The moslems of Chamuria and the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey

Dimitris Michalopoulos


The question of the Moslems of Chamuria was a serious one in the field
of Greek-Albanian relations during the period between the two World Wars.
Chamuria is the region of Epirus extended between Butrinto and the mouth of the Acheron river and, eastward up to Mount Olytsika. In 1923 lived there
20,319 Moslems, generally considered as being of Albanian origin. Because
of Italian pressure during the Lausanne conference, it was agreed that these
Moslems would be exempted from the exchange of populations between Greece
and Turkey; the Greek government, in spite of its later reluctance, finally
adopted this solution and so, the vast majority of them remained in their
“ancestral homes”. Nevertheless, the Albanian government complained that
they did not enjoy the rights granted by the “constitution and the laws of
Greece” and the whole matter was brought to the attention of the League of
Nations. In 1928, the Council of the international organization did not agree
with the Albanian positions. In World War II, during the occupation of Greece by the Axis Powers, the Moslems of Chamuria collaborated with the Italians and the Germans in order to prepare the annexation of that region to Albania. But in 1944, when Epirus was liberated, they followed the withdrawing German troops and settled on Albanian soil.

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