The Balkan league
I. E. Gueshoff
CHAPTER I. THE CONCLUSION OF THE BALKAN ALLIANCE
Hopes of agreement with Turkey - Disillusionment in Young Turks - Turkish proposals - Depopulation of Macedonia
1. Serbo-Bulgarian Treaty 10
Meeting with M. de Selves - Deliberations in Vienna - Meeting with M. Milovanovitch - Approval of Bulgarian government - Beginning of negotiations Serbian proposals - Hitch in negotiations - Negotiations in Paris - M. Milovanovitch’s reply - Rejoinder by M. Rizoff - Promise of M. Milovanovitch - Hastening of negotiations
2. Greco-Bulgarian Treaty 36
First tentative - Greek objections
3. Montenegrin-Bulgarian Understanding 41
Summoned on March 24, 1911, to fill the post of Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, my first task as leader of the Bulgarian policy was to deal with the unfortunate problem of Macedonia and Thrace, which had been tormenting Bulgaria ever since the Congress of Berlin. People still remember the verdict of Prince Gortchakoff on that Congress. The Chancellor of Alexander II described it as the darkest page in his life. The Congress proved no less gloomy a page in the history of the Bulgarian nation. United in bondage from which Russia liberated them, the Bulgarians saw their emancipation ratified by Europe at the cost of their unity. The Treaty of Berlin tore the Bulgaria of the Treaty of San Stefano into three parts : a vassal Principality of Bulgaria, an autonomous Eastern Roumelia, while Macedonia and Thrace were replaced under the Turkish yoke. After the union of Eastern Roumelia with Bulgaria, the latter
had no other ideal except to restore her San Stefano frontiers, or, if that should prove impossible, to obtain for Macedonia and Thrace an autonomous government which, by guaranteeing to their inhabitants a bearable existence, would relieve Bulgaria of the cares and dangers due to the chronic anarchy in those provinces. The dangers in question were so numerous that they not only compromised the security and progress of Bulgaria, but threatened her very future. For a Bulgarian Prime Minister there could exist no more imperative duty than to discover means of solving a problem which weighed so heavily on the fate of the Bulgarian State and race.
Having been an eye-witness of the horrors which accompanied the Bulgarian insurrection in 1876 and the Russo-Turkish war in 1877-78, some of which I described in my reports to the British or American representatives and in letters to the English press, to say nothing of my Notes of a Condemned Man ; being a convinced believer in the doctrine of the French publicist that the best policy consists in being guided by “an ardently pacific patriotism and by a prudently patriotic attachment to peace,” I remained until 1912 the most fervent partisan of peace in Bulgaria. By speech and by pen I preached extreme caution and studious avoidance of all adventures which could land Bulgaria in a war with Turkey. In a Memoir which I addressed to Sir Edward Grey towards the end of 1906, I praised my country
[ Hopes of agreement with Turkey ]
for being the only Balkan State that had not disturbed the peace in the Balkans. I did not despair even when the Young Turkish revolution in 1908 had rendered difficult the realisation of the cause for which I pleaded in the said Memoir, and the thought of a direct understanding with Turkey continued to occupy my mind for a considerable time before and after my advent to power.
But the new regime in Turkey soon began to cause us disappointment. As regards the extermination of the alien nationalities in the Empire, the Young Turks showed no improvement on the Old Turks, or even on Abdul Hamid. The revolting massacre at Adana and the scandalous impunity accorded to its intellectual authors came as a shock to all those who had hoped for a peaceful solution of the bundle of ethnic problems, summed up under the name of Eastern Question. Even then I kept thinking that after the disinterested assistance rendered by the Macedonians to the Young Turks during the counter-revolution in April 1909, my Cabinet was justified in expecting from Turkey an attitude in harmony with our desire for a sincere understanding between the two countries, the more so as I had again renewed my pacific assurances. 
1. My first declaration on the Bulgarian policy towards Turkey was made at Rustchuk about a month after our advent to power, and ran as follows :
“Our policy is sincere, and as we are anxious that it should not prove the ephemeral policy of our Cabinet, but should become the permanent policy of Bulgaria, we hope that the neighbouring Empire will facilitate our task by responding to our invitation to eliminate the causes that are at the bottom of our misunderstandings, and the motives which irritate public opinion in our country. In a parliamentary country, no Government can march against public opinion. It will be a misfortune if our pacific policy fails under the pressure of public opinion for whose excitement we are in no way responsible. Where we fail, it is hardly likely that any other Bulgarian Government will succeed.”
On November 24, 1911, I made the following statement in the National Assembly on our relations with Turkey :
“I have been asked by the Opposition to say on which side we are. My reply is that we are with those who sincerely wish for peace and who, as partisans of peace, favour those conditions without which peace cannot be maintained. These people think that the Balkan Peninsula ought to belong to the Balkan nations ; they wish that whatever be the Balkan country where these nations live they should enjoy the blessings of freedom, justice, and constitutional rights. We are with those who are friends of this sort of peace. If the Turks desire such a peace, and can make peace such as we want it, then we are with the Turks also. Their neighbours for many centuries, connected with them by many economic ties, we are anxious to live with them on friendly terms. We are the more anxious to pursue this policy, because it is dictated to us by the vital interests of the Bulgarian nation in the kingdom and outside its frontiers. Nothing has happened thus far to shake our confidence in this policy, or to undermine our hope that our neighbours also will realise their interest to observe the same friendly policy towards ourselves. We hope that, taught by past and recent trials, from which we wish them to emerge successfully, they will understand the need of introducing in their European provinces conditions of life which will induce our co-nationalists to stay where they are, instead of flocking to our territory. The present emigration means misery to the Bulgarian nation and causes harm to the Turkish Empire. It is in the interest of both countries to arrest this emigration which threatens Macedonia and Thrace with depopulation, and inundates some of our frontiers with restless and embittered elements, thus creating a Macedonian problem in our own midst. If conditions of life are introduced which shall put an end to a state of things so pregnant with dangers ; if our repeated proofs of peaceful intentions are met with deeds that would satisfy some legitimate demands on our part, we may be certain that a great step will have been made towards pacifying the provinces, inhabited by our co-nationalists. And no one wishes more passionately for such a pacification than the sober and industrious Bulgarian nation which, six weeks ago, met with such dignified calm the disquieting reports of a certain mobilisation along our southern frontier.”
I discussed these matters at great length with the late W. T. Stead, the well-known peace propagandist, whose bust was unveiled last year in the Palace of Peace at The Hague. He was a warm friend of Bulgaria and a great admirer of Mr. Gladstone, being entrusted with his papers on the massacres in 1876. From a determined enemy of
[ Disillusionment in Young Turks ]
Abdul Hamid, as I knew him in 1879 when we first met in London, Mr. Stead had become a partisan of the Young Turks, and during the summer of 1911 visited Constantinople and Macedonia to study the Turkish problem with a view to advocating their cause. Although at the outbreak of the Turco-Italian war Mr. Stead took the side of Turkey, when he came to Sofia in August 1911 he greatly surprised me by advising us not to hurry with our understanding. He had already begun to lose his illusions in the
Young Turks, and the same disenchantment spread later on among many European statesmen, Count Aehrenthal and M. de Kiderlen-Wächter being of that number. In the course of a conversation with the latter early in June 1912, I was struck by his scathing criticisms of the Young Turkish regime. All through the summer of 19n I continued my talks with the Turkish Minister in Sofia on the subject of a possible understanding between Turkey and Bulgaria. Assim Bey pretended to agree with me, blaming the policy of the Turkish Government and meditating on a round of visits to Monastir, Salonica, and Adrianople in order to impress on the local Turkish authorities the need of change in their attitude towards the Bulgarians. He was, however, recalled to Constantinople before carrying out his intention and became Minister of Foreign Affairs. In the meantime Italy had declared war on Turkey, who now had every reason to be on friendly terms with Bulgaria. In these circumstances, no one need be surprised that before his departure from Sofia Assim Bey made to my substitute M. Theodoroff—I was at that time absent in Vichy—the most categorical declarations in favour of a Turco-Bulgarian agreement. Unfortunately, with the exception of a still-born proposal for an understanding, the Minister did nothing to inaugurate a new policy towards Bulgaria. 
1. This is the text of the letter and instructions sent by Assim Bey to Naby Bey :
“The common interests of Turkey and Bulgaria have for a long time been seriously occupying my deep attention. Among the ideas for which I am working, there is none that is nearer my heart than the improvement and the consolidation of the Turco-Bulgarian relations.
“I, therefore, request Your Excellency to ask M. Gueshoff, in one of your private conversations, to define and detail the points which will have to be discussed between us in connection with this matter. Being acquainted with my views, His Excellency will know what I expect from his political tact, foresight, and friendly disposition. You may once more assure him that his friendly disposition will always find me ready to meet him in the same spirit.”
The instructions given to Naby Bey ran as follows :
“1. Assim Bey will do everything possible for the satisfactory settlement of the questions now pending between the Kingdom and the Empire, so as to reduce the points of friction.
“2. Assim Bey lays it down as an indispensable condition that there shall be no intervention by either party into the internal administration of the other party.
“3. Concurrently with this, and also as an indispensable condition—each party will so settle its internal government as not to give its neighbours any reasons for complaining, but, on the contrary, to satisfy them.
“4. An engagement by both parties for a fixed term —ten years, for example—not to undertake any action having for its object the increase of their present frontiers.”
[ Turkish proposals ]
I call the proposal still-born because it was entirely unacceptable to us, especially its second point, and also because neither Assim Bey nor the new Turkish representative in Sofia, Naby Bey, ever referred to it again. On the contrary, the frontier incidents which exasperated public opinion in Bulgaria became
came more frequent ; while massacres like those at Shtip and Kotchani, murders, pillaging, tortures, and persecutions, the systematic ill-treatment of the Bulgarians in the Turkish army, so increased the number of refugees from Macedonia and Thrace that the most peaceful Bulgarian statesmen were aroused and began to ask themselves if all this was not the result of a deliberate plan on the part of the Young Turks to solve the Macedonian and Thracian problem by clearing those two provinces of their Bulgarian and Christian inhabitants. These suspicions were intensified by the perusal of official documents like the report of the Bulgarian Consul at Monastir, according to which Dr. Nazim Bey, the ideologist of the Young Turkish party, had promised to the notables at Vodena, in a speech overheard by M. Wigand, engineer on the Salonica-Monastir railway line, that if the Young Turks were supported at the coming elections there would be no Christians left in Macedonia in 30-40 years. Those who were acquainted with the rapid decrease of the Bulgarian population in Macedonia during the first decade of the present century knew that this was no idle threat. M. Shopoff, Bulgarian Consul-General in Salonica, writing as early as September 1910, had stated it to be an indisputable fact that “we have already lost one-fourth of what we had fifteen years ago.” The Bulgarians in Macedonia who formerly numbered 1,200,000 (Le Temps, No. 15,950, February 1905) were estimated in a report
[ Depopulation of Macedonia ]
from the same Consul-General, under the date of April 19, 1911, at only 1,000,000. It is true that these figures were questioned in certain quarters, especially after M. Pantcho Doreff, a prominent member of the Young Turkish party, had been accused by his opponents that in a speech before the Turkish Parliament he had intentionally minimised the importance of the Bulgarian nationality in order to facilitate the “Ottomanising” task of the Young Turks. Anxious to ascertain the truth, I sent to Constantinople M. Cyril Popoff, Director of the Statistical Department, and M. D. Misheff to inquire into the matter at the Bulgarian Exarchate. When I read their report I could not help coming to the melancholy conclusion that the Bulgarian population in Macedonia had, beyond all doubt, been considerably reduced. This gradual extermination of the Macedonian Bulgarians had so discouraged them that, according to a report of M. Shopoff from March 13, 1912, they openly expressed their preference for any alternative that promised them relief from their unbearable lot. “Let whoever likes come, provided he puts an end to our sufferings. Things cannot be worse than they are."
No Bulgarian statesman, responsible for the future of the Bulgarian nation, could remain indifferent to such a condition of things, or ignore the open threats of the Turks to aggravate the measures aiming at the annihilation of the Bulgarians in Macedonia. My manifest duty was to examine
how Bulgaria could best be enabled to stop these excesses. Among the various methods that suggested themselves, the most important consisted in an understanding, not with Turkey who had rejected our advances, but with our other neighbours. Such a policy was greatly facilitated by the unanimity with which public opinion in Bulgaria had recently greeted the meeting of the Serbian and Bulgarian economists and the visit of the Bulgarian students to Athens in April 1911. Matters were further simplified by the fact that in 1904 a secret agreement had been signed with Serbia, and that the latter country had since made repeated efforts, both while the Democratic party was in office and during the first six months of our administration, to conclude an offensive and defensive alliance with Bulgaria. I.
1. The Serbo-Bulgarian Treaty
I spoke of these efforts on the part of Serbia to M. Rizoff, who had signed the treaty of 1904 in his capacity of Bulgarian representative at Belgrade. Our conversation took place early in September, while he was on leave in Sofia. We agreed that he should arrange with M. Milovanovitch, at that time Serbian Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, an interview between the two Balkan Premiers which was to take place on my return from Vichy, where I proposed to go after the general elections in Bulgaria.
The elections were held on September 17,
[ Meeting with M. de Selves ]
and three days later I left for Vichy. On my arrival there I was startled by the critical turn which relations between Italy and Turkey had suddenly taken. The situation grew rapidly worse, and on September 29 the war broke out. I immediately telegraphed to my colleagues in Sofia that I was returning, but that I considered it necessary to stop in Paris and Vienna in order to meet the French and Austrian Foreign Ministers. I give below the record of those interviews as I drafted it at the time :
M. de Selves received me on Wednesday, October 4, at 2.30 p.m. ; Count Aehrenthal on the following Saturday, at 3 p.m. To both of them I put these two questions : (1) Will the war be localised and will it be short ? (2) Do they apprehend complications in Turkey, as the result of fanatical excitement, chauvinistic passions, or a movement against the Young Turks, followed by a counterrevolution like that of April 1909 ? To my first question they both replied in the affirmative. Yes, the war will be localised ; yes, it will end quickly. M. de Selves believes that Italy will consent to pay an indemnity for Tripoli. She may also recognise the suzerainty of the Sultan, but about this he was not so positive. At all events, he believes that Italy will show herself very conciliatory if the Turks begin negotiations immediately after Tripoli is occupied. Of course, Italy cannot negotiate until the occupation has taken place. Count Aehrenthal had not yet read the interview of Hilmi Pasha on the duration of the war. When I drew his attention to it and told him that according to Hilmi Pasha the war will be a long one, Count Aehrenthal interrupted me with the words : “But where do they propose to fight ? On land or on sea ? Neither of
these things is possible, and I therefore hope that the Turks will agree to peace.” As regards the conditions of the latter—whether there will be compensation or whether the suzerain rights of the Sultan will be respected—Count Aehrenthal could say nothing.
Respecting my second question—the risk of complications from the Turkish side—M. de Selves admits the danger, Count Aehrenthal does not. The latter is of opinion that the Young Turkish Committee constitutes the only organised force in Turkey, that it will gain rather than lose by the present crisis, and that it possesses power enough to impose its will. To this I replied that the Committee had lost much ground before the war, and that I doubted whether its prestige would be sufficient to surmount the passions excited by this new failure of the Young Turkish regime. In reply to his remark, hoping that we would follow the example of the Great Powers and do everything to preserve peace, I observed to him, as I had previously done in the case of M. de Selves, that the danger in the Balkans does not come from Bulgaria but from Turkey. The Powers knew that our policy was pacific ; and although the Young Turks had done nothing to help us, we shall not depart from that course if the interests of Bulgaria do not render a change imperative.
I told M. de Selves that during my two previous diplomatic missions to France I had learned to value the enlightened and sympathetic counsels which the French Government had so generously lavished on our country. I explained to him the object of those missions in 1879 and 1885. In the course of the second one, I had the honour to be received by M. de Freycinet and to treat with him the important question of our union with Eastern Roumelia. M. de Selves assured me that he shared the Bulgarian sympathies of his uncle and declared
himself an admirer of the Bulgarian King. During our conversation he inquired whether a small matter, involving the indemnity of a Frenchman, had been settled. I replied in the affirmative.
Count Aehrenthal mentioned our commercial negotiations and expressed the hope that they will soon be concluded. He also referred to the projected visit of our King in the following terms : “In the course of the visit which His Majesty paid us this summer something was said about his visit to H.M. the Emperor. I promised to take the latter’s orders and to inform him of the result. The health of our Emperor requiring care, I had to wire to Count Tarnowski in Sofia to inform M. Dobrovitch that the visit cannot take place this autumn.
[ Deliberations in Vienna ]
In Vienna I was met by M. Rizoff who, after receiving fresh instructions from my substitute, M. Theodoroff, had gone to Belgrade and settled the details of my interview with M. Milovanovitch. I also found there M. Standoff who told me that the King, then on a visit to his Hungarian property, knew about our project and wished to see me before my departure. I had several consultations with the two ministers. After M. Rizoff had given us a full report of his conversations in Belgrade, we established the principles which should regulate our understanding with Serbia, embodying them in a memorandum. I may mention that the points dealing with an attack on Serbia and Bulgaria by a third party, particularly by Austria, were drafted by M. Rizoff himself. Neither is it superfluous to point out that by adopting the boundaries of the sandjak of
Uskub as the future line of demarcation in Macedonia we were conceding to Serbia the caza of Veles, the latter forming part of the sandjak of Uskub. There was then no question of arbitration.
1. The renewal of the treaty of 1904, mutatis mutandis : instead of reforms, we shall ask for autonomy ; if that should prove impossible, we shall divide Macedonia.
2. Our maximum concessions in case of partition :
(a) The river Pchina, to the east of Vardar, all the way to its source ;
(b) The boundaries of the sandjaks of Prizrend and Uskub, to the west of Vardar.
3. Determination of casus fœderis :
(a) Attack on Serbia and Bulgaria, from which ever quarter it may come ;
(b) Attack by Turkey on any one of the Balkan States ;
(c) Eventual attempt on the part of Austria to occupy Macedonia or Albania ;
(d) Internal troubles in Turkey, threatening the peace and tranquillity of the Balkan Peninsula ;
(e) When the interests of Bulgaria and Serbia demand that the question should be settled.
4. The participation of Russia to be a conditio sine qua non for the conclusion of a treaty on the above lines.
5. The participation of Montenegro.
[ Meeting with M. Milovanovitch ]
After the King had approved this scheme, in the course of an audience in the train between Oderberg and Vienna, I left the
latter place on October 11, and that same night met M. Milovanovitch. I subsequently read to the King and before the Ministerial Council the following report on the conversation which we had :
We, M. Milovanovitch and myself, left Belgrade on October n, at 11.30 p.m. and at 2.30 a.m. reached Lipovo, where the Serbian Ministerial carriage was detached and we had to part company. During the three hours which we spent together, we touched on all the questions affecting the interests of our countries, beginning from the Turco-Italian war and the Young Turkish regime.
Speaking on the latter topic, M. Milovanovitch said that Count Aehrenthal had despaired of the Young Turks being able to regenerate Turkey. A few months ago—last spring—he had spoken in favour of an autonomous Albania which would help to solve the great Balkan question. M. Milovanovitch again dwelt on the dangers which such an Albania, stretching to the Bulgarian frontiers and including the vilayets of Monastir and Uskub, would present for the Balkan Slavs. In his opinion the Albanians, most of whom are Mohammedans and afflicted with the common Moslem incapacity to form a civilised State, were condemned to the fate of the other Moslem nations—the fate of Algeria, Tunis, Morocco, and Tripoli. The only possible solution, when the time comes for a final settlement with Turkey, would be found in the annexation of northern Albania by Serbia and of southern Albania by Greece.
The liquidation of Turkey being mentioned, M. Milovanovitch entered into a long discussion on the present and the future of our two countries. He thinks that nothing can be done at this juncture, all the Powers being determined to localise the war
and not to tolerate any Balkan complications. We must, therefore, remain quiet. Serbia will under no circumstances stir, the more so as he thinks that a war between Turkey and one of the Balkan States will consolidate rather than weaken the Young Turkish regime. We must wait until the end of the war, trying meanwhile to secure the support of Russia. Without such support nothing can or ought to be undertaken. But before turning to Russia we must come to an understanding among ourselves and conclude a treaty in three copies, one of which will be handed to Russia.
The main provisions of the casus fœderis should be as follows :
1. An absolute defensive alliance against whosoever attacks Bulgaria or Serbia ;
2. A defensive alliance against whosoever attempts to occupy those parts of the Balkan Peninsula which shall be specifically mentioned : Macedonia, Old Serbia, etc. ;
3. An offensive alliance against Turkey with the object : (a) of liberating Macedonia and Old Serbia in circumstances deemed favourable to both countries ; (b) of putting an end to the anarchy or massacres in the Turkish provinces where the vital interests of either contracting party are at stake.
When I remarked to M. Milovanovitch that if our attempt at liberating Macedonia and Old Serbia takes the character of annexation, our task will be greatly complicated, owing to the touchiness of our neighbours, he agreed that it would be better to ask for autonomy, although that solution did not particularly appeal to him. He kept insisting on a partition of the territories liberated and said that for some of them there could be no discussion between us. Adrianople must revert to Bulgaria, in the same way as Old Serbia, to the north of Shar Mountain, must belong to Serbia. As regards
Macedonia, the greater part of that province will fall to the Bulgarians. But a section of northern Macedonia must be given to Serbia, and the best way would be to reserve the partition for the arbitration of the Russian Emperor. Let us draw no dividing line at present, he added. By adopting that course you will spare yourselves the criticisms of having consented to a preliminary repartition of Macedonia. Later on, when your compatriots have secured the lion’s part, no one would think of protesting that a small part of Macedonia has been awarded to Serbia by the Russian Emperor, under whose patronage and high sense of justice this great work will have been accomplished. Ah, yes ! If the “winding-up” of Turkey coincides with the crumbling of Austria-Hungary, matters will be enormously simplified. Serbia will get Bosnia and Herzegovina, while Roumania receives Transylvania, and we shall then have no reasons for apprehending a Roumanian intervention in our war against Turkey.
[ Approval of Bulgarian government ]
Both the King and the Ministerial Council sanctioned the principles which M. Milovanovitch and myself had established as a basis of the impending discussions, and empowered me to begin official pourparlers for the conclusion of an offensive and defensive alliance with Serbia. I lost no time in taking the necessary steps, the more so as the situation which I found in Sofia on my return from Vichy was very disquieting, not to say critical. My colleagues had been greatly perturbed by reports from Adrianople that the Turks were mobilising against us, and talked seriously of ordering a Bulgarian mobilisation against Turkey.
This bellicose spirit on their part was to me a revelation. Impressed by it, I began to ask myself : if my friends, who are usually so cautious and thrifty, can no longer stand the Turkish provocations and are ready to spend millions of francs in order to teach Turkey a lesson, what must I expect from my other compatriots and from Bulgarian public opinion ? As a matter of fact, this last was already so excited, all the newspapers, including the semiofficial Den and Retch, were so warlike, that a well-known foreign correspondent pronounced me to be manifestly unfit for my post because, instead of profiting by the crisis, I was doing my best to dissipate it. I do not deny that I did so, by my representations to the Great Powers, but at the same time I irrevocably resolved to conclude alliances with Serbia and Greece, bearing in mind that the Turco-Italian war, whose early stage had so strained our relations with Turkey, might keep some fateful surprises in store for Bulgaria. The most elementary prudence demanded that, as leader of the Bulgarian policy, I should secure the co-operation of these two countries, as being indispensable to us for repelling a Turkish aggression—after the fall of Abdul Hamid, what Prince Bismarck used to call a preventive war was by no means impossible on the part of Turkey—and for protecting our own interests, as well as those of our co-nationalists in Turkey, in the event of a catastrophe in Turkey. Another imperative reason for concluding such alliances was
[ Beginning of negotiations ]
our uncertainty that some agreement, like that announced in August 1910, did not exist between Turkey and Roumania ; to say nothing of the danger that Serbians and Greeks might intervene in a Turco-Bulgarian war, under conditions far less favourable to us than if we had previously come to terms with them. Deeply convinced, at the same time, that the Macedonian question ought to be taken out of the hands of the Macedonian Revolutionary Committee, as Cavour took the question of Italian unity out of the hands of the Italian revolutionists, I hastened to open the negotiations. Serbia appointed as her delegate M. Spalaikovitch, Serbian Minister in Sofia, while the King and the Ministerial Council entrusted to me the task of representing Bulgaria, it being agreed that while the pourparlers lasted I should consult M. Daneff, as spokesman of the second party forming our Coalition Government, together with M. Theodoroff and General Nikiphoroff, as Ministers of Finance and War.
[ Serbian proposals ]
The original proposals of the Serbians were not calculated to inspire us with great confidence in the moderation of the Serbian Government. Contrary to the assurances of M. Rizoff, they began the conversations in a somewhat raised tone. By article 3, paragraph 3, of their project the Serbians were reserving for themselves the right to declare war without our consent ; while article 4 not only said nothing of Macedonian autonomy, but actually proposed that the two vilayets of Salonica and Monastir should
be reserved for the arbitration of the Russian Emperor. The said articles ran as follows :
Article 3. Should one of the contracting parties propose to the other that actions be commenced for the liberation of the Bulgarians and Serbians under Turkish yoke, esteeming that the situation in Turkey makes this imperative and that the general conditions in Europe are favourable, the party invited must at once respond and immediately enter into an exchange of views.
If an agreement be reached favourable to action, the latter will commence as settled by the agreement ; and where the agreement is not complete, the parties will be guided in all things by the sentiment of friendship and solidarity of interests. In the opposite case, the opinion of Russia will be invoked, and, in so far as Russia shall express her opinion, it shall be binding on both parties. If, Russia having declined to express an opinion and the contracting parties still failing to agree, the party favourable to action declares war against Turkey on its own responsibility, the other party is bound to maintain a neutrality friendly to its ally, immediately ordering a mobilisation, in the limits fixed by the military convention, and coming with all its forces to the assistance of its ally in the event of a third party taking the side of Turkey.
Should one of the parties decide to declare war on Turkey with the object of putting an end to the anarchy or massacres in the adjoining Turkish territories where vital State and national interests of the party are at stake, it being manifest that Turkey cannot herself stop this state of things, the other party, on receiving a reasoned invitation from its ally, must simultaneously with the latter declare war on Turkey.
Article 4. All territorial acquisitions which either party, or the two parties together, shall have
won as the result of a war against Turkey in any of the cases provided for by articles 1, 2, and 3 shall constitute common property of the two parties.
Serbia recognises now and in advance the complete and exclusive right of Bulgaria over the territories in the vilayet of Adrianople, while Bulgaria recognises the corresponding right of Serbia over the vilayet of Scutari and that part of the vilayet of Kossovo which lies to the north of Shar Mountain.
As regards that part of the vilayet of Kossovo which lies to the south of Shar Mountain, and the vilayets of Salonica and Monastir, the two parties agree to request H.M. the Emperor of Russia, acting as supreme arbitrator, to decide what part of those territories shall be given to Bulgaria, and what part to Serbia.
In reply to the objections which I raised, M. Spalaikovitch proposed on November 7, 1911, the following modifications of articles 3 and 4 :
Article 3. In the case of internal troubles arising in Turkey so as to endanger the State or national interests of the contracting parties or one of them, as also in the case of internal or external difficulties befalling Turkey which shall reopen the question of the status quo in the Balkan Peninsula, that contracting party which shall first arrive at the conclusion that military intervention is indispensable addresses a reasoned proposal to the other party which is bound to enter immediately into an exchange of views, returning to its ally a reasoned reply in case of disagreement.
If an agreement for action be attained, it shall be communicated to Russia and, if the latter raises no objections, action will be commenced in accordance with the agreement, the parties being guided
in all things by the sentiment of solidarity and community of interests. In the opposite case, where such an agreement cannot be attained, the parties shall appeal to Russia for her opinion, which, in so far as Russia shall declare herself, will be binding on both parties. If, Russia declining to state an opinion and the parties still failing to agree, the party in favour of action begins war against Turkey on its own responsibility, the other party is bound to observe a neutrality friendly to its ally, immediately ordering a mobilisation within the limits fixed by the military convention, and coming with all its forces to the assistance of the allied party in the event of a third party taking the side of Turkey.
Article 4. All territorial acquisitions which either party, or both parties together, shall have won as the result of a war against Turkey, in the cases provided for by articles 1, 2, and 3, shall constitute common property of the two parties.
Serbia recognises now and in advance the complete and exclusive right of Bulgaria over the territories of the vilayets of Adrianople and Salonica, while Bulgaria recognises the corresponding right of Serbia over the vilayet of Scutari and that part of the vilayet of Kossovo which lies to the north of Shar Mountain.
From the Serbian side, it is declared that Serbia has no pretensions beyond a line which, starting from Golema Planina, on the Turco-Bulgarian frontier, follows the course of the river Bregalnitza to the point where it flows into Vardar and, crossing on the right bank of Vardar, immediately turns to the south of Prilep and reaches the lake of Ochrida, between Ochrida and Strouga, leaving Prilep, Kroushevo and Strouga to Serbia and Ochrida to Bulgaria.
From the Bulgarian side, it is declared that Bulgaria recognises the right of Serbia on a frontier
which, starting from the mountain of Dovalitza (Ojegovo), on the Turco-Bulgarian frontier, follows the river Valna to the point where it flows into the Vardar, then the boundary of the sandjak of Uskub as far as the mountain of Karadjitza, from where it goes by the shortest line between Kitchevo and Kroushevo to the lake of Ochrida, in such a way as to leave Kitchevo and Strouga on the Serbian side, and Ochrida on the Bulgarian side.
Both parties will request H.M. the Russian Emperor graciously to examine their respective standpoints before pronouncing a decision in accordance with article 4, paragraph 2, of the present treaty.
[ Hitch in negotiations ]
As the reader will observe, we were obtaining some satisfaction as regards article 3, but article 4 still said nothing about autonomous government for Macedonia, and proposed to create in that province three zones : an uncontested Serbian zone, a contested zone to be reserved for the arbitration of the Russian Emperor, and an uncontested Bulgarian zone. I protested both against the proposed partition and the systematic boycotting of the principle of Macedonian autonomy. My new objections were transmitted to M. Milovanovitch, but did not meet with a prompt reply on his part. As he was then on the point of starting with King Peter for Paris, I commissioned MM. D. Standoff and D. Rizoff, with whom I had originally established the main principles of the future Serbo-Bulgarian understanding, to meet M. Milovanovitch and persuade him to accept our conditions. The following report
will show how they performed their mission :
November 20, 1911.
Monsieur le Président,
We have the honour to acquaint you with the manner in which we have accomplished the mission entrusted to us—to meet M. Milovanovitch, Serbian Prime Minister, and speak with him on the subject of the Serbo-Bulgarian understanding which is now in the process of negotiation.
At our first meeting with M. Milovanovitch, which took place on November 18, during the Gala performance at the Opera in honour of H.M. the Serbian King, M. Standoff informed him that our King and M. Gueshoff, the Prime Minister, were greatly disappointed [désolés] with the proposals which M. Spalaikovitch had brought from Belgrade on the pending Serbo-Bulgarian agreement. They were amazed at the modifications which Serbia proposes to introduce into that agreement, by rejecting all principle of Macedonian autonomy and by altering the geographical boundary of her Macedonian claims. She substitutes the river of Bregalnitza for that of Ptchina as her frontier to the east of Vardar, reserving for herself the town of Veles, with the corresponding line to the west of Vardar, including the towns of Prilep, Kroushevo, Kitchevo and Strouga, in lieu of the present boundaries of the sandjaks of Uskub and Prizrend. The Bulgarian King and his Prime Minister are of opinion that these modifications render an understanding between Bulgaria and Serbia impossible.
M. Standoff stated this in a very concise form, the Cercle offering no opportunity for a longer conversation without arousing suspicions among the
[ Negotiations in Paris ]
diplomatists who were present. M. Standoff, however, succeeded in impressing on M. Milovanovitch that the matter was extremely serious and deserved a fresh and careful examination by Serbia. The declaration of M. Standoff startled M. Milovanovitch, who asked for an interview where they might again discuss the affair. M. Standoff thereupon informed M. Milovanovitch that M. Rizoff had arrived from Rome for that very purpose and that it would be better if the exchange of ideas took place “between the three,” as the Bulgarian Government considered M. Rizoff exceptionally competent on all questions affecting Macedonia. Besides, such an exchange of ideas would form a continuation of the talks which M. Rizoff had already had with M. Milovanovitch in Belgrade, on October 2 and 3, the latter in the presence of MM. Pashitch and Stoyanovitch, leaders of the two wings of the Radical party. M. Milovanovitch then agreed to call at our Legation on the following day, November 19, at 10 a.m., for a longer “conversation.”
At this point it is necessary to place on record parenthetically a characteristic phrase uttered by M. de Selves, French Minister of Foreign Affairs. While M. Milovanovitch and M. Standoff were talking, M. de Selves happened to be passing and said to them with a smile: “Je passe à coté de vous, non pour vous désunir.” M. Standoff completed the thought of M. de Selves by adding : “Mais pour nous unir et bénir.” The French Minister rejoined: “Oui, oui, pour vous bénir; vous faites, vous taillez de la bonne besogne.” Later on, M. Milovanovitch explained to us the meaning of these words by saying that he had spoken with M. de Selves about an understanding between Bulgaria and Serbia, whose 400,000 soldiers would form a barrier against all foreign aggression in the Balkans. M. Milovanovitch had
found that his thesis met with the full approval of M. de Selves.
Yesterday M. Milovanovitch visited our Legation and we had the following conversation, which M. Standoff opened with the words :
“The original Serbo-Bulgarian conversation on the subject of the understanding, for which the two countries are equally anxious, laid down that the arbitration of the Russian Emperor will bear on the following geographical boundary which represented the utmost concession on the Bulgarian side :
The river Ptchina as frontier to the east of Vardar ; the southern boundaries of the sandjaks of Uskub and Prizrend as frontier to the west of Vardar, on condition that recourse will be had to partition only after events had established that Macedonian autonomy is either impossible or cannot last long.
The proposals which M. Spalaikovitch has brought from Belgrade, on the contrary, reject the principle of autonomy and lay down that the arbitration of the Russian Emperor shall bear on a new geographical frontier of the Serbian claims in Macedonia, running to the east of Vardar, along the river Bregalnitza and to the west of Vardar, along a line corresponding to it and reaching the lake of Ochrida near Strouga.
Further than this : the Serbian modifications claim for Serbia, ab initio and without arbitration, not only the geographical frontier indicated by Bulgaria, but also the territories in the triangle formed by a straight line from the mountain of Karadjitza to Strouga.
Of course, concluded M. Standoff, such modifications cannot be accepted by the Bulgarian Government which might make a last concession, by agreeing to the frontier already mentioned and the triangle now claimed by Serbia, but on the following two preliminary conditions : that this Bulgarian concession shall be submitted to the arbitration of the
[ M. Milovanovitch’s reply ]
Russian Emperor, it being understood that the line indicated by Bulgaria constitutes the utmost Bulgarian concession, while the triangle represents the utmost Serbian pretension ; and that the question respecting Macedonian autonomy shall not be prejudiced.
M. Standoff added that there could be no question about any concessions ab initio, and that the arbitration of the Russian Emperor ought to be obligatory.
M. Rizoff, in his turn, added that the arbitration of the Russian Emperor is equally indispensable to both Governments, as a screen against public opinion in their countries which are in direct opposition and not easy to reconcile on this question. The arbitration must bear both on the principle at stake and on its practical application.
M. Milovanovitch replied that the modifications proposed by M. Spalaikovitch were inspired by the following motives : firstly, the natural presumption that the Russian Emperor will adopt neither the Bulgarian nor the Serbian standpoint, but will seek for an intermediate term between the Bulgarian concessions and the Serbian claims in Macedonia, so that neither the Serbian line of demarcation nor the Bulgarian will be the one finally adopted ; secondly, the belief that the river Ptchina is too small for a frontier line, and that a watershed should be taken instead ; thirdly, the fact that the villages in the nahié of Preshovo have for a long time been Serbian and that it would be unfair if they were to remain on the Bulgarian side ; fourthly, the conviction that the Serbians had already made very great concessions.
M. Rizoff undertook to answer the objections of M. Milovanovitch, and he did so in the Serbian language, remarking that his explanations will thus assume the tone of their former conversations in Belgrade and will recall to the memory of M. Milovanovitch parts of them in their original form.
M. Rizoff first mentioned the important circumstance that during their former conversations in Rome and Belgrade M. Milovanovitch had more than once agreed to the principle of Macedonian autonomy, provided the Serbian and the Bulgarian spheres of influence in Macedonia were determined in advance, so that if autonomy should prove impossible or of short duration, Bulgaria and Serbia would have their definite frontiers when the moment for annexation came. So that, M. Rizoff observed, the formula which Bulgaria now proposes is in reality the formula of M. Milovanovitch himself. It is, therefore, strange that M. Milovanovitch should now abandon it, the more so as this same formula was again discussed during their recent conversations in Belgrade. Besides, continued M. Rizoff, in the event of a war with Turkey, Serbia and Bulgaria could find no more acceptable, more justifiable, and less provocative platform than the principle of Macedonian autonomy. Another no less important consideration is that the final settlement of European Turkey can hardly take place—especially after the loss of Tripoli—without the question passing through a preliminary stage, and that stage can only be autonomy for Macedonia. It is superfluous to add, said M. Rizoff in concluding his remarks on this topic, that no Bulgarian Government could be found to sign with another country an understanding on the Macedonian question whose stipulations proscribed the principle of Macedonian autonomy.
Concerning the new Serbian frontier, M. Rizoff reminded M. Milovanovitch that during their conversation in Belgrade on October 3, at which MM. Pashitch and Stoyanovitch were present, after M. Rizoff had replied to the objections of the former on this same subject, M. Milovanovitch had remarked : “Evidently we must give up Veles and even sacrifice the native town of our King Marco. . . On that occasion the future of Veles, Prilep, and Kroushevo
[ Rejoinder by M. Rizoff ]
was settled in favour of Bulgaria. The only question left open was the fate of Kitchevo. As for Strouga, no one even mentioned that place, for the very good reason that Strouga was the birthplace of the brothers Miladinoff and no Bulgarian would even hear of sacrificing it.
The objections of M. Milovanovitch to the river Ptchina as a frontier line, continued M. Rizoff, are not convincing, since the Bregalnitza river which Serbia now proposed as a substitute is no bigger. With respect to Veles, M. Rizoff had already explained in Belgrade that this town was the place where the Bulgarian nationality in Macedonia first affirmed itself and that it formed the centre of the only Bulgarian diocese which figured in the Firman creating the Bulgarian Exarchate. It was, therefore, impossible for a Bulgarian Government to commit the sacrilege of abandoning it to others. Speaking of the villages in the nahié of Preshovo, M. Rizoff said that M. Milovanovitch has evidently been misled by somebody, for they are all on the right bank of the river Ptchina, and the Bulgarian line leaves them in the Serbian sphere.
As for the great concessions of Serbia, M. Rizoff remarked that one can talk of them only in jest. Most sensible Serbians have, since the occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, restricted their pretensions in Macedonia solely to the sandjak of Uskub. During the negotiations which preceded the Serbo-Bulgarian understanding of 1904, even M. Pashitch, whose parsimonious disposition makes him a hard bargainer and who never ventures to make concessions to Bulgaria because of his Bulgarian origin, had rallied to M. Rizoff’s proposal in favour of Macedonian autonomy, on condition that the sandjak of Uskub should be considered as forming part of Old Serbia ; but this condition was not accepted by the Bulgarian delegates. Where must one look for the vaunted concessions by Serbia when she now
claims not only Veles—which town was annexed to the sandjak of Uskub only a few years ago, owing to its proximity to Uskub, and in consequence of the insistence of Hafiz Pasha, the notorious Vali of Kossovo and a pronounced enemy of the Bulgarians—but also Prilep, Kroushevo, Kitchevo, even Strouga, all of which form part of the vilayet of Monastir ?
At this point of the conversation M. Standoff intentionally left the room for a few minutes during which M. Rizoff, in an intimate tête-à-tête (they have been for a long time on terms of personal intimacy), made the following important declaration to M. Milovanovitch :
“ You know that my devoted attachment to the idea of a definite understanding between Bulgaria and Serbia has put me under a cloud of suspicions in my country. You will, therefore, believe in my absolute sincerity and frankness on this occasion. Well, I assure you on my honour and in the name of my country that this is our last effort to arrive at such an understanding, and that Serbia will never again find a Bulgarian Government so well disposed and willing to conclude an agreement. I need hardly tell you that no Bulgarian Government will venture, even if it felt disposed, to conclude with Serbia an understanding which does not provide for Macedonian autonomy. If you, M. Milovanovitch, agree with all this, you must realise what a terrible responsibility you are assuming before your own people and before the entire Slav world should our present initiative meet with failure. You know as well as anybody that we must not waste time, or events might anticipate us. As your old friend, I implore you to associate your name with this great enterprise. Have the courage to surmount the obstacles in the way, even when they come from your political friends. That is how great deeds in this world are done. You have more than once told me
[ Promise of M. Milovanovitch ]
that the first and most important object of the Serbian foreign policy ought to be an understanding with Bulgaria. If you are convinced of this, you must attain that object even at the risk of exposing yourself to the temporary abuse of your short-sighted compatriots. Bear in mind, M. Milovanovitch, that this is the last opportunity for concluding the Serbo-Bulgarian agreement on behalf of which we have both so much pleaded, and that no such opportunity will recur again.”
As these words were being uttered, M. Standoff returned, and realising the purport of the conversation, dealt M. Milovanovitch the final coup de grâce by adding :
“Do not forget that the entire responsibility before the Macedonian public opinion for the territorial concessions which we are making to you in Macedonia has been placed on M. Rizoff, both by the Bulgarian King and by the Bulgarian Government.”
All this impressed M. Milovanovitch so much that he could find nothing to reply, merely contenting himself with the words that he still remained convinced—more so than ever before—of the paramount importance for Serbia of arriving at an understanding with Bulgaria. But for that very reason it was desirable to enlist the support of all decisive factors in Serbia. He was sure that we could not doubt his resolution to settle this matter à tout prix, and trusted that we would rely on his promise to do his utmost, when back in Belgrade, in order to persuade the remaining Serbian factors—MM. Pashitch and Stoyanovitch, leaders of the two branches of the Radical Party, and General Stepanovitch, the War Minister—to meet the Bulgarian washes. After that he would summon M. Spalaikovitch from Sofia to supply him with fresh instructions.
This declaration of M. Milovanovitch bore every trace of sincerity, and prompted M. Stancioff to
facilitate his task in Belgrade by submitting to him your formula on the subject of Macedonian autonomy, which ran as follows :
“If after a war waged in common by the two parties—Serbia and Bulgaria—it should be found necessary to end the war with an autonomous government for the provinces inhabited by Serbians and Bulgarians, the two parties will agree to conclude peace guaranteeing autonomy to the said provinces.”
M. Milovanovitch took a copy of this formula and asked us to excuse him, as the time for the interview had expired and he had appointments with MM. Delcassé and Barrère. On departing he again promised to do everything so as to meet the Bulgarian wishes. As he took leave of M. Standoff, who as host had accompanied him to the door, M. Milovanovitch requested him to inform our King that his great desire was to see this matter through, being anxious to please His Majesty, “who reposed such hopes on him.”
On this our interview with M. Milovanovitch ended. It now remains for you to carry the question to a happy ending. We do not consider it superfluous to warn you against M. Spalaikovitch, who until quite recently used to be one of the most crafty and dangerous foes of our cause in Macedonia. His mind is not yet ripe enough to get the better of his chauvinistic obstinacy, and you will do well to be on your guard while treating with him. Of course, it would have been much better if your pourparlers with M. Milovanovitch had not taken place through him as intermediary. You will also pardon us for recalling to your memory the words of M. Hartwig, in answer to M. Rizoff’s complaints of the exaggerated claims of the Serbians: “Do not pay much attention to that. They will bargain with you, but in the end they will content themselves only with the sandjak of Uskub.” And who
knows better than M. Hartwig the innermost thoughts of the Serbians ?
We flatter ourselves with the hope that you will rely on our accuracy and accept the present as a faithful record of the words of M. Milovanovitch and of our own, and trust that our report may prove of considerable use to you during the negotiations on this momentous question.
We have the honour, etc.,
After his return to Belgrade, M. Milovanovitch informed me about the beginning of December, through M. Spalaikovitch, that he would again examine the question with MM. Pashitch and Luba Stoyanovitch, leaders of the two Radical groups, and would submit to me fresh proposals. On December 28 M. Spalaikovitch communicated to me the new Serbian proposals. They practically accepted my formula on the subject of Macedonian autonomy, and agreed that the two zones of which I have already spoken should be merged into one contested zone. But the new zone was so wide that I found it impossible to acquiesce in the Serbian proposal. Long discussions on this point followed between M. Spalaikovitch and myself, in which M. Nekludoff, Russian Minister in Sofia, and Colonel Romanovsky, Russian Military Attaché, more than once took part. The intervention of Russia sometimes took the form of advices to show ourselves moderate and accommodating so as to hasten the success of the good cause ; while
on other occasions we were given to understand that if we failed to come to terms, Russia would reserve for herself the right to act as her interests dictated.
A communication from Colonel Romanovsky to General Fitcheff proved the more disquieting, as it was made just when the press and our own diplomatic representatives abroad were reporting that M. Tcharikoff, Russian Ambassador in Constantinople, had opened negotiations for an understanding with Turkey. No one could be blind to the dangers which would threaten our national aspirations if Russia were to conclude a double agreement with Austria and Turkey, such as we then apprehended. My colleagues in the Ministerial Council more than once urged on me the necessity of frustrating at any cost a Russian understanding with the latter country. The only way in which we could do this was by signing our treaty with the Serbians. After much insistence on our part, the latter had accepted our conditions regarding the frontiers of the contested zone, but still differed from us on the subject of Strouga and the shore of the lake of Ochrida, between the latter town and Strouga. Long arguments ensued and, in the end, these localities also were ceded to us, a protocol being drafted to that effect. This protocol was signed on March 7, 1912, and seven days later we signed the treaty with Serbia. It would have been very risky to protract the negotiations any further, as the Turks might have got wind of them, concluded peace with
[ Hastening of negotiations ]
Italy and attacked us, or entered into some agreement to our detriment. I may add here that as early as December 28, 1911, we had agreed with the Serbians to detach from the treaty and embody in a secret annex the clauses dealing with our offensive alliance against Turkey, the stipulations affecting Macedonia, and all matters connected with those two articles.
About a month after we had signed the treaty and its secret annex, the pourparlers over the military convention provided for by article 4 of the treaty were begun. The Minister of War and the Head of the General Staff were appointed to examine the project and report on it to the King. The latter consented to sign the convention, with its provisions against an eventual attack on the part of Austria and Roumania, because he was acquainted with the text of the Austro-Roumanian military convention of September 1900, concluded after the acute Bulgaro-Roumanian crisis over the assassination of Michaleanu, the preamble of which declared that Roumania is justified in aspiring to increase her possessions by annexing part of Bessarabia and securing the fortress of Silistria, if possible with Rustchuk, Shumen, and Varna. The existence of this Austro-Roumanian agreement, and the persistent rumours that Roumania had also signed a convention with Turkey, imposed on us the duty to provide in our military, convention with Serbia against a possible aggression by Austria and Roumania. After General Nikiphoroff
and General Fitcheff had made their report to the King, and explained that if the Austrians occupy the sandjak of Novi-Bazar they will invade Macedonia and come into conflict with our interests, His Majesty gave his approval, the more so as on June 13, 1902, General Paprikoff had signed with Russia a military convention, in reply to that between Austria and Roumania. By article 3 of this Russo-Bulgarian military convention—about which I sent so many telegrams to M. Bobtcheff, our Minister in Petrograd, during the winter of 1912-1913, when the Roumanians were threatening us with invasion—Russia had undertaken to defend with all her forces the integrity and the inviolability of the Bulgarian territory. In view of this promise on the part of Russia, it was only natural that we should place our treaty with Serbia under the ægis of the Empire which had guaranteed the integrity and the inviolability of Bulgaria. It was no less natural that we should reserve for Russia the right to pronounce on the fate of the contested zone, and to arbitrate on any disagreements concerning the interpretation and application of the treaty, its secret annex and the military convention.
2. Greco-Bulgarian Treaty
As early as May 1911, or two months after my advent to office, the question of an understanding with Greece had been raised
[ First tentative ]
by Mr. J. D. Bourchier, the well-known friend of Bulgaria and correspondent of The Times in the Balkan Peninsula. Mr. Bourchier wrote to me a letter from Athens in which he informed me that the Greek King and the Greek Government were anxious to arrive at an agreement with Bulgaria. The visit of the Bulgarian students to Athens, in the spring of 1911, the friendly reception which was accorded to them in Greece, had created an atmosphere highly propitious to an exchange of ideas, paving the path for an understanding, if not an alliance, between the two countries. Mr. Bourchier was given to understand that the Bulgarian Government was in no way opposed to such an exchange of views. Matters, however, remained at a standstill until the Turco-Italian war and the conduct of the Young Turks towards us, more especially their unprovoked mobilisation against Bulgaria at the beginning of October 1911, forced us to commence negotiations with Greece.
The first step in that direction was taken immediately after the said Turkish mobilisation. On October 16, 1911, M. Panas, Greek Minister in Sofia, came, as he expressed himself, to make an important communication on behalf of his Government. After recapitulating the history of his various conversations with me, before I left for Vichy, and with M. Theodoroff, while the latter was acting as my substitute, M. Panas concluded that if I could assure him of our willingness to intervene in the event of a Turkish aggression
on Greece, he was authorised by his Government to declare to me that Greece, in her turn will fight should Bulgaria be attacked by Turkey.
In view of the critical state of our relations with Turkey at the beginning of October 1911, this communication was of capital importance to us. Before Serbia had promised to fight on our side in the event of a war with Turkey, we were receiving such an assurance from Greece. The Greek proposal was communicated to the King and the -Ministerial Council and accepted by them, I being authorised to tell M. Panas that Bulgaria will assist Greece in a war with Turkey, on conditions which must be specified in a defensive treaty. M. Panas agreed to that.
No project for such a treaty was, however, prepared, while our negotiations with Serbia went on. After we signed the treaty with Serbia, I had another conversation with M. Panas, and on April 27, 1912, received from him a note, enclosing the draft for a defensive alliance between the two countries.
In this preliminary project not only was nothing said about autonomy for Macedonia and Thrace, but even those privileges which had been granted to the Christian provinces of European Turkey by various international acts, particularly article 23 of the Treaty of Berlin, were passed over in silence. I told M. Panas that we could not accept their project so long as Greece did not declare explicitly that she would raise no objections
[ Greek objections ]
to autonomy. With that object in view, I submitted to him the following formula :
Greece undertakes not to offer any opposition to an eventual demand by Bulgaria of administrative autonomy for Macedonia and the vilayet of Adrianople, guaranteeing equal rights to the nationalities there.
My suggestion, however, was not adopted. I again made it clear that it was impossible for me to sign a treaty which did not at least recognise our obligation, to fight for those rights of the Christians in Turkey which were based on treaties. M. Panas replied that I was trying, in a roundabout way, to get back to autonomy, since I had in my mind article 23 of the Treaty of Berlin, about the application of which numerous meetings were just then being held throughout Bulgaria. People still remember the movement which spread rapidly all over the county, after the example was set by Sofia, where, on May 12, an imposing demonstration took place, under the chairmanship of Dr. Stambolski and the patronage of MM. Ivan Vazoff, Professor Iv. Shishmanoff, Dr. S. Sarafoff, Iv. Grozeff, G. Gueorgoff, Stanisheff, and many others. I did not disguise from M. Panas that I aimed at the carrying out of this article 23, but that in order to spare the susceptibilities of Greece I proposed to use in the preamble of our treaty and in article 2, which dealt with the rights of the Christian nationalities, the words
“conceded” (by the Sultans) and “deriving from the treaties.” Thereupon M. Panas entered into an excited discussion with me, and tried to convince me that, as I had in view article 23 of the Treaty of Berlin, my proposal would not be accepted. For a considerable time Athens remained silent. M. Panas came frequently to see me, under the pretext of telling me that he was still without instructions, his real object being to induce me not to press my formula. But I remained unmoved. Finally, about May 23, he informed me that the Greek Government had agreed to my formula concerning the privileges secured by international treaties. It being already decided that the King and the Queen would start on June 1 for Vienna and Berlin, where they were paying their first official visit, I hastened to sign the treaty with Greece before our departure. This was done by M. Panas and me on May 29, 1912. The ratification of the treaty by the two rulers followed after our return from Berlin. As for our military convention with Greece, its examination was entrusted to Generals Nikiphoroff and Fitcheff, but its signature was deferred until September 1912. I may mention at this place that, owing to lack of time, we were unable to conclude with Greece an agreement with respect to the future frontiers in Macedonia. Among the various other things, M. Panas had told me that Greece refused to treat with Austria because the latter had made it clear that she wanted Salonica for herself.
[ First steps ]
3. Bulgaro-Montenegrin Agreement
No written treaty was signed by us with Montenegro. The first exchange of ideas for a common action between Bulgaria and Montenegro took place in Vienna. It will be remembered that the Austrian Emperor received the King of Montenegro during the first half of June 1912, immediately after the visit of our King. I found in Vienna MM. Daneff and Theodoroff, the first on his way back from Livadia, and the second returning from Paris. I availed myself of this opportunity to summon M. Rizoff from Rome, so that the four of us might examine the question of a war with Turkey, imposed on us by the latter or rendered inevitable by some military action of Italy in the Balkans. Their Majesties left for Berlin on June 19, before the arrival of M. Rizoff. On my return from Berlin to resume the discussions with my colleagues, I learned that M. Rizoff had utilised his acquaintance with the Montenegrin Prime Minister to arrange a meeting between the latter, M. Daneff, and himself, the interview taking place at the Hoffbourg Palace, where the King of Montenegro and his suite were stopping. Our representatives had derived from this meeting the impression that Montenegro was quite ready to act with us.
Shortly afterwards, during the month of July, I received from M. Kolousheff, our Minister at Cettigne, a communication to the effect that the Montenegrin King had made
a proposal for common action. This suggestion was examined by us, and we decided to summon M. Kolousheff, so that I might personally settle the matter, as I had already done in the case of the Serbo-Bulgarian and the Greco-Bulgarian negotiations. In order to avoid all semblance of scheming with Montenegro, I intended to meet M. Kolousheff in Munich. But the rapidity with which events were marching prevented me from leaving Sofia, and M. Kolousheff had to come to Bulgaria. On August 28 he started back for Cettigne in order to conclude with Montenegro an oral agreement. The archives of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry contain a report from M. Kolousheff, giving particulars about this agreement.
As the conditions of our verbal understanding with Montenegro have not yet been published, I shall not dwell on the various phases through which the question passed, as I have done in connection with our written treaties. The text of these treaties was first published by the Paris newspaper Le Matin, in November 1913, and by other newspapers subsequently. I, therefore, reproduce them as appendices to the present volume.
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