Son of Zog's man funds Albanian centre

August 16, 1996

History has had little good to say about the late King Zog of Albania, a politician who contrived to become a monarch in 1928 and was ejected by the Italians in 1939, spending the rest of his life in exile.

But London University's School of Slavonic and East European Studies can be forgiven for thinking kindly of Zog, or at least of members of his household.

During his seven years (1939-46) in exile in Britain, Zog employed a man named Gjenco Na i as his private secretary. Mr Na i stayed in Britain when Zog left for Egypt in 1946, working for the BBC monitoring service. He died in 1992. His papers, including correspondence shedding significant light on the attitude of the allied nations to Albania and on emigre politics, form the centrepiece of an unexpected bequest by his son Peter Nash - who died last year - which will enable the setting-up of a centre for Albanian studies at SSEES.

Michael Branch, director of SSEES, said Mr Nash had his first contact with the school during the 1980s when Albanian studies were revived by Dennis Deletant and Mark Wheeler. "But we hadn't the slightest idea that he was intending to do anything like this," he said.

The Pounds 750,000 bequest will fund a research fellowship and an associated doctoral programme. A meeting in November will help decide the focus of the first fellowship appointment, for four years.

Professor Branch said provision in Albanian studies had traditionally been "spotty". "It is a very good example of the sort of subject that is impossible to support by normal means under current funding methods."

In the 1950s the school staff included the world's authority on Albanian etymology. In recent years SSEES has had Albanian lectors - initially from the Kosovo region of Serbia and more recently from the University of Tirana, while Professor Branch points out that an increasing number of Albanian students funded by the European Union's Tempus programme are now attending British universities.

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