The Society of St Sava (founded in 1886) was the chief organ for dissemination of Serbian propaganda on the Macedonian Question and Novakovich was intricately involved behind its agenda and policies. During the same year four members of a secret Macedonian committee in Sofia, went to Belgrade to secure support for their proposed actions in Macedonia. Their plans included the restoration of the Ohrida Diocese, publication of a newspaper “Macedonian Voice” in Istanbul, opening schools where teachers used the “Macedonian” language, and to have all educational literature printed in the Macedonian dialect. Shortly thereafter Novakovich took up his appointment as Serbian consul in Istanbul, where he met with two members of the Macedonian committee to initiate the plan. Although this was only partially successful, Serbian schools were opened in Macedonia, and books were printed in the Macedonian dialect. The latter were based on increasing Serbian language content as the educational standard increased. However in 1898 when asked with respect to the reprinting of these texts in the Macedonian dialect, Novakovich recommended only the Serbian language should be used – the anticipated attraction of the Macedonian dialect had not eventuated.
The Society of St Sava also offered well-paid scholarships to Macedonians in the hope they could ultimately be turned against the Bulgarian idea. Between 1888 and 1889 quite a number of Macedonians accepted these scholarships and went to Belgrade. They soon became aware of the obvious underlying reasons behind the program however, especially when they were forbidden to possess “Bulgarian” literature. Subsequently some 30 to 40 students left Belgrade to continue their education elsewhere, mostly Sofia. Among that group were some later very well-known figures – Dame Gruev, Petar Pop Arsov and Krste Misirkov. It must be considered more than coincidental that two of the latter individuals (PPA, and especially KM) shortly thereafter proffered views on the Macedonian Question that in essence supported the covert intent of Novakovich’s theory. However it was during Novakovich’s appointment as consul at St Petersburg that the staunchest and most dogmatic advocate of “Macedonism”, Dimitur Chupovski, arose. Again we note that Chupovski and his small group of followers were directly supported by the St Sava Society and had an almost identical agenda to that of the four Macedonians that met with Novakovich in Belgrade during 1886. It did not matter to Novakovich that “Macedonism” was also essentially anti-Serbian, as long as it opposed or slowed the spread of Bulgarian influence within Macedonia.An important historic issue is the reaction to both Serbian propaganda and Macedonism within Macedonia itself. First, it is known that one of the main reasons for the establishment of IMRO by Dame Gruev in 1893 was to block the spread of Serbian influence into Macedonia, less it hinder the ultimate unification of the Bulgarian people. Thus although IMRO’s short-term goal was autonomy, its long-term goal was unification, as had occurred with East Rumelia. There can be no doubt IMRO was a Bulgarian organization, protecting the Bulgarian national interest against the Serbs. Several other organizations also formed within Macedonia (1897) to oppose Serbian propaganda – the Revolutionary Brotherhood and the Charitable Brotherhood – the latter to specifically undermine Serbian schools, a strategy in which it was quite successful. Even earlier (1891), Gyorche Petrov, later a famous IMRO committee member, was so concerned by the obvious Serbian schemes that he spent his time exclusively on ethnographic research in Skopje to ensure the availability of indisputable evidence to support the “Bulgarian” character of the Macedonian population.
As for “Macedonism”, the memoirs of Hristo Shaldev which discuss Dimitur Chupovski, plainly show how few adherents this concept had in 1903. We also have to accept that Krste Misirkov only promoted the concept of “Macedonism” when he felt the Bulgarian position in Macedonia was irrevocably lost – as in 1903 after Ilinden (when he wrote “On Macedonian Matters”) and after WWI. At all other times he was a staunch advocate of the Bulgarian character of Macedonia. Misirkov’s pro-Macedonism arguments were resurrected and re-packaged by the Comintern in 1934 as evidence for a “Macedonian Nation”. Novakovich did not live to see the success of the strategy he first devised in the middle 1880s – a plan which undoubtedly has prevented the historic reunion of the Bulgarian people. Dame Gruev and IMRO were correct in their assessment of the danger of Serbian influence. In his memoirs (finished 18 Aug 1947) Hristo Shaldev speaks for all Bulgarian patriots of Macedonia when he writes
“I am saddened that I cannot spend the remaining years of my life in Gumendje, and at the same time I am indignant that the youngest generation of Vardar Macedonia has disavowed both the achievements and self-determination of their fathers, grand-fathers and great-grand-fathers and has been misled by the Serbian theories of Professors Novakovich, Cvijich and Belich.”
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