The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
A Challenge to the Macedonism of the Slavs
© Marcus A. Templar, 2008.
Ilinden Uprising: A “Macedonian” or a Bulgarian Act?
The Ilinden Uprising
71 They were disappointed by the Council of Berlin’s decision to cut Bulgaria’s gains from the Treaty of San Stefano, but were encouraged by the results of the bloodless coup that gave Eastern Rumelia to Bulgaria in 1885, motivated by the Turkish weakness and Western eagerness to oblige. These Bulgarians were inspired by the dream of Georgi Stoykov Popovich, better known as Georgi Sava Rakovski of Kotel, Bulgaria, who dedicated his life for the liberation of geographic Macedonia. It must be noted that Rumelia
in Turkish means ‘the land of the Rum (=Greeks).’
On August 2, 1903, the IMRO instigated a revolt in Krushevo (present day FYROM) for Macedonian and Thracian independence (Ilinden Uprising), which the Turkish authorities cruelly crushed. The freethinking people in America followed the uprising with the interest. Many outstanding personalities, such as the journalists Albert Sonixen and John Smith and the Protestant missionaries John Henry House, Dr. James F. Clark, and Helen ‘Miss’ Stone, supported the Organization in its fight to get elementary rights for the oppressed. Interestingly, Krushevo hardly had any Bulgarian population at that time. The vast majority was Greek speaking Vlach with a Turkish minority.
Presently, history books of the FYROM attribute the Ilinden Uprising to “Macedonian” fighters using the term “Macedonian” as an ethnic term. A close look of that historical event reveals that the fighters were indeed Macedonians, but geographically and not ethnically.
The following are excerpts of how modern scholars and newspapers of the era viewed the Ilinden Uprising as a Bulgarian uprising. Prof. Duncan Perry states,
… But even to this group national labels appear to have been of little concern, since the literature of the time and even the correspondence of no less a figure than the legendary Macedonian revolutionary leader, Gotse Delchev, refer to the Slavs of Macedonia as “Bulgarians” in an offhanded manner without seeming to indicate that such a designation was a point of contention. 72
In the words of Gotse Delchev, it becomes more obvious:
We have to work courageously, organizing and arming ourselves well enough to take the burden of the struggle upon our shoulders, without counting on outside help. External intervention is not desirable from the point of view of our cause. Our aim, our ideal is autonomy for Macedonia and the Adrianople region, and we must also bring into the struggle the other people who live in these two provinces as well…[..].. We the Bulgarians of Macedonia and Adrianople, must not lose sight of the fact that there are other nationalities and states who are vitally interested in the solution of this question. Any intervention by Bulgaria would provoke intervention by neighbouring states as well, and could result in Macedonia being torn apart.
Inserted below is a photocopy of Goce Delchev’s letter. The statement “We are Bulgarians” is encircled.
Gotse Delchev’s letter 73
The words of Kosta Shahov, editor of the newspaper Makedonia, echo Goce Delcev:
And today it is desirable at any rate for our free Bulgarian brothers to encourage the slave in an independent struggle, since it is plain that otherwise it will be difficult and somewhat dangerous to work for this unhappy region. We have already stated on a previous occasion that it is not timely for us Macedonians, and also for the whole Bulgarian people: our neighbours would take advantage of the situation, Macedonia would be torn apart and our Bulgarian ideal thwarted.
A report by the Austro-Hungarian Vice-consul in Bitolya, O. Prochaska, to the Foreign Ministry on the situation in Macedonia after the Ilinden Uprising, dated November 26th, 1904, states, “The Bulgarian rebel leader, Damyan Grouev, was detained by the Serbian rebel detachment of Mitsko for several weeks in the region of Porech, but he was later released, and returned to Bulgaria through Skopje.” 74 Damyan Gruev was one of the leaders of the Ilinden Uprising.
Anthropologist Loring Danforth, a FYROM’s staunch apologist and propagandist, states that “[t]he political and military leaders of the Slavs of Macedonia at the turn of the century seem not to have heard Misirkov’s call for a separate Macedonian national identity; they continued to identify themselves in a national sense as Bulgarians rather than Macedonians.” 75 However, Misirkov never mentioned the ancient Macedonian ancestry or direct lineage of the present FYROM Slavs. He does not mention any mixing of Slavic blood with Macedonian; whether the pre-Slavonic invasion Macedonians were Greek or not at this point is inconsequential. He absolutely and definitely mentions in all his papers that the “Macedonians” he was talking about are of Slavonic descent. “Macedonia is a land of old Slavonic culture and no one will succeed in rooting out this old Slavonic culture.” 76 Moscow found in Krste Misirkov the inspirational thoughts for revolution and the VMRO (or IMRO) as its militant arm coordinated with Bulgarian communists the movement that in “the Fifth Commitern Congress in 1924 called on Balkan communist parties to cooperate for the establishment of a united and independent Macedonian State within the framework of a Balkan communist federation.” 77
John Foster Fraser, a traveler through the area, described the Krushevo uprising:
The dreadful autumn of 1903, when the Bulgarian insurrection broke out in Macedonia, has left deep traces. Then the insurgent forces were computed at 32,000 men, armed and drilled. Bridges were blown up and bombs thrown. Krushevo was occupied by insurgents, against whom the Turks and Bashi-Bazouks came in force. After defeating them the troops entered the town, massacred seventy-seven people, burnt and pillaged 570 shops and houses; hundreds of people were ill-treated and beaten and women were violated 78
Gaston Routier includes the following statement from the IMRO on August 2, 1903:
In the name of freedom and humanity, without distinction of races or even religion, we are taking up guns to fight tyranny and inhumanity. We consider as our brothers, all those who are suffering in the dark Empire of the sultan, Bulgarians, Greeks, Serbs, Rumanians, and even Muslims and Turkish peasants. 79
The above statement is the brief beginning of the Manifesto of Kushevo. Douglas Dakin affirms, “[t]he emergence of this state of affairs was preceded by a number of violent incidents, such as the Ilinden rising, during which Bulgarians were alleged to have revolted against the Turks on 2 August 1903 in the town of Kruschevo, near Monastir, where the population was overwhelmingly Greek.” 80 H. N. Brailsford who wrote about Macedonia and its people, dedicated Chapter V of his book to the Ilinden Uprising of 1903 stating that was strictly a Bulgarian movement. 81
The Treaty of Bucharest of 1913
In July of 1908, a coup d’état was made in the Ottoman Empire. The new ‘Young Turk’ 82 rulers declared their wish to grant rights to the enslaved nations as well as provide them with opportunities to take part in the political life of the Empire. To counter the new reality, the IMRO suspended the armed fight and adopted more appropriate peaceful methods.
The Organization transformed itself into two legal parties seated in Thessaloniki [the Union of Bulgarian Constitutional Clubs and the People’s Federate Party (Bulgarian section)], that took part in the elections and sent deputies to the Ottoman Parliament. Nevertheless, the Young Turks abandoned their promises and resumed the previous policy of discrimination. The two Bulgarian parties in Geographic Macedonia and Thrace were banned. On October 5, 1908, taking advantage of the above upheaval, Bulgaria declared its independence keeping its territories including Eastern Rumelia. One day later Austria annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina and Crete declared union with Greece.
Borders of the Balkan Countries as of 10 August 1913
It is routinely publicized that the Peace Treaty of Bucharest split “Macedonia” into three segments. According to this information, Greece received 51.56%, Serbia 38.32%, and Bulgaria 10.12%. The above information is incorrect, because it is based on false assumptions. The first assumption is that “Macedonia” was the homeland of the “Macedonian” people given to three neighboring countries without consideration of the “Macedonians.” The second assumption is that the territories of Macedonia at the end of the Second Balkan War included the present territory of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Bulgarian Oblast of Blagoevgrad and the Greek Province of Macedonia. The third false assumption is that the Peace Treaty signed in Bucharest, Romania, on the 10th of August 1913 83 split the territory as it appears as the second assumption into three parts. The fourth assumption is that the Treaty of Bucharest includes an expiry clause.
First Assumption: the Existence of the “Macedonian” People in 1913
One of the main cries of the FYROM Slavs is that Greece denies the existence of the “Macedonian” people. The FYROM historians claim that the “Macedonians” are the ones who created the Ilinden Uprising, but as we saw above, the insurgents were Bulgarians living in geographic Macedonia. Not one of them was ethnic “Macedonian.” The FYROM Slavs further state that the Carnegie report uses the term “Macedonian” in ethnic sense. However, the Carnegie report refers only the Bulgarians and Greeks living in Macedonia. When the report suggests the adjective “Macedonian,” it clearly means and without any exception all inhabitants of Macedonia in the spirit of the Manifesto of Krushevo. 84 As pointed out above, the Slavic people of Macedonia kept declaring themselves ethnically Bulgarian. Brailsford, in his famous book regarding Macedonia, used the term Macedonian as a geographic term that encompassed Turks, Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs, Albanians, Gypsies, Jews, Dönme, Vlachs and others. 85
Second Assumption: Macedonian Territories in 1913
The area of Macedonia would have been “51.56% to Greece, 38.32% to Serbia, 10.12% to Bulgaria” if Macedonia included the FYROM areas north of Gradsko and Bakarno Gumno – Krushevo. Nevertheless, that is not the case. Macedonia in the beginning of the 20th century did not include areas north of Gradsko.
R. G. D. Laffan explains:
By ‘Old Serbia’ I mean the central belt round Skoplye [Skopje], Kumanovo, and the Kossovo plain, including the old Sandjak of Novi Pazar, which ran up to the Bosnian frontier. Here are the towns and sacred places of mediaeval Serbia; Skoplye, where Stephen Dushan was crowned emperor; Pech (Ipek), the ancient
See of the Serbian patriarchs; Dechani, the famous monastery and home of Serbian traditions; Kossovo, where the Serbian power went down before the Turks. By “Serbian Macedonia” I mean the middle Vardar valley below Veles and the hilly country which lies between that and the lake of Ohrida. 86
The above has been collaborated by other natives to that area such as Fanula Dimitriou – Papazoglu stating that Macedonia’s territory reached as north as the area of Bakarno Gumno in the towns of Krushevo and Prilep, 87 which means that the areas north of Gradsko were not included in Macedonia even in modern times. If the whole area of the FYROM was within Macedonia in 1913 when the Treaty of Bucharest was signed, is it not interesting that the borders were moved in 1917 and later by 100 kilometers to the south? Taking into consideration the above, one could argue that the division was more or less 70% to Greece, 11 % to Bulgaria, and 16% to Serbia and a strip of 3% to Albania.” The Academy of Athens elevates the territories of the Macedonian Homeland belonging presently to Greece to 90%. 88
In the same interview, Fanи Dimitriou-Papazoglou told the author that before WWII Skopje was an Old Serbian town and the Capital of the pre-War Vardarska Banovina. She also stated that the only reason for it being the capital of the newly emerged People’s Republic of Macedonia was that it was the largest city in the area. 89 Bitola was too small and very close to Greece and its influence.
Immediately after the division of the Ottoman vilayets of Selanik and Manastir, the Greek government established the “General Administration of Macedonia” for its part of Macedonia, officially recognizing and utilizing the term Macedonia first after the fall of the Byzantine Empire. 90 “The Treaty of Neuilly of 1919 ‘corrected’ the few errors of the Treaty of Bucharest of 1913 and re-christened Serbia’s and Greece’s part of Macedonia South Serbia and Northern Greece respectively.” 91
Third Assumption: The Treaty of Bucharest set the present borders of the Balkans
The present borders of the Balkan states are the result of a number of treaties, protocols, and conventions that followed armed insurrections, political upheavals, and interventions of various great powers protecting their own interests.
Starting in the beginning of the 19th century, the Treaty of London dated 6 July 1827 (England, France, and Russia) recognized the autonomy of Greece without defining Greece’s territorial boundaries.
With the Treaty of Adrianople dated 14 September 1829 (Russia, England, France, and Ottoman State), the Ottoman acknowledged the previous Protocol dated 22 March 1829. It referred to the mapping of the new Greek State borders that were defined and confirmed only to the district of Sterea Hellas by another Protocol of London dated 3 February 1830 (England, France and Russia).
The Protocol of London dated 26 September 1831 (England, France, Russia, and Ottoman State) determined that the 1830 border line between Greece and the Ottoman Empire had to be expanded for geographical reasons. It took the Great Power a period of six months to agree to a definite border.
At the International Convention of Constantinople dated 11 December 1876 (Great Powers and Ottoman Empire) concerning the definition of the Bulgarian borderline, the Russian minister of Foreign Affairs (Ignatief), argued that the borders should only ensure the safety of the Christians in the area and not national issues.
The most controversial of all treaties is the Treaty of Saint Stefano (Yeşilköy) of Constantinople dated 3 March 1878 signed between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. Under that treaty, Bulgaria gained autonomy from the Danube to the Aegean Sea, including in its autonomy the areas of Eastern Rumelia, Western Thrace, and Macedonia apart from the districts of Thessaloniki and Halkidiki.
The London Agreement (30 May 1878) between Russia and England issued an amendment regarding the Bulgarian borderline. Russia was forced to abandon the idea of the “Great Bulgaria” and the creation of a new hegemony confined between the River Danube and the mountain range of Haemus (Stara Planina or Balkan). The western borders were adjusted according to ethnic criteria.
Because of the above Agreement, the great powers convened in Berlin and on 13 July 1878 decided that the London Agreement signed on 30 May 1878 was valid. A few years later (24 March 1881), Greece and the Ottoman Empire signed the Pact of Constantinople. It concerned the adjustment of the Greek-Ottoman borders and, as a result, the Ottoman Empire ceded Thessaly and Arta to Greece. The Treaty of Constantinople dated 4 December 1897 (Greece and the Ottoman Empire) slightly altered the Greek-Ottoman borders in Thessaly at the expense of Greece.
Immediately following the First Balkan War, the Bucharest Convention of July 1912 between Greece, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria on one the hand and the Ottoman Empire on the other, negotiated the Serbian-Bulgarian and Greek-Bulgarian borders resulting in the area of Kavala ceding to Greece.
The Athens Protocol of 5 May 1913, also known as Koromila – Bosković, determined the borders between Greece and Serbia. Under the protocol, the common border was delineated from Lake Ohrid to the south of Lake Prespa and south of Gevgeli (Gevgelija).
The Treaty of London of 30 May 1913 was agreed upon between the winning allies (Greece, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Serbia) against the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire ceded all European territories except for Albania (which became an independent hegemony) and a small area of Western Thrace near Constantinople. The Ambassadors’ Convention in London that followed issued the decision for Albania’s southern borders on 11 August 1913.
The celebrated Peace Treaty of Bucharest of 10 August 1913 was signed between Greece, Serbia, Romania, and Montenegro on one side and Bulgaria on the other. The treaty defined the Serbian-Bulgarian borders, although through an inserted protocol previously signed between the Serbian and Bulgarian governments (article IV) regarding any “questions relative to the old Serbo-Bulgarian frontier” to “be regulated according to the understanding agreed upon by the two High Contracting Parties stated in the Protocol annexed to the present article.” 92 Nevertheless, the borders of Greece and Bulgaria were defined between Mount Beles and the Nestos outfall and the Aegean.
The treaty itself does not mention Macedonia, since Macedonia did not exist as a legal entity; furthermore, it considered only natural boundaries of the states. The treaty is a very short document, but it includes three protocols already agreed upon by bilateral agreements between parties well in advance of the Treaty conference.
The Protocol of Athens agreed upon and signed, as mentioned earlier, by Koromila and Bosković on 5 May 1913. Consequently, under the documents signed above Greece’s borders were summarily as follows: Greece acquired Crete and Kavala. The northern border of Greece extended from the north of Korytsa (Korce), between Manastir (Bitola) and Florina, to Doiran, then south of Strumitsa (see the Athens Protocol), Petrich and Nevrokopi (Goce Delcev) (see Treaty of Bucharest) to the mouth of the Nestos (Mesta) River.
The Protocol of Florence among the great powers (England, France, Austria, Russia, Germany, and Italy) dated 17 December 1913 was concerned with the borders of the newly formed State of Albania. The Greek-Albanian borders were demarcated and Greece was called to clear its Northern Epirus territory, which had been occupied by the Greek army.
The Peace Treaty of Neuilly dated 27 November 1919 was endorsed among the Allies (England, France, USA, and Italy) and Bulgaria after its defeat in WWI. Bulgaria ceded further territories to Greece and Serbia, restricting the Bulgarian access to the Aegean. At the same time, Bulgaria and Greece signed a protocol also known as the Politis – Kalvoff Protocol concerning a voluntary mutual migration of minorities and population exchange. The reason for the protocol was that populations of Greeks from Bulgaria and Bulgarians from Greece had moved on their own after the Second Balkan war, and the two countries felt that an official exchange would encourage further movements so that the two countries could eliminate as much as possible most of their respective minorities. Nevertheless, not all people abode by the Protocol. Foteff, an instructor of Bulgarian in the Defense Language Institute, Foreign language Center (DLI-FLC) located in Monterey, CA confided to the author in July 1987 that he was Greek but born in Varna.
According to the instructor, his father did not want to move to Greece under the Protocol, because “he lived all his life there, why moving?” However, he further mentioned that his relatives lived in Kavala.
Map of Vilayets of Selanik (Thessaloniki), Manastir (Bitola), and Kosova (Kosovo) in 1913. Indicated subdivisions are Sanjak and Kaza. 93
The Treaty of Sevres dated 10 August 1920 signed between the allied nations and Turkey gave Greece the largest part of Thrace reaching the town of Catalca in Turkey. Greece also received the area of Ionia, Italy and the area of Antalya, while the British and the French occupied Constantinople. In addition, the states of Armenia and Kurdistan were established, concentrating the Ottoman Empire mostly in the area of Ankara.
After the victory of the Turkish forces in 30 August 1922, England, France, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Romania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Portugal, Japan, and the United States signed the Peace Treaty of Lausanne on 24 July 1923. The treaty included the Protocol of the mandatory exchange of populations of the Greeks of the newly established Turkish Republic and the Muslims (Turks, Slavs, Greeks, Dönme, Albanians, Gypsies, Pomaks, etc.) of the Kingdom of Greece. The treaty exempted the Muslim populations of Western (Greek) Thrace and the Greek populations of the city of Istanbul. This is the treaty that defined the present Greek-Turkish land borders.
The Cordial Consultation Pact in Ankara of 14 September 1933, between Greece and Turkey stabilized their common borders. In addition, Greece, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Turkey signed the Balkan Pact in Athens on 9 February 1934 under which they all accepted the existent regime in the Balkans as a permanent one.
Twenty-one states of the Allies and the Axis states during WW II (Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, and Finland) signed the Treaty of Paris of 10 February 1947. This treaty reinstated Albania as an independent state, and Bulgaria withdrew its annexation of Eastern Greek Macedonia and Greek Thrace.
Fourth Assumption: The Treaty of Bucharest has an expiry
The FYROM Slavs created this assumption for internal consumption starting with the misinterpretation of President Gligorov’s statement requesting the revision of the Treaty of Bucharest, but externally it indicates ignorance because treaties setting borders are permanent. The only treaties that include in their text an expiry are treaties of leasing with a usual clause of 99 years.
In order for the treaty of Bucharest to be officially re-visited, it would require all signatory countries to exclusively agree to it, something that would be nearly impossible since many countries’ national interests and their stability would be directly or indirectly affected. Since this Treaty is one of the fundamental treaties that set some of the borders in the Balkans, a revision or re-negotiation of the treaty would set a chain reaction that would invalidate or alter successive treaties. In the end, the opening and renegotiation of the treaty would not guarantee that the FYROM would gain territories, nor would it guarantee the FYROM’s own existence.
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