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Vraka (Albanian: Vrakë; Serbian Cyrillic: ) is a minor region in Shkodër County in northern Albania. The region includes settlements located on the shore of Lake Scutari, some 7 km north of the city of Shkodër. This ethnographic region is inhabited by Serb-Montenegrins, Podgoriçani (Slavic Muslims) and Albanians; it used to be mainly inhabited by Serb-Montenegrins. A small Serbo-Montenegrin community migrated and established itself in Vraka during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The majority of the Serbo-Montenegrin community came to Vraka, Albania from Montenegro during the interwar Zogist period following 1926 and later from 1938 until 1948. By the year 2010 most of the Orthodox families returned to Montenegro and Serbia. Today (2019) there are only few families living there (less than five).
More recently, Montenegrins and Serbs began migrating to Vraka in the late 17th century. According to Jovan Erdeljanovi?, in his book Stara Crna Gora, all descendants of Jovan Martinovi?, who has been mentioned since 1687, have emigrated to Vraka. From confirmed documents, one of the first families to inhabit the area of Vraka was in 1705 were the ?ur?evi?i from the village of Mom?e in Ku?i. A certain Jerko ?ur?evi? was the only one from his clan in Vraka to convert to Islam. His descendants later became known as the Jerkovi?i, who are found in the village of ?toj, near Ulcinj.
Following the Great Eastern Crisis, from 1878 onward a small Muslim Montenegrin speaking community living in the region exists and are known as Podgoriçani, due to their origins from Podgorica in Montenegro.
In 1918, beside the Serbian Orthodox in Scutari, there were communities in different neighbouring villages such as Vraka, Vramenica, Derigniat, etc., as well as several thousands of Slavic Muslims of Montenegrin and Bosnia-Herzegovina origin. In 1920, the following villages had Serbian majority or plurality: Brch, Basits, Vraka, Sterbets, Kadrum. Farming was the chief occupation of the villages.
Vraka is known for having been the place where poet Millosh Gjergj Nikolla became teacher on 23 April 1933, and it was in this period that he started to write prose sketches and verses. The village of Vraka was at the time entirely inhabited by Serb-Montenegrins. The Serb school in Vrake was destroyed in 1934.
A period of immigration existed between 1925 and 1934. This wave marked the migration of many Serb-Montenegrin families to Montenegro, Serbia proper and Kosovo, leaving their homes in Vraka behind. For example, Rrash-Kullaj was inhabited by Serbs-Montenegrins until World War II when the whole population emigrated to Yugoslavia.
As part of a campaign of state promoted atheism, Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha destroyed Serbian cemeteries and two Serb churches.
In 1990 most of the minority community of Vraka went to Montenegro. As the border opened up, many members of the community left between March-December 1991 for Montenegro and Vraka, Boriç and other nearby areas became severely depopulated. During that time with economic problems and tensions arising in areas of the former Yugoslavia, it made some 600 of them return home to Albania.
In 1992, the Mora?a-Rozafa Association was established.
During the Yugoslav Wars, there were incidents of violence against the Serb-Montenegrin minority in places like Boriç i Vogël and Boriç i Madh, where the Albanian government tried to forcibly take land from them. There were reports that the Albanian government also attempted to forcibly resettle Serb-Montenegrins and Podgoriçani from Boriç i Vogël, Boriç i Madh, Vraka and other places.
In March 1992, as part of state policy by Serbia and Montenegro to increase the numbers of Serbs in Kosovo, nearly 3,000 people from the Serb minority in Albania emigrated to the region after accepting a government offer for employment and housing in the area. Another wave came back due to the Kosovo War.
In the early twenty first century, the community lives largely on trade with Montenegro and communal relations with Albanian inhabitants are regarded as good by many of its members.
The region serves as the centre of the Serb-Montenegrin minority in Albania (as listed in the census). The estimations of the total number of Serb-Montenegrins in the area vary from 1,000 to over 2,000. The community has retained their language, culture and religion. The minority association of the community, the "Mora?a-Rozafa", represents the interests of this minority in Shkodër.
During the early 2010s linguists Klaus Steinke and Xhelal Ylli seeking to corroborate villages cited in past literature as being Slavic speaking carried out fieldwork in settlements of the area. Of the Shkodër area exists seven villages with a Slavophone population that speak a Montenegrin dialect.
Boriç i Madh - one third of the population is compact and composed of Muslim Podgoriçani.
Boriç i Vogël - inhabited by 15 families and the Slavophone families are the only compact group of the Orthodox in Vraka.
Gril - the village officially has 1,090 inhabitants or 195 families, while the number of Orthodox Montenegrin families there varies between 2, 3 - 10. An Albanian school exists in Gril, along with a newly built Orthodox church that is without a priest. According to Slavophone locals the Orthodox population moved to Darragjat due to blood feuds related with Montenegro and relocated themselves to the Vraka area such as Gril between 1935-1936. Some Orthodox Montenegrins from the village moved to Montenegro in the 1990s with some thereafter returning to Gril.
Omaraj - in the village only two Orthodox Montenegrin families remain.
Kamicë - the village is almost deserted, with five or six minority Orthodox Montenegrin families left, alongside the few Albanian families.
Shtoj i Ri - the village has a compact population of 17 Muslim Podgoriçani families.
Shtoj i Vjetër - the village has a compact population of 30 Muslim Podgoriçani families.
Shkodër (city) - some Orthodox Montenegrin and Muslim Podgoriçani families live there.
The surnames were forcibly changed by the Albanian government, from Slavic into Albanian ones, as part of Albanianization. The changed surnames, in Serbo-Croatian transliteration, are indicated with (->)
^ abTo?i?, Jelena (2015). "City of the 'calm': Vernacular mobility and genealogies of urbanity in a southeast European borderland". Southeast European and Black Sea Studies. 15 (3): 391-408. doi:10.1080/14683857.2015.1091182. pp. 394-395. "As noted above, the vernacular mobility term 'Podgoriçani' (literally meaning 'people that came from Podgoriça', the present-day capital of Montenegro) refers to the progeny of Balkan Muslims, who migrated to Shkodra in four historical periods and in highest numbers after the Congress of Berlin 1878. Like the Ulqinak, the Podgoriçani thus personify the mass forced displacement of the Muslim population from the Balkans and the 'unmixing of peoples' (see e.g. Brubaker 1996, 153) at the time of the retreat of the Ottoman Empire, which has only recently sparked renewed scholarly interest (e.g. Blumi 2013; Chatty 2013)."
^ abGruber, Siegfried (2008). "Household structures in urban Albania in 1918". The History of the Family. 13 (2): 138-151. doi:10.1016/j.hisfam.2008.05.002. S2CID144626672. p. 142. "Migration to Shkodra was mostly from the villages to the south-east of the city and from the cities of Podgorica and Ulcinj in Montenegro. This was connected to the independence of Montenegro from the Ottoman Empire in the year 1878 and the acquisition of additional territories, e.g. Ulcinj in 1881 (Ippen, 1907, p. 3)."
^ abGenov, Nikolai (2006). Ethnicity and Mass Media in South Eastern Europe. Lit Verlag. p. 25. ISBN9783825893484. "Vraka to the north of the city of Shkodra and near the border with Montenegro. There are no accurate data about this ethnic minority in the population census of 1989. It was considered that it consisted of about 2,000 people. Almost all of them left for Montenegro in 1990. Economic difficulties and the tensions created in the former Yugoslavia urged about 600 of them to return to their homes in Albania.
^Carl Skutsch (7 November 2013). Encyclopedia of the World's Minorities. Routledge. pp. 64-. ISBN978-1-135-19388-1. One subgroup of Christian-Orthodox faith once lived in the area of Vrakë of the district of Shkodër in the north, until a large group thereof emigrated in early 1990 to the then-Yugoslav Federation, although about 600 later returned.
^Daily Report: East Europe 116-126. The Service. 1994. The report that the Albanian authorities have tried forcibly to resettle members of the Serb and Montenegrin minorities, residents of Vraka and Podgoricani, from the villages of Stari Boric and Mladi Boric, in which they have always lived, has caused great concern among the Yugoslav public.
^Daily Report: East Europe, 136-146. 1995. On that occasion the Albanian authorities attempted to forcibly requisition land from the members of the Serbian and Montenegrin minority from the village Stari Boric and Mladi Boric near Shkodra by demanding that they sign a statement ...
^ abcSteinke, Klaus; Ylli, Xhelal (2013). Die slavischen Minderheiten in Albanien (SMA). 4. Teil: Vraka - Borakaj. Munich: Verlag Otto Sagner. ISBN9783866883635. p. 9. "Am östlichen Ufer des Shkodrasees gibt es heute auf dem Gebiet von Vraka vier Dörfer, in denen ein Teil der Bewohner eine montenegrinische Mundart spricht. Es handelt sich dabei um die Ortschaften Boriçi i Madh (Bori? Veli), Boriçi i Vogël (Bori? Mali/Bori? Stari/Bori? Vezirov), Gril (Grilj) und Omaraj (Omara), die verwaltungstechnisch Teil der Gemeinde Gruemira in der Region Malësia e Madhe sind. Ferner zählen zu dieser Gruppe noch die Dörfer Shtoji i Ri und Shtoji i Vjetër in der Gemeinde Rrethinat und weiter nordwestlich von Koplik das Dorf Kamica (Kamenica), das zur Gemeinde Qendër in der Region Malësia e Madhe gehört. Desgleichen wohnen vereinzelt in der Stadt sowie im Kreis Shkodra weitere Sprecher der montenegrinischen Mundart. Nach ihrer Konfession unterscheidet man zwei Gruppen, d.h. orthodoxe mid muslimische Slavophone. Die erste, kleinere Gruppe wohnt in Boriçi i Vogël, Gril, Omaraj und Kamica, die zweite, größere Gruppe in Boriçi i Madh und in Shtoj. Unter den in Shkodra wohnenden Slavophonen sind beide Konfessionen vertreten... Die Muslime bezeichnen sich gemeinhin als Podgori?ani 'Zuwanderer aus Podgorica' und kommen aus Zeta, Podgorica, Tuzi usw."
^ abcdefghijSteinke & Ylli 2013 p. 20. "Außer in Boriçi i Madh und auch in Shtoj, wo die Slavophonen eine kompakte Gruppe innerhalb des jeweiligen Ortes bilden, sind sie in anderen Dorfern zahlenmäßig bedeutunglos geworden."; p. 103. "Boriçi i Madh - Bori? Veli. Das Dorf besteht zu einem Drittel aus muslimischen Slavophonen. Zusammen mit Shtoj bildet Boriçi i Madh die größte kompakte Ansiedlung von den Podgoricanen in Vraka."; p. 108. "Boriçi i Vogël - Bori? Mali / Stari / Vezirov. Mit ungefahr 15 Familien bilden die Slavophonen von Boriçi i Vogël die einzige kompakte Gruppe der Orthodoxen in Vraka."; p. 111. "Gril - Grilj. In Gril leben offiziell 1.090 Einwohner bzw. 195 Familien. Die Angaben über die Zahl der orthodoxen Familien der montenegreschen Minderheit schwanken zwischen zwei bis drei und zehn. Hier befindet sich die die albanische Schule für Vraka und ferner eine neugebaute orthodoxe Kirche, die freilich keinen Priester hat. Die orthodoxen Einwohner sollen zunächst wegen der Blutrache von Montenegro nach Daragjat und von dort 1935-1936 nach Vraka gezogen sein, wie VK angbit. Er ist auch einer der wenigen Rückkehrer, der am Anfang der 1990-er nach Montenegro ging und wider zurückkam."; p. 117. "Kamica - Kamenica. Das Dorf ist fast verlassen, und heute wohnen dort nur noch fünf bis sechs orthodoxe Familien der Minderheit und einige hinzugekommene albanische Familien."; p. 126. "Omaraj - Omara. In Omaraj wohnen nur noch zwei orthodoxe Familien der Minderheit."; p. 131. "Shtoji - ?toj. In Shtoj i Vjetër leben heute ungefähr 30 und in Shtoj i Ri 17 muslimische Familien, d.h Podgori?aner."
^Burovic, K. (2011-01-23), "Doprinos Srpsko-Crnogorske manjine u istoriji Albanskog naroda", Novinar Online, Sva Albanija posebno poznaje Perlata Red?epi, Branka Kadi?a i Jordana Misju, afirmirani kao Tri heroja Skadra (Tre heronjt e Shkodrës)9), koji su 22.VI.1942. godine poginuli sred Skadra, a bore?i se u okru?enju protiv italijanskih fa?isti?kih okupatora. Sami su Albanci njihovu borbu do poslednje kapi krvi okarakterisali kao ,,epope legjendare, një nga epizodet më heroike të Luftës sonë Nacionalçlirimtare"(Legendarna epopeja, jedna od najherojskih epizoda na?e Narodno-oslobodila?ke borbe")10), koju su opevali i u pesme. U toj veleslavnoj epopeji samo je Perlat Red?epi Albanac. Branko Kadi? (1921-1942, posle rata proga?en za Narodnog Heroja) i Jordan Misja su pripadnici srpsko-crnogorske nacionalne manjine.