Eqrem Vlora (1885–1964, also known as Ekrem Vlora, Eqrem bej Vlora, Ekrem bey Vlora, Ekrem B. Vlora) was an Albanian lord, politician, writer, and one of the signatories of Albanian Declaration of Independence. He was born in Vlora, the son of one of the wealthiest landowning families of the south. He was related both to Ismail Qemali and also to his main political opponent Esad Pasha, who were both his uncles from his father's and mother's side respectively. He was educated at the Theresianum in Vienna, 1899–1903, and studied law and religion in Istanbul, 1904. After working for the Ottoman Foreign Ministry for a time, including a three-month tour of duty at the Ottoman embassy in St. Petersburg in 1907, and years of travel in Europe, Albania and the Orient, he joined his uncle Ismail Qemali in the movement for Albanian independence. During these travels he met some of the most important personalities of the time, including Herbert Kitchener, Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf, several Arab sheikhs who would become the monarchs of the Arab countries and also a young lieutenant, Mustafa Kemal, who would eventually become the president of Turkey. According to Vlora's memoirs, members of his family were de facto (not de jure) sanjakbeys of Sanjak of Avlona in period 1481—1828.1
During the Balkan Wars, he was given the rank of reserve major and the command of a territorial battalion for the defense of Vlora by the Turkish commander in Ioannina. After several successful skirmishes with the Greek forces in the area of Himarë, he was recalled to Vlora by his uncle, Ismail bey.
In 1912, he was made deputy president of the senate. He was sent in Neuwied to meet the Prince Wilhelm of Wied, chosen to rule Albania. Later, he served in the Foreign Ministry during the Prince's reign and was distinguished as the commander of a volunteer artillery battery during the attack of peasant rebels on Durrës. He also received the Order of the Eagle for gallantry shown during the siege. He was a known supporter of the Central Powers during World War I for which reason he kept under arrest in Italy during most of the war but subsequently became a promoter of close relations between Italy and Albania. He was friendly towards the Italian commanders during the Italian invasion of Vlora in 1920. Vlora was elected to parliament in 1924, representing a conservative wing and, in 1925, became a senator for a short period of time. His relations with Ahmet Zogu were tenuous, though he served the latter on various diplomatic missions abroad. He was a close friend of the Bavarian baroness Marie Amelie, Freiin von Godin, with whom he translated the Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini into German.
Vlora welcomed the Italian invasion of April 1939 and had close links to the Italian fascists. In 1942, Mustafa Merlika-Kruja appointed him minister for Kosovo, the western half of which had been incorporated to Albania. His anti-Slavic policies, however, gave rise to widespread resistance among the Serbs and Montenegrins.citation needed In the summer of 1944, he was made foreign minister and minister of justice before going into Italian exile during the communist takeover. He died in Vienna and lies buried at the Neustift am Walde Cemetery.
As a writer, Eqrem bej Vlora is remembered for his monograph Aus Berat und vom Tomor: Tagebuchblätter ('From Berat and Tomorr: Pages of a Diary', Albanian: Nga Berati në Tomorr dhe kthim : ditar2), Sarajevo 1911, and, in particular, for his two-volume German-language memoirs, published posthumously as Lebenserinnerungen ('Memoirs'), Munich 1968, 1973, which give fascinating insight into the world of an early 20th-century Albanian nobleman. They have recently been translated into Albanian as Kujtime ('Memoirs'), Tirana 2002, and Turkish as Osmanli Arnavutluk'undan anilar, 1885-1912 ('Notes from Ottoman Albania, 1885-1912'), Istanbul 2006. Unpublished remains his monumental 1200-page typescript Beiträge zur Geschichte der Türkenherrschaft in Albanien: eine historische Skizze ('Contributions to the History of Turkish Rule in Albania: an Historical Sketch'), from which this account of the noble families of mediaeval Albania is taken.
- This article includes the text from Robert Elsie's personal site with explicit permission of the site author to use it under GNU FDL.
- Vlora, Eqrem (1968), Lebenserinnerungen 1, retrieved 28. December, "The members of his family held this position almost without interruption from 1481 to 1828, hereditarily not de jure, but de facto."
- "History of Albanian People" Albanian Academy of Science.ISBN 99927-1-623-1