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The Lausanne Principle

Turkish Delegation in Lausanne. Copyright by
Turkish Delegation in Lausanne

For Albanians the period between the two world wars was one of repression. It was also one in which colonists, Serbs and Montenegrins were brought for settlement in Kosovo. Where Albanians had been dispossessed of their lands they were supposed to be compensated but as Judah notes, "this in fact rarely happened."

In some places Albanians lost their land or were restricted to tiny plots because they could not prove their ownership with title deeds. This helped prod thousands into emigrating and some 150,000 people are believed to have left for Turkey in the years between 1910 and 1920. On precisely this question, the relationship between small plots and emigration, one official report noted that "this was precisely what we wanted; that is to prevent them from living and thereby force them to emigrate."

Figures for the numbers of Albanians and Muslims who emigrated between 1918 and 1941 vary from between 90,000 to 150,000.

Turkey was delighted to take in Albanians because the emigration of Greeks from Anatolia had left whole areas under populated. Indeed, after the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 saw the forcible exchange of those remaining Greeks and Turks from both countries, the total numbers who had left due to war and the treaty amounted to 1.3 million Greeks from Turkey and 350,000 Turks from Greece. In 1938 Yugoslavia and Turkey signed a convention which foresaw the emigration of some 40,000 families or 200,000 people to Turkey over the next six years. Officially the convention talked about the "repatriation" of the "Turkish Muslim" population but, apart from Yugoslavia's relatively small numbers of ethnic Turks and Slav Muslims from Macedonia, it was clear from the regions specified in the convention that the bulk of these people would be Albanians. In the end the document remained a dead letter because of the outbreak of war.

[pp. 22-23]

Kosovo: War and Revenge. 2002, Second Edition. [Yale University Press]

See our report, The Lausanne Principle on refugees and the numbers of Serbs in Kosovo today.

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