The Macedonian Question: Britain and the Southern Balkans 1939-1949 (Oxford Historical Monographs)

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The continuing deterioration of public order in Macedonia as a result of Comitadji activity and the ferocity of Ottoman reprisals, highlight- ed the necessity of reforms. At that stage, the British emerged as a forceful advocate of the overhaul of the reform schemes, which they considered to be too narrow and ineffective. In particular, Lansdowne called for more direct foreign control, arguing that 'no scheme is likely to produce satisfactory results which depends for its execution upon a Mussulman Governor entirely subservient to the Turkish Gov[ermen]t and completely independent of foreign control'.

The Powers, therefore, should propose the appointment of a Christian governor 'unconnected with the Balkan Peninsula' or the Great Powers. Failing that, 'Euro- pean assessors' should be allowed to help a Muslim governor in his duties. Equally important were the appointment of European officers in the Macedonian gendarmerie, and the withdrawal of the Ottoman reserve forces 'Redifs and Ilavehs'. Finally, Lansdowne regretted that 'the two Powers', i. Russia and Austria, refused to support send- ing European military attaches to the Ottoman units stationed in Macedonia, aimed at 'restraining' the Turks and sending the Powers 'trustworthy information'.

Consequently the second reform attempt, which was concluded during the meeting of the Russian tsar with the Austrian emperor at Miirzsteg, in October , was an attempt at compromise: the governor would continue to be a Muslim, but assisted by two 'civil agents', one Austrian and one Russian; European officers should control and reorganize the gendarmerie, and the bor- ders of the three vilayets should be rectified to take into account the nationality of their inhabitants, to the extent, of course, that this was possible.

Tampering with the 'Sleeping Dogs ' 47 These proposals were accepted by the Ottomans, but only when they realized that there was a united European front behind them, and at any rate did little to ameliorate the situation in the three vilayets. The spectre of new major disturbances was never far beneath the surface, and the raids of Bulgarian, Serbian, and Greek bands continued to increase. The British continued to push for the implementation of the reforms agreed at Miirzsteg, and often expressed to the other Powers their frustration at their slow pace.

At the same time, it was realized that should the system of reforms collapse entirely, a proposition that did not seem unlikely, then Britain 'would be expected to intervene', and to propose alternative solutions. At that juncture, two of them became apparent: 'Macedonia might either be joined to Bulgaria, or given an autonomous regime under a Governor virtually independent of the Sultan'. But the former would be unacceptable to all Great Powers, including, of course, Britain. San Stefano, after all, was not that far away. Autonomy, however, could prove to be a viable proposition.

The finances of the province, he added, 'should be placed under some form of international control'. As for the British proposal concerning the control of Macedonia's budget by an international commission, the Sultan accepted it in December , but only after all six Great Powers staged a naval demonstration.

Neither the Ottomans nor the Balkan states, and in particular Greece and Bulgaria which had the most numerous bands in Macedonia, were prepared to take the British advice for reform and restraint respectively to heart. Both Athens and Sofia refused to accept that band activity was officially supported, and the Ottomans continued to manifest a profound inability to suppress them.

Throughout the period leading to the Young Turk revolt of , Britain repeatedly attempted to press the Balkan states to prevent the bands from entering Macedonia, 16 Lansdowne to Monson, 20 Feb. But Abdul Hamit, his position strengthened by German support, remained unimpressed, and shifted the blame to Athens, Belgrade, and Sofia: if the Powers, he told O'Conor during yet another audience over the subject, 'made as energetic representations at those capitals as at Constantinople it would suffice'.

Isvolskii, the Russian foreign minister, accepted the former, but sternly rejected the latter stipulation, either because he did not want to antagonize too forcefully the Ottomans, or because he wanted to keep all possible options open. The timing, however, was not ideal: a few days later the Young Turk revolt broke out, and the whole issue of reform in the Ottoman Empire was to take an entirely different twist. In the period preceding the Balkan Wars of , Britain saw in the various reform schemes a way of pacifying Macedonia without having to resort to far-reaching solutions.

This was an important consideration, for maintaining the Powers' 'concert' over the subject was uppermost in British thinking about the Balkans. They were seriously interested in the reforms, and attempted to use their influence to enforce them. For Britain true reform meant wide-ranging and active European par- ticipation, with a governor approved by the Powers, and a gendarmerie trained and supervised by European officers.

The less the Ottomans had to do with it, the better. They understood full well that such an attitude would not be to the Ottomans' liking, to say the least, but that was 19 Cooch and Temperley eds. Cooch and Temperley eds. Tampering with the 'Sleeping Dogs ' 49 a price worth paying to ensure that no serious revolt broke out again. Failing that, of course, autonomy could be suggested, but the precedent of Eastern Rumelia must have taught them that an autonomous Mace- donia might well gravitate towards Bulgaria, resurrecting the spectre of a new San Stefano.

During the Balkan Wars, however, the initiative concerning the fate of Macedonia was lost to the British. Throughout the nineteenth century, the pattern that had emerged was fairly straightforward: Balkan action of some sort was followed quickly by European intervention, and in the end the new settlement was sealed by a European congress or treaty.

IMRO was well aware of that pattern, and such considerations certainly influenced their decision to launch the Ilinden Revolt.

Description:

In the twentieth century this was to change. It will be remembered that the Powers had advised moderation in the Balkan capitals before the first Balkan war broke out. But although London became during the wars the centre of European diplomacy on the issue, the ultimate solution to the Macedonian Question — the partition of the Ottoman province between Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia — was a Balkan decision determined by the relative strength, and in Bulgaria's case weakness, of the Balkan actors themselves. That the initiative belonged to them became apparent very quickly: as the first war was unfolding, Cartwright emphasized that 'England wished to keep out of Balkan complications, and, above all, desired to maintain concert of Europe intact'.

After the Balkan nationalist fever reached boiling point during the second Balkan war, which broke out in June , with the Bulgarians attacking their former allies, the Foreign Office would come to the conclusion that the partition of Macedonia was not only the sole, but also a most beneficial, solution: The old British idea of autonomy was now pronounced clinically dead. It is to be hoped that such a project will not be put forward. The Balkan Wars, pt. Cartwright to Sir Edward Grey, 12 Nov. Cartwright to Sir Edward Grey, 22 July , ibid. For more details on British policy during the Balkan Wars see Richard 50 Weaving the Nessus Shirt, himself argued that 'the settlement of the second Balkan War was not one of justice but one of force.

It stored up inevitable trouble for the time to come. The issue at stake was Bulgaria. With the country wavering between the Central Powers and the Entente, the offer of Macedonian lands to Sofia became the carrot that could conceivably tip the balance in favour of the British. Many such offers were made to Sofia in late and again in , aimed either at keeping Bulgaria neutral, or at luring her to the Entente by inducing her to attack Turkey. In a most generous offer made in August , the Allies offered Bulgaria substantial Macedonian lands right up to Ochrid in the west, the remaining portion of Ottoman Thrace, and the Greek port of Kavala.

Bulgaria, after all, had no reason to hurry matters: she accepted a similar offer from the Central Powers and occupied large parts of Serbian and Greek Macedonia. Apart from being ineffective, these offers profoundly angered both Greece and Serbia, who felt that they were unfairly treated by being asked to surrender to Bulgaria lands they considered inalienably theirs by right of both war and treaty. That situation prompted an exasperated Nikola Pasic to suggest in August that the allies were 'treating Serbia like an African tribe'.

Tampering with the 'Sleeping Dogs ' 5 1 Bulgaria would be made, this time in order to induce her to conclude a separate peace. In the course of these attempts, slices of Greek and Serbian Macedonia were again put on display to entice Bulgaria to detach herself from the Central Powers. For Britain, as shall be seen, this was 'salient ingratitude', and Bulgaria would have to pay dearly for it. Not only did she lose her Aegean outlet, which was transferred to Greece, but she would never again be able to count on British support for her Macedonian claims.

Some twenty-five years later, during the Second World War, Britain would have to face the Bulgarian predicament again, but by that time they were no longer in a position, nor had they the will, to make similar offers. It should be stressed at this juncture that during the period the fate of Macedonia was approached by Britain from a purely strategic viewpoint, and her position was determined by political considerations, not sentiment.

There were groups, however, consisting of openly pro- Serbian, pro-Bulgarian, and pro-Greek sympathizers, both within and outside the Foreign Office, which attempted to influence the course of events. The pro-Serbian lobby was probably the weakest of the three, although it included important personalities, such as the eminent historian Professor Seton- Watson. The pro-Greek camp, nourished by the diminishing but still strong philhellenic sentiment of the early nineteenth century, was substantial, and, apart from well-connected figures of the Greek community in London, included Professor Ronald Burrows, the principal of King's College London, and William Pem- ber Reeves, the director of the London School of Economics; both were founding members of the 'Anglo-Hellenic League', dedicated to promoting the 'just claims and honour of Greece', in Macedonia and elsewhere.


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Bourchier, a forceful defender of the 'Bulgarian character' of 'the Macedonian rural population', was chiefly represented by the 'Balkan Committee'. This organization had a distinguished membership, and was almost unanimous in supporting the Bulgarian claim to Macedonia. Among its members were H. Brailsford, author of Macedonia: Its Races and their Future, London, , Noel Buxton, a tireless supporter 52 Weaving the Nessus Shirt, groups argued passionately and loudly in defence of their pet causes, and although it is quite difficult to measure their actual strength and political clout, it is arguably fair to say that most Balkan pundits in England at the time favoured a pro-Bulgarian solution to the Mace- donian Question.

The course of events, it will be remembered, proved them wrong on their first point. As for the second, they had to wait until the Second World War to see that there, too, they were wrong. Be that as it may, it should be emphasized that despite the outpouring of parliamentary questions, memoranda, and articles, the actual influence of all these groups in the shaping of British policy towards the Macedo- nian Question was minimal.

British policy was simply, and supremely, pro-British. Tensions between Sofia and Belgrade were running high, and consequently throughout the interwar period the British found themselves again involved in the Bulgar-Yugoslav controversy over Macedonia. Leontaritis, Greece, Noel Buxton, 'a great friend Tampering with the 'Sleeping Dogs ' 53 potentially explosive nature of that problem gave them serious cause for concern, while the enormous amount of mistrust between the two Balkan rivals, and the inability of the Bulgarian governments to eradi- cate IMRO, frequently frustrated the British officials, who had to keep abreast of the developments in the Balkans.

And with good reason. Strictly speaking, there were no vital British interests at stake in these countries, apart from a modest volume of trade, which was greatly reduced in the s as a result of German economic penetration. Politically, Bulgaria was an ex-enemy state with strong Italian, and later German, connections, while Yugoslavia, until Stojadinovic's drift towards Italy, remained an almost exclusively French preserve.

For the Foreign Office, Britain's was a role of a 'go-between', aiming only at the preservation of peace and stability. It was precisely Britain's unequivocal devotion to the status quo, and her firm belief that only the maintenance of the Treaty of Neuilly could guarantee 'peace in their time', that obliged her to interest herself in the Macedonian intrigues of the Balkan Slavs.

When Rowland Sperling, the British minister in Sofia, argued in that 'if the Balkan races could scrap with one another without disturbing the rest of the world, we should only be mildly interested in their proceedings', few would contest his views. He was quick, however, to remind Sperling that, due to the Franco-Italian rivalry in the Balkans and 'our League obligations', it was 'impossible to isolate a Balkan war'. Sperling was not the only one to lose his temper over Macedonia. Two years later, in , Sidney Waterlow, his successor, become so disappointed with Bulgarian inability to suppress IMRO that he suggested the withdrawal of the British Legation, and the disassociation of Britain with 'the fate of Bulgaria'.

Sargent was obliged to spell out again the reasons for British involvement in the Macedonian Question: 'It is not from any love of Bulgaria or Yugoslavia that we concern ourselves with this troublesome question. Moreover, Bulgarian irredentism, even in its peaceful version, presented a challenge to the sacrosanct peace settlements that the British endeavoured to maintain. Britain, therefore, could not afford to wash her hands of Macedonia.

She had to make her presence felt, and to use her influence in the interest of peace. Having thus defined the preservation of the status quo as the only vital British interest in the Balkans, the Foreign Office devised a policy on the Macedonian Question, which was premissed upon four main propositions: a that existing boundaries should be respected, b that the Bulgarian governments should do their best to become 'masters in their own house', by curtailing the activities of IMRO, c that the Yugoslavs should 'meet the Bulgarians half way', by ceasing to support the exiled Agrarians, 35 and by improving the administration in 'Southern Serbia', and d that the Macedonian Question should be prevented from becoming an issue in international politics.

As a result of this last point, no British encouragement should be given to attempts to raise the issue in the League of Nations. Prominent among them was the question of the nationality of the inhabitants of Yugoslav Macedonia, as well as the desirability and the practical value of the recognition of a 'Bulgarian' minority in Yugoslavia. Todorov, who believed that 'only in the atmosphere of Bulgar-Jugoslav fraternity can the Macedonian question be solved', became a passionate enemy of IMRO.

He saw in it a serious obstacle in achieving a Bulgar— Yugoslav 'natural union'. Tampering with the 'Sleeping Dogs ' 55 not the present solution of the Macedonian Question was a just and lasting one, was also addressed and sometimes fiercely contested within the Foreign Office. As far as the means of British intervention in the Bulgar-Yugoslav dispute were concerned, it was agreed that 'friendly advice', urging moderation and restraint, should be given to both governments along the lines mentioned above, while stronger language was to be used when it seemed that the situation was getting out of hand, in order to prevent the outbreak of a military incident.

Before discussing these issues, it should be stressed that such a policy was devised, and strongly supported, by the officials of the Central Department — and, after , the Southern Department — which was ultimately responsible for the formulation of Britain's Balkan policies. The Foreign Office, however, was a much wider world, including the British political representatives in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. British min- isters, apart from reporting political developments in these countries, also communicated their views and perceptions to the Central Depart- ment, and frequently made suggestions regarding the general policy that Britain should follow in the Balkans.

If seen from a long-term perspective, this distinction appears to be an important one, for, as shall be seen, in many cases the view of those on the ground in Sofia, did not coincide with the view from London or from Belgrade, for that matter. More often than not, a divergence of opinion could be discerned between the 'centre' and the 'periphery' of the Foreign Office, and between the British diplomats in Belgrade and Sofia.

Sometimes, the differences were over mere nuances, or clarifications of a given 'line' with no wider ramifications. There were numerous cases, however, when serious disagreements arose over the fundamental tenets of British policy. In these debates, swords were crossed, while accusations of pro-Yugoslav or pro-Bulgarian 'bias' were fired off from Sofia or Belgrade, compelling the Central Department — and mainly Sir Orme Sargent — to inflict upon them argumentative despatches, sometimes in the form of a private letter, in order to save them from the embarrassment of being 'at cross-purposes' with the policy as seen 'from here'.

Sargent was eminently qualified to defend British policy, for he was one of the very few British diplomats who spent their entire careers exclusively within the confines of the Foreign Office, without having to endure a stint abroad. Within this context, an understanding of this 'triangular' interaction Foreign Office-Sofia-Belgrade not only provides a more balanced appreciation of British policy, but also offers a caveat against 'selective' use of archival sources, which tend to 56 Weaving the Nessus Shirt, overestimate the weight or the impact of one angle, thus obscuring the whole picture.

It has already been noted that the British had conferred upon themselves the role of impartial but concerned mediator between the two sides in Macedonia; that they had no protege to support and no foe to punish was a deeply entrenched belief in the Foreign Office. A united and strong Yugoslavia was, of course, a principal British desideratum, 37 but this proposition derived its legitimacy from the necessity of maintaining the peace settlements, and not from fond memories of the First World War.

According to this resonance, Bulgaria had to be treated fairly, and the bitter memories of the past must not be allowed to influence decision-making. In a Central Department memorandum, written in , although it was admitted that Bulgaria's decision to side with Germany was 'salient ingratitude', it was emphasized that Britain had treated her leniently and 'with great generosity'.

Bulgaria had been tacitly allowed to violate the harsh military clauses of the Treaty of Neuilly, while her reparation payments amounted to less than 5 per cent of her budget. Moreover, the Bulgarians had been offered an economic outlet to the Aegean, under the treaty, but 'their own obstinacy' prevented them from accepting it. Moreover, it was felt that this 'impartiality' and 'sincerity' afforded the British a fair amount of prestige, which neither the Italians nor the French could match.

Constant pressure on the Bulgarians to curtail the activities of IMRO, was a permanent theme of this policy. A series of 'advice', alternating with 'representations', began in February , when infor- mation from an unnamed source reached the Foreign Office, indicating that the IMRO leader, Todor Alexandrov, had been preparing his bands 37 Cf.

Tampering with the 'Sleeping Dogs ' 57 for a large-scale terrorist campaign in Yugoslavia. William Erskine, the British minister, was accordingly instructed to 'make the most serious representations' to the Bulgarians, urging them to prevent the raids. The Bulgarian foreign minister, Kalfov, replied that he was already aware of the danger, and had asked the frontier authorities to take the necessary measures.

Shortly afterwards, Erskine informed London that Alexandrov had sent a circular, calling off action. In the Central Department, however, mistrust prevailed. It was commented that the government was using Alexandrov in order to provoke harsh Serbian reprisals, which would enable them to appeal to the League of Nations, and to internationalize the issue. These were mainly the work of determined fighters usu- ally in groups of three, the troyka , who penetrated Yugoslav Macedonia from the Bulgarian frontier, threw a couple of bombs in a central cafe, and fired some shots at the local gendarmes, before withdrawing into Bulgaria.

Oh no, there's been an error

Yugoslav patience was growing very thin because of these incidents, and, naturally, put the blame on the Bulgarians, who turned a blind eye to Comitadji activity. In July , after a spate of attacks, the Foreign Office learned that the Yugoslav foreign minister, Momcilo Nincic, was considering invading Bulgaria in order to 'punish the offenders'. Fearing an outbreak of hostilities, the Foreign Office swiftly instructed Howard Kennard in Belgrade, and Erskine in Sofia, to call for moderation.

The Yugoslavs were reminded of the Greek invasion of Petrich, from which they gained nothing, and which ended in them paying a substantial fine. On the other hand, the Bulgarians were warned about 'the risk they were running' by allowing IMRO to commit outrages inYugoslavia. Thus, at the initiative of the British, Erskine, together with his French and Italian counterparts, made joint represen- tations to Atanas Burov, the foreign minister, asking for some definitive action against the IMRO.

The organization was left intact and none of its leaders was arrested. As the furious Serbs closed the border, the British stepped up the pressure on Liapchev. The Bulgarians, the British thought, should understand 'the folly of their present inaction'. Consequently Erskine, along with the French minister, but without their Italian opposite number, renewed their strong representations to Burov.

Yet again, nothing concrete came out of this action, for, apart from the internment of some agitators, IMRO's hold on Petrich remained unchallenged. They were aware of the close links that IMRO maintained with both the government and the army, and understood that a wholesale crackdown on the organization would not only be extremely difficult to achieve, but it would elevate their fallen men into heroes of the movement, and give them much publicity.

It is significant, in this respect, that Erskine was told to ask the Bulgarians not to 'suppress IMRO in a day', but to 'do something with determination'. At the same time, the British were careful not to let the Yugoslavs believe that they were absolutely in the right. They were, therefore, constantly reminded that they should keep calm, avoid any action that could make the position of Bulgaria more difficult, and, significantly, improve the quality of their administration in Southern Serbia.

In early , the Yugoslavs informed the 44 memo. British views on Southern Serbia will be discussed in greater detail below. Tampering with the 'Sleeping Dogs ' 59 British of the whereabouts of various Macedonian terrorists, which they hastily passed over to the Bulgarians. The latter discovered the provenance of the information, and questioned the wisdom of choosing 'this roundabout way' to communicate intelligence, causing the British considerable embarrassment. Howard-Smith and Sargent swiftly agreed that, if Britain was to keep her 'impartiality', they should be more careful in the future.

After the murder of its indisputable leader, Todor Alexandrov, in , it will be remembered, a violent struggle broke out between two rival factions, headed by Ivan Mihailov and Alexander Protogerov. This internecine feud, which marked the organization's degeneration, culminated in the murder of Protogerov in July Erskine doubted the effectiveness of yet another representation, for the government, in his view, was 'under the thumb' of the Macedonians, but the Foreign Office believed that Liapchev would do nothing, unless 'goaded into' it by the Powers.

Thus, the French and the Italians were again approached for collective action, while Erskine was instructed to use 'the most forcible language' in order to persuade the Bulgarians that the situation was ripe for vigorous measures. The Italians, however, torpedoed the British initiative, partly because they perceived it as an outcome of Serbian pressure, but, mainly, because they were tacitly using the Macedonians as a weapon against Yugoslavia.

The only result was the removal from the Cabinet of the minister of war, General Vtilkov, a prominent IMRO sympathizer, who, as it has already been noted, allowed the printing facilities of his ministry to be used for the officially banned IMRO paper Svoboda Hi Smurt Freedom or Death. It should be added that the French proposed more 'vigorous action', suggesting that the behaviour of the Bulgarians should be linked with the issue of the stabilization loan. The British, however, disagreed, arguing that the loan was vital for Bulgaria's economy, would strengthen the position of the government, and, therefore, should not be made 'dependent upon the settlement of a political problem'.

At the turn of the decade there were some encouraging signs of an improvement in Bulgar-Yugoslav relations, and a new opportunity for Britain to ensure that a cautious rapprochement would survive the mutual mistrust and suspicion. In early Yugoslavia, now under the royal dictatorship of King Alexander, announced that she had opened the border, which had been closed after the murder of General Kovacevic, and called on the Bulgarians to meet at Pirot in order to discuss measures for the prevention of future incidents, as well as the question of 'double proprietors', i.

The Bulgarians replied favourably and in March a joint communique was issued, which provided for the formation of a permanent Bulgar-Yugoslav commission to deal with the frontier traffic. Although no agreement was reached regarding the liquidation of the 'double properties', the Pirot Conference definitely shed a ray of hope.

The presence of the Ustasa leader, who had strong links with IMRO, was a major embarrassment for Liapchev and infuriated the Yugoslavs, who retaliated by closing the border and refusing to ratify the Pirot resolutions. Once more, Britain put strong pressure on Belgrade to temper their anger, and Kennard, seconded by the French minister, urged the acting Minister for Foreign Affairs the foreign minister, Vojislav Marinkovic, was away to ratify the agreement. The pressure proved to be effective and the Yugoslavs returned to the negotiating table.

In Nov. Tampering with the 'Sleeping Dogs ' 61 Sofia that, during a dinner party at the Legation, both Burov and the Yugoslav minister expressed their 'fervent gratitude' for Britain's good offices. Certainly, IMRO could not bear the prospect of another Nis Convention, 54 and employed its usual tactics to embarrass the Bulgarian government. Hardly had the ink dried on the agreements, when two Macedonian gunmen threw four bombs in Pirot in early March, killing one man and wounding twenty-five. Shortly afterwards, another bomb was thrown in Strumitsa, killing a municipal guard.

The Yugoslav minister in Sofia, considered by the British as a moderate, confided to Waterlow that these outrages were the work of Italy, which viewed with suspicion the recent rapprochement, but Marinkovic and King Alexander could hardly conceal their irritation; in their view, Bulgaria was solely responsible for these incidents, since no serious measures were taken to prevent them or to punish the perpetrators.

The situation became critical in mid-March, as the British learned that the king was contemplating taking 'the law into his hands'. Thus, the British found themselves again obliged to coordinate international action. This time, the Italians decided to join in, apparently in an effort to avoid embarrassment which the support of IMRO would cause them, and, together with the more eager French, the usual 'strong language' was used by the ministers in Sofia.

After the customary pattern, Henderson was instructed to urge the Yugoslavs to 'exercise calm and patience'. Moreover, the British, aware of the activity of the Bulgarian Agrarians in Yugoslavia, asked Belgrade to stop them creating trouble, which included armed raids in Bulgaria, and to restrict their movement. This policy, however, came under increasing attack from the British ministers in the Balkan capitals, who frequently accused the Foreign Office of taking sides in the dispute. Only after IMRO's suppression, he argued, should the Yugoslavs be asked to improve their own con- duct.

Making clear where his own sympathies lay, Henderson argued that Yugoslavia sincerely wanted a rapprochement, but the Bulgarians, 'a race whose instincts are chiefly communistic and bloody murder', had rendered this impossible by failing to eradicate IMRO. While complaining of London's anti- Yugoslav bias, Henderson spared neither the British press, especially the Manchester Guardian and The Times, nor the 'British public' in general, for their hostile attitude towards Yugoslavia.

In , Sperling accused London of treating the Serbs as a 'mother's pet', while Waterlow argued that the Yugoslavs should be blamed for the tension in the Balkans, for they allowed the Agrarians to carry attacks in Bulgaria, and stubbornly refuse to alleviate the position of the inhabitants of Southern Serbia. He even hinted that the outrages of might have been a Yugoslav provocation, as the incidents happened 'far from the border'.

Therefore, according to Waterlow, Yugoslavia should be the first to break 'the vicious circle'. He repeatedly assured them that 'sentimental bias is not our philosophy', and that Britain's involvement in the Macedonian Question was due solely to the need of maintaining the Treaty of Neuilly, which, far from being fair 'or even just', offered the only ray of hope for peace 'in present time'. There was, of course, a certain amount of sympathy for Bulgaria in Britain — the activities of the Balkan Committee and some articles published in the Near East can testify to that — but the Foreign Office could discount this sentiment as 56 Henderson's stout pro-Yugoslav feelings were no secret to his colleagues in London, who did not fail to make ironic comments about his sympathies.

See his own account, Water under the Bridge London, , Tampering with the 'Sleeping Dogs ' 63 little more than the traditional British sympathy 'for the underdog'. As far as policy was concerned, Sargent emphasiszed, Britain had neither a 'pet' to look after, nor an unjustly punished Bulgaria to protect. In this, and to the extent that their influence made the Balkan Slavs cool their ardour, they succeeded, for the frontier incidents, despite the sound and fury they aroused in Yugoslavia, failed to bring about the developments desired by their perpetrators.

By the turn of the decade, they hoped that the increasing level of internal strife within IMRO, which had intensified after the murder of Protogerov in , would be violent enough to cause its self- destruction. As the rival factions began to litter the streets of Sofia with the corpses of their opponents in the early s, the Foreign Office become increasingly confident that internal feuds would do the job the Bulgarian governments were so unfit for. This would give them some comfort, for, as the Macedonians were exterminating each other at a rate that peaked to five murders a day in Sofia alone, the inability of the Mushanov government to deal them a definitive blow infuriated and dispirited them.

Waterlow, who kept London fully informed of the Macedonian algebra of death, noted in and that the government was completely 'irresponsible' and incapable of doing anything, beyond some face-saving house searches for arms, and the rounding up of the 'usual suspects', which, of course, always excluded Mihailov. There was, however, some good news as well.

In , the population in Skopje was reported to be 'distant' from the organization; and a considerable decrease in the subsidies locally drawn was cited as a reliable indicator. Thus, despite Bulgarian impotence, the British tended to believe that IMRO's days were numbered, and that the 'Balkan pest' would sooner rather than later die a 'natural death'. This death, which eventually came in , was not as natural as the 59 Sargent's remarks in his letter to Sperling, cited in n.

The Balkan Committee, its chairman Sir Edward Boyle, and its president Noel Buxton, kept the FO busy by overloading them with memoranda, articles, and parliamentary questions, suggesting concessions to the 'Bulgarian minority' in Yugoslavia, and intervention by the League of Nations. These issues will be discussed below. Unfortunately for the British, who had done their best to keep this issue out of the international agenda, there were others as well, among whom the intervention of the League of Nations figured prominently.

The League could intervene in the Bulgar-Yugoslav dispute either by bringing to an end an armed con- flict — as was the case with the Greek invasion of Bulgaria in — or by being asked to investigate a minority issue-in this case, the position of the Bulgarian minority in Yugoslav Macedonia. Consequently, the British, while using their influence to prevent armed conflicts, had also to deal with a fundamental question; namely, whether there was a Bulgarian minority in Yugoslav Macedonia, which required protection under the minority treaties.

This, in turn, requires an examination of British views on Southern Serbia. First, it should be noted that the Foreign Office approached the minority question from a purely political viewpoint. Whatever the politicians-turned-ethnographers of both sides might have said about the nationality of the Macedonians, the British were determined to keep Yugoslavia a strong and unitary state, for any exercise of revi- sionism, no matter how modest or limited it could be, would unravel an uncontrollable wave of demands, reducing Eastern Europe to a battlefield.

The centrepiece of the British attitude was to deny the exis- tence of a Macedonian or Bulgarian minority in Yugoslavia. Tampering with the 'Sleeping Dogs ' 65 It seemed, however, that there was no contradiction between British political considerations and their actual views on the nationality of the Macedonians.

For the Foreign Office, the Macedonians had no national affiliations whatsoever, nor would they be able to choose one, even if asked to do so. To this extent both the Serbian claim that they are Southern Serbs and the Bulgar claim that they are Bulgars are unjustified'.

No more no less. These reports, which covered a wide range of issues, tended to confirm the views held by the Foreign Office. The language of the Macedonian Slavs was nearer to Bulgarian than Serbian, and until they 'called and considered themselves Bulgarians'; but the only thing that dominated their minds was a 'firm just and enlightened administration'. Footman, in , was of 'minor importance'.

Hostility to the Serbs, however, was much more in evidence. A Serbian colonist, whom he interviewed near Tetovo, told him that he was anxious to return to his motherland, for he felt that he lived 'in a foreign country'. The population, nevertheless, had no desire for an independent Macedonia: 'it was all the same for them who ruled them, they said, so long as they are not oppressed or neglected'. Thus, he concluded, Belgrade was faced 'with economic problems not political', for discontent stemmed from economic deprivation.

The population regarded them as 'invaders and unwelcome foreigners', the Belgrade vice-consul, Blakeney, noted in ; and with good reason, for as far as 'language, customs and sympathies' were concerned they were 'Bulgarians'. The vice-consul, who had a command of Slavic languages, asked many peasants for their nationality, but they declined to say more than a simple 'I come from these parts', perhaps out of fear of Serbian persecution.

According to Blakeney, they might have preferred to be ruled by the Bulgarians, but 'if the Serbs could offer them good administration, and could relax their punitive and violent methods, they could accept Yugoslav domination'. Consequently, there was no Bulgarian minority in Yugoslav Macedonia. Tampering with the 'Sleeping Dogs ' 67 disagree with King Alexander, who in told the British minister in Belgrade, Sir Alban Young, that 'a Macedonian could become a Bulgar- Macedonian, or a Serbian-Macedonian with equal facility', according to the advantages which he could get from 'his selection'.

Numerous examples illustrating this situation can be found in the memoirs of the various Greeks chieftains. Mazarakis-Ainian Akritas , Anamniseis [Reminiscences], ibid. See Dakin, Greek Struggle, According to a Greek source involved in that struggle Bulgarian chiefs joined the Greek organization believing that the Greeks would pay for their services. See D. Kakavos, Apomnimonevmata [Memoirs] Salonica, , Introduction 13 Patriarchists was nothing more than a cover for deeper social cleavages.

In the Karadjova region, for instance, in central Macedonia, there were isolated fanatically Patriarchist villages encircled by fairly numerous Exarchist ones. However, the fact that the inhabitants of the former villages were not indigenous but relatively newcomers in the area, suggests that since the indigenous element was Exarchist the hostility between them and the newly arrived peasants made it almost imperative for the latter to opt for the Patriarch.

Local politics reveal another aspect of this question, as bitter political struggles among the notables of a village or a town could lead the rival factions to use the local Greek and Bulgarian organizations for their own political ends, and in order to pay off oldpolitical or personal scores. According to a protagonist of the Greek armed struggle, the Bulgarian movement in Macedonia arose from hatred among the village councils.

The opposition sided with the Bulgarians and proselytized the illiterate peasants. Although this is clearly a sweeping generalization, and comes from an anti-Bulgarian source, it nevertheless does reect a reality, which is very often neglected. In other cases the contravention of traditional moral values committed by a Patriarchist or an Exarchist notable might well have prompted the conservative peasants to transfer their loyalty.

In a prominent Patriarchist prokritos notable in the village of Goumenissa in the vilayet of Salonica, delayed his wedding due to nancial difculties. This issue provoked the opposition of the whole village and forced the Greek Consul General of Salonica, Lambros Koromilas, to ask the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to allocate funding for the wedding.

The fact that this would restore the credibility of the Greek party in the village clearly indicates the importance of these factors in the rural areas of Macedonia. All in all, the effort of extracting a clear-cut national conscious- ness out of the Macedonian Slav-speaking peasantry proved a difcult task. Their loyalties remained attached mostly to their land, family, and religious afliation and to some extent their language.

Mazarakis, Anamniseis, Mazarakis, an ofcer of the Greek army, had a thorough knowledge of the situation in Macedonia in the early 20th cent. He had worked in the Greek Consulate in Salonica in and had travelled extensively in Macedonia. He also become in a guerrilla leader. I am grateful to Basil Gounaris for bringing to my attention the case of Karadjova. Thus the Greeks capitalized on the religious factor and the Bulgarians on the linguistic one.

Both move- ments, however, were based on the assumption that nations too are products of the primordial ties of race, ancestry, religion, lan- guage and territory. In Macedonia, as elsewhere, this was not the case. National consciousness had to be constructedand often to be imposedby others than the people concerned. As for the peas- ants themselves, they seemed to evade the whole issue and stressed instead what contemporary observers derided as opportunism, deter- mined by more real and less imagined considerations: the main problem is not to be under the Turk.

Our fathers were Greeks and none mentioned the Bulgarians. By becoming Bulgarians we have won, the Turk respects us and Europe supports us. If we have to be Serbs, it is not a problem, but for the time being it is better to be Bulgarians. There was one term, however, absent from the above list: the Macedonians.

That was not surprising, for most Slavs who did not choose to call themselves Bulgarians would have opted for Greek or Christian instead. The use of the term Macedonians, of course, was not unknown, either to the Slavs or to the wider world, although few would use it in a national, as opposed to a regional, sense to denote a Slavic group distinct from Serbs and Bulgarians, and the inuence of those who did was not signicant.

The most celebrated case of Macedonianism at the turn of the century was that of Krste Petkov Misirkov, who published in a book On Macedonian Matters defending the existence of a Macedonian nation and calling for the use of a Macedonian language. The book was published in Soa, but it did not reach its intended audience, as Bulgarian police conscated and destroyed all copies.

Misirkov himself did not prove to be an ardent supporter of his own claims, as he expressed strong pro-Bulgarian views A. See e. Nous autres, pourvu que nous ne soyons plus sous le Turc, il nous soucie bien de Serbie ou de Bulgarie! Nos pres etaint Hellnes, et personne ne parlait alors de Bulgares. En devenant Bulgares, nous avons gagn que le Turc nous respecte et lEurope nous soutient. Sil faut tre Serbes rien nempchera, mais pour lheure Bulgares vaut mieux. Brard, La Turquie, Introduction 15 shortly afterwards, and continued to oscillate between Bulgarian and Macedonian nationalism.

Misirkov and the small circle of intellectuals who professed a Mace- donian consciousness, however inconsistently, were not the only source of Macedonianism. Serbian politicians and scholars, such as Stojan Novakovi c, for instance, also acknowledged at about the same time the existence of a separate Macedonian group, but they did so in an attempt to deny those Slavs to Bulgarian nationalism, thus safeguarding the historic rights of Serbia in the region.

The most important case in point was the respected Serbian geographer Jovan Cviji c, in whose ethnological maps the Macedo-Slavs gured prominently. They did not have a concrete national consciousness, he argued, and could be assimilated by both Serbs and Bulgarians. He did not fail to add, how- ever, that they preserved some traces of historical Serbian traditions. The Macedo-Slavs featured in many other maps of the Balkans, includ- ing pro-Greek ones, but mostly with the same aim: to erect as many barriers as possible between them and the Bulgarians, whose claim on the loyalty of the Macedonian population was considered by both Serbs and Greeks as the most menacing.

See Wilkinson, Maps, , and the maps on g. The Nessus shirt, a quite telling characterization, was proposed by the British ambassador to Soa Sidney Waterlow. Against that background, the struggle of the Bulgarian bishops in the nineteenth century to create a Bulgarian Church independent of the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople marked the emergence of the Macedonian Question in modern times. In their struggle against the Patriarchate the Bulgarians found in Count Nikolai Pavlovich Ignatiev, the most senior panslav in the Russian foreign ministry, a powerful ally.

Although the Russians remained initially rather distant observers of the GreekBulgarian con- troversy, Ignatiev came as Russias envoy to Constantinople in with a twofold aim: to help the Bulgarians without breaking with the Greeks and thus to consolidate Russian inuence in the area. His delicate task, however, was rendered impossible, for neither the Bulgarians nor the Patriarchate were prepared to nd any common ground: extreme nationalists eventually dominated the Bulgarian side and rejected proposals for reconciliation coming from the Patriar- chate, despite the fact that some of these had met with Ignatievs open approval.

On the other hand it became apparent that the Patriarch would not favour any extension of Bulgarian ecclesiastical jurisdiction south of the Balkan mountains. When the negotiations reached a deadlock in , Ignatiev decided to choose Slavdom rather than Christendom and pressed for an independent Bulgarian Church. In many respects, that was a defeat for Ignatiev, for the ensuing GreekBulgarian schism demonstrated that Russian policy failed to guide the struggle for a Bulgarian church along the channels they desired.

The Ottomans intervened in , and established the Bulgarian Exarchate, provoking the reaction of the Patriarchate, which excommu- nicated the Bulgarian bishops in , and accused themof introducing the concept of phyletism that is, nationalism in the Orthodox Michael Boro Petrovich, The Emergence of Russian Panslavism, New York and London , ; Ignatiev [b]rilliantly aided by his seductive wife, himself combining great physical energy, unabashed self-condence, ingratiat- ing charm, jocular brusqueness, and unappeased talent for intrigue.

Meininger, Ignatiev, Sumner, Russia and the Balkans Oxford, , Introduction 17 Church.

Moreover, it will be remembered that the rman of stipulated that a village could opt for the Exarch, provided that two- thirds of the population desired to do so, a provision set to generate much friction between the two sides. Although the establishment of the Exarchate was widely viewed as a victory for the Bulgarian national cause in Macedonia, the greatest hour of the emerging Bulgarian nationalism was yet to come. The Russo-Turkish war of a consequence of the Eastern Cri- sis and the subsequent Treaty of San Stefano created the Tselokupna B ulgariya Undivided, or complete, Bulgaria , which includ- ed most of the Macedonian provinces but not the port of Salonica.

These developments provoked intense fears of Russian domination of the Balkans in the European capitals, an anti-Slav delirium in Greece, and profound dismay in Serbia. But the Russian victory was as spec- tacular as it was short-lived. A European congress, held in Berlin a few months later, eradicated the Bulgarian gains in Macedonia and retained Ottoman sovereignty over the region. The powers conned the newly born Bulgarian principality between the Danube and the Balkan mountains.

Eastern Rumelia, an autonomous province under Ottoman suzerainty, was established to the south of the new state. As the prospects for shaking off the Ottoman yoke seemed to be bleak in , secret Bulgaro-Macedonian druzhestvi societies began to be formed mainly by chieftains and intellectuals devoted to San Stefanos Greater Bulgaria.

This led to some violent incidents committed by isolated guerrilla bands. The Bulgarian premier Stefan Stambolov , however, opted for peaceful penetration and more bishops for the Exarchate rather than armed raids, and sought to dissolve the most active of those societies. Nevertheless the seeds of revolutionary activity had been already sown. In Salonica, in November , four teachers, a bookseller, and a physician founded the most famous Macedonian organization. For the Congress of Berlin see Sumner, Russia, The much-praised autonomist solution must not be taken at face value; autonomy meant preservation of the territorial integrity of Macedonia which could eventually lead to incorporation of the region into Bulgaria.

A convenient precedent had been already established by the annexation of Eastern Rumelia to Bulgaria in Besides, any proposal for direct annexation of Macedonia would have met with the refusal of the Great Powers. According to Christo Tatarchev this was the reason which forced them to put forward the idea of autonomy instead of annexation.

Shortly after its formation BMORK started setting up a clandestine network, which included guerrilla bandsmanned by the Comitadjisto prepare the ground for an armed rebellion. The Bulgaro-Macedonian revolutionary movement was not unan- imous in supporting autonomy.

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The V urhovisti Supremists , as they were usually called, very soon established close links with the Bulgarian government and army, and favoured outright annexation of Macedonia. Not surpris- ingly, the Supreme Committee was at loggerheads with BMORK and the efforts of the former to subjugate the latter led not only to mutual distrust but also to armed clashes between the rival Comitadji bands. This antagonism along with the conviction that autonomy was the only sensible and viable solution to the Macedonian Ques- tion prompted BMORK to manifest more openly its autonomist orientation.

In the adjective Bulgarian was erased and the See the statutes in Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Macedonia, See also Aarbakke, Ethnic Rivalry, Banac, National Question, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Macedonia, Despite the fact that those changes were accompanied by an effort to widen the appeal of the organization among the non-Slavs, its inuence on the Greeks and the Vlachs remained insignicant. In the early twentieth century IMRO had established a commanding stronghold in the Macedonian provinces. According to a popular saying, the day was to the Turk the night to the Comitadji.

In , however, it was dealt a severe blow. Following an abortive rising in the Dzhumaya and Razlog areas, organized by the Supremists Yankov and Tsontsev in the autumn of , some IMRO leaders began to think of a large-scale rebellion in Macedonia.


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Urged by fears that the Ottomans might uncover the clandestine organization, they decided after much wavering at a congress held in the village of Smilevo in April to launch an uprising. During the congress Boris Sarafov, a former Supremist, swore the Bulgarian army would help them. Thus the uprising, ill-prepared and ill-timed, broke out in August, on St Elijahs day Ilinden in Slavonic and was conned mainly in western Macedonia. By the beginning of September the Ilinden Revolt had been crushed by the Turks with ferocity.

In the s it became one of the most potent foundation myths of Macedonian nationalism which considered the uprising, as it still does, as the most signicant manifestation of Macedonian national consciousness. Despite the suppression of the revolt, ries did not fall silent. From to , as has already been noted, Greek and Bulgarian bands engaged in an unconventional guerrilla struggle to command the hotly disputed loyalties of a population largely indifferent to the sirens of nationalism.

Joseph Swire, Bulgarian Conspiracy London, , The Young Turk revolution in raised great expectations that the rule of law could have a chance in the Ottoman Empire. The Greek and Bulgarian bands displayed a surprising readiness to lay down their arms and in some cases manifestations of fraternization took place. Initially the omens were favourable. Elections were held, in which both rivals participated, and the new parliament was opened on December That interval proved to be very short. After an abortive conservative coup against the revolution in mid, the Young Turks started to resemble the old ones, in the eyes of their Christian subjects.

The Balkan actors of the Macedonian drama, keen to advance their nationalist agendas, perceived the new policy of Ottomanism as an attempt at Turkication, and euphoria was replaced by frustration. Once the failure of the Young Turks to provide Macedonia with a sensible administration became apparent, the various contenders began to consider more radical solutions.

They had many reasons for doing so. The annexation of Bosnia by the Dual Monarchy in had put the Serbs in an awkward position, and obliged them to look for compensation to the south. A slice of Macedonia, not to mention an outlet to the Aegean Sea, could meet some of their needs for security and economic growth.

Serbian educational propaganda had penetrated Macedonia since the s but its progress has been modest and uncertain. In the St Sava society was formed to make a stand for the interests of Serbia in Macedonia, but it was dissolved in , although Serbian efforts to spread their national ideology in the province continued. In general, the Serbian claim was based on historical grounds, as the Serbian Empire, which reached its peak under Stefan Dusan the Mighty , had ruled over Macedonia in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; on the existence in some parts of Macedonia of the traditional Serbian custom of the Slava; and on linguistic grounds.

Bulgaria was also increasingly concerned about the future of Mace- donia, and became much more so when the situation in that area For the impact of the Young Turks on Macedonia, see Dakin, Greek Struggle, Perry, Politics, Georgevi c, Macedonia London and New York, Introduction 21 deteriorated as a result of the Young Turks policies. The dream of a Greater Bulgaria could not be easily abandoned.

The Bulgarian premier Ivan Geshov epitomized the prevailing trend in Bulgarian politics, when he stated that after the union of Eastern Rumelia with Bulgaria, the latter had no other ideal except to restore her San Stefano frontiers, or. The Greeks were similarly ill-disposed towards the Ottomans. The troubles caused by the Cretan Question, the humilia- tion of Greece in , as well as some economic disputes, were solid reasons for such a development.

The Italo-Turkish war of over Tripoli gave considerable impetus to the feeling, already existing in the Balkans, that the time to settle with the Turks once and for all had come. Meanwhile Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia began to learn, not without difculty, that only Balkan unity offered some guarantee of Ottoman expulsion from the region. Russia, or at least its ministers inthe Balkans, pouredconsiderable energy into that process and eventually succeeded in persuading Soa and Belgrade to combine their strength.

At that time, agreement was also reached regarding the partition of Macedonia. The territory to the east of the river Struma Strymonas and the Rhodope mountains was to be ceded to Bulgaria, while Serbia should receive the area to the north and west of Sar mountains.

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The ultimate decision on the fate of the remaining Macedonian territory was left to the Russian tsar. At about the same time negotiations between Greece and Bulgaria were under way, and a Treaty of Defensive Alliance was concluded on May No mention, however, was made of Macedonia. The Greek economy was dealt a blow by the Turkish decision not to link up the Greek railway systemwiththat of Macedonia. For the Italo-Turkish war see M. The text is given by Gueshoff, Balkan League, Within two months the allied forces had won an easy victory and the Turks were forced to sign a truce in December.

Balkan unity, however, proved to be fragile. Serbia desired, and had already occupied, a much larger slice of the Macedonian pie than it had initially agreed with Bulgaria; Greece had occupied Salonica hours before a Bulgarian detachment, and Romania demanded a part of the Bulgarian province of Dobrudja if it was to remain neutral. As a consequence, considerable nervousness was evident in Soa: the Bulgarians had fought bravely, and pushed the Ottomans towards Constantinople, but their territorial gains were considered totally unsatisfactory.

By the summer of the prospects for a peaceful settlement among the allies had been diminished. On June Bulgaria crossed the Rubicon. She attacked both Greece and Serbia without a declaration of war. The results were disastrous. Greeks and Serbs advanced rapidly; the Romanians seized the opportunity to enter the struggle and advanced towards Soa, while the Ottomans recaptured Adrianople. Bulgaria had no choice but to surrender. The Treaty of Bucharest August gave Greece the lions share of Macedoniamore than a half of the region; Serbia acquired the central-western part of it, which included Skopje and Ochrid; while Bulgaria had to content herself with only 10 per cent of the Macedonian territory.

The severe setback that Bulgaria suffered gave rise to strong revisionist attitudes, which inuenced her foreign policy for years to come. The Bulgarian premier Vasil Radoslavov described accurately the state of feeling prevailing at that time in his country when he admitted that a sense of revenge was predominant. The Great War was, as far as Macedonia was concerned, the realization of Bulgarian revenge; or so it seemed.

Both camps tried in to win it over and both had been eager to offer large parts of Macedonia as a lure. The Central Powers made the most tempting offer and, given that in the summer they took the upper hand in the war, the Bulgarians took their side. Serbian Macedonia and parts of eastern Greek Macedonia were the gains.

That success did not last long. Crampton, Bulgaria, Anderson, Eastern Question, Introduction 23 also achieved a strategic adjustment of its frontiers by obtaining the Bulgarian districts of Strumitsa, Tsaribrod, and Bosilegrad. Bulgaria was also deprived of an outlet to the Aegean Sea by ceding western Thrace to an Allied force. In it was transferred to Greece. In light of the above it is hardly surprising that the Macedonian Question continued in the s to be the main cause of bitterness between Bulgaria and her neighbours.


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The newly born Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was the most vulnerable. Burdened by deeply rooted national, religious, historical, linguistic, and socio- economic differences, Yugoslavia could hardly afford the problems caused by the perpetuation of the Macedonian issue.

Nonetheless, her domestic policy in the Yugoslav part of Macedonia, which was ofcially styled Southern Serbia, was an utter failure. As has been already noted, Serbian inuence on the Macedonian Slavs had never been particularly strong. Thus a forceful policy of Serbianization was launched, Serbian colonists were encouraged to settle in Macedonia, and an educational campaign was initiated, for children should learn that I am a true Serb like my father and my mother. Their fathers and mothers, however, had been lost to the Yugoslav state. According to Bulgarian accounts this happened because the population was overwhelmingly Bulgarian and strongly resisted the Yugoslav denationalization process.

But such views tend to neglect some important dimensions of the problem. Although the strength of Bulgarian nationalismamong the population should not be underestimated, especially in the eastern part of the region along the Yugoslav-Bulgarian border, the majority of the Slav peasants appeared to be rather indifferent to questions of nationality.

According to British observers, what denitely alienated them from Serbian rule was mainly the extremely low standard of administration, the attitude of the incompetent and short-sighted civil servants who applied the Ibid. In in line with King Alexanders effort to unify his country the state was renamed Kingdom of Yugoslavia Jug meaning south. For the sake of simplicity, however, the term Yugoslavia will be used here from onwards. In Southern Serbia was renamed Vardarska Banovina. A typical example is Paleshutskis work cited above.

It should be added that Southern Serbia included not only the Yugoslav part of Macedonia but also the predominantly Albanian districts of Kosovo and Metohija. Apart from anti-Serbianism, the prevailing mood called for stability, not upheaval, for years of ghting and insecurity had clearly taken a heavy toll among the peasantry. In , a Macedonian peasant had this to say to the Bulgarian minister in Belgrade, Kosta Todorov: for Gods sake, dont liberate us any more. We have been liberated of everything we possessed. If anyone begins liberating us again, we shall be the rst to take up arms against him.

Developments in the area after , as shall be seen, were to demonstrate that such assessments had much basis in fact, and conrm the view that the Bulgarophile tendencies of the population during the interwar years were due more to brutal Serbian rule than to Bulgarian national sentiments. Be that as it may, the Macedonian policy of the Yugoslav governments did not create true Serbs but a permanent state of unrest throughout the interwar period.

Paradoxically, it was Tito, and not a traditional Serbian politician, who would undertake the thankless task of mending the troubled relations between Belgrade and Skopje caused by the interwar Serbian failure in Macedonia. If the Slavs refused to offer their loyalty to their state, the fairly numerous Albanians of the area did not even bother to tackle the question. According to the British vice-consul in Skopje, the peasants in the Albanian-inhabited areas thought of Macedonia as a foreign country as might be Denmark or Spain and the centres of political action.

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As far as Greek Macedonia is concerned, the exchange of populations between Bulgaria and Greece voluntary, onwards and between Turkey and Greece compulsory, onwards , provided for by the Treaties of Neuilly and Lausanne respectively, dramatically altered the ethnographic picture of that area. Introduction 25 were settled in Macedonia, mainly in its eastern part, while over 50, Slavs left Greece. Before , the Greeks were a minority in their own northern province, but after the coming of the refugees the Hellenization of Greek Macedonia became reality.

According to the Greek census of , there were about 80, Slav-speakers in northern Greece, which is undoubtedly a gross underestimate, for Greek archival sources give a much higher number: about , According to the same sources, however, the majority were just peasants, while the Bulgarians, that is those who displayed a Bulgarian national consciousness, were about 80, Despite the Slav exodus fromGreek Macedonia, a by-product of population exchanges, fear, and oppression on the part of the Greek state, solid Slav enclaves remained in the Greek province, and particularly in the districts of Florina, and Kastoria, in Greek west Macedonia.

Ofcially they were just locals, Slavophones, or Slavophone Greeks, who had lost their mother tongue, but had retained their ancestral religion. For contemporary Greek observers, many factions could be found among them, according to manifestations of what they perceived to be a Greek or Bulgarian national consciousness. But for many of them a reasonable economic position and freedom to speak their language would go a long way in making their life tolerable, as their loyalties were conned to their village and family rather than to nations.

Even those who referred to themselves as Macedonians in the s, probably under the inuence of Macedonian agitation of pro-Titoist guerrillas, valued their peace more than anything else: with disarming honesty, an elderly Slav told an English liaison ofcer in that we have had so many different masters that now, whoever comes along, we say placing his hands together and smiling pleasantly and making a little bow kalos orisate [welcome]. Another Slav did not fail to stress that all he wanted was to know that what I work for, what I sweat for, will at the end be mine. For the districts of Kastoria and Florina, see John S.

Thus, the use of the Bulgarian language was equated with Bulgarianism. Especially during the dictatorship of Ioannes Metaxas August January a policy of vigorous assimilation was initiated, an authoritarian Greek version of similar processes which occurred at that time in many other Eastern European states. The use of Bulgarian was prohibited and police persecution reached its peak.

In the s, the inux of refugees had created another salient cleavage in Macedonia, as the dichotomy between the Slavs and the Greeks became part of a much wider antagonism between the indigenous element and the refugees over the possession of land. As a result, economic and linguis- tic grievances, coupled with indiscriminate persecution by overzealous gendarmes, forced a large number of Slav-speakers to lose any respect for the Greek state. Not unlike the Yugoslav case, the Greeks did not have long to wait before facing the consequences of their interwar conduct.

Bulgaria had other problems to deal with in the interwar years. The Agrarian premier diverged sharply fromhis predecessors in both foreign and domestic policies, bold- ly stated in the Bulgarian S ubranie Assembly that he was neither Bulgar- ian nor Serbian but South Slav, and tried to reach a modus vivendi with the Yugoslavs. Stamboliiskis policy provoked the wrath of a revived IMRO, which intensied its raids into Yugoslav territory in a desperate effort to keep the Macedonian Question open.

IMRO was led at that time by Todor Alexandrov, greatly admired by the Bulgar-Macedonians, who affectionately called him Stario Old Man ; he favoured autonomy for the area, but, had this solution been rendered impossible, Macedonia Carabott, Aspects, On this issue see Mavrogordatos, Stillborn Republic, On Stamboliiskis Agrarian regime see John D.

For an account of Stamboliiskis foreign policy see Bell, Peasants, Introduction 27 could have been placed under the protection of a Great Power, perhaps Britain. Alexandrov himself was given the chance to bring that solu- tionand himself to the attention of international opinion by giving an interview to the London Times on 1 January The convention provided strict fron- tier control to prevent bands from entering Yugoslav territory.

IMROs men, gifted practitioners of the art of sensational killing, assassinated him, after staging a macabre theatre: they cut off his ears and nose, ridiculed him, forced him to dig his own grave, and did not neglect to cut off the hand that signed the Nis Convention. From onwards IMRO established a state-within-a-state in the south-western part of Bulgaria, around the districts of Kiustendil and Petrich.

Its control over the district was complete and indisputable. IMRO had its own police, controlled the local representatives to the S ubranie, and issued stamps featuring the founding fathers and chiefs of the organization, notably the legendary IMRO leader Gotse Delchev. Even the personal life of the peasants was closely watched. A single man could only walk out twice in the company of an unmarried girl. If he continued doing so, a letter from IMRO, asking for marriage or separation, would certainly prompt him to revise his tactics.

Apart from being the guardian of peasant values, however, the organization also catered for less moral pursuits: it secured a solid nancial basis by imposing taxes upon the population, and engaged in drug trafcking. After the assassination of Alexandrov in , however, internal strife broke out betweenthe pro-left Federalists who wanted the movement to be linked with the Comintern, and the right wing of the organization. The article gave a rather favourable picture of Alexandrov of Macedonia. Idyllic scenery was also present.

In winter he lives in some humble peasant cottage; in summer he sleeps in the open air. Swire, Bulgarian Conspiracy, According to British sources, in alone, IMRO derived a revenue of 2,, leva from trafc in raw opium. This incident will be treated in greater detail below. Their rivals were Alexand ur Protogerov and Ivan Mihailov. A man of conicting qualities, and impatient with the Federalists, Mihailov launched a spectacular campaign of assassinations.

Mencha Karnicheva, a Vlach woman from Krusevo, made her mark in this game of terror by assassinating in cold blood her former lover Todor Panitsa, a leading Federalist, at the Vienna opera. She later married Mihailov. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless. Institutional Login. LOG IN. Journal of Modern Greek Studies. In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Contributors. If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE.

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