The Magazine of Europe

Evening Post, Volume LXI, Issue 90, 18 April 1901, Page 4


Again there is news of serious unrest in the Balkans. Bulgaria is the scene of the trouble, Macedonia its cause. The Bulgarian Government, under pressure, it is said, from Russia and Turkey, has arrested the leaders of the Central Macedonian Committee, and the Bulgarian people, who sympathise deeply with the Committee, are in a state of serious ferment. A meeting attended by no less than 10,000 persons has, we aro informed this morning, been held at Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, to protest against the arrests, to condemn Russian interference and to ask European protection against Turkish persecution. The movement is not confined to the capital, for similar meetings have also been held in the provincial towns. The Macedonians share to the full the indignation of the Bulgarians, and do not hesitate to accusrf the Bulgarian Government of shameful treachery. So intense was the excitement that in a cable message received on Monday, the lives of the Bulgarian Ministers were said to have been in danger, while Prince Ferdinand himself had been denounced. These facts point to a situation graver than those temporary crises produced by the periodical waves of unrest which pass over the Balkan States. Behind the excited Bulgarians are sullen Macedonians, eager to throw off the Sultan's rule, and embittered by long years of Turkish oppression. A revolution in Bulgaria, or a rebellion in Macedonia, would probably fire that dangerous riagazine which has long menaced Eastern Europe. The prospect is not made brighter by the rumoured, "unholy alliance" of Russia and Turkey. While there is a Russian party in each of the Balkan States, so there is also an Austrian party or national party, and these patties would become more active than ever if they saw a possible union of Russian and Turkish influences for their suppression.

The internal politics of the Balkan States are too complicated to bo followed with ease or profit, but the chief events leading up to the present crisis and not dificult to trace. Political agitation, oven of the mildest land, is highly imprudent in tho Sultan's dominions. The majority of the Macedonians, and of the people dwelling in tho vilayet of Adrianople the Turkish districts immediately to tho south of Bulgaria have long desired a system of autonomous government. They cannot urge their claims in their own land, except with arms in their hands. Consequently the Macedonian agitation has of lato been conducted by a Central Committee in Sofia. In that committee memorialised the European Powers asking that Macedonia and Adrianople should be granted institutions similar to those set up in Crete. The memorial failed, and then the committee seems to have entered upon a more distinctly revolutionary course. Its violent deds, including even murders perpetrated in Bucharest, brought Bulgaria and Roumania to the verge of war last year. The joint action of Austria and Russia alone prevented strife. The murderers in Roumania were punished, and the Bulgarian Government undertook to proceed against such as were guilty among those residing in Sofia. The sympathy of the people, however, prevented the Government from taking vigorous steps to control the Central Committee. Sundry bands of Bulgarian agitators have been operating across the Turkish frontier and the Turkish Government has retorted by making frequent arrests of Bulgarian subjects. In February a serious encounter took place between Turkish troops and armed Bulgarians near Solonika, and the Sultan soon afterwards ordered a large body of soldiers' to Kostendil, near the Bulgarian frontier. Apparently Russia has lent her support to Turkey, and Prince Ferdinand's. Government has yielded to the joint pressure. Although the Central Macedonian Committee has been guilty of recklessness and even crime, there can lie no doubt about the genuineness of Macedonia's grievances, and unfortunately her only chance of redress seems lio lie in creating such a disturbance in the Balkans that the Powers will be forced to connsider her case.

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