By 28 Νοεμβρίου 2023 No Comments

In 1885, a Romanian school was founded (thanks to a legacy from Demetris Kazakovits from Metsovo), for the teaching of the Romanian language. Its operation was intermittent. It closed in 1901 by decision of the Romanian government but reopened in 1908 (at the house of Kyrgos Topis). The school was destroyed the day after the liberation of Metsovo (November 1, 1912) and its archive was set on fire.

Snapshot of a Vlach wedding at the village of Drossopighi, early 20th century (Foundation of the Museum for the Macedonian Struggle)

The so-called ‘Koutsovlach question’ was an issue related to minorities that emerged in the second half of the 19th century when there was also a rise in nationalism in the Balkans, including Romania. Based mainly on the similarity of the Vlach language to Romanian, Romania claimed the Vlach populations of the Ottoman empire as its own. In the areas of Epirus, Macedonia and Thessaly an intense argument with Greece arose over the identity of the populations, expressed by the foundation of Romanian schools and churches. The antagonism increased at the start of the 20th century (during the Macedonian Struggle); Greek guerilla groups were active in Ottoman Macedonia and Greeks living in Romania were attacked, leading to the collapse of diplomatic relations between Greece and Romania. The Koutsovlach question became less important during the Balkan wars thanks to Venizelos’ approval of the free operation of Romanian schools and churches in areas that were annexed to the Greek state and had Vlach populations. However, the emergence of another factor, namely Italian imperialism, during World War I and into World War II, added a new twist to the problem. In 1917, Alkiviadis Diamantis, a Vlach speaking lawyer from Thessaly, instigated the foundation of a Vlach «Republic of Pindos» but it was not to last. In 1941-1942, Italy, as the occupying power, again with the help of Alkiviadis Diamantis, planned the foundation of an Autonomous Koutsovlach «Principality of Epirus» consisting of Pindos, west Macedonia and Thessaly. The plan was finally abandoned after Italy fell in the summer of 1943.