What we have already done and what we ought to do in the future?
The long-planned and long-awaited Uprising has finally been launched. Our people have shown all their heroism and all their readiness to sacrifice themselves in the interests of the country. The battle has been, and still is, desperate. All Europe is watching us. The newspapers are filled with reports of the Uprising. And, along with the news of the fighting between the rebel detachments and the Turks, reports are coming in of Turkish cruelty towards ordinary civilians. The people of Europe, shaken and horrified by these reports, are bringing all their influence to bear upon their governments, urging them to do something to put an end to this slaughter of civilians and to come to the aid of the unfortunate people of Macedonia. The Bishop of Worcester held a service in Birmingham at which he prayed for the Macedonian Christians to be spared. The Archbishop of Canterbury approached the Prime Minister, Mr. Balfour, in the name of the Anglican Church asking him to send aid to Macedonia. The people of Europe have begun to collect money to help the stricken Macedonians. The German Emperor’s travels have taken on a political significance, partly because of affairs in Macedonia. Turkey seems to be finding itself in a tight spot and has proposed to Bulgaria that they should reach an agreement on the Macedonian question. Many governments have made of official declarations concerning the position in Macedonia. Telegraph messages have been sent from Istanbul to many European newspapers (Standard) saying that the French and British fleets have received orders to remain close to Macedonian waters. The same sources also announce that War between Turkey and Bulgaria is unavoidable. News comes from Sofia that the Bulgarian Minister of Defense has agreed to let officers from several European and American states join the Bulgarian army. What do these facts tell us? Do they show that the Movement has: achieved its: end? Can the leaders of the Movement congratulate themselves on their success? Have not all the sacrifices for the liberation been in vain?
Some people, perhaps the majority, will say that it is still too early to evaluate the results of the Uprising. The Revolutionary Committee and the rebel detachments have still to face their main task. So far not even half, not even quarter of the plan drawn up by the Committee and the General Staff has been carried out. Yes. There are always different points of view to every question. This case is no exception.
I shall have absolutely no compunction in saying that I regard this present movement as a complete fiasco. What little has been achieved over and above the more progressive Austro-Russian reform projects is surely no justification for the hundred thousand people left homeless, the three to five thousand human casualties and the utter demoralization of the inhabitants of Macedonia – it would not even be a justification for the loss of a hundred lives. What has been gained might have been gained without a drop of blood being spilt. Judging by the results that will follow this Uprising one may say that it is one of the greatest, if not the greatest of all misfortunes to befall our people. It is not too early to foresee the outcome and the end of our Uprising. The consequences might have been foreseen even before it began. Even at the time of the Russian February Report it was clear that Europe would not completely satisfy the Revolutionary Committee’s demands. These demands could not be satisfied without going to war against Turkey; only through pressure could the Turks be forced to meet our requirements. But neither the Bulgarians nor we could bring pressure to bear on Turkey; it would have to be either the Great Powers or a united force of Macedonians, Bulgarians, Serbs and Montenegrins, with the other states remaining neutral.
Under the conditions prevailing at that time, however, neither solution was possible. The Committee, I feel, should have known this. And it did. But the leaders thought differently; they saw, in the future, and in the present reality, only what it pleased them to see. “We want no other country to fight for us,” they said, “they can only send their fleets to Salonica and press Turkey to grant us the reforms. We would like them to do with Macedonia what they did with Crete.” More than once we have discussed the fact that there are differences between Crete and Macedonia, for there are countries that are interested in maintaining the status quo and will do everything to avoid intervening to our advantage. And even if there were to be intervention, are there any grounds for believing that this intervention would really be to our advantage and not to our disadvantage? It has been shown that the present moment is most inauspicious for an uprising; but our leaders closed their eyes to the truth and the uprising was launched. It was launched in glory only to end in tears and sorrow. I was not the only one who felt that the uprising had been started prematurely. Many others shared this opinion, but nobody spoke out against the uprising. The Committee’s behavior was criticized in Macedonian circles. But this criticism was ineffectual and even dangerous, not only for those who were criticized but also for those who did the criticizing: the Committee was all-powerful, the life and death of all citizens lay in its hands and it would stand for no criticism of its actions. Those who were not for the Committee were against it; they were its enemies and they had to be destroyed. The Committee could be criticized only by another committee, which wielded some power. But it was already late to form a counter-committee, and pointless too, because this would simply give rise to a battle in which the committees would attempt to destroy each other. So the Uprising began, counter to all the dictates of reason. It did have results, but not those, which were expected. Of all the reactions to the liberation movement, that which is most worthy of attention is the Russian Pravitelstvenoe Soobshchenie (The Government Announcement) of 11 th of September, then the petition of the Austro-Hungarian delegate to the Grande Porte and to Sofia, and the letter from the English Prime Minister, Balfour, to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Pravitelstvenoe Soobshchenie declares that the Russian government demands reforms for Macedonia, that is, the reforms which were worked out in February by Zinoviev and Kaliche, and that these reforms are only an initial move and are subject to expansion accor-ding to the needs of the people. This was also the position expressed in the February Pravitelstvenoe Soobshchenie, but does it not indicate that we could gain wider reforms than those we have already been given, and that we could gain them through short sharp popular movements, without any revolution? If this is the case, then the present uprising has not changed
But there is another extremely important statement in the Pravitelstvenoe Soobshchenie: the revolutionary committees; according to a statement made by the Russian government, want to create a Bulgarian Macedonia, but Russia, who is closely concerned, with the interests of the other Christian nationalities in Macedonia, does not wish to sacrifice their interests to the Bulgarians.
Has the meaning of these words been understood in Bulgaria? Or in Macedonia? Have we, too, finally understood? Russia openly tells us what she is doing, because she could not behave differently. Is Russia right in the claims she makes? Could she take a different approach? If we were to put ourselves in the position of the Russian government, we would not be able to take a different approach either.
Up to 1878 everybody, including the Russian government, claimed that the Macedonians were Bulgarians. After the Berlin Treaty the Serbs began to lay claim to Macedonia. Over the last twenty-five years; and particularly during the last twenty, the Serbs have succeeded, if not in turning the Macedonians into Serbs, at least in convincing Europe that there are Serbs in Macedonia. Although the villagers may still speak as they did in the past – for all over Macedonia only one Slav language was used – in the towns Serbian schools can be found alongside the Bulgarian boys’ and girls’ elementary and grammar schools. Some villages have Serbian schools and some have Bulgarian schools. Some villagers, along with their teachers and priests, recognize the Patriarchate and come under the protection of the Serbian or Greek consul, while others recognize the Bulgarian Exarchate and place themselves under the authority of the Bulgarian trade representatives.
These are all facts for diplomats who should be reckoning with reality and not with theories concerning the nationality of the Macedonians. Politics has nothing to do with science, and even if it had, could one claim that it had been established beyond any shadow of doubt that the Macedonians are Bulgarians? Up to the time of the Russo-Turkish War there existed only one theory concerning our nationality. Now there are two. And a third is making its way in: that the Macedonians are something in between Serbs and Bulgarians. The supporters of this theory, however, are divided into:
1. those who claim that the Macedonians are far away from both the Serbs and the Bulgarians;
2. those who claim that they are closer to the Serbs;
3. those who claim they are closer to the Bulgarians (because one part is closer to the Serbs and the other to the Bulgarians). It is of no importance to the diplomats where the truth lies.
What matters is that the Serbs have an ethnographic interest equal to that of the Bulgarians and the Greeks in the Macedonian question. Furthermore, Serbia is by no means less interested politically than they are in the fate of Macedonia. In fact, this is of even greater importance for Serbia than it is for Bulgaria, because Bulgaria also has an outlet to the Aegean Sea through Kavala and Dede-Agach.
If this is so, can we really be surprised at the attitude of the Russian government concerning the Macedonian question or its declaration that Russia would not help the Committee if it meant the creation of a Bulgarian Macedonia? Some of us may naпvely remark that: “the Committee does not want to make Macedonia Bulgarian; it seeks justice for all Macedonians, regardless of faith or nationality.”
How could the Committee prove that this is what it is working for? This cannot be proved by words alone. The very behavior of the Committee itself contradicts these assertions. If a revolution is to be started in the interests of all the nationalities living in Macedonia, then the Committee must be formed from the representatives of all the nationalities living in Macedonia. One cannot help asking who gave the Committee the right to act in the name of all Macedonians and on their behalf?
The Committee could have worked both in the name of and on behalf of a large section of the Macedonians, i.e. the most powerful nationalities. But much proof would be needed to show that the Committee’s work is not bound up with the interests of the neighboring states and nationalities, that it is, in fact, opposed to these interests, and that its work is of benefit not only to the ruling nationalities but also to all the others. No such proof exists. The Organization has close links with Bulgaria. It was in Bulgaria that the movement of the Organization first made itself heard. This showed who was most interested in the Macedonian movement and this was why they shifted its center to Macedonia, making a number of other moves to show that the misunderstandings were internal and that they were the outcome of a self-generative phenomenon. But who was deceived by this maneuver? Is it not perfectly clear that the misunderstanding was in fact closely bound up with Bulgaria, with Bulgaria’s name and Bulgaria’s money?
Most of those, you may say, who sacrificed themselves for the liberation movement belonged to the people. This is true, but one should not forget that most of the organizers of the movement were officials of the Exarchate. It is self-evident, then, that by taking part in the work of the revolution they were acting at variance with the interests of the Exarchate; yet for all this they were still Bulgarian officials. Thus the Revolutionary Committee was, both by origin and by constitution, a purely Macedonian organization; in its work, however, it represented only a part of one of the nationalities in Macedonia, linked in name, and in church and school matters, to the people of Bulgaria, their country and their interests. Although this Committee was essentially Macedonian, for the outer world and for the Macedonian Christians who did not belong to the Exarchate, it was a Bulgarian Committee. The Committee could not prove to the outer world, or even to the Macedonians who did not belong to the Exarchate, that it was not Bulgarian. Through his Mouvement Macйdonien* Radev hoped to convince Europe that the movement was purely Macedonian and that it had nothing in common with Bulgaria. Pravo and other Macedonian and Bulgarian papers wished o prove the same point. But did they achieve their aim? No. The late Rostkovski** 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!” And what sort of effect was made on the diplomatic world by the announcements made in the newspapers by the Committee and the Bulgarians concerning the Macedonian question! It should also not be forgotten that the European newspapers, when writing of the clashes between the rebel detachments and the Turks, referred to the detachments as “bands”, Bulgarian bands what’s more, and not Macedonian. And when speaking of the rebel losses they did not say “so many Macedonians were killed” but “so many Bulgarians.”
One asks, then, who was persuaded by papers such as the Mouvement Macйdonien, 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. The Committee did perhaps succeed within Macedonia in being accepted as Macedonian, but in Europe it did not gain this recognition, or only to a very small extent. The Revolution should be the concern of all. Macedonians, or at least most of them, if it is to be called a general revolution. All the nationalities – or several of them at least – should be represented in the Committee itself. The intelligentsia of these nationalities should offer one another a helping hand and do their best to popularize the idea of the revolution in their region. But what actually happened? Not only were the intelligentsia of all the nationalities, or the greater part of them, not represented on the Committee, not even the intelligentsia of the most powerful Macedonian nationality – the Slavs – were fully represented, for the Serbophile and Hellenophile Macedonian Slav intelligentsia were left out of the Committee, and their attitude was hostile. So, in the towns and villages attached to the Patriarchate, or in certain parts of the towns and villages, the Committee was an uninvited guest. The Patriarchate Slavs could have felt sympathetic towards it, but, since their intelligentsia were opposed to the Committee, the villagers themselves undoubtedly felt very little sympathy, and what sympathy they did feel was mixed up with a lack of conviction in the promises of the Committee. This ill-defined feeling was accompanied by a sense of fear.
The villagers were caught between two fires: the army, and the rebel detachments. When a movement is spread by conviction in one place and by force in another, can it be called a general movement? We can call the Uprising whatever we like, but in fact it was only a partial movement. It was, and still is, an affair of the Exarchists: that is, a Bulgarian ploy to settle the Macedonian question to its own advantage by creating a Bulgarian Macedonia. Perhaps it is still not clear whether Macedonia will really become Bulgarian if the Committee has its way? I shall try to explain more clearly how the reforms might lead to the Bulgarization of Macedonia.
If one asks which will be the official language, the answer is – the language of the majority. Which majority? That remains to be seen.
The question goes no further. Nobody asks how this majority will be discovered. Let us assume for the moment that somewhere around the time of St. Demetrius’ Day an international brigade comes and occupies the land. Amongst other things, this division must also settle the question of the official language; but let us leave aside the question of the official language and ask what will happen to language in the schools.
For some people this is a very easy question: several official languages will be recognized, i.e. Turkish, Bulgarian, Serbian, Greek, Romanian and Albanian, depending on the nationality of the population in the various regions. They will also mention what happened in Eastern Rumelia (South Bulgaria), where one can also find Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians, Turks, Vlachs and Albanians. Some will also mention that Eastern Rumelia was also described as a region where Greeks lived, but after the liberation it became clear how many Greeks there really were. In other words, place the government in the hands of the Macedonians – and this is understood to mean give it to those who are called Bulgarians – and after a few years you will see that there will be no more left of the other nationalities in Macedonia than remained of the Greeks in Eastern Rumelia after it was liberated. So, all of Macedonia will become Bulgarian.
Is it not, then, clear that Bulgaria and the Revolutionary Committee want to create a Bulgarian Macedonia to the detriment of the other Christian nationalities of Macedonia? But why should Macedonia become Bulgarian and not Serbian? It will become Bulgarian because that is the way it is; if there were more Serbs in Macedonia it would become Serbian and the Bulgarian element would grow weaker. This is all very straightforward and correct from the Bulgarian point of view. But it should not be forgotten that there are many other attitudes to the Macedonian question, such as those of the Serbs, Greeks, Vlachs, Russians, Slovenes and Austrians, and many of the countries in Western Europe. If this is the case, which section of the population should be accepted by our theoretical occupying force?
No doubt this international brigade will have no difficulty in settling the question of the language to be used in schools, in local administration and in those places where there are Greek-speaking Patriarchists, Albanian Muslims and Catholics, and Turkish Muslims. It will be more difficult, however, to settle the question in areas where there are
1. Orthodox Albanians,
2. Orthodox Vlachs,
3. Orthodox Slavs,
4. Slav Muslims and
5. Exarchate Slavs.
In their efforts to have greater importance given to the Slav language in Macedonia, the Slavs would request the international brigade to ensure that their language was also accepted as the official language in areas occupied by Slav Muslims; but the Slav Muslims themselves, on account of their religious loyalties, might well demand Turkish as their official language. Which of the two will be given preference? If the international brigade is to act correctly, without giving due consideration to religious needs, it will be resorting to repression. It will come across the same difficulty in an even more complex form when attempting to settle the question of which language should be officially recognized in the schools and in the social administration of the Orthodox regions. The Vlach authorities will demand Vlach, and the Patriarchate will demand Greek for its parishioners. If the requirements of the Vlachs are not met, the decision will be irregular and unjust; on the other hand, if the Vlach administration gets its way against the will of the parishioners, this would again be repression.
The Patriarchate will also ask for Greek as the language for the Orthodox Albanians – the Tosks. National awareness has not yet developed amongst the Tosks, and this would enable the Patriarchate to succeed. But the other Macedonian nationalities, including the remainder of the Albanians, would not be satisfied with the introduction of Greek. There can be no doubt that the occupying forces would not have an easy time finding their way out of this situation.
The most troublesome question, however, is that of the official language and the school language in the Slav parts of Macedonia. Some are Orthodox by faith, others come under the Exarchate, to say nothing of those who are Catholic or Muslim. The Turks consider the orthodox patriarchists to be Greek – urummillet – while the Serbs and Bulgarians consider them Serbian and Bulgarian. Those belonging to the Exarchate are considered both by themselves and by the Turks to be Bulgarians, while the Serbs look on them as Serbians. And so in most of Macedonia where Slavs are settled the Patriarchate will establish Greek as the language used in the schools and administration. In these endeavors the Patriarchate will come up against resistance from the Serbs and Bulgarians. But in opposing the use of Greek in Slav areas the Serbs and Bulgarians will find themselves disagreeing as to where Bulgarian should be used and where Serbian.
Does the Committee consider – if it wishes to ignore, the question of language in the various fanatical forms it has assumed in the at least temporarily autonomous state of Macedonia – that the other Balkan nations with interests in Macedonia, especially the Serbs, are also ignoring this question? Does the Committee consider that the Serbs believe that if it is a question of Macedonia for the Macedonians, and if one is to ignore the question of the language of the Macedonian Slavs, this question can be simply and justly settled through the acquisition of autonomous rights? If the Committee thinks so, it is mistaken.
If the autonomy of Macedonia should result from the present Uprising, the Macedonian question will be settled not to the advantage of the Macedonians but of the Bulgarians, for the Committee, as we have seen earlier, is working behind a Bulgarian front. Those Macedonians who were educated in Bulgaria have taken over the task of liberating the country and thus far they have played, one may say, not only the main part but also the only part. If their work should be crowned with success they – together with the interests of Bulgaria – will stand above all other interests in Macedonia. If the Uprising should fail it is not clear whether the Bulgarians should be thanked for this, or those people against whom the Serbs are now competing with their own money and propaganda, losing all influence with their clients, who are receiving Bulgarian money and Bulgarian propaganda. Have the Serbs ever really asked themselves if the uprising were to succeed, what language a judge in Tetovo, for instance, would be expected to speak? Does it not occur to them that this autonomous government which is “in the majority” will speak Bulgarian? And so too will the local inhabitants, for it is the Bulgarians and not the Serbs who are the heroes in their eyes. Thus the question of the language to be used in town and village schools will also be settled in favor of the Bulgarians. And since there will be no opportunity for propaganda in an autonomous Macedonia, the Serbs will have to give way in this matter to the Bulgarians. But will the Serbs agree to this? They might agree if the dialect spoken in Tetovo were closer to the Bulgarian literary language; but they know it is not. They know that the Tetovo dialect does have something in common with Bulgarian, but it also has something in common with Serbian; and there are also dialects which have nothing in common with either Serbian or Bulgarian and which are peculiar to Macedonia. One must then ask whether the Serbs would permit – and whether they could permit – an essentially Bulgarian form of language to develop in Tetovo instead of Macedonian or Serbian, and, together with the language, Bulgarian interests instead of Macedonian or Serbian. Have they then the right to protest against the Bulgarization of Tetovo and the surrounding district, to seek protection for their interests against the aspirations of the Bulgarians? Does Russia, in this case, have the moral right to protect Serbian and Bulgarian interests alike?
From all this it can be seen that the problem of language, particularly in regions with Slav populations, is one of the most important matters to be solved in settling the Macedonian question. If there had been national and religious unity amongst the Slavs in Macedonia, and if the people themselves had been aware of this unity, the Macedonian question would already be half settled. But as long as the Macedonians continue to be divided, some declaring themselves orthodox and others looking to the Exarchate, some claiming to be Bulgarians and others Serbs or Greeks, and all seeking the protection of various Balkan states, thus giving foreign countries the right to interfere in Macedonian matters – as long as this goes on there can be no question of a general, uprising. The uprising will remain a partial movement, Bulgarian, Serbian or Greek in character, but never Macedonian.
This is clear to everyone except to us, the Macedonians, and to the leaders of the present Uprising. These leaders are doing everything they can to put their own interpretation on the motives for the Uprising, and on the Uprising itself; but the point is that not only we, but many others as well, have sense enough to see and understand where the truth really lies. The Committee is angry because the consuls do not explain things in their true light. But if they were to do so, it would not please the Committee. In other words, the Committee wants the European authorities to see the Macedonian situation with Macedonian eyes, i.e. with the eyes of the Committee; but if this were all that was needed, the European powers would not have to send their own agents to Macedonia.
Besides, if we had the moral right to require the representatives of the European states in Macedonia to provide their governments and the European public with an accurate and unbiased account of the situation in Macedonia, it would then be our moral duty to let ourselves be presented to our own country in the light of European interests, and particularly in the light of the interests of the Balkan states.
We should have known that the Kara-Vlachs (Romanians), the Serbs, and Greeks would be against the uprising. The Kara-Vlachs cannot look indifferently at the efforts of Bulgaria to give Macedonia an autonomous government.
Autonomy is regarded as a transition phase in the process of joining Macedonia to Bulgaria. Kara-Wallachia cannot afford to let a powerful Bulgaria establish itself along its borders and thus run the risk of later losing Dobrudzha! And even if there were a pure Bulgarian population in Macedonia, these political considerations would stand in the way of unification between the Turkish Bulgarians and the Bulgarian Bulgarians because Kara- Wallachia would not allow the territorial unity of Turkey to be destroyed to her detriment. And Kara-Wallachia is part of the triple league formed to protect the interests of Kara- allachia on the Balkan Peninsula.
The interests of Greece in Macedonia are even greater. Despite the fact that there are not many Greeks in Macedonia, Greece is no less interested for her own sake in our affairs than the other Balkan states. Every state, even if it is unable to make new political, economic and cultural inroads into Macedonia, strives at least to preserve those, which have already been made. Using the influence of their Patriarchate in Constantinople, the Greeks have imposed their language on schools and churches in many parts of Macedonia where there are no Greeks to be found. It is natural for the Greeks to make use of all the resources of diplomacy to maintain the position they held in Macedonia during the Middle Ages, especially from the time of the Turkish conquest of Macedonia, and to defend Greek interests in Macedonia not only from Greece itself but also from the great powers, because they do not want the Slav element to gain power. But of all these states it is Serbia who is most interested in Macedonian matters, for she has come up with ethnographic and historical claims to Macedonia. Furthermore, Serbia also has political interests in Macedonia, for she will never allow the Macedonian question to be settled to the advantage of any of the other Balkan states, above all Bulgaria. Serbia would never countenance autonomy for Macedonia if this were to lead to an attachment between Bulgaria and Macedonia. Serbia would never countenance the expansion of Bulgaria through the appropriation of Macedonia, not only because this would upset the balance in the Balkans but also because this realignment would result in Serbia being squeezed in between two more powerful states – the Austro-Hungarian and the Bulgarian – by which she would be politically and economically stifled, so that she would have to give way to one side or the other. The state interests of Serbia, therefore, would never countenance the formation of a Bulgarian Macedonia. There can be no longer any doubt that Serbian interests, like those of Kara-Wallachia and Greece, are protected somewhere.
Consequently, the small Balkan states, although they ostensibly play no part in settling the Macedonian question, and seem to be simply in the hands of the great powers, are actually of great importance.
The great states would lead us to believe that they have no direct interest in Macedonia and that they are concerned only to see that justice is done. But, as we have said, this justice is differently regarded by the Greeks, Serbs, Vlachs and Bulgarians, and so the great states, as protectors of the smaller states, turn out to be representing their own kind of justice. This is why one cannot hope for a consolidated effort to: settle the Macedonian question; a united front is possible only in the smallest reforms.
If this is the case, in whom did we place our hopes when we launched the Uprising? Russia? But Russia washed her hands of the whole affair several times before the bloodshed started. Instead of inveighing against the Russian representatives I. A. Zinoviev, A. A. Rostkovski and Mashkov, we would have done better to reflect a little on Russian policy on the Balkan Peninsula. Russia is a Slav state, an Orthodox state. She liberated Serbia and Bulgaria; she helped Kara-Wallachia, Greece and Montenegro to win their freedom. She has always been the protector of Orthodoxy and of the Slavs. What then could Russia do for us when so many Slav and Orthodox peoples are involved in Macedonian matters? Could she, for the sake of the Bulgarians, support the other independent Balkan Orthodox states whose independence has been won with Russian blood and Russian money, only to have these states turn from her to some other (West European) states whom they would serve as weapons against Russia? Can Russia pursue a policy, which would drive the Balkan Orthodox states away from her? And what would she stand to gain by this loss? The gratitude of Bulgaria perhaps! But Bulgarian gratitude would merely be a shooting star: later the Bulgarians would say that Russia had been planning to take over the Balkan Peninsula and that the salvation of the Balkans now lay in the hands of the English. And so the Bulgarians, instead of being in league with “the great liberator”, would hasten to join the English or some other enemy of Russia and the Slavs. Thus, in the modern formulation of the Macedonian question, we expected Russia rashly to sacrifice her interests in the Far East for our sake and at the same time suffer a defeat in the Near East. Yes, but it did not turn out as we thought.
Thus the reason why the Uprising failed is perfectly clear: from the very outset it was established on the wrong basis instead of being a general Macedonian Uprising it was a partial insurrection with Bulgarian overtones. The only Macedonian Slavs who played a leading part in the Uprising were those who called themselves Bulgarians. The intelligentsia, not only of the other Macedonian nationalities but also of the Macedonian Slavs themselves, did not figure among the leaders of the Revolutionary Committee. The Committee, as a secret organization, feared to accept on an equal basis members belonging to the other nationalities, including Slav Serbophiles or Hellenophiles, or even those who merely had a Serbian or Greek education, for they were frightened that their secret might leak through to the other Balkan states. The organization was, and still is, veiled by secrecy, and consequently the lower-ranking members were mere pawns, serving only to attend to those matters dictated by the interests and opinions of the high-ranking members. These opinions were the prerogative of only a few – those who might be described as usurpers, who pushed their way in, and those who were Macedonians that had accidentally found their way to the top. These people took the fate of Macedonia into their own hands and their actions could not be subject to criticism. If anyone was foolhardy enough to criticize these leaders he would soon find himself expelled from the Organization. And this Organization was described as ideal! I am well aware that not all members can be let into all the affairs of the Organization, but if limits must exist they should be within the bounds of reason. All the intellectual power of Macedonia ought to be concentrated in the Organization; there should be people capable of taking a wider view of the Macedonian question and of directly and impartially assessing the results of each move made by the Committee.
Is anything like this to be found in the Committee? Who are the Organization’s main representatives in Bulgaria? Tatarchev and Matov. They may both be men who are great patriots and who thoroughly understand the situation in Macedonia, but they are supporters of extreme measures and have no regard for the political situation. Furthermore, as shall be seen, they consider that as far as the nationality of the Macedonian Slavs is concerned there can be only one correct attitude – that they are Bulgarian; and perhaps they consider the question of the nationality of the Macedonians to be a matter of secondary importance which will be cleared up after the liberation of Macedonia. But in future they should look to reality and not to their own concerns.
And all the other leaders, such as Radev, Stanichev, Karayanov and others, belong to the same category. They thought it would be enough merely to intimate that Macedonia would belong to the Macedonians.
The Committee can boast more moderate leaders, but they too see the salvation of Macedonia only in spiritual attachment and submission to the Bulgarians in Macedonia.
The Committee can also boast people who wanted the Macedonians to be spiritually separated from the Bulgarians, but these people confined themselves merely to publishing a few books in Macedonian or to speaking Macedonian at home or with their fellow-countrymen.
Thus, the main reason why the Uprising failed was that it took on a Bulgarian bias. If this is so, what can the Macedonian intelligentsia be asked to do in order to relieve the plight of their countrymen following this recent misadventure?
The first requirement is that the intelligentsia should know their own needs and those of the people. At the meetings in Sofia and other cities it happened more than once that resolutions were accepted in which the needs of the Macedonians were put forward. But these resolutions were accepted in Bulgaria, through the influence of Bulgarian society and of the Macedonian emigrants in Bulgaria. At these meetings representation was not given to all the Slav peoples and to their Intelligentsia; as a result the resolutions were one-sided and incomplete.
For the present, at least, what the Macedonian people most need is not so much the official voice of the majority, a governor-general belonging to the largest nationality, or freedom of the press, but a means of bringing to an end, of paralyzing the enmity between the adherents of the various religious and national propaganda factions. Efforts must be made to overcome the present distrust in Macedonian intellectuals educated in the various Balkan states to serve as mouthpieces for nationalist and religious propaganda in Macedonia; official recognition must be won for the Macedonian people; in all official documents and certificates the designation Macedonian must be introduced for all persons of Slav origin in Macedonia; it is also necessary for the land to be shared out as it was to the peasants during the abolition of serfdom in Russia, Galicia and other countries. Here numerous other reforms are required, including those drawn up by the Russian and Austro-Hungarian delegates in Istanbul and accepted by His Imperial Excellency the Sultan.
From now on the task of the Macedonian intelligentsia should be to ensure that for everyone – the Macedonians themselves, the Turks, the Balkan states and the great powers – the interests of the Macedonians are kept apart from those of the other Balkan states and peoples, and that close attention is paid to all questions concerning the liberation of our people and our land from its present state of great poverty, and the regeneration of our people in a spiritual and material sense.
This is an extremely difficult task and it demands greatly united efforts. Hence, the examination and fulfillment of this task calls for the participation of all Macedonian Slavs, regardless of religious or national differences. The Macedonian intelligentsia, therefore, should stop treating one another with distrust; they should try to free themselves from propaganda and be constantly on their guard against the intelligentsia and society behind this propaganda. From time to time in the free Balkan states, regardless of propaganda, the Macedonian intelligentsia should organize meetings at which the questions of the spiritual and national regeneration of the Macedonians would be discussed and settled. Even when not engaged on official work, the Macedonian intellectuals should always speak to one another in the central Macedonian dialect (that of Veles, Prilep, Bitola and Ohrid) and this language should be introduced as a compulsory subject in all religious and national teaching, even in the Turkish schools. The central Macedonian dialect should become the literary language of Macedonia.
If the religious and national propagandists do not wish to introduce our language into their schools – naturally, in those places where there are Slavs – and if they forbid their teachers and priests to keep company with the Macedonian intelligentsia and that of other nationalities, then the Macedonian intelligentsia and the Macedonian people should find a way of condemning this propaganda. And if these propagandists are trying to undermine their enemies, the intelligentsia should show the people what unworthy means they resort to and call on the people to defend their own vital interests. If the popular protest concerning religious and scholastic matters, in which the districts ought to be recognized as being free from propaganda interests, turns out to be a revolt with a bias against the state and if state measures are sought against the rebels, then the people and the intelligentsia should turn to the consuls as responsible arbiters.
If, however, some or all of these propagandists persist in opposing our requirements and endeavors by using only their own language in the schools and churches, then strong and sweeping measures should be taken against all forms of religious and nationalistic pro- agenda in Macedonia.
Freedom of conscience is recognized everywhere; in Macedonia, too, it is and will be recognized. The exploitation of this freedom has been checked everywhere, and it should therefore be checked in our midst as well. The Jesuits have been driven out of practically all European countries for exploiting the national conscience. In France, because of malpractice, the religious orders have been restricted in their activities in the schools. What has been happening all over Europe could also happen here in Macedonia.
Everyone has the right to profess the Muslim religion or Christianity in one of its three basic forms – Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Protestantism. All people have an inalienable right to their religious needs and convictions, but religion should never be permitted to become a platform for political and national propaganda, as it is at present in Macedonia.
If we consider the present state of religious propaganda in Macedonia we will be struck by the fact that in most cases it serves as a means towards national and political ends. Protestantism and Catholicism in Macedonia have religious aims only because those who propagate these faiths behave with great respect towards even the most insignificant aspects of the various ways of life of the Macedonian nationalities. And so nobody has the right to complain about their activities.
Unfortunately, however, the Orthodox religion – the oldest, the most widespread, the basic faith of all the nationalities of Macedonia – has completely lost sight of its main aim, which is to encourage brotherhood amongst the different nationalities and to ennoble the hearts of the believers. And instead of pursuing these noble aims the Orthodox religion has simply spread discord and envy. It has now become the chief weapon of those who wish to spread purely nationalist and political propaganda. The Orthodox faith in Macedonia has now become so compromised that one can no longer speak of a true Orthodox church, for there are now three churches, and they are not Orthodox but Greek, Bulgarian and Serbian. Why must this be so? Should not the Church be One, Holy, Episcopal and Apostolic? Yes. The Church should indeed be One and Holy, and not Serbian, Greek or Bulgarian. In Macedonia the Church has been deflected from its main aim, and so the intelligentsia and the common folk of Macedonia have every right to use all powers available to them to purge the Church of her purely nationalist aims and replace them with those which were laid down by the Holy Founder so that the gospel might be preached in all tongues, i.e. all nationalities would come to the faith through their own language.
If the propounds of religious propaganda try to disrupt the unity of the Macedonian people and the intelligentsia they will come to see that this is impossible and that the only choice left to them is to form One Holy Apostolic Church in Macedonia, i.e. to form an Archbishopric in Ohrid which would be the “Archbishopric of all Macedonia”.
If those who spread religious propaganda have anything against the unity of the Macedonian people and the intelligentsia then it can only be for nationalist motives. In this case it would be natural for these church reforms to be extended to school reforms as well, i.e. the Archbishopric would also take over school affairs, giving due consideration to the nationality of the congregation in each region; thus in the Greek parishes the official language both at school and in church would be Greek, in the Vlach parishes – Romanian, and in the Slav parishes – Slavonic.
This would lead, then, to the gradual disappearance of all the nationalist and religious propaganda, which has split the people into so many groups, all hostile to one another; and peace would follow, peace for the people, for Macedonia, for Turkey and for Europe.
And, indeed, could there be anything better for bringing the Macedonian crisis to an end? It would certainly be the best thing for the people, for they would no longer be plagued by intriguers of various nationalities, they would be liberated from the various measures which interfere with their everyday work, and the unfounded enmity between the various nationalities would be ended by the Church.
This outcome would also be best for Turkey. Turkish diplomats are gravely mistaken if they believe they can keep Turkey in Europe by continuing to stand by the policy of divide et impera. As long as there exists a basis for nationalist propaganda in Macedonia, and as long as no attempt is made to ensure that other states do not exert a greater influence in Macedonia than Turkey, it is inevitable that Turkey will lose Macedonia and gain nothing from the country. As long as this state of affairs continues to exist, Turkey must live in constant fear of losing Macedonia. If, however, it is officially acknowledged that there are not several Slav nationalities in Macedonia but only one, which is neither Bulgarian nor Serbian, and if Macedonia secedes as an independent Bishopric, Turkey will be immediately freed from interference in Macedonian affairs by the three neighboring states.
Our national interests dictate that the Macedonian people and the Macedonian intelligentsia should assist Turkey to make her way out of the difficult situation into which she has been drawn by religious and nationalist propaganda in Macedonia and by the countries behind this propaganda. We do not need to be joined to Bulgaria, or to Serbia or to Greece. The integral unity of Turkey is far more important to us than it is to Russia and Europe. Turkey is a country occupying an excellent geographical position. Since we Macedonians are Turkish subjects and interested in maintaining the unity of Turkey, we too have the right to enjoy our citizenship throughout Turkey. And this right could be of great material advantage to us. It is clear, then, why the Macedonian intelligentsia, if they closely examine their own interests, should for their own sake and for the sake of their people devote all their moral strength to the prime task of maintaining the unity of Turkey. In exchange for this support we shall be granted by our bounteous ruler the right and honor of full autonomy in church and school affairs and full equality before the law in the local self-government of Macedonia. This self-government can in no way endanger the unity of Turkey; on the contrary, it will help to regularize the relations between the peoples of Macedonia once and for all.
Thus the people of Macedonia and the intelligentsia must strive towards national unification of the Macedonian Slavs as a whole, and towards unification of the interests of all Macedonian peoples. Nationalist and religious enmity should remain as no more than a regrettable memory. There must be solidarity between the peoples of Macedonia in their endeavor to preserve the unity of Turkey. In exchange for this Turkey will treat all the Macedonian nationalities justly before the law and in local administration, and will protect and encourage their national development.
If the Macedonians were to pursue such a peaceful policy they would gain the support and approval of the great powers, who have an interest in preserving the unity of Turkey. The great powers will assist Turkey to absolve itself from all the injustices inflicted on the nationalities of Macedonia through religious and nationalist propaganda, thus ensuring the independent life and development of the nationalities. The small Balkan states, ho have a personal interest in supporting this propaganda, will at first be angry with the Sultan’s Imperial Government for bringing to an end their century old privileges, but in the course of time they too will come to accept the abolition of propaganda because it will in fact be to their own advantage: they will stop pouring millions of francs every year into Macedonia, an expense which never has been and never will be of benefit to them. These millions were not entirely without effect, for they helped to maintain the enmity among the Balkan states at a time when, on account of their closeness and the similarity of their interests, they should have been helping one another in their common economic development.
A short while ago, when speaking of the failure of the uprising, I attributed this lack of success to the lack of coherence in the movement. What I said, in fact, was that if an uprising is launched in the name of and on behalf of the Macedonians, it should be authorized and supported by all the nationalities in the Organization.
Now that I am speaking of the need to put an end to propaganda in Macedonia and to reconcile and unite the Macedonian intelligentsia and the Macedonian nationalities, it may be thought that this unification will enable us to launch a general uprising, which would be more successful. But anyone who came to this conclusion would be mistaken.
Only a short while ago I said that we are interested in preserving the unity of Turkey. And, indeed, what advantage would we gain by being joined to Greece, Bulgaria or Serbia? These states are more cultured than we are, and therefore only they would benefit if Macedonia were joined to them. But in the final count it is impossible for all of Macedonia to be joined to one of the Balkan states because the other states would intervene. It would be possible for Macedonia to be partitioned among the smaller states or to be occupied by Austria. But could there be any greater misfortune for Macedonia than to be partitioned or occupied?
The small Balkan states would without the least ceremony move into the conquered parts of Macedonia, exploit them for their own use and turn the Macedonians into beggars once they had begun to lose their national identity and this would be the first thing to happen.
One may easily conjecture what the fate of Macedonia would be under Austro-Hungarian rule: the fate of Bosnia and Herzegovina has clearly shown that, after ten years of Austrian occupation, the Macedonians, regardless of their faith or nationality, would be forced to quit their homes and emigrate. And even if Macedonia were to become attached to one of the Balkan states – which, like partition and occupation, would never happen – the process would not take place without an internal revolution. And is there any point in these revolutions when His Imperial Excellency the Sultan has guaranteed the continuance of our national and religious existence and assured us that we will be equal with the Turks before the law and in our local self-government?
But there are reasonable grounds for thinking that the Imperial government is well intentioned towards the different nationalities of Macedonia. History enables all nations to see the mistakes they have made and to avoid repeating them. The present uprising has been most instructive both for us and for the Turks. The Turks, I feel, must learn from it: nobody can doubt, not even the Turks, that Turkey will no longer be able to keep Macedonia if it continues to pursue the same policy towards us as it has hitherto been pursuing. Turkey cannot retain her provinces without the aid of the local inhabitants. The army alone is not enough, nor even is the satisfaction of the majority of the inhabitants. The Turkish government will be able to maintain its position in Macedonia only if all elements of the population are included in it and consider their welfare and security to be possible only under the Turks. It is the local population, which should provide the main source of support for Turkish interests in Macedonia. And Turkey will win the support of the majority only if it is prepared to ensure the introduction of real reforms in Macedonia and to bring in people capable of looking after the national and religious interests of the subjects, and of protecting their civil rights and economic existence. If Turkey does not look after the needs of its subjects and continues to shirk her duties in implementing reform, she will be the one to suffer most: 1. she will be driven by force to carry out the reforms, 2. if the people are still deprived of their national, religious and economic rights, even after some of the reforms have been introduced, the enemies of Turkey will use this as an excuse to prove that she has devious interests in Macedonia.
The first task of the Macedonian intelligentsia, then, will be to clear away the mistrust that exists between the intellectuals and the various national and religious groups and to unite the intelligentsia both within Macedonia and abroad, to assess the general interests of the Macedonians by getting down to grass roots, to dispel national and religious hatred, to educate the Macedonian Slavs in the pure Macedonian national spirit, to make determined efforts to see that the Macedonian language is widely taught and to maintain contact with schools in the towns with a Slav population as well as to teach the language in village schools attended by Slavs. In the Slav villages they should ensure that church services are held in Macedonian. If these efforts meet with resistance from any of the foreign propagandists they should call upon the Turkish government and the Great Powers to remove these demoralizing forces from Macedonia and to set up an Archbishopric in Ohrid which would be responsible for the church schooling of Christians of all nationalities in Macedonia.
Our second task is to persuade our brothers who are fighting in Macedonia to lay down their arms so as to make it possible for Russia and the other powers to take all the measures they can to ensure that all our religious, national and economic interests are satisfied.
I am well aware of the disapproval with which many will greet my proposal. They may even describe it as treachery; there may even be some who will say that people who think like this should be removed from the face of the earth.
Let them think, speak and act as they wish against me. My duty towards my people and my country has impelled me to give utterance to my thoughts. I am firmly convinced that there is nothing traitorous in what I have proposed: 1. because the opinions, not only of individuals such as myself, but also of all Macedonians from the field of battle and from Bulgaria, and the opinions, demands and proposals of the entire Bulgarian nation and of the Bulgarian government are not able to alter the attitude of the Great Powers and Russia with respect to the needs of the Macedonian people, 2. all further efforts would bring about hardly any change in the position taken by the foreign states in relation to the Macedonian question. The most that could be achieved would be an European conference, but this conference could not be convened before the spring, and even then it would be called only if the uprising became even stronger than it is at present. But is it possible to foresee what course the uprising will take? And even if we were to allow that the uprising might be stronger then than it is now, and that Europe would be consequently forced to call a conference, could anyone hazard the prediction that the decisions passed at this conference would be to our advantage? I doubt it.
People in Europe have been entertaining a mistaken idea of the nationality of the Macedonians and this is why those who bear the full brunt of the present uprising will benefit least from the decisions passed at the conference. We would have to be blind not to see the obvious: all the measures taken at the conference would be for the benefit of the nationalities of Macedonia – but which are these nationalities? The Turks, the Bulgarians, the Greeks, the Vlachs and the Albanians?
How would it be decided at this conference who was Bulgarian, Serbian or Greek? Where does the dividing line lie? And, finally, which of these peoples would be present at the conference? Who would provide the facts about the Macedonian nationalities and their needs? Is it not absolutely clear that we would have no representatives, that they would decide our fate without asking us what we want, and that instead they would turn to our neighbors, who have their own states and their own diplomats and who will derive every possible benefit from the blood we have shed?!
No, brothers! There is no conference which could save us. We would do far better to trust in the states which are most genuinely interested in our affairs, particularly Orthodox Russia, which is well acquainted with our needs, and not place our faith only in ourselves and in conferences of one kind or another. If it were so simple and so worthwhile to hold conferences we would already find ourselves being treated differently, and instead of Europe leaving Russia and Austria to settle the Macedonian question, all the Great Powers of Europe would want to have an equal say in this matter. For what did the British Prime Minister write to the Archbishop of Canterbury concerning the policy of the Great Powers with regard to Macedonian matters: “if all the Powers were to engage in settling the Macedonian question it would slow down rather than speed up the actual settlement. The best solution at present is to entrust the initiative and the main role to the great countries which have the strongest interest in and the best understanding of the needs of the Macedonians”. – Yes, we ought to know that if the whole “orchestra” were to strike up one could only expect great disharmony, a discord which would partially engulf the Grande Porte (the Turkish Central Authority) but would be far less injurious than the concerted activity of the two most interested countries. Each country has a different way of looking at this question and this disharmony saves the Grande Porte from being fully submerged. Can we expect greater unanimity at the conference than has already been shown in the actions of the two interested countries?
A conference today would be held under quite different conditions from those which prevailed at the time of the conferences before the last Russo-Turkish War. A conference now would be of advantage only to the small states which are attempting to establish and spread the rights of their peoples to the detriment of the Macedonians. If this is the case, and it cannot be otherwise, the conference would be nothing but a sheer waste of time! One thing is certain; there is no point in continued opposition. Do you know what those people think who are in favor of continued opposition? First, they hope that the Great Powers will be squeezed out; second, they hope that a conference will take place; and third, they say that if neither the one nor the other should happen, Turkey will still end up by being economically ruined through having to maintain so large an army for such a long time. It can be seen straight away that the first two hopes would not be to our advantage. Even less so the third. You ask why?
Is Europe interested in preserving the Turkish Empire; and will it provide Turkey with the means to survive? But who will pay for this, who will provide the interest? – Macedonia, as usual. We may suppose that Turkey’s economic disintegration will not affect us. But surely it is clear that if Turkey is economically weakened, we shall be weakened even more drastically? Surely we realize that as long as the rebel detachments continue their fighting, the Turkish soldiers will loot and pillage and cause every imaginable harm to the civilian population? The people will not be able to carry on with their work, and, worse still, they will be forced to feed both hungry Turkish soldiers and rebel detachments. The battle has taken on not so much a national as a religious character. And it is several times more devastating than ordinary war! There would, however, be some sense in this devastation if there were any hope of success. All our hopes lie in the possibility of Europe’s joining in on our side. But it is clear that she will not do so. We think that Europe will take pity on the innocent civilian population and therefore be prompted to intervene in our affairs. But our calculations in fact do not afford the people of Europe the chance to rush to the help of the civilian population. The people of Europe say that they can do nothing, and that the Committee will regard all European moves as an intensification of their own agitation. This means that as long as the liberation movement continues we cannot expect real intervention on our behalf and as long as it continues the people will be forced to put up with the greatest and most senseless misfortune.
This being the case, is there any sense in continuing to fight? In my opinion there is not. We do not have such great reserves of national power that we can afford to sacrifice our people to Bulgarian, Serbian and Greek interests, for our present struggle is of advantage only to others. And the strength of our people is needed for the cultural battle as well. Let us also consider the opposite side of the question and assume that the present struggle will force Europe to interfere in Turkey’s affairs and drive Turkey to grant equality to the peoples of Macedonia. If this were to happen could we Macedonians (Slavs) consider the outcome a success? I think not. Equality would be given to all the nationalities, including the Turks, Greeks, etc. So, we should have shed our blood for the rights of the people of these nationalities, who, during the fighting, either took no part or else fought against us. Surely it is no small matter that we should have shed our blood for the interests of others, even our enemies? But our enemies from the free states would take advantage of the blood we had shed and the losses we had suffered to step up their religious and nationalist propaganda, thus splitting us into hostile opposition camps: Serbs, Greeks and Bulgarians.
After the fight in the field of battle comes the fight in the field of culture, but when this time comes, instead of reaping the rewards for the blood we have shed and at last being able to develop culturally, we will find ourselves then, just as we are now, serving the interests of the Serbs or the Greeks or the Bulgarians.
As long as there exists this kind of national dividedness, together with utter economic powerlessness, nothing can be achieved by any conferences, reforms or attempts at intervention because everything will lead to the inevitable partition of Macedonia. All this, reinforced by the certainty that further successful opposition would be not only useless but also impossible, leads me to believe that it is our duty to urge the Macedonian intelligentsia who have some influence on the present liberation movement to take note of the gravity of the situation and as quickly as possible find ways and means of indicating our full faith in the Great Powers engaged on Macedonia’s behalf, and, once we have promised these powers that the fighting will not continue, to turn to them for moral and material aid to help the stricken population. Further, our intelligentsia must ask for all the proposed reforms to be introduced, including those which will be needed in order to expand the program that has already been drawn up; they must also ask for the removal of all propaganda and for the establishment of an Archbishopric in Ohrid with autonomy in the church and in schooling, for amnesty for all emigrants and all rebel fighters, for recognition of the Slavs in Macedonia as a separate nationality Macedonians and for the introduction of the term Macedonian in all official documents, etc.
Once the uprising has been finally stopped, Turkey and Macedonia will reestablish relations agreeable to both sides. It will then be seen how closely our interests are bound up with theirs, so that if the one is injured the other will suffer, and enmity between us will serve only to benefit a third party, most probably one of the small Balkan states. This is particularly clear if one considers the possible consequences of the uprising, consequences which to our good fortune and that of Turkey as well have not arisen. I refer to the possible partition of Macedonia among the small Balkan states.
The uprising has been launched and has destroyed both us and the Turkish state. The damage it has caused both to Macedonia and to Turkey is enormous, but it is still less than it might have been. It was fortunate both for us and for Turkey that Serbia and Bulgaria had reached no agreement concerning the Macedonian question. No agreement was reached because Bulgaria wanted to appropriate the whole of Macedonia to itself, without the help of its neighbors or the great states. Bulgaria was mistaken in her expectations, which was fortunate both for us and for Turkey. Up to the present uprising Bulgaria had made no political attempts to settle the Macedonian question and this is why all schemes to come up with a solution foundered. Bulgaria had not previously realized that the solution to the Macedonian question could not come exclusively from Sofia but that it would have to come from Belgrade as well, i.e. through an agreement between Sofia and Belgrade. This agreement was looked upon as a change in the standing of the states, but now that the Bulgarian diplomats have been brought up against their own ineffectuality, despite immense efforts to solve the Macedonian question on their own, there will be many Bulgarian diplomats who will find themselves looking on this agreement as an unavoidable evil. If the present Bulgarian attempt had been made earlier a partition would have been arranged between the two spheres of influence in Macedonia, between Serbia and Bulgaria, then later, during the uprising, the Serbian and Bulgarian armies would have marched Into Macedonia.
This, would have been the outcome of the uprising if the Bulgarian diplomats had been more pressing in their efforts. This time we were lucky enough to have our country saved from partition, and Turkey was spared from losing one of its finest provinces. The uprising prevented Macedonia from being partitioned, and this is one of its more worthwhile results. But partition was luckily avoided thanks really to the fact that our enemies happened to be inept and inexperienced. If Bulgaria wanted to threaten us even more seriously in the future, when our enemies were more experienced, she might enter into an agreement with Serbia concerning the partition of Macedonia between the spheres of influence. This agreement between the spheres of influence would unfailingly lead to the partition of Macedonia. This is why one of the prime duties of the Macedonian intelligentsia is once and for all to drive Serbian and Bulgarian propaganda out of Macedonia so that Macedonia can establish its own spiritual centre, and free the Macedonians from this give and take relation with the neighboring Balkan states and peoples. Hence the need to forestall the partition of Macedonia and retain it as a province of Turkey. The well known interests of the Turks and the Macedonians clearly dictate that they should not waste their strength in fighting against one another to the advantage of their common enemy, but rather extend a helping hand to one another in order to free themselves of all those who try to undermine their friendly relations and meddle with their common interests.
Once the uprising has stopped Macedonia will turn to peaceful cultural work, and for this good relations will be necessary with all the nationalities living in Macedonia. Our intelligentsia has not yet been able to work out the most satisfactory relation between ourselves and the other nationalities of Macedonia. To some extent this has not depended on them. For instance, the relations of our people to the Turks and Muslims in general depend more on the Turks than on us: if the Muslims had regarded the Christians as people equal to themselves, the relations between Christians and Muslims would undoubtedly have been good; indeed, there might well have been no uprising. Unfortunately, not even at the last moment were the Muslims able to overcome their old prejudices and cease regarding the Christians, would undoubtedly have been good; indeed, there government and the Turkish intelligentsia will come to see how much harm these prejudices have caused, and make every effort to uproot them. This would help to put relations between Muslims and Christians on a better footing.
Similarly, good relations between the Greeks and ourselves (the Macedonian Slavs) depend more on them than on us. If these relations are to be improved the Greeks should abandon their megalomania and acknowledge the right of the Macedonians to exist together with the Greeks in Macedonia. In particular the Patriarchate, as an ecumenical institution, should cease acting as an institution with a Greek character. It should be devoted to looking after the rights of all Christians and not to sacrificing the rights of some to the advantage of others. It is particularly necessary that the Patriarchate should look after the holy right of all members of its flock to enjoy their own national existence. In this way the conflicts between Greeks and Macedonians would be avoided because the Macedonians do not demand that those who speak Greek should use the old Macedonian language in church and modern Macedonian in the schools, for this is only required of those whose language is Macedonian.
If, however, the Patriarchate persists in barring Macedonians from using their own language and forcing them to use Greek, it will end up by making the Macedonians regard the Patriarchate as a tool for Greek nationalist propaganda. If this happens, both the Greeks and the Patriarchate will be looked upon as the enemies of our people and it will become our holy duty to repel all Greek attacks on Macedonian Slavs. In this battle between Christians our responsibility must devolve on the Greeks and the Patriarchate because we would not in this case be attacking, but defending ourselves from the attacks of others.
Our best relations are, and should be, with the Vlachs. Nowhere has there been any conflict between our interests and theirs. The majority of the Vlachs live in the towns, as traders, while most of our people live in the villages, as farm laborers. Those Vlachs who live in the villages are mostly cattle breeders. The Vlachs and the Macedonian Slavs differ in language, national dress and character, consequently they can never lay any claims to our villages, and we have never tried to make out that the Vlach villages are ours. There have never been any misunderstandings in the past between ourselves and the Vlachs. They have never ruled over us nor have they ever done us any harm. On the contrary, ever since the Middle Ages there has been an understanding between us. And on the basis of this understanding the firmest friendship can be expected to develop between ourselves and the Vlachs; this friendship between our two brotherly nations should be deep rooted and should enable us to walk side by side along the difficult road towards cultural progress.
It is one matter to ensure that correct relations are established between ourselves and others of Christian or Muslim nationality, and quite a different matter to ensure that our nationality is accepted by His Imperial Excellency the Sultan, so that the term Macedonian might be recognized by protocol, for this is necessary if we are to take the first steps towards national and religious liberation from propaganda and towards the political changes envisaged by the countries behind the reforms; and it is yet another matter to ensure that measures are taken to bring about the economic stabilization of our village farms. And until these improvements are all made in our national, religious, and economic life, we the Macedonian intelligentsia have something more to do, and this is the most important of all: we must devote all our physical, intellectual and moral strength to the national revival.
This latest uprising has shown us that the path we have been following is wrong and dangerous. Many sacrifices were demanded and little advantage was gained. The revolution has compromised us in the eyes of our government and has not presented us in a favorable light to the rest of Europe. But we are not greatly to blame for all this. On the one hand we were being driven to revolt and on the other hand we are a young nation and it was not difficult for us to be drawn into an immature adventure. Just as at work young people consider it preferable to advance by leaps and bounds and not by working solidly and steadily in one direction, so too young nations prefer leaps and bounds to steady solid work in the same direction. In all our work hitherto it is the uprising which stands out as an ill considered and hasty act; but we must be forgiven for this, firstly because ours is a young nation scarcely conscious of its national identity, and secondly because we have hitherto not been living as a national and religious unit and have been exposed to the influence of various forms of religious and nationalist propaganda. But we cannot continue to be forgiven for what we have been forgiven up till now.
We can no longer regard ourselves and our people as a youthful nation lacking political experience. In our historical development we have passed through stages of such importance that they might stand as epochs in the history of any nation. And this new epoch brings with it new obligations in the form of cultural work.
Up till now the people have been working together with the intelligentsia, but the work was unequally divided because it was left to the people to carry out the plans of the intelligentsia, who did no more than draw up the plans or supervise the organization of the revolutionary movement. Organizational work is certainly a job, but we cannot say it is one of the hardest. Preparing for a revolution is certainly a job which calls for great expenditure of nerves, but it is not so arduous and difficult as the revolutionaries our young intellectuals seem to think. The preparations for an uprising last from five to ten years, after which all those who were involved either die or, if they remain alive, have to make do with nothing at all or else turn their hand to something for which they are possibly not even prepared, something which has to be learned from scratch. Organizational work is not so demanding as it is made out to be, and, because the organizers usually consider their own lives more important than those of the villagers, they usually foist the most difficult jobs onto the workers or the ordinary people. This is why organizational work is, on the one hand, the job of one man who places far greater emphasis on his own attenuated efforts than on the need for solid steady work. And, on the other hand, organizational work is impersonal because the man who performs it does not sacrifice himself for society, for his people or for mankind; instead he uses the people to help him execute the plans created by his fancy. Intellectuals of Macedonia! – It is time you came to realize that it is wrong to gamble with other people’s lives for the sake of plans produced by your fancy.
I am not trying to say that we should forsake our idealism and do without national ideals. No! We could not live without ideals; but from now on our ideals should be purer and more progressive. From now on in our patriotic work we should redeem ourselves in the eyes of the people for all our mistakes. From now on we should sacrifice ourselves for their sakes and so repay them for their trust in us and for their obedience in carrying out the plans of the Organization with such precision. How can our intelligentsia repay the people for the sacrifices they have made? I gave an answer to this question when I spoke of the battle against the disseminators of propaganda and of our people’s struggle to live on good terms with the other nationalities of Macedonia.
But, as I also pointed out, our main task is to aid the people through our work in culture and, above all in education.
Science and literature are the most important factors in the development of any people. The level of culture is determined by the extent to which the people are advanced in science and literature. Hence a division is made between cultured and uncultured peoples.
Cultured people rule, uncultured people live in subjugation. It is only through knowledge, education and cultural work that our intelligentsia can put itself right and atone to the people for all the wrongs that have been committed.
It may be objected that cultural work is possible only if political freedom exists, and that without this freedom it is impossible. This is true, but it is not the whole truth. The basic precondition for cultural work is not full political freedom but the moral education of the people and of the intelligentsia and the awareness of each individual of his natural obligations to the people. Complete political freedom is worthless if a man does not come to realize that his human debt, his debt towards his country and his people, is work, work and more work. Freedom is useful only to enable us to enjoy the results of our work, but it is not so vital for work itself. And if one is to enjoy the results of one’s work, one must first work.
It is possible to work and to take pains with one’s work even under conditions of political limitation. If we are to stand with a clear conscience before the people, who have made so many sacrifices, we should turn with all our energy to cultural work. And in doing so we should not judge the value of our work according – to outward appearances but according to inner worth, for the value of work is measured in terms of its power and effect. If we regard work in this light, and if we genuinely desire to repay our debt to the people, then we cannot excuse ourselves by claiming that there exists no basis for cultural work. The basis does exist, but the will is lacking. Provided the will can be found, it does not matter even if we are not able to print many things, because we may be secure in the knowledge that we have an intelligentsia who will then serve as a living encyclopedia capable of furnishing us with reliable and accurate information from all branches of science and literature.
But accurate and reliable information can be acquired only after years of hard work in the knowledge that in this way one is repaying the debt to one’s country and people. And these many years of work are more useful, more difficult, but also more constructive than revolutionary work – and more reasonable too.
These long years of study by our intellectuals would be of visible use to the people for they would then be able to look with their own eyes both at themselves and at other nations, and be made aware of their own and other people’s merits and shortcomings. An educated people may be compared to an intelligent man; this is why it is our duty to put all our efforts into educating our people.
Cultural work is more difficult than revolutionary work because the former is mental and the latter physical. By way of illustration let us consider classical and modern languages and the correspondence of the Committee or the distribution of the armed bands. Revolu-tionary activity is temporary and destructive, not permanent and creative. And if a cultured man is to be worthy of this designation be should create and not destroy. A solid building must stand on firm foundations. Therefore one should not, in order to make one’s work easier, avoid tackling the more demanding disciplines, such as the study of ancient languages, which are fundamental to many branches of learning. The aim of acquiring accurate information from all the different branches of learning, not only for our personal sake but also for the sake of ourselves as individuals belonging to the nation, should make us stop and think, should make us devote all our energy and free time to mastering those disciplines which are most needed by our people and which demand the hardest work, because the easier disciplines can always be managed in due course. If we wish to face our people and ourselves with a clear conscience we should be prepared to help even with the most difficult tasks and not seek the easy way out with the excuse that we do not have the ability or knowledge required for those disciplines which demand the greatest pains and devotion if we are to dedicate ourselves to them.
Cultural work is more delicate than revolutionary work because through it the intelligentsia is placed at the service of the people while through revolution it is transformed into a heartless experimenter.
And, finally, cultural work is more reasonable. Through cultural work the intelligentsia explains the most important questions concerning itself and the people, and the most important questions are those concerning the knowledge of the people.
Recently we have been going into the demand for political freedom, but we have not stopped to consider whether we are as yet mature enough for it or whether it is what we most need at the moment. I do not undertake to meet our most recent demands, whether they are just or not. The question of our national, religious and economic revival is of far greater importance to me. But this revival can only be brought about through studying our own people as separate individuals, then in conjunction with the other peoples and nationalities of Macedonia, and finally as members of the Slav national family. If we were to undertake this study, it would lead to understanding in our relations with all the nations just mentioned.
Here you have a fair outline of what the intelligentsia of Macedonia might do in order to correct all the mistakes made in the recent uprising.
Our work, then, should be concentrated on peaceful, legal and evolutionary educational work among the people. It should be aimed at placing the intelligentsia truly at the service of the people, and nothing else. But if this service is to be worthwhile it is essen-tial that we should train persons to carry out the task, an intelligentsia who will be utterly dedicated to the welfare of the people. We need an intelligentsia imbued with the awareness of the moral debt that each man owes to his people and his country; we need an intelligentsia that will aspire towards moral and mental perfection.
Our intelligentsia today should devote all their efforts and all their moral a nd mental training to the people and to the creation of an ideal Macedonian intelligentsia.
If this debt to the country is recognized, if we manage to unite our intellectuals with Bulgarian, Serbian and Greek educational backgrounds, if we succeed in paralyzing the activity of the propagandists and in getting them driven out of Macedonia for good, if pro-per relations are established with all the nationalities of Macedonia, and if the political and material position of the Macedonians is improved, then, despite all the sacrifices we have made, we shall have one reason for satisfaction: the uprising has opened our eyes to the fact that the road we were taking, and would have continued to take, was the wrong one and that even without the uprising we ourselves would have prepared the way for the partition of Macedonia. The uprising has opened our eyes to many needs which we could not otherwise have anticipated.
May God grant that this uprising will serve as a lesson to our people, a lesson to all Macedonians regardless of where they were educated or what nationality they considered themselves to be in the past. Let us pray that the blood which has been spilt will bind us as an oath to join together in spreading culture for the benefit and happiness of our common home, our much afflicted country – Macedonia.
* Simeon Radev (1879-1967), the well-known Bulgarian diplomat and politician, Macedonian by origin (from Resen); as a student he edited the Mouvement Macйdonien in Paris, 1902-1903. Editor’s note.
** A. A. Rostkovski (1860-1903), Russian consul in Bitola.