Australian Macedonian Advisory Council
August 29, 2009
This article is a rebuttal to Risto Stefov´s article “Come take a ride in Tito´s time Machine – Part 2 – A FREE MACEDONIA”
Mr.Stefov titled his article inspired by a homonymous article of N.Y. Times (A free Macedonia) that was published on April 27, 1919 and signed by a certain V.K. Sugareff who openly advocated the creation of an independent and multiethnic Macedonian state copying the Swiss model,that is the formation of many local governments,depending on what is the dominant ethnicity in every region.
Without searching first who actually was this V.K. Sugareff and his agenda,Mr. Stefov eagerly but unthinkingly enough hastened to label him as a pioneer of “Macedonism” and posted this article as an alleged irrefutable proof of the existence of considerable populations of self-proclaimed “ethnic Macedonians” who were fighting for their national emancipation 90 years ago.However,being an “authority” on ancient and not modern history,Mr.Stefov misses (or willingly ignores) a lot of crucial details on that specific subject;Who were those who advocated the creation of an autonomous Macedonian state during the interwar period and why?But if we find who were their predecessors in the pre-Balkan war era and during WW1,that question is already answered,for they were always the same people with the same purposes,the conditions only being different in each case.The autonomy of Macedonia was favoured by Bulgarian policy after the Berlin treaty (1878) and till the Balkan wars,for 2 basic reasons:
a) After it became clear that the great powers would not allow the annexation of a great part of Macedonia to Bulgaria,this was the only way to protect the Bulgarian populations.
b)It was considered as the first step for unification with Bulgaria after some years and indeed Bulgarian politicians had a very good reason to believe it:Something similar happened to the province of Eastern Rumelia.It was created as a semi-autonomous state in 1878,inhabited by many ethnicities like Turks,Greeks,Armenians,Jews,with the Bulgarians forming though the majority.However it was annexed by Bulgaria with a coup d´etat in 1885.(See R.J. Crampton´s “Bulgaria”,chapter 4 “The national question,and the unification of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia,1878-1885″,pages 116-121)
The Bulgarian origin of the concept of autonomous Macedonia is attested in many contemporary newspapers and books,like the N.Y. Times of October 6,1912:
” It matters not what Government rules in Constantinople, subordinate of¬ficials on the spot would still oppress the Bulgars. Complete autonomy for Bulgar Macedonia, guaranteed by the powers, with a Christian as Governor, is the least that will satisfy us. If the Turkish Government will grant that we are content to wait until in the fullness of time Bulgarian Macedonia comes to be peacefully united with the Bulgarian Crown, as it eventually must be”.
Bulgarian diplomats admitted as well that Macedonian autonomy was an exclusively Bulgarian invention. The N.Y. Times, August 22,1916:
“The Berlin treaty of 1878,which sup¬planted that of San Stefano, provided for Macedonia, as it did for Armenia, some sort of an autonomous govern¬ment. This provision of the treaty has not been put in practice because, be¬sides the Turks, the Serbians and the Greeks were opposed to autonomy in Macedonia. Why? Because they know perfectly well that under an autonomous administration, under the guarantee of the European powers, where people would be free to express by their votes their opinions, the Bulgarian element will decidedly come to the front, and that everybody will see that Macedonia is a solid Bulgarian country”.
Even Krste Misirkov himself acknowledged that despite the Bulgarian fabrications no one could be convinced for their sincerity:
The late Rostkovski (the Russian consul in Monastir) often said: “The Bulgarians think they are the only people in the world with brains, and that all others are fools. Whom do they hope to deceive with their articles in Pravo and other papers saying that the Macedonians want Macedonia for the Macedonians? We know very well what they want!”
“One asks, then, who was persuaded by papers such as the Mouvement Macedonien, Pravo and Avtonomija that it was the Macedonians who were fighting for freedom and not those who were called Bulgarians and originated from Macedonia or Bulgaria? Nobody”.
All this happened till the Balkan wars. After the Bulgarian defeat in the second Balkan (1913) and the consequent fail to annex the greatest part of geographical Macedonia and especially the predominantly Bulgarian region of today´s southern FYROM which became Serbian soil, Bulgarian policy never ceased of dreaming to acquire this territory and claiming it whenever the circumstances of the international political scene were favourable. Such an instance occurred during WW1,when Bulgaria demanded from the Entente powers (Great Britain, France, Italy and Russia) the whole of Serbian Macedonia and a part of Greek Macedonia (the coastal region of Kavala, an outlet to the Aegean Sea) in order to become their ally. The article of “Evening Post”,Volume XC, Issue 38, 13 August 1915, Page 7 is eloquent:
´Bulgaria´s terms to join with the allies
A very straightforward statement is made by the Bulgarian Prime Minister. He says that if Bulgaria is given back Servian Macedonia, she will fight so as best to suit the Allies.
Waiting to join the allies
“Give us Serbian Macedonia”
M. Radoslavoff (Prime Minister), in an interview, said that Bulgaria was willing and waiting to join the Allies if they guaranteed the realisation of her national ideals, especially in Macedonia.”We are openly negotiating with both groups,” said the Premier. “The, Entente requests full military co-operation; the Central Powers only ask for neutrality.”Bulgaria does not want Constantinople. The fears of some States that they are threatened are groundless. The Bulgarian Army and nation is now better equipped than ever. All we ask is to give us back Servian-Mace¬donia, and we will fight in the way to serve you best.
Proposals to Serbia and Greece
The Journal des Debats learns that the proposals made to Nish and Athens show that the Quadruple Entente asked Servia and Greece to make concessions of Macedonia and Kavalla in order to obtain Bulgaria’s co-operation. The Journal des Debats adds “If Bulgaria wants guarantees for her co¬operation, there is nothing which at present warrants us in committing ourselves to a guarantee.”
The Matin, states that the formula submitted to Bulgaria is that the Quad¬ruple Entente should become depositaries of the ceded territories till peace is declared.
Since the Entente Powers couldn´t promise Bulgaria the desired territories, she eventually joined the “Central Powers” (Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire) that were eager to fulfil the Bulgarian terms for entrance into WW1 on the Germano-Austrian side. However after the final defeat of the Central Powers and their Bulgarian allies and the definite loss of Macedonian soil that was previously claimed, it became clear that the international status quo that was established in the post-WW1 era would hardly allow Bulgarian policy to claim again the lost Macedonian territory. Thus, Bulgarian cries for an autonomous Macedonian became more frequent and one of them was V.K. Sugareff, whose article was not motivated by his “ethnic Macedonian” sentiments, as Mr.Stefov wrongly assumed. Besides this article, V.K. Sugareff wrote also this:
“The journal of race development” vol 9 1918-19,L.N. Wilson,pages 382-384
THE BULGARIAN NATIONALITY OF THE MACEDONIANS
By V. K. Sugareff, M.A., Special Delegate of the Congress of Macedonian Bulgars in the United States to the Mid-European Union
“The question of races in Macedonia is an important factor in the solution of the Macedonian question, but it is not beyond any hope of settlement, Macedonia does present a babel of races, creeds and tongues, which, in a way, baffles the ingenuity of the ethographer, theologist,and the philologist, but these fragments of peoples represent a small minority in all the districts where either Greek, Serbian or Bulgarian population predominates. The re¬gions west of Schar Mountain are inhabited mostly by Serbians.The western,central and the eastern parts of Macedonia are preeminently Bulgarian. The territory along the littoral of the Aegean Sea and southwest of the cazas of Vodena and Kastoria is decidedly Greek. A valid guarantee for the rights of the minority will put the racial question in the background”
“How then is the nationality of the Macedonians to be determined? This question can be properly answered in the words of President Wilson who said that the Balkan problem should be settled “along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality.”It is along such lines that the nationality of the Macedonian Bulgars has been indis¬putably established. The governments of Europe have con¬firmed on several occasions the Bulgarian nationality of the Macedonian peasants. The population itself has dared to assert its Bulgarian nationality in the face of Turkish, Greek and Serbian opposition”.
As for the other articles from old newspapers that Mr.Stefov quotes, these are vary far of being considered as proofs that western newspapers of early 19th century recognized the existence of a distinct Macedonian ethnicity. Any vague mention of the term “Macedonians” by western journalists and authors at that time was used solely in geographical and not ethnic sense. This can easily be proved, if we examine a lot of other articles that use the terms “Macedonian” and “Macedonians” interchangeably with “Greeks” or “Bulgarians”. Let´s read some of them:
The N.Y. Times, July 28,1896
GREEKS AIDING MACEDONIANS
The rising against Turkey assumes threatening proportions
Advices received here are to the effect that the rising in Mace¬donia against the Turkish authority is rapidly assuming a more than usually threatening aspect, and that the disaffec¬tion is spreading in Thessaly. A number of Greeks have gone to the aid of the rebels and have been received with much enthu¬siasm by the Macedonians. A Revolutionary Committee at Larissa is almost openly engaged in the work of enrolling volunteers for service in the rebel ranks.
The Porte charges that the Greek Gov¬ernment is conniving at the attempts of the insurgents to overthrow Turkish rule in Macedonia, and that non-commissioned officers and privates of the Greek Army are among those who are siding the rebels. The Porte claims that these Greek soldiers are joining the Macedonians in disguise.
The N.Y. Times, October 3,1896
THESSALY AIDING MACEDONIA.
The Inhabitants of the Greek province of Thessaly, which was a
Turkish possession prior to 1881,are push¬ing forward the Macedonian movement looking to the severance of that territory from Turkish rule with great enthusiasm.
Upward of 6.000 men have already been armed and drilled in readiness to cross the border and assist the Macedonians in the Spring unless the situation in Mace¬donia shall in the meantime be greatly im¬proved.
The N.Y. Times, November 13,1896
GREECE WANTS INDEPENDNCE.
A demonstration at Athens for the Cretans and Macedonians.
An immense meeting of students was held here last evening, at which were present a large number of Macedonians and Cretans. The Professor of History of the university made a speech, to which he strongly urged the revival of national sentiment on the part of the Macedonians and Cretans, and a resolution was passed expressing the readiness of those present to make every sacrifice to liberate Macedonia and Crete. After the meeting the students made a demonstration in front of the palace. The king is absent from the country, and the Crown Prince did not make his appearance, so the demonstration was unrecognized.
So what were actually those Macedonians and with what meaning was used the term “Macedonians” mr.Stefov? A Macedonian could be every inhabitant of the wider geographical region of Macedonia, regardless of ethnicity, origin and language and this term was applied not only to Greeks, Bulgarian or Serbians but even to Turks as well, as it happens in the article below:
The N.Y. Times, May 9,1909
If Mr.Stefov readed the title of this article, “On the march with the Macedonians” he would believe it is referring to his Slavomacedonian ancestors, yet after a careful reading of the whole article he would feel very frustrated, ascertaining that those “Macedonians” were actually the Turk officers of the Ottoman army of Macedonia that uprose against the Sultan and marched towards Istanbul, in order to overthrow him. It was the well known movement of the “Young Turks” and furthermore this Ottoman army was accompanied by some irregular troops consisiting of various ethnicities that were subjects of the Ottoman empire (Bulgarians, Greeks, Serbs, Albanians, Armenians, Jews).They joined the uprising of the Young Turks and assisted them motivated by their grievance against Sultan´s Abdul Hammid policy.However this heterogeneous mass of Turks, Bulgarians, Greeks, Albanians
e.t.c is described as a “Macedonian army” and the Turk officers as “Macedonian officers”!
The article is full of such terms
In some other occasions, the terms “Macedonians” and “Bulgarians” are used interchangeably in the same article:
The N.Y. Times, August 8,1903
The title is: “BULGARIANS OCUPPY A TOWN IN TURKEY-Hold Krushevo and are besieging other places” while in the main article we read about the “Macedonian insurrection”.
The N.Y. Times, August 14,1903
The title reads: “MACEDONIANS TAKE TOWNS-Ocuppy Klisoura and Pisodere and still hold Krushevo” but some lines below we read about Bulgarians who are bombarded in Krushevo by the Ottoman army and some atrocities committed by Bulgarian insurgents against Turkish peasants in some other districts
The N.Y. Times, August 11,1903
“Boris Sarafof, the active leader of the Macedonian insurgents, has warned the Directors of the Oriental Railway not to sell passenger tickets, for all the railways, he says, will be destroyed. According to reports received here the Turkish population in Macedonia is form¬ing bands to fight the Bulgarian revolution¬ists.”
So what were they actually?”Macedonian insurgents” or “Bulgarian revolutionists”?Or maybe both? The proper answer was given by Boris Sarafov himself:
The N.Y. Times, August 10,1903
Boris Sarafof, the head and front of the movement, is with the insurgents in Macedonia. His representatives here believe that the desired results will be obtained through the present movement.
” The object of the rising,” said the Macedonian Committeemen, “is to win re¬forms which will assure to the Christian population of Macedonia security for their lives and property, and the right to par¬ticipate in the administration of the coun¬try.
” The present revolutionary organization came into existence nine years ago, when the persecution of the Bulgarian popula¬tion of Macedonia became flagrant”.
There is also one more category of articles quoted by Mr.Stefov, those that allegedly mention “Bulgarians and Macedonians” or “Bulgarian, Greek and Macedonians” as separate ethnicities without any other clarification though. The term “Macedonians” is certainly used here again as a geographical descriptor despite Mr. Stefov´s self-deceptions. Macedonia was inhabited by many Greeks and Bulgarians although no Macedonian district was included in the Greek or the Bulgarian state of that time. If the author needed to distinguish between Bulgarians from Bulgaria or Greeks from southern Greece and Bulgarians or Greeks from Macedonia, he had no other choice than labelling the former as Bulgarians or Greeks respectively and the latter as “Macedonians”. If we should adopt Mr.Stefov´s logic, then we should conclude by the same analogy that :
Cretans were not Greeks but constituted a distinct ethnicity!
The N.Y. Times, May 13,1897
“As M. Ralli explains to me, the Gov¬ernment is in a serious predicament in order to secure mediation it has compro¬mised itself in the eyes of both Greeks and Cretans without obtaining a positive guarantee that Turkey will cease hostili¬ties”.
The N.Y. Times, April 6,1897
“Now that it has recog¬nized that Turks, as well as Greeks and Cretans, may need to be restrained, it is to be hoped that it may see its way to the expulsion of the Turkish garrison from Crete”
Sicilians were not Italians, another separate ethnicity?
The N.Y. Times, April 18,1907
“Italians put blame on the Sicilians
Coroner Acriteli got a long letter yesterday signed by some 200 Italian women. The letter showed, in picturesque language, that Italians do not want to be shouldered with the odium attaching to them because of Sunday’s shooting, which they said was really done by Sicilians.”
The N.Y. Times, July 8,1922
“Prominent Italians write judge Talley, denouncing Sicilians for the crime”
Is there any “Bavarian ethnicity”?Aren´t Bavarian Germans?
The N.Y. Times, November 26,1914
“This”, says the Standard correspondent, “is what a Bavarian officer said to a French Lieutenant who walked boldly into the enemy’s trenches four days ago”. Off course the statement rep¬resents an extreme case, but there is no doubt that serious friction exists between the Bavarians and Germans who are fighting together.
Really, what were the Saxon, the Bavarian and the Prussian ethnicity and what language did they actually spoke?
“The Living age”,vol.III 1844,page 316
“all nations,Swiss,Saxons,Bavarians,French,Danes,Norweg ians,Poles,Hungarians,Prussians ,Dutch, Scotch and English…”
What about the Alsatians? Were they ever considered as a distinct ethnicity with a separate language?
The N.Y. Times, August 9,1914
The Alsatian natives were so de¬lighted at the arrival of the French soldiers that they tore up the frontier Posts.
The Mayor of Belfort issued a proc¬lamation to “the inhabitants today calling on them to treat German pris¬oners with respect and not display a hostile attitude toward them,in spite of the reported execution by Germans of several Alsatian youths who were endeavoring to cross into France to Join the French Army”.
Can you tell explain us, Mr.Stefov, what is the ethnicity of the Silesians and what language do they speak?
The N.Y. Times, June 22,1896
“A scheme to import coolies”
The Vorwaerts, the leading Socialist news¬paper, asserts that a number of Silesian land owners are entering into a combination with the object of obtaining coolies from China to replace the native German laborers and the Russians and Poles now employed in farm and field work.
In this same geographical-regional context should be regarded even Mr.Stefov´s biggest “proof” ,the book of Peter Robert “The new immigration; a study of the industrial and social life of southeastern Europeans in America”,1914.We can find indeed in that book “Macedonians” mentioned separately from both Greeks and Bulgarians in many occasions, but what really struck the eye of the reader is a page with some photos of “Types in new immigration”, that is a Mexican, an Italian, a Greek, an Italian, a Rumanian e.t.c but also a Macedonian, a Ruthenian,a Bavarian and a Bosnian.
Thus, Macedonians were considered by the author as a separate ethnicity as much as Bosnians, Bavarians and Ruthenians. And if this isn´t enough to convince the incredulous Mr.Stefov, than I would like to hear his comments on this excerpt from page 192:
“The Greeks, of all recent immigrants, are the most fond of athletic exercise, and many of them find their way to the best gymnasiums in the city where they reside. In large cities, such as Chicago, St. Louis, New York, etc., where strong colonies of Greeks and Macedonians are found, one of the most popular entertainments is a match between a Grecian and a Turkish wrestler. On these occasions the purse strings of every penurious Greek are loosened, and an exciting evening is spent”.
Why should the author associate these Macedonians with the Greeks and classify them together under the common designation of “every penurious Greek” who entertained themselves attending a match between a Greek and a Turk wrestler? The only reasonable explanation is he considered them one in the same.
At the end of the day, the challenge remains the same, Mr.Stefov: Can you find me irrefutable proofs of the existence of “ethnic Macedonians” prior to 1870? I give you the benefit to search in such recent times as till 1870 to find at least one mention of a distinct Macedonian ethnicity speaking a language that was universally recognized as Macedonian. There is just one restriction. This mention of ethnic Macedonians should be included in a clearly ethnographic context, e.g. a record of the ethnicities that dwell in a specific town or area, written by anyone contemporary non-Slavomacedonian author, geographer, journalist, historian, traveller who visited Macedonia. Any vague
reference to “Macedonians” without fulfilling these criteria cannot be considered as proof, because there will be always a plenty of room to doubt whether the author uses the name “Macedonians” with ethnic meaning or merely as a geographical descriptor.
Written by Kapetan Doukas
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