Kresna Uprising, San Stefano Treaty and Berlin Congress (1878)

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  • Liberator of Makedonija
    Partially relevant

    Mario Hristovski's video on Dimitar Berovski mentions an organisation he founded in Solun known as 'Macedonian Dawn' - only references I have found are from Bulgarian sources which claim it was called "Bulgarian Dawn", there does not appear to be any Macedonian study on this group.

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  • Liberator of Makedonija
    What an interesting figure, anyone know more about him?

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  • Liberator of Makedonija
    Still interesting how these events have been almost completely overlooked in our history.

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  • Carlin
    Originally posted by Liberator of Makedonija View Post
    Still seeking more information on the supposed "Greek" uprising that was taking place near the border with Thessaly just prior to Kresna. English wikipedia lists three seperate "Greek" uprisings in Macedonia from 1854-1878
    LoM, would you be able to post the wikipedia links?

    Regarding the "1878 Greek Macedonian rebellion" (link here: it is stated that (...I haven't been able to research the other parts yet):

    "The uprising began on Mount Vourinos led by Anastasios Picheon. On February 18, 1878, rebels from different parts of western Macedonia, formed in the Vourinos settlement, the "Provisional Government of Macedonian province of Elimeia" seeking the abolition of the Treaty of San Stefano and the Association of Macedonia with Greece. The summer of 1878, about 15,000 armed men escalated a guerrilla war in the mountains of Western Macedonia from Kozani to Bitola."

    Also, "In northern Macedonia, rebellions went as far as Veles, where the chieftain Katrakos was acting with 50 men. After the suppression of the uprising, many Velesians were forced to resort to Thessaloniki."

    1) What do we know about Anastasios Picheon or Pichion?

    We know that:
    - Anastasios Pichion or Picheon was a Greek of Vlach descent.
    - He was born in Ohrid during the Ottoman period. He studied in Ohrid and Bitola. He had Margaritis Dimitsas (also a 'Vlach') as his teacher, in whose private school, in Bitola, he taught for a while and helped his teacher in writing various of his studies.


    2) What do we know about the residents "of the mountains of Western Macedonia from Kozani to Bitola"? Well, the Greeks were mostly of Vlach extraction in all these parts. I assume I don't have to bother about Bitola. Regarding Kozani, we have the following eyewitness testimony from basically the exact same time period. While visiting the town of Kozani in 1880, British diplomat and historian Sir Ignatius Valentine Chirol, noted that “In the 900 houses of this city there are scarcely twenty where around the family fireside any other language is spoken than the old Latin-sounding Wallach. (Still) the prosperous townsfolk would be deeply hurt if any doubt were hinted as to the genuineness of their Hellenism”.

    3) In terms of "northern Macedonia" where "rebellions went as far as Veles, where the chieftain Katrakos was acting with 50 men" the only Greeks of Veles and nearby areas were also basically Vlachs, although I don't know much about this chieftain Katrakos. It's possible he might have been a native of Veles or from somewhere else (like Kosmas Doumpiotis, who is mentioned to have started the revolution on Olympus in 1878. Doumpiotis was from Skopelos, an island in the western Aegean Sea; perhaps his ancestors were from Macedonia or Epirus... Doumpiotis is very similar to Vlach name Doumpa or Dumba).
    Last edited by Carlin; 09-30-2019, 06:19 PM.

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  • Liberator of Makedonija
    Still seeking more information on the supposed "Greek" uprising that was taking place near the border with Thessaly just prior to Kresna. English wikipedia lists three seperate "Greek" uprisings in Macedonia from 1854-1878

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  • Liberator of Makedonija
    In-depth read on the uprising:

    The Kresna Uprising above all represents a high point in the development of the struggle of the Macedonian people for cultural, political, and social emancipation.

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  • Liberator of Makedonija
    A letter written by the British consul in Solun which mentions the Kresna Uprising, dated to 2 November 1878.

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  • Liberator of Makedonija
    Any primary documents on Macedonian's opposition to San Stefano?

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  • Liberator of Makedonija
    Anyone have any documents on the Macedonian people's views of the San Stefano Treaty of the time?

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  • Liberator of Makedonija
    Originally posted by vicsinad View Post
    The Macedonia fighters were beginning to realize that union with Bulgaria was no longer practical nor desirable and that only initiatives for an independent Macedonia or a larger Balkan Confederation would offer the best chance for freedom and security.
    Is this suggesting that union with Bulgaria was both practical and desirable prior?

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  • vicsinad
    Here's what I wrote in my Macedonian Resurrection book on the Kresna Uprising:

    The first major uprising after the Berlin Congress materialized in Kresna shortly after the Berlin Congress reversed the results of the San Stefano Treaty from a few months prior. The Macedonian Bishop Nathaniel of Ohrid began organizing the revolution in summer and autumn of 1878. He summoned Dedo Ilyo and Berovski, along with other rebel leaders from eastern Macedonia, to the Rila Monastery in Bulgaria (just outside of Macedonia) in late September, and Stojan Karastoilov was elected commander of the Kresna Uprising.5
    Karastoilov had led rebel bands in Nevrekop and Drama throughout the 1870s; and during the Russo-Turkish war in 1877-1878, he operated around Melnik and Serres. Like many Macedonian fighters of his time, he was drawn into battling the Turks after Ottoman authorities unleashed havoc on his village. When the Macedonian April Uprising failed in 1876, Karastoilov’s village and region was ravaged – peasants were massacred, women were raped and villages were burned. Karastoilov, his brother and other peasants from Starchishta went to the island of Thasos to pick olives. There, they acquired arms and swore to avenge Turkish reprisals and atrocities.6

    Hence, with respected and passionate leaders at the helm, in early October, Karastoilov and Stefan Karchev’s band of 400 Macedonians attacked and captured a Turkish garrison in Kresna. After this initial success, the Macedonian fighters dispatched a letter to a Macedonian Committee in Gorna Djumaja, the nearest large town. In part, it proclaimed:

    We Macedonian insurgents keep following our cause. Tonight, we led an 18-hour battle with two herds from the regular Turkish army. We suffered losses such as one person killed and three people wounded, while 9 Turkish soldiers were killed, 11 were wounded, and 119 soldiers and 2 officers have been captured.7

    Many villages around Kresna and in eastern Macedonia were thus liberated by 1879. Among the first villages to be freed was Vlahi, and it was here that the rebels established their headquarters. Berovski was elected the movement’s Chief of Staff,8 and revolutionary bands continued to successfully recapture several villages and ultimately assembled “local administrative organs in each village that they controlled.” One of these local bodies even proclaimed an “independent Republic of Macedonia.”9 A constitution and rules of the Macedonian Revolutionary Committee were also established.10

    But the leaders of the Macedonian insurgency soon came into conflict with Bulgarian leaders. The Macedonians’ objective for the uprising was to liberate Macedonia from the Ottoman Empire. The Bulgarians, on the other hand, wanted to exploit these rebel successes as an instrument for reinstating the details of the Treaty of San Stefano, which proposed to attach Macedonia to Bulgaria. Western European powers were wary of a Great Bulgaria in the Balkans and what it could mean for promoting Russian interests in the region. The Macedonia fighters were beginning to realize that union with Bulgaria was no longer practical nor desirable and that only initiatives for an independent Macedonia or a larger Balkan Confederation would offer the best chance for freedom and security.

    The Bulgarian leaders eventually succeeded in assuming control over the greater part of the Macedonian revolution. The Bulgarian Unity Committee’s soldiers, steered by Louis Vojtkevich and Adam Kalmikov, stopped at no crime in preventing the Macedonians from succeeding. Most devastating to the Macedonian movement was the ousting of Berovski and the murder of Karastoilov and two important rebels, Georgi Cholakov and Ivan Trendafilov.11

    Vojtkevich was particularly known for engaging in outlandish conflicts,12 and was thus a reliable figure to interfere with the internal Macedonian uprising. There is scant information on where and when he was born, but he hailed from the Russian Empire and had Polish origins.13 He participated in several rebellions and uprisings, such as the January Uprising in Poland against the Russian Empire.14 Vojtkevich moved to Macedonia in 1870 and settled in Veles. He taught French at the Bulgarian school there and eventually married the daughter of Dimitar Karamfilovich, an important public figure.15 Vojtkevich then rose to arms against the Turks in the Bosnian Uprising of 1875, the Serbian-Turkish war in 1876, and the Russo-Turkish War in 1877-1878, for which he served as a commander in northern Macedonia.16

    The Sofia-based Bulgarian Unity Committee noticed him and appointed him as a leader of a volunteer detachment of Bulgarian fighters that tried to enter into Macedonia by the way of Kyustendil in order to begin an uprising. However, after that attempt failed, the Bulgarian Unity Committee put him in charge of 250 Bulgarian volunteers to join the Kresna-Razlog Uprising.17 In November of that Uprising, the Bulgarian Unity Committee settled him in Bansko as the military head after the leader of the band that helped secure victory there, Banjo Marinov, was severely wounded. One writer noted that he arrived “to feast, not to fight.” He soon clashed with the Macedonian leader, Karastoilov, who insisted on strengthening the rebel forces and administration in the victorious villages before extending the Uprising. Vojtkevich, however, was in no mood to be challenged on his desire to spread the war as soon as possible.18

    It was also here that Vojtkevich came into a leadership struggle – temporarily – with another Bulgarian Unity Committee leader, Kalmikov. Like Vojtkevich, Kalmikov was from Russia and participated in both the Serbian-Turkish and Russo-Turkish Wars of the late 1870s.19 Like Vojtkevich, he also tried to penetrate into Macedonia before the Kresna-Razlog Uprising began.20 But before their competitive personalities could come to a collision, Berovski, Karastoilov and other Macedonian leaders had them removed from their commanding roles.21 The Bulgarian Unity Committee, however, supported these foreign commanders in usurping command from the local Macedonians. Vojtkevich and Kalmikov arrested Berovski and killed Karastoilov and two of his trusted rebels.22 Immediately, the Macedonians wanted revenge. Gorna Djumaja’s commander, for example, ordered twenty Cossacks to capture the killers dead or alive.23

    Even though Karastoilov’s followers managed to chase Kalmikov out of the revolutionary area,24 this takeover by the Bulgarians caused an unhealthy fracturing of the rebellions, and most Macedonian fighters withdrew their efforts. George Zimbilev was the sole local Macedonian leader remaining and could not continue the fight with a disintegrated force.25 He abandoned his efforts, leading to the uprising’s defeat in May of 1879.26 Moreover, the Bulgarian interference fueled Macedonian disdain for Bulgarian leaders such as Stefan Stambolov, who had an active role in the uprising and would proceed to have an even greater role in subverting and coveting the Macedonian Cause. The injection of Bulgarian fighters and interests in the local uprising squashed any chances of the European Powers favorably examining the notion of an independent Macedonia.

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  • Liberator of Makedonija
    Anyone know anything about this?

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  • Liberator of Makedonija
    This is one of the most amazing pieces of history I have every read, bravo on finding this George. S

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  • George S.
    Berlin Congress and the Macedonian Question

    Berlin Congress and the Macedonian Question
    By Vanche Stoichev
    Edited by Risto Stefov
    [email protected]
    October 2015

    Most interesting about 19th century diplomatic and political practices, which have not changed to this day, is how the Great Powers treated the weak and smaller countries and the people in general, particularly the Balkan people… like they were some sort of “loot” or commodity to be divided among armed “thieves”.

    Source: Military History of Macedonia, Skopje, 2004, pages 220 – 224.

    When Greater Bulgaria was fashioned with the signing of the Preliminary Treaty of San Stefano no consideration was given to ethnic and economic issues. This created a number of problems among the Great Powers and the Balkan countries. The Macedonian people in Macedonia, along with Macedonian refugees living in various parts of the world, protested with many letters and requests to the Great Powers to not leave Macedonia under Ottoman rule, nor to unite it with Bulgaria.

    After the Kumanovo-Kriva Palanka uprising was suppressed, the insurgents retreated to Vranie and sent a delegation to visit Serbian Duke Milan Obrenovich and ask him to persuade the Russian Emperor not to allow Bulgaria to annex Macedonia. After that Colonel Katardzhi, a Serbian representative in St. Petersburg, visited the Russian Tsar and gave him a letter explaining why southeastern Serbia and Macedonia should be separate from Bulgaria.

    The Russian government replied to the letter as follows: “Our primary interests here are those of Russia, then of Bulgaria and finally of Serbia and Macedonia, but at the moment Bulgarian interests happen to be in line with Russian interests which makes them equal to Russian interests…” (Cf. Jovan Ristich. Diplomatska istorija Srbije. Beograd, 1896, Volume II, p. 120.)

    On May 14, 1878 Dimitar Robev, a well-known Macedonian merchant from Ohrid and representative in the Ottoman Parliament, visited Serbia after the Great Powers decided to revise the Preliminary San Stefano Treaty. During his talks with Matia Ban, Robev asked for support from the Serbian government, more specifically from the Serbian representative at the Berlin Congress, to fight for Macedonian independence. Robev told Ban that he was in close contact with Count Ignatiev, Russian ambassador in Constantinople, who supported the idea that “Macedonia can not belong to any of the three larger nations (Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria) on the Balkan Peninsula”. After Robev’s initiative on May 14, 1878, Serbian politician Dimitria Todorovich wrote a letter to Jovan Ristich, Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs, in which he said: “It seems to me as if this Captain Misha (Dimitar Robev -V.S.) wants to become a Duke of Macedonia…” (Archive of the Historical Archives of Serbia (AHIS), Collection of Jovan Ristich, Inv. No. 12/581, signature XII/5 dated May 14, 1878.)

    Taking into consideration the political and military situation in and around Macedonia after the Russian-Ottoman war and after the signing of the Preliminary San Stefano Treaty in 1878, Macedonian emigrants and migrant workers living in the Serbian Principality came to the conclusion that the only way to resolve the Macedonian political and national question was by obtaining autonomy for Macedonia within the Ottoman Empire, within its historical borders, and with a Christian provincial governor as its head. The request was signed on June 2, 1878 by 19 Macedonian emigrants living in the Serbian Principality and, on June 12, 1878, delivered to Archimandrite Sava of Dechani, Serbian representative at the Berlin Congress, with a request to deliver it to the Congress (AHIS, Collection of Jovan Ristich, Inv. No. 12/581, signatureXII/5 dated June 12, 1878.)

    Unfortunately the Russian government disagreed and was quick to reject Macedonian and Serbian requests. Great Britain and Austria-Hungary on the other hand, the two powers that opposed the Preliminary San Stefano Treaty, were preparing to protect their interests by any means possible, even by war if necessary. But Russia at that time was not prepared to enter a new war so it withdrew its support for Greater Bulgaria and accepted the annulment of the Preliminary San Stefano Treaty.

    On May 30, 1878, Britain and Russia secretly signed a treaty according to which Russia gave up the idea of creating a Greater Bulgaria in favour of creating an autonomous Bulgarian principality located in the Balkan Mountains extending as far as the Danube River. Russia then made requests for Bulgaria’s international recognition (within its natural borders), as well as for Eastern Rumelia to become an autonomous province within the Ottoman Empire. Britain, on the other hand, took Cyprus and agreed for Russia to take Batum, Kars and Bessarabia. On June 6, 1878 Britain and Austria-Hungary agreed not to allow Bulgarian territory to expand south of the Balkan Mountains and the Russian occupation of Bulgaria be limited to six months. Austria-Hungary was allowed to occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina. Britain and Austria-Hungary also agreed to have a common approach to all other issues (Cf. V. M. Hvostov and I. I. Minc. Istorija diplomatije. Volume II, edition V., P. Potemkin, Belgrade, 1949, pp. 49-52.)

    After this, the Great Powers called for a Congress to take place in Berlin which lasted from June 13 to July 13, 1878. The Congress was attended by delegates representing Britain, Austria-Hungary, Germany, France, Italy, Russia and the Ottoman Empire. Balkan state representation was not on par with that of the Great Powers. Having no independent state of their own the Macedonian people had no representation. German chancellor Bismarck chaired the Congress. The basis for the decisions made at this Congress had already been drafted May 30, 1978 by the British-Russian Treaty. The Berlin Congress basically annulled the Preliminary San Stefano Treaty and replaced it with the Treaty of Berlin which was then signed by the Congress. This treaty was composed of 64 articles which basically changed the situation in the Balkan Peninsula.

    The Treaty of Berlin freed Macedonia from Greater Bulgaria and from Eastern Rumelia. Sofia Sanjak was united with the Bulgarian Principality in exchange for giving the Ottoman sultan the right to bring his armies to Eastern Rumelia. Russia’s occupation of Bulgaria was limited to no longer then nine months. Russia was given the right to organize a government in Bulgaria. The Congress ended on July 13, 1878 with the signing of the Treaty of Berlin, which allowed Austria-Hungary to occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia to occupy Bessarabia, Batum, Kars and Ardaham and Britain to occupy Cyprus. Serbia, Montenegro and Greece were given independence. Macedonia, Sanjak and Kosovo were placed back under Ottoman rule… (Cf. Vojna enciklopedlja. Volume I, Belgrade, 1970, p. 584.)

    The Berlin Congress did not resolve any of the national issues in the Balkan Peninsula. The Balkan countries that were given independence became advocates of the Great Powers which consequently over time became involved in new armed conflicts in the region.

    Count Shuvalov, one of the Russian representatives at the Congress, requested that his colleagues who were present take necessary measures to pacify the situation in Macedonia. He recommended that: “experienced agents be sent there, who in the name of His Majesty the Emperor of Russia would look after Macedonian interests as the Russians have done for all Slavic speaking nations. Macedonians would be granted the same liberty as the Bulgarians. Resolving the Macedonian Question unfortunately has proved to be very difficult and always rushed, therefore it is our duty to Macedonia to act in accordance with the Constantinople Throne because experience shows, as it did in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, that we will end up working for the benefit of Austria-Hungary. If after a period of time, for example, certain disturbances or revolutions take place in Macedonia, it may be possible for the Great Powers, especially Britain and Italy, to reconsider and allow this province to unite with Austria-Hungary, and by doing so involve us into a far more serious conflict. The Russian government can not act indifferently towards the takeover of Solun by the Austrians.” (Cf. Dokumenti za borbata na makedonskiot narod za samostojnast i za nacionalna drzhava. Op. cit, Volume I, pp. 237-238.)

    Even though this statement had encouraging effects on the Macedonian people who turned their hopes towards Russia, the Slavic committees once again tried to resurrect Greater Bulgaria as per the San Stefano Treaty. Despite the fact that many independent states were created and solutions to problems were found after the Berlin Congress, still, the most important issue in the Balkans was the unresolved Macedonian Question. The Macedonian people in the absence of a Macedonian state, in the absence of a Macedonian political party to represent their interests, the Macedonian national question was treated like it was a “Bulgarian issue”, an “Ottoman problem”, a “Greek issue”, or a “Serbian issue”. The Macedonian Question became connected to the “Greek problem”, especially when the Greeks began to make requests to annex Crete, Epirus and Thessaly. The French were in support of this Greek request, while the British suggested that this matter be resolved by a treaty between Greece and the Ottoman Empire. In regards to the Macedonian Question, the Great Powers at the Berlin Congress recommended the following measures be applied to Macedonia and other European parts of the Ottoman Empire:

    1. Implement the Organic Constitution approved at the Island of Crete in 1868;

    2. Create constitutions for Epirus, Thessaly and Macedonia;

    3. Create a special commission composed of representatives from the native population who would then create an appropriate constitution for each region… (Cf. Correspondence relative the Berlin Congress. London, 1878, Protocol No.13. Cf. Ivan Panayotov. Ruskata diplomaciya i osvobodenieto na B’lgariya. ‘Voennoistoricheski sbornik (Military history review)’, No. 6, Sofia, 1967, p. 40. Cf. Dolalmenti za borbata na makedonskiot narod za samostojnost i za nacionalna drzhava. Volume I, pp. 236-237.)

    Later these constitutions would be submitted first to the Sublime Porte (Ottoman authorities) for review and then to the Russian Emperor for approval before they were to be implemented. But on Bismarck’s suggestion, instead of the Russian Emperor, the Congress decided to appoint a European Commission for Eastern Rumelia which was to control the implementation of the constitutions. According to recommendations made by the Berlin Congress, this Commission was also asked to take care of the process for creating a constitution for Macedonia. The Sublime Porte was given the responsibility to carry out reforms in accordance with Articles 23 and 62 of the Treaty of Berlin. Article 23 obliged the Porte to implement the 1868 Organic Constitution in Macedonia already implemented in Crete, with necessary changes made by a special Commission composed of Macedonian representatives determined by the Porte. After the Macedonian Commission drafted this Constitution, it would be reviewed by the European Commission for Eastern Rumelia. Article 62 obliged the Sublime Porte to respect and maintain all religious rights. The Ottoman Empire had no right to use religion as an excuse to exclude people from their civil and political rights (Cf. Ljuben Lape. Odbrani tektoviza istorijata na makedonskiot narod. Op. cit, pp. 216-217.)

    Even though the Ottoman Empire, in principle, agreed to adopt all the Berlin Treaty recommendations, in practice it was business as usual. Unfortunately the Congress did not include penalties, sanctions or any other consequences if its recommendations were disregarded.

    After the Berlin Congress was signed the Macedonian people faced even greater perils. Every Macedonian person who exhibited national feelings was tried and punished with the most common punishment being “death or to 101 years of hard labour”. The Prisons were full to capacity with Macedonians. Many lives were lost. While the other countries which were under Ottoman rule were now in line for becoming independent, Macedonia was thrown back into Ottoman hands with only one request; to carry out some reforms, which the Porte never intended to carry out anyway. Russia, it seems, did not understand the essence of the Macedonian Question and was unwilling to help the Macedonian people, not even to gain autonomy. Of all the revolutionary and liberation movements and armed uprisings that took place in the Balkans before the Berlin Congress, the Macedonian struggle was the only struggle that was not crowned with any success; the Ottomans were never asked to make territorial concessions for the Macedonian people… (Cf. Henrik Batowski. Shto stana so Berlinskiot dogovor. Glasnik na INI, year XXXII, 1973, p. 123.)

    Instead of granting Macedonia its liberty, the Berlin Congress decided to only recognize Macedonia as a special historic region ripe for future colonial plans. Macedonia was given back to the Ottoman Empire, as it turned out, so that the Great Powers could later exercise their unrealized colonial plans. To make this possible and easy they added a small number of obligations to Article 23 of the Treaty which would put them in control of the situation at any time, enabling them to use it at any time and achieve their goals.

    Many Macedonians living in Bulgaria, especially those who had participated in the Russian-Ottoman war as well as those who were members of intellectual organizations, organized protests and wrote letters condemning the Berlin Congress decisions. Prominent Macedonians organized a meeting in Plovdiv in August 1878, during which they came up with the following resolutions: (Cf. Ivan Katardhiev. Kresnenskoto vostanie. Skopje, 1978, pp. 27-28.)

    1. Send requests to all European monarchs and ask for their support to improve the status of the Macedonian people;

    2. Send a request to Jurai Shtrosmaier, a well-known Croatian social worker, and ask him to persuade the Russian Emperor to place the Macedonian people under his patronage;

    3. Send a request to Austria-Hungary to place Macedonia under its patronage.

    Unfortunately the moment Russian Command in Bulgaria found out about this initiative, it put an end to it. But, as can be seen from the above resolutions, the Macedonia people did not want a Macedonian unification with Bulgaria, they wanted liberty for Macedonia. The fact that they opposed both the San Stefano Treaty and the recommendations made by the Berlin Congress, proves that the Macedonian people wanted liberty above all else.

    The Berlin Congress was a missed opportunity for resolving the Eastern Crisis in Macedonia by peaceful means and for enabling the creation of an independent or an autonomous Macedonian state within the Ottoman Empire. The circumstances were also favourable for resolving the Macedonian Question. A resolution for the Eastern Crisis and for offering Macedonia autonomy had already been defined and was part of the Great Power plan, unfortunately the Ottoman Empire did not follow through and neither did the Great Powers. After the Russian-Ottoman war ended, Russia was prohibited from occupying Macedonia. The other powers did not want it to gain access to the Aegean Sea. This was made evident by Britain, which strongly objected to Russian involvement in the Mediterranean, especially in the Suez Canal. Britain openly protected its own interests in this region. The idea of creating a large Slavic state in the Balkans, as planned by the Pan-Slavic Committee, failed with the annulment of the Preliminary San Stefano Treaty. Bu, in spite of all that, Count Ignatiev still had a plan for Macedonia to be given autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. His wish was that his close friend Dimitar Robev (a prominent Macedonian revolutionary and merchant and member of the Ottoman parliament) would become Duke of Macedonia. After the Preliminary San Stefano Treaty was annulled, Austria-Hungary too was looking at the possibility of creating an autonomous Macedonia with General Rodich as its Duke. General Rodich was an Austrian with Croatian roots (Cf. Dokumenti za borbata na makedonskiot narod za samostojnost i za nacionalna drzhava. Op. cit., Volume I, p. 235).

    However, because of Great Power personal interests in the region, the opportunity for Macedonia to peacefully gain its liberty and independence, as did the other neighbouring countries prior to the Berlin Congress, was lost. Britain above all, in its attempts to preserve the Ottoman Empire, proved that it wanted to prevent Russia from accessing the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, and to stop Germany and Austria-Hungary from reaching the Balkans and the East. Britain wanted to be the only force in the Mediterranean Sea at any cost, even if it had to sacrifice the Macedonian people’s liberty. Denying Macedonia its liberty was also a signal for the neighbouring countries that Macedonia was now up for grabs.

    Because of all this, the next Macedonian (Kresna) Uprising was organized with aims at liberating all of Macedonia as well as proving to the world, especially to Macedonia’s neighbours, that the Macedonian people were prepared to fight with weapons in hand for their own liberation and not for any unification with any of the neighbouring countries.

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  • George S.
    San Stefano Treaty and the Berlin Congress (1878)

    San Stefano Treaty and the Macedonian Question

    By Vanche Stoichev

    Edited by Risto Stefov

    [email protected]

    September 2015

    Most interesting about 19th century diplomatic and political practices, which have not changed to this day, is how the Great Powers treated the weak and smaller countries and the people in general, particularly the Balkan people… like they were some sort of “loot” or commodity to be divided among armed “thieves”.

    Source: Military History of Macedonia, Skopje, 2004, pages 210 – 219.

    Great Power policies towards the Eastern Crisis, including national liberation problems involving nations under Ottoman rule, including the Macedonian Question, were reopened after the 1875 Herzegovina uprising began.

    Most important of all for resolving the Macedonian Question was the Reichstadt Treaty signed on July 8, 1876 between Russian Emperor Alexander II and Austrian-Hungarian Emperor Francis Joseph (Cf. I. V. Kozmenko, Sbornik dogovorimi Rosii i drugimi gosudarstvama 1856-1917 Moscow, 1952, pp. 193-273).

    This Treaty divided the sphere of influence in the Balkans between these two Empires. The only reason these monarchies became involved in the resolution of the Eastern Question was to serve their own interests. Having that in mind, they agreed not to allow a large Slavic state to be created in the Balkans and any small states created would fall under their spheres of influence.

    Based on this Treaty Bulgaria and Romania, under Russian influence, would be allowed to create independent principalities inside their natural borders. Bosnia, Rumelia and Albania, under Austrian-Hungarian influence, could become autonomous countries. Epirus and Thessaly (and Crete according to the Austrian version) could be annexed to Greece (Cf. Istoriya na diplomaciyata, Diplomaciya vo novo vreme (1871-1914). Volume II, Sofia, 1965, pp. 118-119).

    The Reichstadt Treaty, which in effect sanctioned this unusual Balkan division based on spheres of influence, became the basis for future misunderstandings and the reason for many future political and military conflicts. According to the Russian version of this division, Bulgaria’s territory extended from the Danube to Stara Mountain and the term Rumelia referred to Thrace and Macedonia. According to the Austrian version Macedonia and Thrace as well as Bulgaria were included in autonomous Rumelia. There were no references made to a separate or independent Bulgaria in the Treaty. But, regardless of what was said in the Treaty, Austria-Hungary did not approve of the creation of a state which would extend from the Danube River to the Aegean Sea and from Lake Ohrid to the Black Sea, for two reasons:

    First, according to the Reichstadt Treaty, Russia was not allowed to create a large Slavic state in the Balkans.

    Second, even if such a state was created, it could only exist as an autonomous region within the Ottoman Empire and could not be independent as Russia was planning to do with San Stefano Bulgaria (Cf. Krste Bitovski. Kontinuitetot na makedonskite nacionalnoosloboditelni borbi vo XIX i pochetokot na XX vek. Skopje, 1998, p. 115).

    After the Crimean war was concluded, three ideas began to crystallize in Russian policy regarding the Eastern Question (For more information on the Russian policy toward the Balkans and Macedonia see: Vlado Popovski, Lenina Zhila Makedonskoto prashanje vo dokunentite no Kominternata. Volume I, Skopje, 1999, pp. XXVII-XCV.)

    The first idea was “Slavism” supported by people who, according to greater-state interests, supported the idea of a Slavic national liberation struggle led by Russia. The main front line supporter of this “idea” was the distinguished diplomat, Count Nikolay Pavlovich Ignatiev.

    The second idea was that Russia should abstain from having an active Balkan policy that supported Balkan nation liberation struggles because such a policy in principle would be dangerous to the internal situation in Russia. A typical representative of that idea was Count Petar Shuvalov, Russia’s representative in London.

    The third idea was that Russia should not be supporting the one-sided action it had been pursuing in the Balkans and should lead a cautious approach in politics in accordance with the collective actions of other countries. The main supporter of that idea was Duke Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Gorchakov (Cf. Istoriyata na diplomaciyata, Diplomaciyata v Novo vreme (1871-1914). Volume II, Sofia, 1965, pp. 92-93).

    Prior to the April Uprising in Bulgaria and the Razlovtsi Uprising in Macedonia in 1876, priority in the Russian Balkans politics was given to Gorchakov’s idea, but after the uprisings the priority was changed to Ignatiev’s idea of “Slavism” which became more popular. It is interesting to note that several European politicians treated Macedonia as an independent political subject during the preparations for the Constantinople Conference. During the Eastern Crisis resolution proposals French Minister of Foreign Affairs Louis Charles Delescluze, while talking to British Minister of Foreign Affairs Salisbury, on November 21, 1876, supported the idea of a collective occupation of the Balkan Peninsula. He said: “Austria-Hungary should occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia should occupy Bulgaria and Great Britain should occupy Macedonia” (Ct: Hristo Hristov. Osvobozhdenieto na B’lgariya i politikata na zapadnite drzhavi 1876 -1878. Sofia, 1976, p. 61).

    This proposal was rejected and new solutions to the Eastern Crisis were ordered. The British government initiated the idea that Great Power ambassadors should submit a plan to the Ottoman government in Constantinople for the complete resolution of the Eastern Crisis. After working for a month, while the Constantinople Conference was still in session, on December 11, 1876 the following plan was submitted to the Sublime Port: Serbia and Montenegro would keep their borders identified at the beginning of the Serbian-Ottoman war, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Macedonia would be given autonomy. The Ottoman government rejected the proposal prompting Russia to break off diplomatic relations in January 1877. Given that Russia already had a treaty with Austria-Hungary, at the end of April it declared war on Ottoman Turkey (Cf. Kliment Dzhambazovski. Srbija i nocionalnooslobodilachki pokret makedonskog noroda u doba Berlinskog kongresa. Collection ‘Srbija u zavrshnoj fazi velike istochne krize (1876-1878)’, Volume 2, Belgrade, 1980, p. 159. Cf. Hristo Hristov. B’lgarskoto nocionalnoosvoboditelno dvizhenie v 1876 godina i Carigradaskata koneferenciya. ‘na BAN’, Volume 1/1966, pp.24-27).

    The declaration of war was initiated by a Manifesto issued by Emperor Alexander II on April 24, 1877. Russia mobilized 310,000 soldiers for the war. Commander Nikolay, the Russian Emperor’s brother, was put in charge of 250,000 of them. Nikolay was able to pass expediently through Bessarabia and Romania but he found the Danube River impassable. The Danube River had risen during the month of May and would not allow the Russian army to easily cross to the Bulgarian side until June 22. During that time there were diplomatic negotiations underway but they did not prevent the war from starting (Cf. Vlado Popovski, Lenina Zhila. Op. cit, p. LXIV).

    The fact that the Great Powers proposed autonomy for Macedonia during the Constantinople Conference and that Ottoman Turkey refused that proposal, was great motive for a large number of Macedonians to take part in the Russian-Ottoman war as volunteers. They hoped that Russia would conform to the 1876 Constantinople Conference Great Power plan and, after achieving a victory over Ottoman Turkey, Macedonia would become autonomous. The British government unfortunately believed that Russia threatened British interests by declaring war on Ottoman Turkey.

    In response to this British Minister of Foreign Affairs Derby, on May 6, 1877, sent a diplomatic letter to the Russian government warning that Britain would not stand idle if Russia tried to block the Suez Canal, attacked or occupied Egypt, or occupied Constantinople, the Bosphorus or its Dardanelles naval route. In a reply, on June 8, 1877, the Russian government explained that the Suez Canal, Egypt, Baghdad, Basra and the Persian Gulf were of no interest to Russia. The only issues that Russia was interested in resolving with Britain were the issues of Constantinople, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. As far as the war was concerned Russia was prepared, with Ottoman agreement, to resolve these issues in the following way:

    Bulgaria to be given autonomy down to Stara Mountain. The region south of Stara Mountain (meaning Macedonia) to be administered through Great Power guarantees. Reforms to be carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Serbia and Montenegro to be allowed to expand their territories. Bessarabia and Batum to be returned to Russia (Cf. Russian-British Relations during the Eastern Crisis. ‘Slavonic Review’, December 1926, No.227, 228, Turkey, No.15 (1877), No.1).

    When Russia was proposing an administration for the “Christian countries south of Stara Mountain”, meaning Macedonia, it was looking for autonomy for Macedonia, the kind the Russian government had in mind which would fit the goals of the 1876 Razlovtsi Uprising, which was a first attempt at liberating all the Christian countries in the Balkans, along with the 1875 Herzegovina Uprising.

    The British government did not respond to the Russian reply but initiated negotiations with Austria-Hungary to carry out mutual actions against Russia if Russia threatened their interests. The Russian forces finally crossed the Danube River on June 27, 1877, after which General Gurko’s forward detachments bravely continued to head south. In response to this, on June 30, 1877, the British dispatched their fleet to the Dardanelles but only for a short time because Osman Pasha took Pleven and Silleyman Pasha destroyed the incoming Russian forces at Stara Zagora and on July 31, 1877 the rest of the Russian troops were forced to retreat back to the Shipchanski Passage. After an unsuccessful attempt to end the war by peaceful means, Russian forces then began to bomb Pleven and on August 10, 1877 occupied it. The winter was spent fighting a severe but successful campaign over Stara Mountain in which many Macedonian volunteers were engaged. Negotiations between the Russians and the Ottomans were conducted in Odrin where the Russian army had established its Main Headquarters. Count Ignatiev, assisted by Nelidov, was authorized to negotiate for the Russian side, while Safet Pasha assisted by Sadulah was authorized by the Sultan to negotiate for the Ottoman side.

    Negotiations were conducted under unusual conditions with Russia dictating terms while the Russian army was marching towards the Marmara Sea and occupying the city of San Stefano. When the Russian army reached a position about 13 kilometres away from Constantinople, the Russians relocated their main command in Odrin. While Russian-Ottoman peace negotiations were ongoing, Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jovan Ristich sent Russian command in Odrin and St. Petersburg a geographic map of Kosovo vilayet outlining the border of Old Serbia.

    Attached to the map was a letter signed by Duke Milan Obrenovich, requesting that the Kosovo vilayet be given to Serbia because it was Serbian territory. The borders of “Old Serbia” on that map, however, were much different from those traditionally encompassing “Old Serbia”, and covered the territory up to the River Bistritsa in the south, including the cities Lerin, Voden and Ber, all the way to Bistritsa’s flow into the Aegean Sea. The border then followed along the coast past Solun to the flow of the Struma River and into the Aegean Sea. From there it followed along the river valley, encompassing Radomir, Dragoman, the Glinski Pass and then over Stara Mountain all the way to Belogradchik (Cf. Iovan Ristich. Diplomatska istorija Srbye za vreme Srpskih ratova za aslobodenje i nezavisnost 1875 -1878. Volume II, Belgrade, 1896-1898, pp. 112-113). These new borders of Old Serbia, drawn on this map, were actually an expression of Serbian historical and political ideas and territorial claims which were of disadvantage to Macedonia.

    As a result of the Russian military successes during this Russian-Ottoman war (1877-1878) A. I. Nelidov, Russian Forces Director of Diplomatic Affairs, stationed at Main Command in the Balkans, prepared a 13 item proposal containing peace terms in which, included among other things, was the creation of an autonomous Bulgarian principality, with borders and territory of about the same size as the one specified at the Constantinople Conference.

    Count N. P. Ignatiev also prepared a proposal for the peace treaty, in which he specified the principles for creating a Greater Bulgaria. This proposal was reviewed by the Russian government on January 12, 1878 and accepted with some minor changes. But when Ignatiev arrived in Odrin he was given additional information by Duke Gorchakov; that the accepted proposal would be signed only if it was referred to simply as “a preliminary protocol” and the borders specified for Bulgaria, at that moment, could only be viewed as ‘temporary and incidental, to be determined later” (Cf. Ignatiev. Sanstefano, Zapiski grofa N.P. Ignatieva. St. Petersburg, 1915, pp. 86-87). Gorchakov was well-aware of the fact that this artificial and unrealistic political creation was doomed to fail.

    According to what Ignatiev had written, when the truce was signed in Odrin on January 31, 1878, Macedonia was not included in the proposed borders of what was to be an autonomous Bulgarian state. For that and other reasons, the Russian forces did not occupy the region north of Gorna Dzhumaia. In a letter sent to Gorchakov, on February 15, 1878, Count Ignatiev wrote: “Without any doubt, we (Russians - V.S.) need to request independence for Macedonia from the Ottomans” (Cf. Hristo Hristov. Osvobzhdenieto na B’lgariya i politikata na zapadnite drzhavi 1876 -1878. Sofia, 1976, p. 147. Cf. Osvobozhdenie Bolgarii ot tureckogo iga. Volume II, Moscow, 1964, p. 487. Cf. Dokumenti za bor'bata na makedonskiot narod za samostojnost i za nacionalna drzhava. Op. cit., Volume I, p. 233).

    But even though this was discussed during the signing of the San Stefano Preliminary Treaty, and was against the rules for creating a large Slavic state, Ignatiev decided to include almost the entire Macedonian territory within the borders of autonomous Bulgaria. However, this could not be realized because the Russian army never did enter, occupy and separate Macedonia from Ottoman Turkey. This Treaty was revoked in three months.

    Russian-Ottoman negotiations appeared to have reached a crisis point on February 28, 1878. Austria-Hungary had already requested a revision of the Treaty, and Serbia and Montenegro asked for permission to expand their own borders. The Macedonian representatives, among whom included Vezenkov and Ilio Maleshevski, requested autonomy for Macedonia and not unification with Bulgaria. Britain did not support the San Stefano Treaty either and sent its fleet to the Marmara Sea. The Ottomans made requests to the other Great Powers to not allow extension of the Bulgarian borders to the Aegean Sea. Given what was happening all around them, Count Ignatiev and Nelidov demonstratively, on February 28, 1878 around 11 p.m., left the negotiations, went to Main Russian command and requested termination of the truce and occupation of the Bosphorus and Constantinople.

    Russian Command energetically refused their request. The following day Ignatiev and Nelidov sent an ultimatum to the Ottoman delegation, telling the Ottomans that the Russians had made all the compromises they could make and that there was nothing else that could be done with regards to Bulgarian and Serbian issues. So, in order to show that the Russians were serious and were prepared to act by military means, the Chief Commander ordered the Russian army to demonstrate preparations for an attack. After this manoeuver, the Ottoman delegation accepted the conditions set out by Russia and continued the negotiations. The Preliminary San Stefano Treaty was signed in the evening of March 3, 1878.

    According to this treaty, Bulgaria became a tribunal principality and the following localities fell within its borders: Vranje, Kumanovo, Kachanik, Tetovo, Gostivar, Galichnik, Debar, Struga, Lake Ohrid and Korche, Kavala, Ksanti, Kardzhali, Lozengrad and Luleburgas, Mal Samokov. Solun and Chalcidice Peninsula were excluded (Cf. Ignatiev. Sanstefano grofa N.P. Ignafieva. Op. cit, pp. 217-219).

    The Russian army did not enter Macedonia after the Preliminary San Stefano Treaty was signed but Greater Bulgaria was created anyway, mostly under threat of war and political pressure. The region specified was over 190,000 square kilometres and housed over five million inhabitants extending over most of the central Balkans. It was a disproportionately large and dominating state (Cf. Vlado Popovski, Lenina Zila Op. cit, p. LXVII). Nobody believed that such an artificial creation would survive, especially not without Russian support.

    The Macedonian people, the Macedonian volunteer freedom fighting units and their leaders, particularly their most distinguished leaders who participated in the Russian-Ottoman war, were disappointed in the Russian government and the way it treated the Macedonian Question. Even though the Russian army was located in the vicinity of Kiustendil and in Gorna Dzhumaia, that is, immediately next to the Macedonian border, it refused calls for help from the Macedonian insurgents fighting the Ottomans in the Pianets and the Kumanovo-Kriva Palanka Uprisings. Macedonian fighters participated in the Russian-Ottoman war to liberate the Macedonian people and to create a Macedonian state. They did not participate to create a Greater Bulgaria or to unify Macedonia with Bulgaria. If Macedonia was part of Greater Bulgaria, in accordance with the preliminary Treaty, then why did the Russian army refuse to enter Macedonia? What is more interesting is that, although the Russian government had determined the natural borders for Bulgaria to be from the Danube River to the Stara Mountain which did not include Macedonia in its protocols and memoranda, Count Ignatiev still insisted on creating a Greater Bulgaria which was to include the territory from the Danube to the Aegean Sea. This, of course, was a disadvantage for Macedonia.

    British Minister of Foreign Affairs Derby, in his discussion with Shuvalov in June 1877, regarding the issues associated with creating a Greater Bulgaria, informed the Russian envoy that Britain could only agree to the creation of Bulgaria if the Bulgarian territory extended from the Danube River to the Balkan Mountains. Derby categorically refused all requests to include any other country south of the Stara Mountain border. Salisbuly, Derby’s successor, expressed the same attitude, which remained unchanged until the end of the war. After the Preliminary San Stefano Treaty was signed, all political groups in Britain pleaded against the creation of a Greater Bulgaria (Cf. Doyno Dojnov. Kresnensko-razlashkoto vostanie 1878-1879. Sofia, 1979, p. 186).

    While world diplomacy was working hard to change the Preliminary San Stefano Treaty, Russian military and diplomatic representatives were discussing the necessity of occupying the entire territory that the Treaty encompassed. Count Ignatiev was especially eager so he requested that Ottoman representative Safet Pasha order the Ottomans to “evacuate all regions that were included in the Bulgarian Principality and to begin treating it like a new country”.

    Count Ignatiev worked very hard to include Macedonia in Bulgaria under the idea of freeing all Slavic speakers from Ottoman rule, which he voiced in a report to Gorchakov dated March 3, 1878, in which he insisted on initiating a process to determine the new country’s borders immediately after the Sultan ratified the Treaty. He recommended that an army corps, commanded by Skobelev, be sent to occupy the territories as defined by the Treaty and proposed that Duke Imeretinski be appointed Chief Border Commissar. Ignatiev insisted that Macedonia be occupied by the Russian military which would not only signify formal execution of the San Stefano Treaty, but would also have “radical impact on the future and the destiny of the Macedonian Bulgarians” (Cf. Doyno Doynov. Kresnensko-razlashkoto vostanie 1878-1879. Sofia, 1979, p. 188).

    Regardless of the fact that the creation of San Stefano Bulgaria was problematic and the entire European community, including the Macedonian people, was against this Russian venture, Ignatiev was of the opinion that a military occupation and the establishment of Russian rule in Macedonia would have historic significance.

    In a confidential letter written to Gorchakov on February 15, 1878, Ignatiev said that a Russian force would be put together to penetrate the demarcation line in the Dzhumaia vicinity that would occupy this part of the border with Macedonia. Ignatiev also wrote that it was necessary for Ottoman Turkey to grant the other part of Macedonia autonomy (Cf. Dokumenti za borbata na makedonskiod narod za samostojna i za nacionalna drzhava. Op. cit, Volume I, p. 233.)

    Outside of the plan to create a Greater Bulgaria, Count Ignatiev had a special plan prepared for the occupation of Macedonia. Besides Russian government, military and political involvement and the penetration of Russian military forces into Macedonia, Ignatiev wanted to involve the local Macedonian population and grant it its century-long wish to liberate itself. Encompassed in all this was the need for writing requests, collecting signatures, sending petitions with statistical data to the Russian government, to the military command and to the diplomatic representatives of the Great Powers. In doing this the entire Macedonian population became involved with one goal in mind; to tell the world that Macedonians live in Macedonia and want to liberate themselves from Ottoman rule.

    This Macedonian goal did not include annexing Macedonia to Bulgaria, it was strictly about being liberated from the Ottomans and gaining independence for Macedonia. Unfortunately the Pan-Slavic committee in Moscow was more interested in creating a large Slavic country in the Balkans than what the Macedonian people wanted, and so Ignatiev was asked to direct his efforts towards realizing the Russian and Slavic interests in the Balkans. Realizing these interests was unfortunately done by negating the Macedonian nationality and by turning Macedonians into Bulgarians. No country was satisfied with the San Stefano Treaty except for Russia, which benefited the most from a shrinking Ottoman Empire. By aiding this project Russia also broke the Reichstadt Treaty, which in fact forbade the creation of a large Slavic state in the Balkans. The creation of Greater Bulgaria greatly upset Austria-Hungary because it killed its ambitions to reach Solun.

    At the same time Britain did not want to give up access to the Bosphorus and to the Dardanelles and so it began negotiations with Austria-Hungary to prepare for war. The Vienna government, however, offered Russia two alternatives: “war” or a “European Congress”. German chancellor Otto von Bismarck was in support of Austria-Hungary and Great Britain. After some pressure put on Russia by Austria-Hungary and Britain, the Russian government accepted the idea of “revising the San Stefano Treaty”. Duke Gorchakov, the man who ordered the Russian delegation to sign the revised treaty, wrote: “The San Stefano Treaty caused great problems for us, we now have to retreat from it and it will not be easy or without victims.”

    A similar sentiment was expressed by Count Shuvalov in a letter written to Gyula Andrassy, Austrian-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, in which he wrote: “The San Stefano Treaty is misfortune for us and not for Austria. This was the biggest mistake we could have made. At the end, we will be forced to retreat in front of the eyes of entire Europe (Cf. Krste Bitovski. Kontinuitetot na makedonskite nacionalnoosloboditelni borbi vo XlX i pochetokot na XX vek Op. cit, p. 130).

    One of the excuses made by Count Ignatiev, in regards to making a mistake when he signed the Preliminary San Stefano Treaty, was that he was not aware of the Reichstadt Treaty signed by Austria and Russia, which forbade the creation of a large Slavic state in the Balkans. Count Ignatiev was assigned the task to negotiate the revision of the San Stefano Treaty with Austria-Hungary because he was its creator and its signatory. After Ignatiev arrived in Vienna, Andrassy accused him of ignoring the previous Agreement and asked him why Rumelia was not mentioned in the San Stefano Treaty since it was intended to become a separate state according to Supplemental Convention. Ignatiev explained that the term Rumelia, even though there was no convention dilemma, basically referred to Macedonia (Cf. Krste Bitovski. Kontinuitetot na makedonskite nacionalnoosloboditelni borbi vo XlX i pochetokot na XX vek Op. cit, p. 130).

    During the negotiations (between Andrassy and Ignatiev) the Austrian-Hungarian representative offered several variants to resolve the Macedonian Question. He drew the borders on a map of the Balkan Peninsula so that the western Bulgarian border followed the Struma River. The area from Mitrovitsa to Solun, actually the Vardar Valley, was to remain temporarily under Ottoman rule but within the Austrian-Hungarian political and economic sphere of influence (Cf. Ignatiev. Po Sanstefano, Zapiski grofa Ignatieva. Op. cit, pp. 39-57. Cf . Doyno Doynov. Kresnesko – razloshkoto vostanie 1878-1879. Op. cit, p. 193).

    Andrassy called that area Macedonia. During the Treaty negotiations between Andrassy and Ignatiev, while attempting to differentiate Macedonia from Bulgaria, German representative von Schweinitz, on April 4, 1878, submitted a proposal to von Billow, German Minister of Foreign Affairs, that read as follows: “Take parts from Albania, Bulgaria and Serbia and create one state - one Macedonia within the natural borders of that area, then make General Rodich, Commander of the south Austrian-Hungarian army, its Duke” (Cf. Die Grosse. Politik oder Europaischen Kabinette 1871-1914. Bd. II, Berlin, 1922, No. 380, pp. 261 -262).

    On April 15, 1878 von Billow presented his proposal to Austria-Hungary and to Germany, that is to the German Emperor Wilhelm I. The proposal contained Austrian-Hungarian terms for a Treaty with Russia. The details of this proposal spelled out Austrian-Hungarian aspirations for occupying Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbian aspirations for occupying Vranje and Leskovac and Russian aspirations for occupying Bessarabia. Bulgaria remained a single state with its western border extending from the Gulf of Orfano towards Vranje. The area west of that line was to be called Macedonia and would be given autonomy independent from the Bulgarian Principality. Solun was to be part of that Autonomous Macedonian State (Cf. Dokumenti za borbata na makedonskiot narod za samostojnost i za nacionalna drzhava. Op. cit, Volume I. p.235, document No. 173).

    Should Russia refuse to give up its idea of Bulgaria gaining access to the Aegean Sea, Austria-Hungary had another proposal for Russia. In this proposal Austria-Hungary called for a Bulgarian eastern border to extend from Lozengrad, which in the west was to include Macedonia but only to the Vardar River. West of that, instead of Albania, there would be an autonomous region, to include Solun, created under Austrian-Hungarian influence and named Macedonia Cf. Doyno Doynov. Kresnensko -razloshkoto vostanie 1878- 1879. Op. cit, p. 194).

    When it became very clear to Russia that it could not save San Stefano Bulgaria, its envoys began to talk politics. One of the phrases that came out was: “If San Stefano Bulgaria fell apart, the Slavic people would be denationalized under Greek influence…” To avoid this, Gorchakov proposed that two Bulgarian states be created instead of San Stefano Bulgaria: Eastern and Western Bulgaria. The areas west of the Struma River, including Prizren and Prishtina, would belong to the western Bulgarian state. This region would be given autonomy under Austrian-Hungarian influence. That way, according to Gorchakov, the Slavic identity would be preserved. This was similar to the Austrian-Hungarian proposal put forth by Minister Andrassy; i.e. a province called Macedonia would be created instead of a Western Bulgarian Principality. Unfortunately Russian representative Novikov was against dividing the so-called “Slavic” speaking population (Cf. Die Grasse Politik oder Europaischen Kabinette 1871-1914. Op. cit, No. 404, pp. 300-302; No. 405, p. 303).

    It would appear that there were always two extreme poles present in the Austrian-Russian negotiations. Russian politics, it seems, severely opposed the creation of any kind of autonomy or a state named Macedonia. Austria-Hungary, on the other hand, was against the creation of two Bulgarian countries, which it felt would always strive to unite. And so negotiations stalled. Russia, in an attempt to find a way out, turned to Britain for assistance but found out that Britain was completely against Austrian penetration into the Balkans. Britain even strove to prevent Russia from influencing the Balkans. Britain wanted the status quo, for the Ottoman Empire to exist that way it was and for Greek influence to increase.

    All this opposition weakened Russia’s position and shrank the proposed Bulgarian state both from the west and the north. Russian-British negotiations continued and the revised San Stefano Treaty was signed on May 30, 1878. It was based on the London Memorandum. Among other things, the Memorandum foresaw the division of Bulgaria into two parts – a northern Bulgaria, extending from the Danube to Stara Mountain, a Bulgaria within its natural borders which would be given political autonomy and a southern Bulgaria, extending down to the border with Macedonia, which would be given administrative autonomy under the authority of the Sultan.

    According to Salisbury, British Minister of Foreign Affairs, the entire region of Macedonia was to remain under Ottoman rule. Austria-Hungary accepted the British position as a basis for revising the San Stefano Treaty. On June 6, 1878 a declaration between Austria- Hungary and Britain was signed in Vienna, which determined the destiny of the Preliminary San Stefano Treaty as well as Macedonia’s destiny. After this the powers began preparations for the Berlin Congress.

    Some time later, many of the people involved in these negotiations concluded that the Preliminary San Stefano Treaty was nothing more than an artificial, Russian imperialistic creation which turned out to be one of the worst mistakes Russian diplomacy ever made. Russian Emperor Alexander II, who actually created San Stefano Bulgaria and became “the Emperor liberator of the Bulgarians”, later said that he was protecting Russian interests and not the “ethnic affiliations of the people”, of which he had no real picture at the time. It was fortunate that “the validity of that treaty” as the Emperor said, “lasted only four months and had never been implemented” (Cf. Jean Wolf. La Macedoine dechiree. Paris, 1984, p. 52).

    On another occasion Emperor Alexander II said: “With this Treaty we tried to create a nation without clearly expressing its national orientation and its general political goals. We tried to create a nation without a solid national foundation without founded ideas for national liberty and turned it into a nation with a large percentage of chauvinists. The Treaty planted a virus into the people with the idea of a Greater Bulgaria. Those who did not follow Levski, who did not do anything to liberate him, who helped the Ottomans to try and hang him, who did not follow the cheta of the genius Botev, who gave written statements of being satisfied with the Sultan and Ottoman rule, who did not require liberty, those were the ones who accepted the ideas of chauvinism in a very short time. Chauvinist aspirations should have been covered by the silk of scientific interest. If emotional expressions were sufficient for internal consumption, scientific arguments were required for the external world. Scientists with titles will further fill that gap. The lack of Bulgarian national orientation will partly be compensated by the victory of the Bulgarian army over the Serbian army in the war in 1885 at Slivnitsa. Following this road Bulgarian chauvinism will reach the level of Serbian and Greek chauvinism and become the same kind of threat to the Macedonian people” (Cf. G. Radule, Istoryia na Makedonyia (Apologiya na makedonizma). Sofia, 1997, p. 242).

    At the end of the 19th century, when VMRO activities were most intensive, just before the Ilinden uprising in 1900, issue number 315 of the newspaper Peterburskie vedomosti (St. Petersburg News) wrote: “The San Stefano Treaty was a great Russian mistake because it turned Macedonia into a Bulgarian country. Macedonia may be Slavic but it is not Bulgarian…” (Cf. Kosta Georgiev. Filetizam ili proklyatie. O. cit, p. 157.)

    Regardless of the Berlin Congress Resolution, there were those who affirmed the Preliminary San Stefano Treaty and used it as a basis for official greater-Bulgarian politics, which surfaced in the Balkans many times, especially in times of crises. Similar “greater-state” programs were affirmed by all of Macedonia’s neighbours, which have resulted in tensions and even wars with great suffering on the part of the Macedonian people.

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