albanian state did not respect the international Treaty, which is still a point of reference for the Greek minority of Albania.
(Picture of the official declaration of Independence on 1 March 1914. President Georgios Christakis and members of the Government, bishops Vasileios and Spyridon as well as local clergy, military personnel and civilians are seen in the front)
On Friday 17th of February, 103 years to the day of the declaration of the Autonomy of Northern Epirus, young members of the Greek minority, honored the memory of the first President of the “Autonomous State of Northern Epirus” Georgio Christakis-Zografos and the rest of the leaders of the Epirots’ struggle.
On Sunday 19th of February the Association of the “Northern Epirots” organized the official celebrations of the anniversary. The main speaker was the historic Greek-Cypriot veteran of EOKA and a great friend of the struggle of the people of Northern Epirus, Renos Kyriakidis.