The Bulgarians in their historical, ethnographical and political frontiers. Atlas with 40 maps.
Preface by D. RIZOFF
Slowly and timidly the great war is approaching its end. Lloyd George was right when he said that this war is humanity's greatest catastrophe since the flood. Yet there is little doubt that this war may as well, become the greatest benefaction which humanity has ever kpown, if it succeeds to put an end to the wars or, at least, to give to all nations a lasting and not easily violabie peace. Under one sole condition however: that the war should come to an end before it shall have exhausted the living powers of the warring nations, before it shall have squandered their national resources and compromised for whole decades their economic development. In vain some statesmen mention the threats of a new war in the near future — a war political or economic — in nature after the ending of the present destructive war. Both warring and neutral nations are so weary of the war, so desirous of seeing it come to an end, so thirsty to taste anew the blessings of Christ's peace, that it is improbable and inadmissible of supposition that the dragging in of some nation into a new undistant war, of whatever nature that might be, is possible at all. The war now raging will leave such terrible wounds in the life of the warring nations, that it would be unthinkable that they should be healed soon, or successfully, if all the national efforts are not devoted to them during the very first years. Even as an inevitable psychical reaction, the impending colossal creative activity of the warring nations cannot but get the upper hand over the destructive and mischievous human activity. It should not be forgotten, either, that this war is a great test of maturity for all nations at war, bringing them knowledge of their good qualities and their shortcomings, their virtues and their vices, their rights and their illusions, so that there is nothing more natural than the passion which will take hold of them after the war to overcome their shortcomings and vices, to cultivate their good qualities and virtues, to get cured of their illusions, and to consolidate their rights. It must be expected, no less, that one of the principal results of this war will be — as Nietsche might say — “a revaluation of all values,” including the ethical ones, so that it will be impossible for the animosity now raging to continue its orgies. It even seems to me that the unchristian feelings of rancour, hatred and revenge will die out very soon after the war. The common sufferings of the warring nations during this war, the innocence of the nations themselves of responsibility for its outbreak, the misfortunes which they have inflicted upon each other, the noble shame for the cruel instincts which they
have exhibited, the general satisfaction, at length, that they should have come to the peace so greatly longed for, — all this could not but bring these nations closer together and make them regret what had taken place. Over and above this will likewise come the consciousness that they have been tearing down the precious heritage of their forefathers, and have been devastating that grandiose Europe which is the principal laboratory of the world's culture, civilization and progress — a consciousness which cannot but contribute towards the complete reconciliation of the warring nations. With one proviso, that the attainment of all these results is dependent upon the conclusion of a peace which will be equitable right up to the possible limits or human justice; a peace which will not give to any nation a ruling hegemony over the other nations; a peace which, if it does not satisfy all, will at least not be unbearable and humiliating to any one.
On what bases should such a peace be reared?
The answer to this complex and delicate question would lead me too far afield from my modest task. It is, besides, the proper task of persons very much more competent than me to give this answer. As a son of Macedonia, the land which was the involuntary cause of the two Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913, and perhaps the indirect cause of the present great war, I shall confine myself merely to pointing out the bases upon which such a peace must be reared in the Balkan Peninsula. But in order that it should become clear what sort of a peace can tranquilize the Balkan Peninsula in the future, it is essential to recall here the causes which have hitherto disturbed the peace in the Balkans, and the efforts which have been made in the past to secure this peace.
For many years since the Balkan Peninsula has been the principal cause of strife among the Great Powers of Europe. All wars which Russia has waged against Turkey since the 18th century have had the Balkan Peninsula as their theater and object. The chronic friction between Austria-Hungary and Russia has sprung, above all, from the difficulty of reconciling the interests of those states in the Balkans. Even the old enmity between England and Russia — to which the present war has put a temporary stop — has been born and fostered of Russia's striving after the possession of Constantinople and the Straits, through putting the Balkan Peninsula under her effectual protectorate. And after the Balkan states commenced to live their own political lives the Balkans became a new arena of discord among those nations themselves. This became particularly the case after Bulgaria was liberated (in 1878) and, through an unfortunate decision of the Congress of Berlin, whole provinces were torn away from her and were handed around to her neighbors: Macedonia to Turkey, the Nish province to Servia, and Dobrudja to Roumania. It was this great mistake of European diplomacy which sharpened to irreconcilableness the discord among
the Balkan states. With the giving of Dobrudja to Roumania the latter state was brought into the Balkan Peninsula, to which it had never belonged, and since Dobrudja was given to Roumania in exchange for Bessarabia, which was taken away from her, a temptation was created for Roumania to strive for new conquests in the Balkans. Almost the same thing took place in the case ot Servia. By receiving the bulgarian Nish Province as compensation for its participation in the Russo-Turkish war of 1877/78, Servia also had its appetite excited for expansion in bulgarian Macedonia as well. Greece, as it was, had long lived with its “great idea” of resurrecting the old Byzantine empire and installing itself in Constantinople. Of course, the Great Powers competing among themselves in the Balkan Peninsula — principally, Russia and Austria-Hungary — did not miss the chance to take advantage of all these appetites of the Balkan states in order to heighten the discord among them. And, not long after that war, they pointed their efforts in two principal directions: on the one hand, they concentrated the territorial aspirations of Servia and Greece on Macedonia, of Roumania on the triangle Silistria-Rustchuk-Varna; on the other hand, they did not insist before Turkey that she should introduce in her European provinces the reforms provided in Art. 23 of the Treaty of Berlin, which could have put an end to the rivalries and the discord on the Balkan Peninsula. English imperialism and the French “revanche” also did not miss the chance to take advantage of this situation, favourable to them. In this manner, the interested Great Powers succeeded in turning the Balkan Peninsula into a hearth of disorders and insurrections, in which future wars were smouldering. And during several decades Europe has been living under the terror of the Balkans, expecting each spring the outbreak of some insurrection there, to be followed by some war which might easily involve the whole of Europe, as indeed did happen in 1914. What happened was even more than that: the war has involved almost the entire world.
Wronged and rent asunder at the Congress of Berlin, the Bulgarians perceived early the danger which threatened not only their national unity but even their political existence. They made haste to declare, in September 1885, the union of the two dissevered Bulgarias — north and south — in order also to be better able to defend their frontiers towards Roumania and Servia, and to occupy themselves more seriously with the fate of Macedonia. But so natural a union as this, which did not make even Turkey indignant, the interests of which were infringed by it, was not to the liking of Servia, and, in the name of the “equilibrium in the Balkans”, she attempted to frustrate it, by attacking Bulgaria in the night of the 1/13 November s. y. To her misfortune, she was defeated in 13 days and compelled to seek peace. But the Bulgarians were not intoxicated with their victory over Servia. In their constant striving to live in peace with other nations — particularly with their neighbors — they made place with Servia
„without annexations and indemnities”. And soon afterwards they brought forward the most equitable and most practical solution for an agreement regarding Macedonia among the Balkan states interested in her. That solution was the autonomy of Macedonia, garanteed and applied under the protectorate of the Great Powers. But Servia and Greece declared themselves opposed to autonomy. They did this because they knew that Macedonia is populated by a Bulgarian majority which, under an autonomous government, would give the whole of Macedonia a bulgarian physiognomy, and would not wait long before it united her to the Bulgarian Principality — as occurred with Southern Bulgaria, in 1885. In the face of this opposition of Servians and Greeks to the autonomy of Macedonia, the Macedonian bulgarians decided to achieve it themselves, arms in hand. With this end in view, they soon covered almost the whole of Macedonia with revolutionary committees, and began the uneven fight against Turkey, with their revolutionary bands. Bulgaria herself, which hat realized the impossibility of introducing autonomy in Macedonia without war, and without an agreement among the interested Balkan states — at least between Bulgaria and Servia — aimed its activity in both these directions. Along with the preparation of the bulgarian army for an eventual war, Bulgaria took the initiative for an agreement with Servia regarding Macedonia. The first attempt of this nature, made in 1897, could not succeed, because Servia would not hear of autonomy for Macedonia but wished her partition between Bulgaria and Servia. Of course, no Bulgarian government then could consent to such a Solomonlike solution of the Macedonian question, and Bulgaria preferred to leave the whole of Macedonia in Turkish hands till more propitious times. This failure, however, caused the Macedonian revolutionists to hasten their preparations for an insurrection, which, in fact, broke out in the region of Bitolia, in 1903. The insurrection lasted about one month and, as was to be expected, was suppressed with fire and sword: about 200 Bulgarian villages were wholly or partly burnt, about 5000 insurgents fell in the fighting, and the prisons were overfilled with suspected Bulgarians from the insurrectionary districts. Despite this, the insurrection yielded a result which was in appearance very important but in reality very modest: the Great Powers saw themselves obliged to impose upon Turkey an international reforming action in Macedonia. But, taught by her historical experience to expect nothing substantial from an European action unsupported with armed force, Bulgaria decided to make a second attempt for an agreement with Servia, in the spring of 1904. Yet this attempt also did not fully succeed, although a formal alliance was concluded ar that time between Bulgaria ^nd Servia. The attempt did not succeed for the same reason: Servia would not consent to the autonomy of Macedonia, or, more correctly, consented to a crippled autonomy, by insisting that the Skopie district should be recognized as a part of “Old Servia”, not of Macedonia — a geographical heresy with very heavy
political consequences. Fortunately, the Young Turk revolution, of 1908, came soon after that, and during its very first months did away with the European reforming action in Macedonia, and a little later initiated an ultra-nationalistic and pan-mussulman policy which had for its aim to modify the ethnographical composition of Macedonia, by clearing her of its dangerous bulgarian educated class, and to turn the bulgarian majority into a minority, trough forced emigration, and in this manner to make unjustifiable and without object every bulgarian war for her liberation. In the face of this dire danger, of losing the whole of Macedonia, the Bulgarian government decided, in 1911, to make a new attempt for an agreement with Servia — the third in turn. After long negotiations, the alliance was concluded, and had as a result the first Balkan war, in 1912. Immediately after the conclusion of this alliance, Bulgaria took the initiative for the conclusion of agreements with Greece and Montenegro, also, in virtue of which these two states likewise took part in the war. The rest is a matter of general knowledge, as events are still fresh in everyone's memory. The final outcome of all these alliances and agreements, was the second Balkan war, in 1913, which ended with the Treaty of Bucharest and the spoliation of Bulgaria.
From this instructive history, narrated here in its chief episodes, I think that I can deduce the following propositions and conclusions:
That the Balkan Peninsulu has been for many years the principal hearth wherefrom have come the sparks which have kindled most of the wars in Europe, and which kindled the present great war. Therefore, its pacification is essential, in order to secure the peace of Europe.
That the Balkan Peninsula could have been such a hearth because it has not been crystallized nationally, politically and economically. Turkey, to whom it belonged during more than four centuries, ruled it only thanks to her military force; while, after the libertation of Servia, Greece and Bulgaria, a large part of the Balkan Peninsula remained in Turkish hands, and became an object of conquest for the Balkan states and of rivalry among the Great Powers.
That all attempts for the pacification of the Balkans during the last forty years have been made by Bulgaria alone — the only Balkan state which has striven for an agreement with her neighbors (preferably with Servia), and which has made three formal attempts to bring about this agreement.
That for the realization of this aim Bulgaria has been ready even to sacrifice her union with Macedonia, consenting to have an autonomous state formed out of her, which would serve as a band of union between the Balkan states, and, as a self-governing political unit, would enter into a future Balkan confederation.
That for the same purpose Bulgaria even consented, in 1912, to suffer a living member of her national organism to be cut off from it, by agreeing to have a part of the Bulgarian lands in northern Macedonia ceded to Servia.
That, all for the same purpose, Bulgaria has never raised any question regarding
her lands in Dobrudja and the Nish province, which, as has already been said, were annexed by Roumania and Servia, as military compensation for their participation in the Russo-Turkish war of 1878.
That Bulgaria has always nourished aspirations only for land« which have belonged to her in the past, with which she shared the Turkish yoke during whole centuries, and which have been recognized as Bulgarian by all authoritative travelers in European Turkey, by Turkey herself, and by the Great Powers at their Constantinople Conference, in 1876—77.
And, finally, that the legend regarding some sort of ambition on the part of Bulgaria to impose its hegemony upon the Balkan Peninsula— a legend invented by the Greeks and Servians, in 1913 — is one of the most baseless and most perfidious libels which have ever been cast on a nation.
When all the abovesaid is once grasped, then it is no longer especially difficult to answer the question: upon what bases a durable peace in the Balkan Peninsula can and must be reared? I shall take the risk of answering this question, by expressing my personal opinion which is not binding upon any one. And I shall attempt to do this, ii not with full impassibility, at least with a humanly-possible impartiality.
Thus; the pacification of the Balkan Peninsula is possible only if the Balkans are crystallized nationally, politically and economically. Such a crystallization can take place only when those states settle in their final frontiers. The fixing of these frontiers must be made on the basis of the following fundamental principles: that they be as natural as possible; that they enclose the respective nations, with their national constitutive parts; that they safeguard the political Independence of those nations; that they correspond to their historical traditions and do not conflict with the right of each nation to self-government, it goes without saying that the application of these fundamental principles to the fixing of the future boundaries of the Balkan states cannot be mathematically exact. Therefore some corrections and compromises will be necessary, constituting perhaps a slight deviation from them. But it must not be forgotten that ideal frontiers are impossible for continental nations, just as it is impossible not to take into consideration the military results of the present war.
A crystallization of the Balkan Peninsula on the basis of the principles enunciated above will be bound to result in the following political frontiers of the Balkan states:
Turkey would have to retain in Europe her present frontiers with Bulgaria, fixed by the Turko-Bulgarian Boundary Convention of August 24 / September 6, 1915. (See: the 40th, and last, map of the present Atlas). The economic necessity for both these states that the Maritsa river should become navigable may, perhaps, demand a small correction of this frontier, but the question is a
purely local one between Turkey and Bulgaria and capable of very easy settlement by them.
Roumania shall have to renounce formally and irrevocably possession of the old Dobrudja presented to her in 1878 as well as of the new Dobrudja seized by her in 1913, and to withdraw to her old frontier behind the Danube. This must be done not only because Dobrudja is the cradle of the Bulgarian people and for twelve whole centuries has been a Bulgarian province; not only because Roumania in 1878 considered Dobrudja a Bulgarian province and was indignant that Russia should deprive her of Bessarabia in exchange for it; not only because the whole of Dobrudja has already been taken from Roumania by force of arms; but also because Roumania has never belonged to the Balkan Peninsula, and must encroach upon it any further if peace between her and Bulgaria be desired and, in general, if it be desired that the peace of the Balkan should not be disturbed. Roumania must quit Dobrudja also for another reason, inasmuch äs the mouth of such an international river as the Danube should not be held by one state alone.
The taking of the entire Dobrudja from Roumania does not deprive her of access to the sea, as her riverain ports Galats and Braila have always been sea ports also. With reference to the roumanian naphtha industry, whose export passes through the Dobrudjan port Kustendja, that industry can be guaranteed by means of a Roumano-Bulgarian convention placing the port of Kustendja as well as the railroad between TchernaVoda and Kustendia under conditions economically favorably to Roumania. Bulgaria will even be ready to make to Roumania the same economical concessions in Kustendia which Greece made to Servia in Salonica.
Bulgaria would have to reunite to herself all the provinces which in 1878 were torn from her by violence and distributed to her neighbors, namely, Macedonia, Dobrudja and the Nish province. Bulgaria has national, moral, historical and geographical rights to them, acknowledged by the former rulers of those provinces themselves, by nearly all the authoritative geographers and travellers in the Balkans and by all the Great Powers. It is true that in the course of the 40 years' possession of Dobrudja by Roumania and of the Nish province by Servia these two states succeeded in imposing upon them — by the power of their government — their national stamp. But it is no less true that the bulgarian rights to these provinces are so unchanging and so incontestable that they can be defended both by the french formula of „disannexation”, enunciated by the french Prime-Minister Ribot, and by the german formula of „reannexation”, advanced by the german professor and economist Adolph Wagner.
Besides, Bulgaria would have to reunite to herself the whole basin of the Timok river, as well, which was ceded by Turkey to Servia in 1833, as a bulgarian district; and which has never before been within the historical, political, or ecclesiastical boundaries of Servia.
Bulgaria must govern this district not only because it has been Bulgarian in the past; and not only because it has now been taken away from Servia by force of arms; but, also, because she has an imperative economic need of it in order to come into territorial contact with Hungary. Otherwise, on account of the irreconcilable animosity of Servia and Roumania towards everything bulgarian, the commercial intercourse of Bulgaria with Western Europe will be tacitly boycotted by them and, therefore, the economic independence of Bulgaria will be compromised. This territorial contact with Hungary is as vital a question for Bulgaria as the outlet to the sea is for Servia.
It is scarcely necessary to bring proof that Bulgaria must also reunite to herself Macedonia, which her very enemies have recognized in the past as bulgarian province — and to reunite all parts of Macedonia where the majority is bulgarian. As for the capital of the province, Salonica, her only port, it must either be neutralized as a free city, or else become a joint possession (Condominium) of Greece and Bulgaria, as it was during the interval between the two Balkan wars in 1912—1913. Otherwise, the whole macedonian hinterland will remain without its port — situation inadmissible and full of dangers for the peace of the Balkan Peninsula.
Servia must be restored in the boundaries which remain to her (after the restitution to Bulgaria of the provinces taken from Bulgaria in the past) annexing, on the other hand, the whole of Montenegro (barring the Lovtchen Mountain) and the whole of north-eastern Albania, i. e. the Metochia and Kossovo Pole, famous for its history and its fertility. In this manner, Servia will obtain an outlet to the sea, so much dreamt of and so necessary to her, on the Adriatic — where her natural outlet is to be found — and will possess two seaports, Antivari and Dulcigno, the latter of which is also a delightful bathing beach. The outlet of Servia on the Adriatic, in whose middle hinterland the Servian race has always been settled, will insure the economic independence of the Servian people, and will turn it away from its pan-servian aspirations which are so dangerous for the peace of the Peninsula. One indispensable condition for the complete guaranteeing of peace is that Servia should once for all take leave of Macedonia.
Montenegro, as said, must be annexed to Servia: because it is a purely Servian country; because this entire monténégrin people desires this union with Servia; because Montenegro does not possess the conditions indispensable to an modern independent state and because, for some time past, the monténégrins have nourished such an organic hatred towards their dynasty that, wer» the union with Servia not to be consummated, they would prefer even Austrian rule to the restoration of an independent Montenegro under the dynasty of King Nikita.
Albania, like all other Balkan countries, has a right to an autonomous
political existence. But the experiment with her autonomy in 1913—1915 showed that she does not possess the conditions required of a state politically independent. She will be left with still less vitality when the Metochia and Kossovo Pole are given to Servia — for without them the union of Servia and Montenegro is physically impossible. Albania might still be set up as an autonomous state under the protectorate of one of the great Adriatic Powers, Austria or Italy; but, in such a case, she would only be a foreign colony, and, what is worse, would become a new hearth of rivalries and dissensions in the Balkan Peninsula. For this reason, despite all sympathies which should be entertained for the political independence of this original nation, which consists of two large tribes (Tosks and Ghegs) and whose members adhere to three religions (mohammedan, catholic and orthodox), I think that is would be preferable both for the Albanians themselves and for the pacification of the Balkan Peninsula if Albania were to enter into the component parts of the neighboring Balkan states — whit a guarantee, by an international act, of course, of religious and national-educational liberty for the albanian nation. If such a solution of the question should be adopted, the whole Albanian tribe of Tosks, inhabiting upper Epirus and southern Albania to the Shkumbi river, inclusively Valona, would become a part of Greece, as that tribe is under the influence of greek civilization. Of the remaining Albania, the northern part, inclusively Durazzo, must become a part of Servia, while in middle Albania a corridor should be given to Bulgaria for the construction of a railroad which would open the Adriatic to northwestern Macedonia.
Greece, so generously expanded by the accession of the upper Epirus and of southern Albania, should restore to Bulgaria those Macedonia segments which she seized in 1913, and for whose cession to Bulgaria Venizelos himself expressed readiness before the second Balkan war. (The London „Times” correspondent in the Balkans, Mr. Bourchier, who was the unofficial intermediary between the Bulgarian government and Venizelos for the conclusion of the alliance between Bulgaria and Greece in 1912, knows well the frontier which his intimate friend Venizelos offered to Bulgaria at that time in exchange for the cession of Salonica to Greece).
When the above frontiers of the Balkan states shall have been crystallized by an international congress, and the great humanitarian principle of international arbitration shall have been made compulsory for them, no further doubt could arise about the attainment of a pacification of the Balkan Peninsula.
In their idealistic and humane striving to put an end to the great war, most european socialists recommend the plebiscite as the most equitable and most democratic means of deciding the controversies regarding those territories, which have been annexed in the past or shall be subject to annexation at the close of the pre-
sent war. As a matter of principle, the justice and democratic nature of that measure can not be subject to any controversy. But the application of this principle under the conditions of today would scarcely yield those sincere and equitable results which are naturally expected of a plebiscite.
Let us take the Balkan Peninsula as an example.
Dobrudja, which was presented to Roumania in 1878, is the province in which the Bulgarian Kingdom was founded in 679. From that time until 1878 Dobrudja has always been within the boundaries of the Bulgarian race — even When Bulgaria was subjugated by Byzantium and by Turkey. At the time of her annexation by Roumania in 1878 Dobrudja was pupulated by several nationalities, at whose head were the Bulgarians. Had a plebiscite been made then it.would have established the presence in Dobrudja of a Bulgarian majority, Strong in its national self-consciousness and very much more advanced in the paths of civilization than the other nationalities there. Turkey herself had conceded that when, in her well-known firman establishing the Bulgarian Exarchy, she recognized as bulgarian the Tulcea bishopric, the only one in Dobrudja. This was also recognised by Roumanians, well acquainted with the Dobrudja, among them Cogalniceanu, Roman, Luca Jonescu, Grigori Danescu, Alexandre Sturdza, Nacian and others, whose works are on record in our Bibliography. Moreover almost the entire Roumanian Press during that period declared itself against the annexation of the Dobrudja. Again 46 Roumanian deputies publicly declared, that „Roumania had no interest whatsoever in annexing a territory on the other side of the Danube, as this would be the cause of future complications and troubles”. In the Senate the former Roumanian Prime Ministers, the late D. Sturdza and Mr. Peter Carp, with great eloquence also protested against the annexation of the Dobrudja. How much the Dobrudja in 1878 was considered to be a Bulgarian country, is illustrated by the following significant fact: the proclamation by which the late King Carol announced to the inhabitants of the Dobrudja, that they would henceforth be Roumanian subjects, was written not only in the official language, i. e. in Roumanian, but also in the language of the country, i. e. in Bulgarian. However, after the annexation of Dobrudja, the Roumanian government, in order to change her ethnographic constitution, employed the following three means: it did away with the church and school autonomy of the Bulgarians in Dobrudja; it expatriated thousands of Bulgarians, from among the more intelligent elements in the province, who emigrated to Bulgaria; if colonized in Dobrudja more than one hundred thousand Roumanians from Roumania proper. In this original manner the Bulgarian majority of the province was turned into a minority and its place was taken by an artificially created Roumanian majority. It appears to me that even the most doctrinal socialist would. Confess that by such or similar oppres-
sive methods the ethnographic constitution of any country might be changed; but the results would not suffice to establish the real situation in that country in a national sense.
Almost the same thing was done by Servia in the Timok basin and in the Nish province, with this difference, solely, that she did not need to colonize Servians from Servia proper, as she relied upon the fact that the Bulgarians, being Slavs, would be easily converted into Servians when one generation should have passed through Servian schools. So we are now witnesses to a paradoxical fact, that the present Servian Prime Minister, Nicholas Pashitch, is a servianized bulgarian, born in the town of Zaitchar, while the present Commander in Cheif of the Servian forces, the Voyevoda Mishitch, is a servianized bulgarian, born in the large village Veliki-Izvor, Zaitchar district.
Exactly the same thing which Roumania did in Dobrudja Greece did in the Macedonian segments conquered by her in 1913, settling there Greek refugees from the Adrianople district and from bulgarian Thrace, and forcing thousands of native Bulgarians to emigrate to Bulgaria.
In the part of Macedonia, which they seized in 1913, the Servians had applied their old methods in order to denationalize the native Bulgarians, only enough time did not intervene for them to yield all the expected results.
Thus, during the years following the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878, as well as during the two Balkan wars in 1912-1913, the ethnographical conditions of the Balkan Peninsula were subject to considerable modifications.
With such an existing condition of things would a plebiscite taken today in those provinces be equitable?
I suppose that not a single conscientious and impartial socialist could answer this question otherwise than in the negative.
But there is something else.
No matter what guarantees are adopted to secure an holding of a genuine plebiscite, the states which are now occupying the disputed territories could not but influence — very formidably influence — the results of the plebiscite. But the thing which will have the most decisive effect upon these results will be the consideration: to whom will the disputed territories be awarded after the plebiscite? Naturally, tath consideration would count in favor of the states which are now occupying those territories. Can such a plebiscite be sincere? Can it represent the actual disposition the voting nations would make of themselves?
Of course not.
Of what use to any one, then, is such a plebiscite, tainted in its inception and doubtful in its results?
Of all warring countries today, which wish to make disannexations or reannexation, Bulgaria is, perhaps, the only one which is not afraid of a plebiscite. Yet, I repeat, a plebiscite would have significance only if it were sincere — as was the plebiscite held in Macedonia in the 70's of the last century.
which proved the Bulgarian character of that province. The reader will see below (p. 55) that this plebiscite was held under guarantees which left no doubt about its sincerity. It was held, in fact, by Turkey — a power neutral to the particular aspect of the dispute — and it was controlled by the Greek Patriarchy which had questioned the existence in Macedonia of a majority that wished to place itself under the Bulgarian Exarchy. And the results of that plebiscite — undisputed from any quarter — were striking: 2/3 of the Christian population of Macedonia voted for the Exarchy, i. e. declared openly that they were Bulgarians and did not wish to recognize the authority of the Greek Patriarchy.
Another means of settling the Macedonian controversy which is advanced by some socialists is still more untimely and more unhappy. Those socialists are harking back to the old Bulgarian formula of autonomy for Macedonia, forgetting that the irrealisableness of this very autonomy caused the two Balkan wars of 1912-1913, which led to the present terrible war. A reversion now to the autonomy Macedonian would mean the creation new of a breeding place for discord among the Balkan nations and for rivalries among the Great Powers. Is there anything more dangerous than that for the future peace of the Balkan Peninsula?
Lately, the russian Soviet of the laborers and soldiers, in its known resolution on peace up to conciliation, proposed: to give autonomy to Dobrudja, Macedonia and the other disputed Balkan territories, and after this to make a plebiscit im them, which plebicit should decide their final fate. This proposition is so unsuitable and unappliable, that one is inclined to admit that the russian Soviet made it only to quiet its conscience in regard to their unfotunate allies Roumania and Servia. For if this proposition be accepted, no peace is anymore possible on the Balkans, and what is most important, the peace will be interrupted before even the autonomy could be applied, and consequently before the plebiscit were made. The pacification of th Balkan Peninsula must be laid on foundations, which remove every justifiable reason for conflicts between the Balkans States. And such pacification is possible only under the above described conditions. That is at least my profound conviction.
Bulgaria is a small country. She can neither afford to dream of any imperialism or hegemony on the Balkan Peninsula, nor to tend to achieve the attainment of her national political unification merely upon force, nor can she clothe her war aims with the lofty phrase, that she fights „for the liberty an civilization of the whole world.” For Bulgaria the moral element in policy is obligatory. Therefore, Bulgaria must bring proof of her inalienable rights over the provinces which she considers Bulgarian and, in this manner, gain the moral sanction or the whole world for her unification. The present Atlas pursues precisely this last aim.
Mainly with the help of authoritative scholars and impartial investigators, belonging to nearly all of the great nations of Europe now at war, the Atlas establishes, in an undoubted manner, the ethnographic rights of Bulgaria to Macedonia, Dobrudja and the Nish province. What is, furthermore, of especial importance in the case, is that these ethnographic rights of Bulgaria were recognized by the leaders of European scholarship at a time when Bulgaria herself was not in existence politically, so that she cannot be said to have influenced the conclusions of these men in any manner, and at a time, again, when the controversies among the Balkan nations for the political possession of these lands had not yet arisen. Hence no question regarding a possible partiality of these authors in any one's favor can be raised. Fortunately, the later investigators of the Balkan Peninsula have also confirmed these rights of Bulgaria to Macedonia (there could have been no further talk regarding Dobrudja and the Nish province in view of the fact after 1878 they had entered the political boundaries of Roumania and Servia). On account of the lack of maps giving the conclusions of these later investigators, for insertion in the Atlas, the titles, merely, of their works are cited in the Bibliography appended hereto.
But it is not European scholars alone who have given recognition to the rights of Bulgaria to Macedonia, Dobrudja and the Nish province.
As the reader of the present Atlas will see further along, these rights of Bugaria have been likewise granted recognition by the states which have ruled these provinces in the past. Thus, the Byzantine Empire which ruled the Bulgarian nation from 1018 to 1186, ruled it under its state name „Bulgaria” — just as when Servia ruled Macedonia (1330 to 1371) her kings added to their royal title the words „King of the Bulgarians”. Turkey which ruled Bulgaria for five long centuries recognized more than once that the above lands were Bulgarian; while in 1870 she recognized them as such in a solemn act, the firman for the creation of the Bulgarian Exarchy. Finally, all of the European Great Powers likewise recognized these rights of Bulgaria at the Constantinople Conference of 1876—1877. (Look at: 32 map — p. 57—58.)
What other Balkan nation has had any of its claims to these provinces recognized so authoritatively and so unanimously?
From the present Atlas the reader will learn some other facts of interests which will add to his knowledge of the Balkan Peninsula.
He will learn, in particular, the following:
That the present Wallachia was ruled by Bulgaria for 90 years (805—895).
That the present Servian capital, Belgrade, was conquered by the Bulgarian king Krum in the beginning of the 9th century, when it still bore the name Singidunum. The whole Morava province was conquered at that time, also. In 828—829 Bulgaria further conquered the pro-
vince Srem (Sirmium), between the rivers Sava, Drava and the Danube, and definitely established her rule over the Servian capital, which from that time began to be called by its present name Belgrade. The possession of Belgrade by the Bulgarians continued until 1019 when it was conquered by the Byzantine rulers, together with the Srem and the Morava provinces; but in respect of ecclesiastical authority Belgrade remained further subject to the Bulgarian Patriarchy at Okhrida. For a second time Belgrade fell under Bulgarian rule in the beginning of the 13th century and remained in Bulgarian hands until 1353, when it was conquered by the Servian king Dushan. So that the Servian capital and the Morava and Srem provinces were under Bulgarian rule for about 250 years.
It must further be remembered that southern Albania and a part of northern Epirus passed under Bulgarian rule under tsar Simeon by virtue of the treaty of 904, when Bulgaria gained an outlet on the Adriatic from a point south of the city of Durazzo to the town of Butriito inclusively; while under tsar Samuel the entire Albania was embraced in the Bulgarian state and remained under Bulgarian sovereignty until the fall of the western Bulgarian Kingdom. During the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, Albania fell anew under Bulgarian rule, in 1230, under tsar J van Asen II, and remained Bulgarian until 1246, when Michael II, despot of Epirus, annexed to his possessions. Etc. etc. etc.
It is thus evident, that in the past Bulgaria dominated: in Wallachia during a period of 90 jears; in one half of Servia, including the capital Belgrade, for about 250 jears; and in Albania naerly 200 jears. But no Bulgar has ever conceived the idea to claim any historical rights to all these territories, as does Servia regarding Macedonia, which she held in possession for only 40 jears and then only as a Bulgarian country.
In order to give a scientific character to the present Atlas its ethnographic part has been entrusted to Dr. A. Ishirkoff, professor of geography at Sofia university, while its historical part was undertaken by Dr. V. Zlatarski, professor of history at the same university — both names well-known among scholars for scientific thoroughness and preeminent absence of bias. Professor Zlatarski drew his own 9 historical maps of Bugaria (6—14) in which the complete historical evolution of the First and Second Bulgarian Kingdom is traced; while Professor Ishirkoff prepared the map of the Bulgarian Exarchy (31) and that of Bulgaria according to the Report of Prince Tsherkasski (33). The maps have been executed under the observation of Captain Armand Odlé, the technical chief of the cartografical section of the Prussian generalstaff of army. It may regretted, only, that, for lack of time, the historical maps of Professor Zlatarski had to be traced upon a contemporary map. But that does not diminish their scientific value.
Berlin, December, 1917.
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