National separatism – the soil on which it has grown and will continue to grow in the future
At the first meeting of the Bulgarian Students Association in St. Petersburg this year I said a few words concerning the results of the recent uprising in Macedonia. I have summarized this under two points: 1. Since the uprising, Macedonia has become lost to the Bulgarian nation, and 2. The Macedonians will come to realize the mistakes which gave rise to this ill-fated uprising; they will renounce the orientation which their national awareness has taken in the past and will start a systematic battle against national and religious propaganda in Macedonia, against those who are inherently Bulgarian, so that, by divorcing their interests from those of the propagandists, they might bring about national unification amongst the Macedonians themselves.
At that time I said that the real state of affairs is one which will not appeal to many, but I cannot speak of what may appeal to some and not to others; I must speak of a matter which is already settled and which sooner or later all South Slavs will have to reckon with – and this is why one must know about the new trends in Macedonia in order to determine clearly the relations between the South Slavs and the Macedonians and so avoid a futile and injurious battle between them.
Many will say that my assertions concerning some of the latest trends in the development of national self-awareness among the Macedonians are simply an attempt at mystification by certain Macedonians, that this mystification is groundless and that it will vanish in the same way as it emerged.
In order to determine whether my conclusions concerning the outcome of the uprising are correct or whether the assertions of my opponents are right we would have to review these events in the light of recent Macedonian history, when national self-awareness reached its peak; we would in fact have to review the birth of Macedonia, the events which helped to awaken the national spirit of the Macedonians, and the scope and form of this awakening. What sort of relation has grown up, through the Macedonian national revival, between the Macedonians and the other Balkan nations and peoples, and is the position which the Internal Revolutionary Organization is at present taking over the question of the Macedonian Slavs such that it will not be possible to advance further, or will it be necessary to take yet another step for the Macedonians to emerge as the supporters of national separatism by accepting the central Macedonian dialect as the literary language for all Macedonia? And, finally, if the Organization and the Macedonian emigrants in Bulgaria are not prepared to help us particularly those of them who hold well-paid government posts or work as journalists and so pick up fat salaries and manage to exert such influence on Bulgarian public affairs that they are able to run for ministerial posts in Bulgaria – if, I say, we are not able to count on these expatriots, it should still be possible for us to give expression to our revival precisely in the way I have mentioned above, i.e. by divorcing our interests from those of the Balkan peoples and by spreading national self awareness amongst the Macedonian intelligentsia and the Macedonian people.
This review of the events, which preceded the uprising, shows us that the most powerful spur to national awakening amongst the Macedonians was in fact the Serbian propaganda movement in Macedonia. Up till that moment our national self-awareness had been only half aroused; nobody had bothered particularly with the question of our nationality. We did indeed call ourselves “Bulgarians” and “Christians” in the national sense; but why this was so, and whether it really had to be so, we did not very much care to ask.
Our relations with the Bulgarians have been extremely close as a result of the general situation in Turkey: we were brothers through destiny and our relations were equal towards the government and the Phanariot Order. We were given, in our common fate, the common name of Bulgarians right up to the liberation of Bulgaria, and even after the liberation of Bulgaria this remained a tradition in Macedonia. This was the basis on which the Bulgarians established their pretensions to Macedonia; but the Macedonians had expected to be liberated by the Bulgarians.
But the rivalry between the Serbs and the Bulgarians over the Macedonian question, both from the political and from the national point of view, brought the Macedonians themselves onto the political scene. The Macedonians began to step up their interest concerning the question of their nationality and destiny.
The course of this national revival and the consequences to which it led may be roughly described as follows: The Serbs and the Bulgarians began to contest each other’s right to Macedonia, each claiming that all Macedonia was hers, each calling upon one authority or another for confirmation of the justness of her pretensions.
In the midst of this endless dispute between these two brotherly neighboring states the Macedonian Slav population, on account of whom they were quarrelling, gradually began to develop their sense of national self-awareness and endeavored to liberate themselves from the influence of the neighboring peoples in order to be able to take their fate independently into their own hands.
The Macedonians were seeking for national unification among themselves while at the same time stipulating that this unification should not be on a new basis, that it should not encompass the new movement, because much time would be needed for this unification and because unification was important as a means of achieving political freedom. This is why the unification was centered upon what the Macedonians called the Macedonian Bulgarians. The idea of national unification for the Macedonians albeit under a Bulgarian mask began in 1890. At the end of 1889 thirty to forty Macedonian students from Belgrade moved to Sofia. These students were the heart and soul of all that has happened in Macedonia from that time till the present day. They were well acquainted with Serbia and Bulgaria, with their cultures and their aspirations in Macedonia. They were also aware of the danger that would arise if Macedonia were to be partitioned between these two state’s, that is, of course, if the Macedonians did not take to arms themselves and by their own strength and with their own means win freedom and so prevent the partition.
It was upon their initiative that in the eighteen nineties a nationalist-separatist movement was first formed with the aim of divorcing Macedonian interests from those of Bulgaria by introducing a Macedonian tongue which would serve as the literary language of all Macedonians. The organ of this Macedonian separatist movement in Bulgaria was the magazine Loza (The Vine); the authorities in Bulgaria and Istanbul, however, did not look favorably upon this spiritual movement and banned further publication of the magazine.
They also began to persecute the Macedonian separatists. One of those who made his escape at this time was Dame Gruev, who was one of the Macedonian students who had moved from Belgrade to Sofia, and was also one of the separatists.
Since they could not find favorable ground for their national separatist activity in Bulgaria, the Macedonians who had moved from Belgrade to Sofia turned to organizing revolutionary bodies in Bulgaria and Macedonia. The celebrated Macedonian revolutionary separatists, such as Gotsк Delchev, were simply the pupils of the first generation of Macedonians who had studied in Serbia and Bulgaria. So, too, Sarafov arid the revolutionaries who followed were simply the successors and heirs of these first revolutionaries but not the founders of the revolutionary organization.
Right from the very start of the revolutionary organization the Macedonians who were living in Bulgaria or who had been educated there began working under a Bulgarian mask. First, because the majority of the population was called Bulgarian and secondly because in this way they could gain the support of the Bulgarian authorities, the Bulgarian people, and the Bulgarian church.
The game they were playing had both positive and negative results, amongst which we should mention: 1. That the Macedonians who protected the interests of their country through unification gradually became an extremely important factor, as is evidenced by the fact that while they were in apparent alliance with the Bulgarian people and their official representatives and working for Bulgarian interests in Macedonia they were in fact making use of the Bulgarian people, their official representatives and institutions to serve their own, Macedonian, aims and interests; 2. That the Macedonians who were in league with the Bulgarians in trying to settle the Macedonian question gradually became the masterminds behind this league in which the Bulgarians were most solicitous, even fiery, supporters convinced that they were fulfilling all the Macedonians’ requirements.
But the Macedonians then began to declare that what they wanted was a Macedonia for the Macedonians, an autonomous Macedonia, and not unification with Bulgaria. The Bulgarians received this undoubtedly distressing news with a “heavy heart”. The Macedonians comforted them, however, saying: wait a while let them give us autonomy, after a few years you will see that Macedonia will become another Bulgaria because most of the Macedonian intelligentsia have been educated in Bulgaria. They even assured the world at large that the fate of Eastern Rumelia would not be repeated in Macedonia because there were many nationalities in Macedonia, not just two or three, and that all these nationalities, including all the neighboring Balkan states great and small alike, might upset the attempt to unite Macedonia and Bulgaria. Finally they demanded to know what interest the Macedonians could gain from unification with Bulgaria when it would clearly be far more in the interest of the Bulgarians than of the Macedonians.
The Macedonians did not limit this two-sided game to the various promises they held out to Bulgaria and to Europe; they shifted the center of the revolutionary organization, together with all the national and political questions it entailed, to Macedonia in order to he free from the interference of the Bulgarian administrators in all their actions.
Amongst the revolutionary committees in Bulgaria they began to propagate the idea of complete separation of the interests of the Macedonians from those of the Bulgarians.
Sarafov began working energetically in conjunction with the committees which he represented. As Chairman of the Supreme Committee in Sofia, Sarafov was working in direct opposition to the Bulgarian administration; neither the Bulgarian government officials nor the Bulgarian Prince shared Sarafov’s opinion; in other words the committee which Sarafov led was submitting itself, over the Macedonian question, to a program which was up till then only political, which had been worked out beforehand, and on which those who had been invited to defend Bulgarian interests had not been actively involved while those who represented the masses, that is the Bulgarian people, had participated. Thus it is clear that the Bulgarians had swallowed the pill and that it was too late to rectify the mistake. The government did what it could to recover what had been lost – but in vain! It was too late.
The Supreme Committee in Sofia was placed under the presidency of General Tsonchev, a Bulgarian and favorite of the Prince. But the Macedonians in Bulgaria convinced the Bulgarian people of the justness of their program as far as it concerned the complete separation of Macedonian interests from those of Bulgaria; they unmasked he political leaders, the Prince and the “General’s Committee”, or the committee of Tsonchev-Mihailov, as self-seeking and so won for themselves greater power in Bulgaria than that held by the “General’s Committee” and the political leaders over the Macedonian question. This power was substantially aided by the solidarity of “Stanishev’s Supreme Committee” together with the “Internal Organization”.
Thus the committees, together with the Macedonians as a whole, shook themselves free from the influence of the Bulgarian leaders and set up their own independent plan of operation; this was publicized in Bulgaria and so the committee won influence amongst he Bulgarian people and, through them, over their leaders.
Once the Macedonian “job” had been thus settled in Bulgaria the Macedonians began to move into Serbia where they once again set out their program, this time to the Serbian leaders and the Serbian people. Sarafov, Rбdev, and Yankov assured the Serbs that they were fighting under the banner of Macedonia for the Macedonians, for all Macedonians regardless of differences, and that they would never unite Macedonia with Bulgaria. It is surely clear from these actions that the Macedonians had, through their leaders, decided to settle the fate of Macedonia themselves and that through their efforts they were prepared to make their interests conform to and harmonize with those of the other Balkan states, including Bulgaria, provided these states would agree to aid Macedonia in her designs.
Hence it is clear that the battle between Serbia and Bulgaria for influence over Macedonia led to the growing awareness that the fate of Macedonia should rest in the hands of the Macedonians. The Macedonians organized themselves around their motherland, their duty towards their country and their understanding of their rights. Through this organization it was the Macedonians themselves who became the chief factor in settling the Macedonian question, not only in their own eyes but also in the eyes of all Europe. Now that the uprising is over we are looked at with respect; before the uprising we were looked upon as a formless mass.
These are the results of our recent upsurge of self-awareness. By gradually separating Macedonian interests from those of Bulgaria, by taking the Macedonian question into their own hands, and, most of all, by launching the recent uprising the Organization has achieved the following result: contrary to its expectations many in Macedonia, instead of seeking freedom, are now convinced that we need to cut off our connections with all Balkan nations and that we should cultivate in Macedonia everything that is original and that belongs to us our language, our customs, our history, our literacy, our Slav nationality, etc.
This was not expected because it was felt that the name “Bulgarian” would bring us everything we had expected from the national movement. But we were deceived in our expectations: the name “Bulgarian” was not only not beneficial to Macedonian interests, it also had a negative effect on the revolutionary “work”. The name Bulgarian and the various assurances made to Europe and Bulgaria concerning the fate of Macedonia after its liberation gave rise to great mistrust towards our revolution, on the part of the peoples of Europe, who considered it a piece of cunning, not Macedonian but Bulgarian, a maneuver by the Bulgarian leaders to get the Macedonian question settled more quickly. The unfortunate Bulgarian leaders found themselves in a fix over the Macedonian question: the Macedonians had outmaneuvered them and used them for their own ends, and the Europeans were accusing them of cunning a cunning they could have little claim to possess. So the name “Bulgarian”, which the Committee and the Organization took over for the Macedonian Slavs, and the unification of our interests with those of Bulgaria in the agitation caused by the Committee in Bulgaria were among the reasons for attributing to Bulgaria the whole Macedonian question and the relations between Europe and Bulgaria, and for considering it as Bulgarian foreign policy which should not be accepted.
Furthermore, the name “Bulgarian” drove the Europeans to mistrust the work of the Organization and look upon it as an ambition on the part of the Bulgarians to upset the balance in the Balkans by revolution; moreover, the instability of Bulgarian foreign policy, which was constantly vacillating between pro- and anti-Russian, was one of the reasons why Russia agreed with Austria-Hungary to find a joint solution to the Balkan questions. This agreement was concluded in 1897 against Bulgaria as the agitating force behind the Macedonians, but the results of this agreement were harmful not to Bulgaria itself, for nobody had the right to interfere in Bulgaria’s internal affairs, but to us Macedonians. This is the negative side of the first period of out national self-awareness, and here lies the reason for the failure of our uprising. The failure, then, is basically focused around the name “Bulgarian” which the revolutionaries took over and publicized.
The revolution, however, does mark an epoch in the life and the growth of self-awareness of the Macedonian Slavs. It will make our people and our intellectuals look back upon those actions which brought about the unsuccessful uprising. It will force the Macedonian intelligentsia of all backgrounds to unite so that the people might be united, but not on the basis it formerly chose when it demonstrated its lack of tenacity; it will be on a new, purely Macedonian basis. The uprising has shown that we Macedonians cannot expect help from any of the Balkan states because the resolution of our question lies mainly in the hands of the Great Powers, and so we do not need to unite and join our interests with any of the Slav peoples in the Balkans. What is most essential for us is internal unity, mutual unity in Macedonia we do not need Serbs, Bulgarians or Greeks, for we are none of these; we do not need patriarchists, or exarchists because we are only Orthodox Christians. The partition has been artificially made by the Balkan states which intended to partition Macedonia according to the existing situation. But the Macedonians, at their present level of national development, are not merely material in the hands of the small Balkan states but a powerful ethnographic and political factor, and it is on them that the fate of Macedonia depends and not on the small Balkan states. These Macedonians who have shown such skill in their national-political organization, who have been so exemplary in sacrificing their interests to the interests of their motherland, will be no less successful in organizing all preventative measures against the nationalist and religious propaganda which today is splitting our people into hostile camps.
The Revolutionary Organization and the Macedonians have so far set the interests of the Macedonians far apart from those of the Bulgarians. It is only one step from this situation to complete separation from Bulgaria and to the proclamation of Macedonia as a special ethnographic region, separate from Bulgaria and Serbia. This step is the essential second phase in the failure of our recent uprising: it has already been half taken. Macedonia’s complete secession from the Balkan states in the ethnographic sense will come to the attention of the public once Macedonia settles down.
The intervention of the Bulgarians and Serbs in Macedonia was the result of various circumstances: the Macedonians had gone hand in hand with the Bulgarians as far as the Church was concerned, which explains why the power of the Exarchate had spread in Macedonia. Serbia became involved in Macedonia when she lost hope of incorporating Bosnia and Herzegovina into her territory.
But now new circumstances have arisen for us Macedonians as well, circumstances which will shake us and show us the new paths we should follow in the future. The pretensions of the Serbs and the Bulgarians, on the one hand, have shown us that the rivalry of these two states alone has been enough to condemn us to slavery for some time still to come; on the other hand, these pretensions of theirs have, in spite of this, assured us of a certain truth – that in all Macedonia there exists only one Slav nationality and not several.
So, the partition is artificial and in the battle against it we should first begin with completely new work on the further development of our national self-awareness.
Thus the terms Serb, Bulgarian, and Greek have served their time in Macedonia and there is no longer any place for them. It is time for them to be changed for a name common to all Macedonian Slavs, the name Macedonian. This exchange is simply the logical outcome of the work of the Macedonian Committees, the Organization, and the intelligentsia, and it is conditioned by new circumstances. This exchange has already been partially affected and the time is not far off when it will celebrate its full success.
In all that has been said above of the new trends in the development of our national self-awareness I have the impression that many of you will again find in my thoughts and words nothing but mystification. Some of you may ask: 1. If the Committees have so far been playing a double role – telling the Bulgarians that the Macedonians are Bulgarians and that Macedonia will one day be attached to Bulgaria, and telling the Europeans that they are seeking an autonomous Macedonia for the Macedonians only because they have no intention of uniting with the Bulgarians – how is it that I know the Committees are lying to the Bulgarians and not to Europe? This may be quite the contrary of what I said above about the Committees, i.e. that they are ready to give Europe every guarantee that Macedonia will not unite with Bulgaria and will never allow the Bulgarian language and the Bulgarian name to be used in Macedonia to the detriment of the central Macedonian dialect and the name Macedonian, in other words what I said – that there is only one step from the position held by the Macedonians and the Macedonian Committees concerning the Macedonian question with relation to Bulgaria to the complete secession of Macedonia and the Macedonians from Bulgarian national interests is not true, because it is not one step but a whole gulf which divides the one from the other, and the Committees will show the most powerful opposition to the new trends; 2. If it is accepted that the committees will not agree to using the Bulgarian language and the name Bulgarian in Macedonia, and if all Macedonian intellectuals who have been brought up as Bulgarians are to join them in opposing all new trends, where would the new trends in this case draw their strength from? Who is to be the theoretician of the new trend, where will the theoreticians develop their activity, what sort of auditorium will they have and where will it be, where will the finances be found for publicizing the new ideas, how will they get through to the people and how will they survive? Where will the money be found for new textbooks, who will prepare them and whose money will be used for running schools in Macedonian? It is clear that if the Committees and the Macedonian intelligentsia in Bulgaria begin to resist the new tends, or, if they do not resist, simply refuse to support them, nothing will be left of all this is the fantasy of a handful of Macedonians will be laughed to scorn, and that is all.
Is this, in effect, how matters stand? Let us now examine how well grounded these suppositions are.
First we must consider what attitude the Committees and the Macedonian intelligentsia will take towards the new national trend in Macedonia, a trend which demands not only the political but also the national and religious liberation of Macedonia; i.e. what will be their attitude towards a trend which has as its slogan Macedonia for the Macedonians and is set against all other rival ideologies in Macedonia, and against Bulgaria and the Bulgarians at the same time. Let us assume that this new trend is of no significance: if so, we must settle the question of our attitude towards it. If, from the point of view of the Committee, the new trend is undesirable and dangerous it should be rooted out from the very start; if it does not rest on sufficiently firm ground one may expect that it will die out of its own accord; but if it is in fact useful for Macedonia then the Macedonians should support it.
The question of whether this new trend has a future or not will be considered later when it will be seen that if left to itself and ignored it will develop on its own and not die out. So, if we accept that the new trend will develop on its own, we must now ask whether the Committees will fight against it or give it their support.
First we must ask whether the Committees, if they are to assess the situation logically, can declare war against the new trend? One might admit that such a war could be expected, for there are people in the Committees who are not just Macedonians but also Bulgarians, and the latter will never agree with the new trend because it would mean burying the interests of the Bulgarians in Macedonia; there are also Macedonian committee members who will reason as follows: now that we are old we cannot learn a new language Bulgarian is the language we know and we shall speak Bulgarian; we are Bulgarians.
This will be the feeling of the minority; the majority of the Macedonian emigrants in Bulgaria, however, will be opposed to the new trend for purely egoistic reasons. More than five thousand Macedonians hold government posts in Sofia alone, and the number of candidates for the civil service is no less. The majority of these Macedonian emigrant intellectuals have held, or will hold, high functions in the government or expect to be promoted to such positions – even to rise to the rank of cabinet ministers. It is well known that most of these gentlemen think above all of their own interests; the interests of Macedonia are simply a means of getting promotion in the civil service and of retaining office. And God alone knows what the interests of the Bulgarians mean. Furthermore, in order to carry out their egoistic designs and land themselves with a cushy job, they are prepared to show themselves greater Bulgarians than the Bulgarians themselves, they are ready to take on the role of Bulgarian chauvinists, to exploit the Bulgarian Prince, the interests of the Macedonians, the interests of the Bulgarian people and European public opinion; in short, to lie all round and to hide their lies behind the excuse that they are performing some patriotic duty while they are in fact bent on getting a good job and on winning power and popularity. The Macedonian intellectual emigrants are on the whole people of this sort who have set their own interests on the same plane as those of the Bulgarians and who flock round the Bulgarian Prince, who makes and breaks ministers as the mood takes him and who is capable of appointing ministers from among those people who not only have no popularity among the Bulgarians but also belong to no party, those who are “independent”, i.e. “who ride with the wind”. So, we have people who think that man’s basic dignity lies not in serving his own people honorably but in outwitting everyone, i.e. in telling lies all round. It is natural, then, that the new trend in the national self-awareness of the Macedonians will meet with no support amongst the Macedonian emigrants in Bulgaria.
There is no need to speak of Macedonians educated in Bulgaria: they will unanimously pronounce the new trend as absurd for, they will say, the Macedonian nation has never existed and does not exist now, and the Macedonians are Bulgarians, etc. This has always been the case everywhere, and so it will be in Macedonia. The educated, the aristocracy, the intelligentsia, and in general all classes of society with personal interests, traditions, and prejudices will fight against new trends which embody truth and justice.
These trends first take root in the lower classes and among people who are free from prejudice and who are ready to fight against prejudice to protect the new ideas which must be realized in order to ensure their happiness and the happiness of the people. As an illustration of the course and final outcome of the battle between the old and the new we need only recall the battle of Christianity against Jesuitism, the reforms in Russia introduced by Peter the Great, the rebirth of the Czechs and the Lithuanians, the language reforms of Vuk Karadzhich, etc.
Let us leave aside for the moment the battle between the old and the new trends in Macedonian national feeling; let us continue to consider the question of the Committee’s attitude towards the trend. A short while ago I said that most members of the Committee would be in favor of fighting against the new trend. But do you think that they will be victorious in this battle? No. They will simply be digging their own graves and, moreover, compromising Bulgarian policy in Macedonia. And this is why: Up till now the Committees have been assuring the world at large that they are working only for a Macedonia for the Macedonians and that they are ready to offer any guarantee that there will be no unification between Bulgaria and Macedonia. Bulgaria has been promulgating the same policy with regard to the Macedonian question. The Committees say that the general Macedonian uprising was planned and launched by all the Macedonian nations together and not just by the “Bulgarians”. But when you ask them how it could have been a general uprising of all the Macedonian nations and why the Committee had its headquarters in Bulgaria and not in Serbia, Wallachia, and other places they will answer that although the Committee did have its headquarters in Bulgaria one should not allow oneself to draw the wrong conclusion that the Macedonian Committees were Bulgarian; as far as the Macedonian Committees were concerned, Bulgaria was no more than a country which had offered hospitality to the Macedonians and had permitted them to work freely as long as their work did not cause harm to the country; i.e. in the Macedonian uprising Bulgaria simply played the role of Kara-Wallachia in the Bulgarian uprising. And the Bulgarians say the same.
The Europeans, of course, did not believe this. And now how false will these assurances of the Committee and of the Bulgarians seem if both of them – on account of their passive attitude towards a movement which demands Macedonia for the Macedonians and not for the Bulgarians, or because they have discounted the movement should join battle against it? This battle will remove the mask from both of them and will awaken the sympathy of European society and of the European leaders in favor of the new trend and against the deceivers. But without Europe and Russia neither the Committees nor the Bulgarians will be able to alter the fate of Macedonia by one jot.
One thing is certain: that the Committees, thanks to their disdainful and passive attitude towards the new trend, will have to do an about-turn and begin supporting it. And that is the answer to the question of what attitude the Committee will have towards the new movement.
Let us now pass on to the second question: where will this new movement draw its strength from if the Macedonian intelligentsia and the Committees in Bulgaria begin to oppose it? What forces and means can the new movement draw on? In order to answer this question we must give a brief outline of the role of Serbia in the Macedonian revival. It would be very shortsighted to neglect the attitude of Serbia towards the Macedonian question and to ignore the role it has played in the Macedonian national revival. One may even say that, in the recent history of Macedonia, Serbia has played a greater role than Bulgaria. When Bulgaria was making a great fuss about her intention to settle the Macedonian question, and while she was being led a merry dance by the Macedonian emigrants, Serbia kept quiet and went on working with great success in Macedonia, in true keeping with the saying: “still waters runs deep”. There were times when the roles of these two countries were reversed: Serbia fussed and Bulgaria worked, Let us be more precise: Up till the Serbian-Bulgarian war of 1885 the Bulgarians had been working quietly in Macedonia. Slivnitsa proved to Serbia that if Bulgaria, together with Eastern Rumelia, could defeat Serbia at Slivnitsa, the unification of Bulgaria with the subjugated Macedonia would in the future mean complete defeat and subjugation for Serbia. Slivnitsa forced Serbia to begin a new battle with Bulgaria for Macedonia. This battle was at first on paper: the Serbs began with thunderous empty phrases to claim that they had a greater right to Macedonia than the Bulgarians. From here they moved on to high-powered but unsuccessful propaganda in Macedonia, promising the Macedonians, the young students from the Bulgarian and Greek schools, golden hills in Serbia. After 1888 the patriotic St. Sava society opened a hail of residence for its scholarship holders. In 1889 the number of scholarship-holders increased, only to drop again a few months later; in November of this year about forty Macedonian students, some secretly, some publicly and openly, made a mass move from Belgrade to Sofia where they continued their schooling (with Bulgarian money, needless to say). This failure did not dishearten the courageous Serbs; the St. Sava society opened a patriotic subscription in Serbia for the construction of a new building for the society, which would serve as a hail of residence and school building. In 1890 a three-storied building was erected and in January 1891 the Theological Seminary College was opened, only to be shut half a year later. But during this half year the society of St. Sava kicked up quite a dust: in addition to the teaching of science, the curriculum included cadet parades and marches through the streets of Belgrade and the suburbs, as well as summer excursions through Serbia. All this involved much self-aggrandizement. This marked the end of the Serbs’ dust-raising and thereafter the Serbs began to work quietly and thoroughly: the propaganda passed on from the patriotic society to the Ministry of Forei
The work of the Serbs was not without result in settling the Macedonian question.
Through their schools in Macedonia the Serbs managed to bring the other Europeans and the Russians round to thinking that there was a Serb population in Macedonia. This illusion was even passed off as a tact to the leaders of the Great Powers. Hence it is clear that in settling the Macedonian question one must also bear in mind the demands of the Serbian rulers. Serbia, then, achieved more than Bulgaria in this battle because Bulgaria kicked up a fuss and found herself on the losing side. If the course of national self-awareness among the Macedonians had not taken a new turn, leveling the loses of the Serbs with those of the Bulgarians, one might have said with certainty that after the uprising the Bulgarian interests had been simply destroyed while those of Serbia had been advanced. But Serbian propaganda, in addition to the illusion it spread concerning the Serbs in Macedonia and the endeavor to prevent the Macedonian question being settled in Bulgaria’s favor, had further results.
In their propaganda campaign the Serbs had no intention of trying to turn the Macedonians into Serbs; they wanted simply to get as much out of Macedonia as they could when the time came for the Macedonian question to be settled. They attempted to achieve this aim first of all by stressing historical and other rights and then by giving a different slant to the question of the nationality of the Macedonian Slavs. These Slavs had to be regarded either as a kind of mean between the Bulgarians and the Serbs, i.e. as neither Serb nor Bulgarian but simply Macedonian or Macedonian Slav, or else as Serbs. The first theory attracted fewer supporters and was set aside to be presented to European public opinion.
But the way into Macedonia was closed to the protagonists of this theory and also to all those places from whence the propagandists came. This theory was dangerous for Serbian interests in Macedonia because it would have entailed Serbia’s agreement to the formation of a separate Macedonian state, and so Serbia would not have been able to get even a part of it.
The second theory, i.e. that all Macedonian Slavs are Serbs, just like the Bosnians, Montenegrins, and others, had its roots in Serbia. The Serbs used this theory to deceive not only European public opinion and the Macedonians, but also themselves: they began to spread the same idea among their own people through their schools and books. These schools and books were tendentious as far as the nationality of the Macedonians was concerned. The illusion which the Serbs spread in Europe concerning their interests was not unfruitful; nor was the illusion that had been spread amongst the Serbs themselves entirely without effect: if war was to break out over Macedonia, no matter with whom, the Serbs would present a united front to the enemy the Serbian army would fight with the strongest feelings of patriotism for Macedonia.
The Serbian efforts to have the Macedonian question properly studied were crowned with success. The Bulgarians could console themselves that the question of the nationality of the Macedonians had been settled in their favor. They could consider it settled. But the scholars are not all in accord with this. There are several, such as Prof. J. A. Baudouin de Courtenay, P. A. Lavrov and V. Jagich who consider the Macedonian dialects as special forms of the Slav family of languages. This study and this conclusion mark a victory for the Serbs.
The Serbs brought about a reversal in both the aspirations and the ideas of the Macedonians, a reversal which was not even to their own advantage and far less to that of the Bulgarians. They wanted to turn the Macedonians into Serbs by insisting that in all forms of propaganda and publicity they should be referred to exclusively as “real, true” Serbs. This, however, did not happen. The Macedonians began to delve more deeply into the question of their nationality and their interests and reached the conclusion that they were neither Serbs nor Bulgarians, that the only interests that mattered to them were those of Macedonia, and that they had nothing to do with Serbian, Bulgarian or Greek interests. The Serbs did not manage to fulfill all their aspirations but they did reach a point from which it would have been very hard to go back; they also managed to pacify the less intractable elements among the Serbian people.
The influence of Serbia on the development of Macedonian self-awareness and the results of this influence may be seen from the following: In 1899 there were between fifty and sixty young Macedonians staying at the hostel of the St. Sava Society in Kosmajska Street, Belgrade. And among them there were even “old Serbs”, although they were all exclusively from Macedonia and were divided on the grounds of their education, right up till their arrival in Serbia, into “Bulgarophiles” and “Hellenophiles”; there were no “Serbophiles” among them.
The old “Bulgarophiles”, together with the new arrivals that year and a number of “Hellenophiles” (between thirty and forty altogether), set off for Bulgaria, some secretly, some openly and demonstratively. These young Macedonians, educated in Serbia in the national spirit, i.e. to love first their country and their people, and then mankind, set off for a country where was no national self-awareness, where there was simply there complete indifference towards national interests, bringing with them a new wave of national enthusiasm, a will to work for the liberation of Macedonia. It was they who were the initiators in Bulgaria of the work that was to be carried out on behalf of Macedonia.
The “Hellenophiles” in Belgrade gradually increased their numbers over the years as they were joined by new “Hellenophiles” or “Bulgarophiles”, but both these groups, while living in the interior of Serbia, found it extremely hard to turn themselves into “Serbophiles”. It was only those who had been sent as off officials to Macedonia, as part of the Serbian propaganda program, that managed to become “Serbophiles”. But these Macedonians were “Serbophiles” only for the sake of outward appearances and for those who represented rival propaganda programs in Macedonia; these disseminators of Serbian propaganda never felt themselves to be spiritually “Serbian” or “Serbophile”, particularly during the first ten years, although they were living in Serbia.
The life of the young Macedonians in Serbia had always been beneficial for the interests of Macedonia. While in Serbia the Young Macedonians began to take up the question of their nationality with Serbian philologists, to examine the historical arguments concerning their nationality, to discuss Serbian patriotism, and, in its extreme form, chauvinism or the blind preference of things Serbian to anything foreign, to question the reasons for Serbian chauvinism, to consider the role of Serbia, past and present, in relation to the Macedonian question, and to discuss many other important and interesting matters.
From past experience they were able to judge clearly how Serbia had been promoting her own interests in Macedonia; but the Macedonians now also learnt that Serbia was a state with military and diplomatic power, and that the Serbs were a people who would defend their own interests in Macedonia by both exemplary devotion and extreme fanaticism.
The battle being waged against Serbian interests in Macedonia was no less exacting for liberated Bulgaria than for the Macedonians, who had no state, no national budget, no army and no diplomatic corps, and so the Macedonians in Serbia gave up the idea of open conflict with the Serbs though this did not mean that they renounced the interests of their motherland. After the flight of the first group of Macedonian students in 1889 there were constant escapes right up to 1895/96; occasionally these were small groups of five or six but sometimes they fled alone or in twos. Nevertheless most of the Macedonians stayed in Serbia and strove to find a way of working for the interests of Macedonia without entering into open conflict with the Serbs.
In order to work out this program the Macedonian students in Belgrade in 1893/94, while subject to the supervision of the Head of the Men’s College, Djuro Milijashevich, decided to found a Macedonian Society in Belgrade. The aim of this society was to acquaint its members with a program, which was yet to be worked out, but which would be carried out in Macedonia without the knowledge of the Serbs. The explicit aims of this program were to study Macedonian ethnography, geography, philology and history.
This Society, of course, came to nothing because the Serbs showed no trust in the Macedonians and began to fill up the society with “old Serbs”, i.e. Montenegrins, Bosnians, Herzegovinians, etc. This lack of confidence on the part of the Serbs, followed by the attempt to fill the Society with non-Macedonian “Serbs”, was particularly evident in the second year of the Society’s life, when Professor Jarishich was in charge of the College. But although the Society was practically disbanded, the feelings and aspirations of the Macedonians in Serbia did not alter. The Macedonians began to be drawn towards the Revolutionary Organization, which had been set up by those with Bulgarian and Serbian educational backgrounds; thus they also accepted the attitude of the Serbs towards this Organization. They took up a stand over Serbia’s role in connection with the Macedonian question, both in the past and the future, because they had the honor of being the instigators of national separatism amongst the Macedonians. They were, in fact, the main supporters of this separatism and amongst them were people with a strong sense of patriotism and a sound understanding of Macedonian national interests.
These Macedonians gave open expression to their beliefs concerning the Macedonian question through a paper, the Balkanski Glasnik, which began to appear in Belgrade in 1902. The publication of this paper could not have pleased the Serbian chauvinists, and the Serbian newspapers began to react to it, criticizing the editor for collaborating with the Macedonian revolutionary Committees; as a result the editor was expelled from Serbia.
Such were the effects of Serbian propaganda on the students and fledgling administrators who had been born in Macedonia. As far as the nationality of the Macedonians was concerned, the Serbs stuck to the second of the two theories mentioned, i.e. that the Macedonians were in fact Serbs, and it was precisely because of this that they achieved the opposite effect to the one they had intended: the Serbs had hoped to persuade the Macedonians to serve Serbian interests, i.e. to consider themselves Serbs and to present themselves as Serbs to their fellow countrymen. But instead of doing so, the Macedonians began to consider themselves Macedonian, with their own special aims; and they wanted to bend Serbian policy to enable them to achieve purely Macedonian aims instead of having to serve as instruments in the hands of the Serbs.
There was not a single Macedonian with a Serbian education, especially if he had lived in Serbia, who believed the Serbs when they said that he was a Serb. Indeed, most of them began to hate the Serbs for their chauvinism, and did all they could to pull the wool over their eyes in order to achieve their aim – acquiring an education. After leaving school some of them may have gone on to become officials in the Serbian propaganda system but at the same time they hated the Serbs and cursed their fate for having to pay lip-service to a propaganda which was aimed directly against the interests of their fatherland – Macedonia. This kind of Macedonian had usually attended a Greek or Bulgarian school, or both, before entering the Serbian school, and he could well remember how they had constantly tried to convince him at his previous school that he was Greek or Bulgarian; now they tried convince him that he was a Serb. The question he now had to ask was where the truth lay, for all sides had been ready with their persuasive arguments. Counterargument did not help the Macedonian to work out which of the persuasions was correct and so he began realize that they were all false and that there was only one incontrovertible truth: that the Macedonian Slavs were Macedonians and Slavs, and so each Macedonian was bound to consider the interests of his country and his people, and not those of the nations who were trying to spread their propaganda.
Let us consider another type of Macedonian educated under the Serbs: he may still consider himself a Bulgarian even after spending four or five years in Serbia. After completing his schooling in Serbia, where should he go – to Bulgaria or to Macedonia? What would he do in either Bulgaria or Macedonia? Bulgaria and the Bulgarian church in Macedonia have more officials than they need, but even if there were any openings they would not be given to anyone who had finished his schooling in Serbia; a vacant post would be given to some other candidate. Now, even if we concede that he might be given a post in the Bulgarian government service, can we be sure that he would feel at home there? No.
During the time he spent in Serbia he was influenced by numerous circumstances which did not exist in Bulgaria and so his view of the world would differ greatly from that of someone educated in Bulgaria where he would not have been subjected to foreign thoughts and prejudices; in these new social surroundings he would be least likely to feel at home.
Thus Serbia, by interfering in the Macedonian question, achieved great success and we should admit that we are fortunate that this success is more to our advantage than to Serbia’s. Serbia opened schools, set up consulates, and appointed Firmilyan, so giving a new turn to the Macedonian question. Serbia deluded public opinion in Europe into thinking that there were Serbs in Macedonia and this delusion passed for fact in Europe. Serbia put a stop to any further consideration of the question of the Macedonians’ nationality and any resolution of the problem in favor not of Bulgaria or Serbia but of Macedonia as a separate nation. Serbia educated a whole generation of Macedonians who had, still have, and will have a decisive effect on Macedonian history. Those people, educated by the Serbs, have played an important role in the Macedonian question, paying scant regard to whether they were labeled Bulgarian, Serb or Macedonian and making no distinction between those who had a high sense of morals and those who did not. Those educated by the Serbs belonged to all possible categories and in all of them the Serbian influence proved beneficial for Macedonia.
Those who were treated as Bulgarians (or considered themselves Bulgarian), who founded and supported the Macedonian revolutionary movement, deserve credit for achieving separatism. It is the idealists working under Serbian guise, while remaining at heart Macedonian, who are to be credited for bringing about national separatism; those who were educated in Serbia were brought up in the active national spirit instead of in the mood of national indifference which prevailed in Bulgaria, although some of them did not fully agree to calling themselves Bulgarians; but a vast gap developed between them, between the Macedonians who had been educated in the pure Bulgarian tradition, and the Bulgarians themselves. On account of their education they held a middle position between the Bulgarians and the Serbs; this means that by tradition they considered themselves Bulgarian although in their hearts they had ceased to be Bulgarians and felt themselves to be Macedonian. And last of all, the lowest and most wretched cogs in the Serbian propaganda wheel, those who were born in Macedonia, were also of service to their country because they formed the class of those who were dissatisfied with Serbian propaganda, those for whom there was no path towards the Bulgarians; and they were to enlarge the class of national separatists.
So, if we are deluded in assuming that national separatism can be supported by the Revolutionary Committee, by the Organization, and by the Macedonian expatriate colony in Bulgaria, it would still be sufficient to have a powerful Serbian propaganda drive in Macedonia for national separatism to reach the highest peak.
Fortunately, however, the new trend has been warmly received and will continue to be warmly received by the most intelligent and uncorrupted amongst the Macedonian intellectuals thanks to their natural mental development. There are many Macedonian intellectuals, and there will be more, who are ready to give their lives for their country and their people and who will ask themselves: what is most important for Macedonia the interests of the Bulgarians, the Serbs, the Greeks, or the Macedonians? And their answer will be that the interests of their country always come before general national interests, that general national interests are simply a means towards the realization of the interests of the country and that the reverse is not true. One does not need to reflect deeply to realize the truth of this. First and foremost, everybody knows that we love our country, Macedonia, and our people; we are constantly thinking about Macedonia and we feel that this is the country to which we belong. Ever since our childhood we have felt that whatever is dear to others is dear to us as well; whatever gives pleasure to other people gives pleasure to us as well they weep, so do we, they laugh, so do we. It is this universal happiness and sorrow, together with the customs and habits we share, that makes us one nation, one whole. But if we cross the borders of Macedonia to the northeast, to the south or to the north, that is to Bulgaria, to Greece or to Serbia, we will immediately feel that a different wind is blowing; we will feel that we are uninvited guests and if they want to make it seem that we are brothers they will do so in order to mislead us and expose us to exploitation by the Greeks, Bulgarians or Serbs. All our neighbors are constantly assuring us that we are of their nationality and that our only hope of salvation lies in uniting the whole of Macedonia, or at least the greater part of it, with their countries. We will all realize that these people, of whom we have learnt only from books and whom we have grown to look upon as people willing to help us win our freedom, will approach us as friends and fellow-countrymen and will, to all appearances, be our protectors, not because we are Greeks or Bulgarians or Serbs, and not because they are concerned with any universal human interests which include us as well, and not because they wish to help us and rescue us from peril, but because they have purely egoistic aims which lead them to exploit the fact that we use their names to describe ourselves. They use this fact – that the people of Macedonia are described variously as Serbs, Greeks, and Bulgarians – as an excuse for expanding their states and securing their interests by taking over, if not all, at least the greater part of Macedonia. Does this not prove that the small states by pursuing universal aims also pursue inhuman aims which are not directed towards the liberation of the subjugated nations but are in fact a purely material egoistic expansion of their own interests in which no thought is given to whether the fa
National separatism, then, will find the places and the people that will look on things from the practical point of view without bothering much about the theory of our nationality.
They will reason as follows: if Canada can anger England because it has sacrificed the interests of Canada to the United States in order to maintain good relations with North America, and if Canada now wishes to break free from England and defend her own state interests because she understands them best, why should Macedonia not anger Bulgaria when the Bulgarians not only cannot protect Macedonian interests but even exploit them? And why should Macedonia not be able to say: we have spilt the blood of our sons and they should defend only our interests and not those of Nachovich, Tsakov and Stanchev.
Many will, moreover, remark that the small states re distrustful towards the role of Bulgaria in Macedonia just as the Great Powers were distrustful of the role of Russia in the liberation of Bulgaria; they were afraid of a San Stefano Bulgaria because they thought Russia would take it over. So, too, the small states now think that Bulgaria wants to liberate Macedonia in order to occupy it and take it over. But when the Western countries realized that they had been deceived and that Bulgaria was producing people such as the late Stambolov, such as Svircho, they calmed down and began to blame Russia for what they themselves had ruined in Berlin. Will there not be people in Macedonia as well who will come to realize that the trust of the small states with regard to Macedonia will depend an our Stamblovs and Svirchevs or on those who will see the danger to our interests in Bulgaria and not in Russia? One should have more faith in the possibility of finding such people – and they will be the extreme separatists.
Finally, many will point out that our greatest misfortune lies in the fact that we have no local Macedonian patriotism. If there were patriotism in Macedonia, no matter where, we would think and work only or Macedonia. But now some of us still consider ourselves Bulgarian and link our interests with those of Bulgaria instead of studying our own country, Macedonia, in all its aspects; for, instead of studying the history of Macedonia from all times, we study Bulgarian interests and Bulgarian history and often these periods have nothing to do with Macedonia. So, for example, Mr. Balasachev, who was born in Ohrid, instead of making a special study of the history arid interests of Macedonia, began to take up the study of Bulgarian interests and Bulgarian history, which has the same meaning for Macedonia as the history of Abyssinia up to the time when the Abyssinians were Christianized. Other Macedonians in Greece have studied Greek interests and Greek history. Yet another Macedonian from Ohrid, Dimitsa, ranges over Greece and for him the history of Macedonia is of importance only up to the time when it was conquered by the Romans. The other Macedonians in Serbia put on a show of Serbian patriotism and work not for Macedonian but for Serbian interests, A rich fur-trader called Kosta Shumenkowich, for example, left 500,000 francs after his death to Serbian school. These wretched instances of what happens when we ally our interests with those of others should suffice to convince most people that our salvation lays only in national and religious separatism.
The driving force 61 the new movement will lie in people who hold such convictions and, indeed, in all Macedonians who are dissatisfied with the foreign propaganda work in their country. But this is how it will be only in the beginning; later the number of supporters, open and secret, will increase not just from day to day but even from hour to hour. It is clear that as there is a Bulgarian propaganda movement in Macedonia we shall also have to put up with Serbian propaganda. Both propaganda movements are being supported by Bulgarian and Serbian money. Up till the time of the uprising the number of those who disapproved of Serbian propaganda was far greater; after the uprising people in Macedonia turned against Serbian arid Bulgarian propaganda alike. But even if this were not the case, Serbian propaganda alone would be sufficient to set up the necessary counter-reaction which would precede the new movement. All Macedonians who were involved in Serbian propaganda would be in favor of the new movement: the organs of propaganda would work in secret and the unpaid Serbs would publicly acknowledge their Macedonian nationality.
Finally, many Macedonian Slavs educated in the Greek tradition will count themselves as Slavs. At present they will not do so because they are supposed to call themselves Bulgarians, and the name Bulgarian has considerably dropped in status in Greece.
Thus all Macedonians are ready on their part to do what they can to unite and form a national whole, but not one of the supporters of the three forms of national propaganda will give up the side he supports and capitulate before the others. The national unification of the Macedonians can be brought about only by mutual compromise and not by capitulation; and this compromise is the new Macedonian national movement.
Hence it is clear that even if the new movement does not receive any support from the numerous Macedonian intellectuals living in the Bulgarian colony it will still progress, but it will then develop along lines directed specifically against Bulgarian interests in Macedonia.
If this new movement were to take on massive proportions and if strong opposition were shown by Bulgaria one might expect support from the Serbs. Even if it should turn out to be dangerous and unreal for Serbia it would still not run counter to Serbian interests. What matters for Serbia is that if Macedonia cannot be Serbian it should not be Bulgarian either. It has been seen for once and for all that Macedonia can never be Serbian the Serbs have had to desist from claiming that Macedonians are really Serbs and must now recognize them as a Slav race in their own right, equally close to both Bulgarians and Serbs.
Thus the Macedonian National Revival Movement is developing as a historical process with a firm foundation and a great future; it is basically the result of the competition between Bulgaria and Serbia over the Macedonian question. The revolutionary political organizations and the policy of political separatism which they are pursuing represent a transition stage in the movement towards completely divorcing Macedonian interests from those of Bulgaria and Serbia, i.e. towards national separatism. The increasing rivalry between Bulgarian and Serbian propagandists and the number of people dissatisfied with this propaganda will prove to be the main factor behind the growing support for national separatism. National separatism will also attract those who are now coming to appreciate the true implications of the various forms of national and religious propaganda in Macedonia, those who claim to be defending our interests while they are in fact blatantly exploiting them and who will, in the end, come round to fighting for the national unification of the Macedonians against all these forms of propaganda. The battle will be dangerous, not for those who support national unification but for their opponents. It is the supporters of national unification who will triumph and their triumph will be all the greater because the reforms in Macedonia will give Macedonia the opportunity to free itself from foreign influence and to transfer the core of the revival movement inside the borders of Macedonia.