Ismail Qemali

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Ismail Qemali
Ismail Qemalii.jpeg
Portrait of Ismail Qemali
1st President of Albania
In office
28 November 1912 22 January 1914
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded by Fejzi Alizoti
1st Prime Minister of Albania
In office
4 December 1912 22 January 1914
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded by Fejzi Alizoti
1st Foreign Minister of Albania
In office
4 December 1912 June 1913
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded by Myfit Libohova
Personal details
Ismail Qemali Bey Vlora

(1846-10-16)16 October 1846
Vlorë, Albania
Died24 January 1919(1919-01-24) (aged 72)
Perugia, Kingdom of Italy
Political partyUnaffiliated
Spouse(s)Nasipe Hanëmi
Kleoniqi Surmeli (1886-death)
RelationsMahmud Bej Vlora
Hedije Libohova
Children10 (1 died during birth)
Signature Ismail Qemali (nënshkrim).svg

Ismail Qemali (Albanian:  [ismaˈil cɛmaːli] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); 16 October 1846 – 24 January 1919) was an Albanian politician and publicist who served as the 1st President and Prime Minister as well as Foreign Minister of Albania from 1912 to 1914. [1] He is considered to be the Founding Father of Modern Albania and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence.

A politician is a person active in party politics, or a person holding or seeking office in government. In democratic countries, politicians seek elective positions within a government through elections or, at times, temporary appointment to replace politicians who have died, resigned or have been otherwise removed from office. In non-democratic countries, they employ other means of reaching power through appointment, bribery, revolutions and war. Some politicians are experienced in the art or science of government. Politicians propose, support and create laws or policies that govern the land and, by extension, its people. Broadly speaking, a "politician" can be anyone who seeks to achieve political power in any bureaucratic institution.

A publicist is a person whose job is to generate and manage publicity for a company, a brand, or public figure- especially a celebrity- or for a work such as a book, film or album. Publicists are public relations specialists who have the role to maintain and represent the images of individuals, rather than representing an entire corporation or business.

President of Albania head of state of Albania and commander-in-chief of the Albanian military

The President of Albania, officially styled the President of the Republic of Albania, is the head of state, commander-in-chief of the military and the representative of the unity of the Albanian people.



Ismail bej Vlora was born in Vlorë to the noble family of Vlora that included members such as Grand Vizier Mehmed Ferid Pasha and politician Syrja Vlora. [2] [3] He completed his primary education at his hometown. [2] [3] Later he attended the Greek high school Zosimea in Janina and graduated from Ottoman law school in Istanbul. [4] [5] Qemali married a Greek woman and sent his children to receive an education in Greece. [6]

Vlorë Municipality in Albania

Vlorë is the third most populous city of the Republic of Albania. It is the capital of the surrounding Vlorë County. Located on the southeastern Adriatic Sea, it is one of the country's southernmost dominant economic and cultural centers.

Mehmed Ferid Pasha Ottoman politician and Grand Vizier

Mehmed Ferid Pasha was an Ottoman statesman of ethnic Albanian background. He served as Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire from 15 January 1903 until 22 July 1908, at the time when the Sultan restored the 1876 Constitution following the Young Turk Revolution. Other than Ottoman Turkish he spoke the Albanian, Arabic, French, Italian, and Greek languages.

Syrja Vlora Signatory of the Albanian Declaration of Independence

Syrja Vlora, usually referred as Syrja Bey Vlora, was one of the active figures of the Albanian Declaration of Independence in 1912, and one of the delegates of the Assembly of Vlorë.


Qemali embarked on a career as an Ottoman civil servant reaching high government positions in European and Asian parts of the empire [4] after he moved to Istanbul in May 1860. He identified with the liberal reform wing of Midhat Pasha, the author of the Ottoman constitution (1876) with whom Qemali was a close collaborator, [4] and he became governor of several towns in the Balkans. During these years he took part in efforts for the standardization of the Albanian alphabet supporting the use of Latin characters for writing Albanian [7] and the establishment of an Albanian cultural association.

Ottoman Empire Former empire in Asia, Europe and Africa

The Ottoman Empire, also historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.

Midhat Pasha Ottoman grand vizier, reformist, and creator of the first Ottoman constitution

Ahmed Şefik Midhat Pasha was an Ottoman theorist, democrat, and one of the leading statesmen during the late Tanzimat period. He is most famous for leading the Ottoman constitutional movement of 1876 and introducing the First Constitutional Era, but was also a leading figure of reform in the educational and provincial administrations. He was part of a governing elite which recognized the crisis the Empire was in and considered reform to be a dire need. Midhat Pasha is described as a person with a liberal attitude and is often considered as one of the founders of the Ottoman Parliament.

Ottoman constitution of 1876

The Ottoman constitution of 1876 was the first constitution of the Ottoman Empire. Written by members of the Young Ottomans, particularly Midhat Pasha, during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II (1876–1909), the constitution was only in effect for two years, from 1876 to 1878 in a period known as the First Constitutional Era. Later it was put back into effect and amended to transfer more power from the sultan and the appointed Senate to the generally elected Chamber of Deputies after the 1908 Young Turk Revolution, initiating a period known as the Second Constitutional Era.

By 1877, Ismail seemed to be on the brink of important functions in the Ottoman administration, but when Sultan Abdulhamid II dismissed Midhat as prime minister, Ismail Qemali was sent into exile in western Anatolia, though the Sultan later recalled him and made him governor of Beirut. Qemali in 1892 presented the sultan with a plan for a Balkan Confederation. [8] It involved an entente between Balkan states and the empire eventually bound by mutual defense and economic development of resources agreements within a unified Great Eastern state with Turkey as its centre and return of old borders. [8] In this framework, Albania like Macedonia was not treated as a separate state but as part of Turkey. [8] In time his liberal policy recommendations caused him to fall out of favour with the Sultan again. [4] Qemali was aware that the empire came close to intervention from the Great Powers due to the Armenian crisis of 1895. [9] Abdulhamid II awarded Qemali the position of governor (vali) of Tripoli, however he viewed the high post as exile. [4]

Anatolia Asian part of Turkey

Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor, Asian Turkey, the Anatolian peninsula, or the Anatolian plateau, is the westernmost protrusion of Asia, which makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region is bounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Armenian Highlands to the east, and the Aegean Sea to the west. The Sea of Marmara forms a connection between the Black and Aegean Seas through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits and separates Anatolia from Thrace on the European mainland.

Beirut City in Lebanon

Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon. No recent population census has been conducted, but 2007 estimates ranged from slightly more than 1 million to 2.2 million as part of Greater Beirut. Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coast, Beirut is the country's largest and main seaport.

Massacres of Diyarbakır (1895)

Massacres of Diyarbakır were massacres that took place in the Diyarbekir Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire between the years of 1894 and 1896. The events were part of the Hamidian massacres and targeted the vilayet's Christian population – Armenians and Assyrians.


Early years and CUP Congress 1902

In May 1900 Ismail Qemali boarded the British ambassador's yacht, claimed asylum and conveyed out of the empire were for the next eight years he lived in exile. [4] Qemali left for Athens and issued proclamations explaining his abandonment of service to the empire while Ottoman authorities were upset with his flight. [4] His interest toward the Albanian question was limited until these events and Qemali's participation in the Albanian national movement was seen as an asset among Albanian circles who would bring prestige and influence Muslim Albanians to support the cause. [10] He also worked to promote constitutional rule in the Ottoman Empire. [10] In Paris he met Faik Konitza and the two leaders worked together for a short time on Albanian issues through newspaper publications where Qemali called for Albanian unity, economic development, progress and to warn of future dangers of subjugation by Balkan states. [10] The pair fell out as Qemali found Konitza difficult to work with while Konitza found his focus of being a politician overwhelming and disapproved of his pro-Greek policy. [10] Qemali went on to found the newspaper Selamet (Salvation) published in Ottoman Turkish, Albanian and Greek which called for cooperation between Albanians and Greeks, due to both peoples having the same geopolitical interests. [10] Some Albanian activists involved in the national movement considered those views as suspicious and an instrument of Greek policy causing his popularity to wane among Albanians. [10]

Athens Capital and largest city of Greece

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years and its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

Ottoman Turkish, or the Ottoman language, is the variety of the Turkish language that was used in the Ottoman Empire. It borrows, in all aspects, extensively from Arabic and Persian, and it was written in the Ottoman Turkish alphabet. During the peak of Ottoman power, Persian and Arabic vocabulary accounted for up to 88% of the Ottoman vocabulary, while words of foreign origin heavily outnumbered native Turkish words.

At first Qemali made overtures to Austria-Hungary as the great power to assist Albanians in developing a national consciousness, founding of schools and cultivating their language and attaining autonomy. [11] Later, he became close with Italo-Albanians (Arbëreshë), shifted his leanings toward Italy and supported Italian policy for Albania to counter Austro-Hungarian territorial ambitions in the Balkans. [12] The Ottoman government initiated a crackdown of members and sympathisers of the Young Turk movement (CUP) with Qemali's son Mahmud Bey, a Council of State official being dismissed. [13] In Paris, Qemali participated in the Congress of Ottoman Opposition (1902) organised by Prince Sabahaddin and backed his faction calling for reforms, minority rights, revolution and European intervention in the empire. [14] [15] The 1902 Congress resulted in no organisations being established in the Balkans and an unknown individual impersonating Qemali travelled to various cities in Bulgaria and succeeded in duping many Muslims. [16] The aftermath of the 1902 Congress did result in the formation of the new central committee with attempts for the creation of a "permanent committee", however Qemali and the Ottoman princes Sabahaddin and Lutfullah failed to get support from the Armenians. [13] Later at a gathering of the permanent members of the new committee at the princes' house Qemali was installed as chairman. [13] Control of the official CUP newspaper Osmanli was given by the old members of the central committee to Prince Sabahaddin and Qemali of the new central committee. [17]

Austria-Hungary Constitutional monarchic union from 1867 to October 1918

Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy in central and eastern Europe from 1867 to 1918. It was formed by giving a new constitution to the Austrian Empire, which devolved powers on Austria (Cisleithania) and Hungary (Transleithania) and placed them on an equal footing. It broke apart into several states at the end of World War I.

Arbëreshë people ethnic group in Italy

The Arbëreshë, also known as Albanians of Italy or Italo-Albanians, are an Albanian ethnolinguistic group in Southern Italy, mostly concentrated in scattered villages in the regions of Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise and Sicily. They are the descendants of mostly Tosk Albanian refugees, who fled from Albania between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries in consequence of the Ottoman invasion of the Balkans.

Sultanzade Sabahaddin Ottoman sociologist and intellectual

Prince Sabahaddin de Neuchâtel was an Ottoman sociologist and thinker. Because of his threat to the ruling House of Osman, of which he was a member, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries due to his political activity and push for democracy in the Empire, he was exiled.

Portrait of a young Ismail Qemali in 1867. Ismail Qemali (1867).jpg
Portrait of a young Ismail Qemali in 1867.

The new committee attempted to get Armenian endorsement through niceties about a lack of ethnic differences while Armenian organisations responded favorably toward figures like Qemali. [9] Due to Qemali's prominent role Albanians were targeted by the new committee through articles published in the newspaper Osmanli warning of partition by Balkan and Western countries of Albanian inhabited lands within the empire. [9] These publications were distributed secretly in Albania through known associates such as Xhemil Vlora (Avlonyalı Cemil) who worked for Qemali. [18] Qemali supported the leadership of the Albanian movement such as preparing appeals for Jup Kastrati or creating in Paris an Albanian Council. [19] Journals supported by Qemali promoted Albanian autonomy, however the new committee failed to win support among Albanians to their side. [19] Qemali along with the Ottoman princes compared themselves to the statesmen of the Tanzimat reform era. [19] During this time Qemali's positions swung between overthrow of the sultan and increasingly backing the Albanian national movement. [14] [20] He corresponded over Albania's future with Prince Albert Ghica who had designs on becoming an Albanian monarch and with Preng Doçi about the involvement of Qemali in an administrative role within a future autonomous Albania. [21] Good relations were maintained with Ghica, while Dervish Hima an Albanian politically involved with the Romanian prince was viewed by Ottoman authorities as a pawn of Qemali. [19]

Plot to overthrow Ottoman sultan

Between 1902-1903 a coup de detat plot to overthrow Abdulhamid II was devised by the CUP. [22] Involved were Colonel Shevket Bey and Rexhep Pasha Mati (Recep Pasha) left in charge of organising the military aspects of the plan along with Qemali and Prince Sabaheddin given the task of getting diplomatic and financial support and to buy two ships for the venture. [22] Qemali's task was the most difficult aspect of the plot, he kept a unit in Paris, commenced political activities as a high ranking politician in exile and made many visits to London which annoyed the Ottoman government as they were unable to work out his real aims. [23] Ottoman authorities payed close attention and in some cases court materialised people they thought were associated with Qemali in attempts that were unsuccessful to find out his intentions. [24] In Paris Qemali established close contacts and good relations with journalists such as Stéphane Lauzanne and William Morton Fullerton. [25] During July 1902, Qemali went to London to get British support for the plot and corresponded with and visited people in the British government such as Edmund Monson and Thomas Sanderson. [26] He received responses from the Foreign Office, however Qemali exaggerated the level of British support, being only moral support and ambiguous for the venture. [27] Qemali's interactions with the British had managed to raise his profile and notability while he also discussed with them the Ottoman exile of his son to Bitlis. [28] The British were aware of the activities of Qemali and his associates. [28]

Qemali also corresponded with London based Ottoman diplomats on the plan like Reşid Sadi who secretly worked for the Young Turks. [29] Attempts by Qemali were made to convince Lord Cromer that the "Turkish question" was a pressing matter and he agreed with those sentiments and promised to reply to the Foreign office. [30] He also secretly met Abbas II of Egypt in an attempt to secure funds and the khedive placed £4000 in an English bank for the plot, yet later misgivings about Qemali made the Egyptian leader halt funds and fearing scandal he relented. [31] Qemali also sent an Albanian confidant Xhafer Berxhani from Greece to see Rexhep Pasha in Tripoli, Ottoman Libya. [30] Eqrem Vlora, a member of the Vlora family stated that during this time Rexhep Pasha sent £1000 in gold to Qemali and assisted his son Tahir Pasha in exile at Tripoli to escape to Europe. [32] At the end of January 1903, Qemali came back to Paris and found the princes grieving the death of their father Damad Mahmud Pasha, yet they all proceeded to London to make financial arrangements for the plot. [30] Later Qemali and the princes worked to finalise details of their plan. [33] Qemali having the details of tonnage and dimensions left for Athens with £4000 to buy two ships. [34]

While there Qemali was disappointed with the procurement process for the ships and the delay made the central committee members go to Athens. [34] Reşid Sadi arrived and found there was no large ships and that Qemali was residing at the house of an aide-de-camp to the Greek monarch. [34] Qemali informed Reşid Sadi that he was duped and that in Greece it was difficult to find suitable ships. [34] Later Sabaheddin traveled to see the khedive and failed to procure funds and ships where later he returned to Athens and for the last time met with Qemali, Reşid Sadi and Vasileos Musurus Ghikis. [34] Qemali wanted to travel to Naples and get ships from there, however the others decided to abandon the plot. [34] The failure of the plan was put down to different reasons with Qemali blaming prolonged negotiations about obtaining ships, while Rexhep Pasha viewed Qemali's lukewarm attitude for the venture as reason to change his mind. [35] From within Sabaheddin's inner circle the view was that Qemali took the money to profit for his own purposes. [36] Those sentiments were shared by people such as Haydar Midhat who quit the new central committee after he learned that Qemali worked for Greek interests in Albania and was on their payroll. [36] After the 1908 Young Turk revolution some people who opposed the CUP made allegations against Qemali of being uninterested in the plot, worked for his interests and a "crook" that took money from the prince. [36] Qemali broke ties with the Young Turks and on 16 August 1903 he gave an interview to an Italian newspaper in his role as an "Albanian patriot" and pursued his new preoccupation with Albania's future. [37]

Albanian question and secret agreements

In January 1907 a secret agreement was signed between Qemali, a leader of the then Albanian national movement and the Greek government which concerned the possibility of an alliance against the Ottoman Empire. The two sides agreed that the future Greek-Albanian boundary should be located on the Acroceraunian Mountains with no Albanian armed activity in the area in exchange for Greek backing of Albanian independence. [38] [39] [40] The CUP severely criticised Qemali for the agreement with the Greeks. [40] In Rome July 1907, Qemali gave a lengthy interview to Italian media where he called for cooperation between Balkan peoples, a "Greco-Albanian entente" and affirmed Albania as having its own language, literature, history and traditions and a right to liberty and independence. [10] He was also against Albanian cooperation with Bulgarian Macedonians and viewed their support of Albanian insurrectionists as self-serving and strengthening their movement due to depletion of Albanian forces. [10] Qemali's reasons for closer ties with Greeks during this time was to gain support for Albanian independence and thwart Bulgarian ambitions in the wider Balkans region as he viewed them as a threat to Greece and northern Albania in Macedonia along with Austro-Hungarian territorial ambitions. [41] [10]

Throughout this time Qemali living abroad was not the leader of the Albanian movement, due to his strong pro-British and pro-Greek position. [19] As an Albanian leader the CUP was hostile toward Qemali and the organisation shunned him due to his secret understanding with the Greeks to partition the western regions of the Balkan provinces of the empire. [42] During his lifetime Qemali looked upon Greek culture with favour and respect, maintained friendly relations with Greeks and promoted cooperation between them and Albanians. [6] He promoted a diplomatic solution for creating an independent Albania, an approach rejected by some Albanian groups of the era that instead favoured guerilla warfare against the empire. [19] Qemali may have favoured intervention by the Great Powers into Albanian affairs and those were accusations made against him by a minority of opponents. [19] Over time however he became an Albanian nationalist and by 1912 would declare the independence of Albania. [6]

Young Turk Revolution (1908) and Ottoman counter coup (1909)

During the events of the Young Turk Revolution (1908), rumors of the time had it that Abdul Hamid II as a last resort asked Qemali for assistance and his response was that only the restoration of the 1878 Ottoman constitution would pacify the Albanians. [43] After the 1908 revolution and constitutional restoration Qemali returned from exile and became a deputy representing Berat in the restored Ottoman Parliament, working with liberal politicians [44] [45] [46] and the British. He contributed to the Young Turk (CUP) newspaper Tanin where Qemali called for government reforms. [47] Qemali became leader of the Albanian deputies in the Ottoman parliament and did not oppose Austro-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia adding that recognition of the move should entail security guarantees for the empire in case of war with Balkan states over territory. [48]

During the Ottoman countercoup of 1909, the leadership of the Liberals (Ahrar) attempted unsuccessfully to get control over events and stop the rebellion from turning toward a reactionary pro-Hamidian and anti-constitutional course. [49] Qemali, a Liberal (Ahrar) deputy managed to get some parliamentarians to attend parliament, they accepted the requests of the mutineering troops and made an official announcement that the constitution and Sharia law would be kept. [50] Uninvolved in the events of the initial countercoup Qemali was briefly made President of the Ottoman National Assembly and led it to recognise a new government by Abdul Hamid II. [51] [52] Qemali wired his constituency in Vlorë telling them to acknowledge the new government and Albanians from his hometown backed him with some raiding the arms depot to support the sultan with weapons if the situation called for it. [52] Qemali left the city prior to the CUP Action Army arriving at Istanbul to suppress the rebellion and he fled to Greece. [53] A government investigation later cleared Qemali of any wrongdoing. [52]


His political career thereafter concentrated solely on Albanian nationalism. Increasing guerilla activity in Southern Albania led to Qemali coming under suspicion from the Ottoman government during the summer months of 1909. [53] The Athens embassy of the Ottoman Empire reported that Qemali negotiated with organization financed by wealthy Albanian Tosks and Greece about forging a union. [54] Qemali returned from Athens to Istanbul after the parliament cleared him from involvement in the counter-revolutionary movement and he became leader of a group of "modern liberals" who were former members of the Ahrar party. [55] In 1910 Qemali in statements to the Austro-Hungarian ambassador criticized the Young Turk government for promoting Turks above other nationalities in the empire and their divide and rule policies regarding Albanians. [56]

Albanian Revolt of 1911

During the Albanian Revolt of 1911 he traveled with Xhemal Bey of Tirana and joined leaders of the revolt at a meeting in Gerče, a village in Montenegro on 23 June. [57] [58] Together they drew up the "Greçë Memorandum" that called for Albanian autonomy, schooling and language rights, recognition of Albanians, electoral freedoms and liberty, military service in Albania and other measures [57] [58] which addressed their requests both to Ottoman Empire and Europe (in particular to the Great Britain). [59] In December 1911, Qemali and Hasan Prishtina convened secret meetings of Albanian political notables in Istanbul that decided to organise a future Albanian uprising. [60] [61] Qemali was given the task of going to Europe to obtain support from sympathetic governments for the Albanian movement in addition to financial support and funds for buying 15,000 guns. [60] [62] He met with Austro-Hungarian officials in Paris and expressed that his previous misgivings regarding them had shifted, viewed Austria-Hungary as the only defender of Albania and could rely on Albanian support if they backed Albanian geopolitical interests within a strong Ottoman state. [63] During the Albanian revolt of 1912, Qemali was part of the leadership faction that backed and advocated for Albanian autonomy within the empire during negotiations with the Ottomans. [64]


Albanian Independence

Declaration of independence

Ismail Qemali at the first anniversary of the Assembly of Vlorë which proclaimed the independence of Albania (28 November 1913) 28nentor.jpg
Ismail Qemali at the first anniversary of the Assembly of Vlorë which proclaimed the independence of Albania (28 November 1913)

The Balkan wars marked the end of Ottoman rule in the region. In September 1912, Qemali along with Luigj Gurakuqi traveled to Bucharest to consult with the Albanian community in Romania. [65] Later he departed for Vienna and kept in touch through telegram with Austro-Hungarian officials and supported as a solution their intervention in Albania. [65] On 12 November Qemali met with officials from the Austro-Hungarian foreign ministry and they told him of their sympathies for the Albanians and their situation but could not do much due to the continuing war. [65] Foreign Minister Count Leopold Berchtold supported Qemali's views on the Albanian question and placed a boat at his disposal. [65] From Trieste, Qemali sailed to Durrës by mid November, however his stay was short due to Ottoman authorities objecting to his presence with Serb forces approaching the city and he left for Vlorë arriving there on 26 November. [65] [66] Meanwhile, his son Ethem Bey Vlora had summoned Albanian representatives to Vlorë from all over Albania. [67]

Qemali was a principal figure in the Albanian Declaration of Independence and the formation of the independent Albania on 28 November 1912. [65] [67] This signaled the end of almost 500 years of Ottoman rule in Albania. [67] Together with Gurakuqi, he raised the flag on the balcony of the two-story building in Vlorë where the Declaration of Independence had just been signed. The establishment of the government was postponed for the fourth session of the Assembly of Vlorë, held on 4 December 1912, until representatives of all regions of Albania arrived to Vlorë. [68] [65] The Ottoman Council of Ministers opposed his actions preferring Albanian autonomy and requested that Qemali give military assistance to the Ottoman Third Army trapped in southern Albania. [67] Aware of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans, Qemali asked the Great Powers to recognise and support an independent Albania. [67]

Plot for an Ottoman-Albanian military alliance and resignation

The Ottoman CUP government sought to restore its control over Albania and sent lieutenant colonel Bekir Fikri in 1913 to raise Albanian support for Ahmed Izzet Pasha, an Ottoman-Albanian officer and CUP member as the candidate for the Albanian throne. [69] [70] [71] Fikri acting as Izzet Pasha's emissary contacted Ismail Qemali and presented him with a plan that envisaged joint Ottoman, Albanian and Bulgarian military action against Greece and Serbia. [72] [70] [71] Albania's reward in the military venture would have been the allocation of Kosovo and Chameria, areas given to Serbia and Greece by the Conference of Ambassadors. [72] Qemali assured Fikri of his loyalty to Izzet Pasha as monarch of Albania and supported a plan from the CUP government in Istanbul to secretly infiltrate troops and weapons into the country to conduct a guerilla war against Serbian and Greek forces. [73] [74] After these negotiations Fikri sent telegrams to Istanbul, and asked the government to send ammunition, weapons and soldiers. [75] The Serbs uncovered the plot and reported the operation to the International Control Commission (ICC). [73] [75] The ICC, an organisation temporarily administering Albania on behalf of the Great Powers allowed their Dutch officers serving as the Albanian Gendarmerie to declare a state of emergency and stop the plot. [73] [72] [74] They raided Vlorë on 7-8 January 1914, discovering more than 200 Ottoman troops and arrested Fikri. [73] [70] [76] During Fikri's trial the plot emerged and an ICC military court under Colonel Willem de Veer condemned him to death [76] and later commuted to life imprisonment, [73] while Qemali and his cabinet resigned. [72] After Qemali left the country, turmoil ensured throughout Albania. [77] Qemali was prime minister of Albania from 1912 to 1914.

1st Cabinet of Albania


During World War I, Ismail Qemali lived in exile in Paris, where, though short of funds, he maintained a wide range of contacts and collaborated with the correspondent of the continental edition of the Daily Mail, Somerville Story, to write his memoirs. His autobiography, published after his death, is the only memoir of a late Ottoman statesman to be written in English and is a unique record of a liberal, multicultural approach to the problems of the dying Empire. In 1918, Ismail Qemali travelled to Italy to promote support for his movement in Albania, but was prevented by the Italian government from leaving Italy and remained as its involuntary guest at a hotel in Perugia, much to his irritation. He died of an apparent heart attack at dinner there one evening. After his death, his body was brought to Vlorë and buried in the local Tekke (Dervish convent) of the Bektashi Order. [78]


Ismail Qemali is depicted on the obverses of the Albanian 200 lekë banknote of 1992–1996, [79] and of the 500 lekë banknote issued since 1996. [80] On 27 June 2012, Albanian President, Bamir Topi decorated Qemali with the Order of the National Flag (Post-mortem). [81]

See also

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Albanian Declaration of Independence declaration of independence

The Albanian Declaration of Independence is the declaration of independence of Albania from the Ottoman Empire. Independent Albania was proclaimed in Vlorë on 28 November 1912. Six days later the Assembly of Vlorë formed the first Government of Albania which was led by Ismail Qemali and the Council of Elders, Pleqësia.

Dervish Hima Albanian politician

Dervish Hima (1872–1928), born Ibrahim Mehmet Naxhi, was a 19th-century Albanian politician and one of the signatories of the Albanian Declaration of Independence. A publisher, he travelled from country to country, promoting Albania with articles and pamphlets.

Myfid Libohova Albanian politician, diplomat and economist

Myfid bej Libohova was an Albanian economist, diplomat and politician and one of the delegates at the Assembly of Vlora where the Albanian Declaration of Independence took place. He served as the first Minister of Interior of Albania, during the Provisional Government of Albania and since then has held different government positions on nine occasions between 1913–1927, holding the positions of Justice Minister, Minister of the Interior, Minister of Finance, and Minister of Culture.

Petro Poga Albanian politician

Petro Poga (1850–1944) was an Albanian politician, a delegate of Albanian Declaration of Independence event in Vlorë, 1912, and an important Rilindas.

Abedin Dino Albanian politician and poet

Abedin bej Dino, also Abedin Pasha was an Albanian patriot, politician, ideologue and diplomat. As a rilindas involved in the Albanian National Awakening, he was one of the founders of the League of Prizren and its chief representative for Epirus (1878). Dino was one of the main promoters in the need for the creation of the Autonomous Albanian Vilayet under the Ottoman suzerainty, and later a contributor in the Albanian independence.

Çerçiz Topulli Albanian activist

Çerçiz Topulli was a Albanian involved in the national movement and a guerrilla fighter operating in the mountainous areas of southern Albania. He was the younger brother of Bajo Topulli. He was known for fighting the Ottomans in 1907 and 1908 and then after they left, the Greeks in 1913 and 1914 during the Balkan Wars.

Nexhip Draga was an important figure of the Albanian National Awakening and an Albanian politician.

Ibrahim Temo Albanian politician

Ibrahim Starova, also Ibrahim Bërzeshta, better known as Ibrahim Temo, was an Ottoman-Albanian politician, revolutionary, intellectual, and a medical doctor by profession. Temo was the original founder of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP).

Republic of Central Albania former country

The Republic of Central Albania was a short-lived unrecognised state established on October 16, 1913 with its administrative centre in Durrës, today in Albania.

International Control Commission (Albania)

The International Commission of Control was the commission established on October 15, 1913, on the basis of the decision by the six Great Powers made on July 29, 1913, according to the London Treaty signed on May 30, 1913. Its goal was to take care of the administration of newly established Albania until its own political institutions were in order.

Shahin Kolonja Albanian politician and journalist

Shahin Kolonja (1865-1919), was an Albanian journalist and politician.

Bekir Fikri

Bekir Fikri (1882-1914), was an Ottoman revolutionary that participated in the Young Turk Revolution (1908) and fought with distinction during the Balkan Wars (1912-1913).

Rexhep Pasha Mati (1842-1908) was a Ottoman-Albanian Marshal, governor and war minister.


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  41. Blumi, Isa (2013). Ottoman refugees, 1878-1939: Migration in a post-imperial world. A&C Black. p. 82; p. 195. "As late as 1907 Ismail Qemali advocated the creation of “una liga Greco-Albanese” in an effort to thwart Bulgarian domination in Macedonia. ASAME Serie P Politica 1891–1916, Busta 665, no.365/108, Consul to Foreign Minister, dated Athens, 26 April 1907."
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Political offices
Preceded by
Independence declared
Head of State of Albania
Succeeded by
William of Wied as a prince
Preceded by
Independence declared
Prime Minister of Albania
Succeeded by
Fejzi Bej Alizoti
Preceded by
Independence declared
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by