In response to the heated row caused by an image shared on Sunday night, pop megastar Dua Lipa has released a further statement that is neither an apology nor an explanation. The “New Rules” singer first stirred up controversy when she posted a picture of the ‘Greater Albania’ flag (below), a concept used by Albanian nationalists to justify calls for a border expansion into surrounding territories they deem ‘ethnically Albanian’.
The 24 year old captioned the image with a definition of the word ‘autochthonous’, meaning (as per the tweet) “indigenous rather than descended from migrants or colonists”, presumably with reference to Albanians being indigenous to the Balkans (something which Serbia disputed and used as justification for the genocide of Albanians in Kosovo during the 1990s).
(of an inhabitant of a place) indigenous rather than descended from migrants or colonists pic.twitter.com/OD9bNmLcZ4
— DUA LIPA (@DUALIPA) July 19, 2020
While ethnologists disagree as to exactly when and how Albanians first settled in the region, the narrative that Sunni muslim Albanians are descended from Arabs and therefore not native is not only racist but incorrect; Albania was a Christian nation before being gradually Islamised under an Ottoman rule that began in the 14th century. By the 17th century it had eventually become a majority muslim nation, some 600 years after the historical record first places Albanians in the Balkans. It is fair to assume that Lipa sent the initial tweet with this sentiment.
Despite being born in London, she spent her late childhood in her parents’ native Kosovo before returning to the UK (I know it’s complicated but stick with me). Formally a part of Serbia, Kosovo declared independence in 2008 largely due to 92% of its inhabitants being ethnically Albanian (called ‘Kosovar Albanians’), Lipa’s parents included. Along with around half the world’s nations, Serbia still refuses to formally recognise the region as an independent country.
What perhaps Lipa didn’t know, is that the flag posted has connotations that overstep simply stating that Albanians are native to Eastern Europe. The ‘Greater Albania’ in the image encompasses not just Kosovo (which in itself contests Kosovo’s independence) but most of Macedonia, the island of Corfu, parts of Montenegro, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece, where the ethnically Albanian populations are negligible at best (see map below). The irony of using a Greek term (‘autochthonous’) to claim parts of Greece was not lost on users either.
Instead of apologising for pairing a commendable message with an inflammatory image however, Lipa left a bizarre statement that accused critics of “promoting ethnic separatism” by “wilfully misinterpret[ing]” her post. Her response verges on gaslighting her detractors calling them “crazy”, conveniently ignoring the ties between ‘Greater Albania’ and Albania’s far-right fascist movement when the country sided with the Nazis during the Second World War.
Even more strangely, her statement ends with a wish for her “country to be represented on a map”, a reference to Apple bowing to a recent petition to include Kosovo as a country on their GPS systems. However, the map Lipa shared does precisely the opposite, erasing Kosovo’s independence as a part of ‘Greater Albania’. For the minute, both tweets remain undeleted, though we’ll have to see if Lipa’s clarification undergoes its own clarification. Read Lipa’s second statement via the embed below:
— DUA LIPA (@DUALIPA) July 21, 2020