The Greek policy towards Macedonia, 19th and 20th century, part 1

The Greek policy towards Macedonia during the second half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, Risto Poplazarov [Македонска библиотека]

Грчката политика спрема Македонија... Ристо Поплазаров

(Armed, propagative, diplomatic and other Anti-Macedonian actions and the struggle against them)

During the formation of the Greek bourgeoisie, in which many "reformed" phanariots, feudal and half-feudal elements belonged, in co-operation with the high church hierarchy of the Patriarchate "a megali idea" (big idea) was formed to annex Macedonia and other non-Greek countries. To realize the megali idea in Macedonia Greece intensified the denationalization and assimilation of the Greater Greek legal and armed propaganda. The final aim was to annex as big part of Macedonia as it could to the Kingdom of Greece. In that manysided activity the Greek government took a big part gradually, which became more evident thereafter the Kreamerian War.

Within the framework of the governmental engagement H. Trikupis made so called "minimum programme" (in 1866) and the "Society for spreading over the Greek literacy", where the most extreme Greater Greek circles belonged, made "the maximum programme" for the Greater Greek territorial aspirations towards Macedonia and other countries. They two represented the "Panhelenic policy" of the megali idea. The Trikupis programme, which was accepted by many Greek governments, wanted the Macedonian districts south of the line of the Rodopi and the river Mesta passing north of Nevrokop-Strumica-Demir Hisar-Prilep-Kruševo-Ohrid finishing with the Adriatic Sea. Because of this programme the Greek government conducted many secret, diplomatic negotiations for partitioning Macedonia into authorative regions for other aims, but they did not neglect the Greek positions north of [< page 289] the above mentioned line. Such negotiations were conducted with Serbia in 1867 and between the Patriarchate and the Bulgarian church supporters in 1870.

During the new burst of the eastern crisis from 1875 to 1878 and thereafter, the Greater Greek policy stepped on a new imperialistic phase. That was characterised with many actions and demonstrations in the military, diplomatic, propagative and scientific field. Regardless the unsuccessful armed attempts during the Kreamerian War, in January 1878, the Greek ruling circles organised so called "Rising in Olymp" and till 1883 they undertook many četnik actions (Greek armed actions) in Sersko, Kostursko Lerinsko, Bitolsko, Solunsko and other districts. Their main aim was: to help the penetration of the Greek army in Tesalija (January-February 1878); to raise the Greek spirit of the Greeks in Macedonia; to show the world that it was a "Greek country"; to frighten the population with terror and armed propaganda and to force it stay "loyal" to the Patriarchate and the Greek policy; to make preassure on the negotiations between Greece and Turkey and the Great powers so that the latter would give the Greek Kingdom greater territorial and other acquisitions; and to strenghten the Greek positions and the Greater Greek propaganda in Macedonia.

During the next 20 years (after 1878) the Greater Greek propaganda tripled in getting material help (mainly money) as also personnel from the Greek Kingdom and the Greek kapitalists (merchants, bankers ...) and succeeded to enlarge the number of the propagative societies twice, the schools three times while the number of the pupils was enlarged five times. The propaganda became larger in quantity but it had a negative influence on the quality, and as a result of that a great number of the Macedonian villages denied the Patriarchate. Parallel with that the Greek "scientific propaganda" increased. Many books, pamphlets, newsletters were published into Greek and some foreign languages with aim to "prove" that "all and everything was Greek in Macedonia". Inspite of the great engagement in Macedonia (1877-1883) the Greek government did not display its aspirations towards Macedonia at the Berlin Treaty. Immediately after it Greece continued working more intensively for the realisation of the aspirations. An agreement in principle was achieved to divide Macedonia into authorative spheres at the secret Greek-Bulgarian negotiations during the years 1882-1883. According to a secret report the negotiators agreed "South Macedonia to be completely under Greek authority.., while north Mace- [< page 290] donia... should accept the Bulgarian rule and propaganda". Later similar Greek-Serbian negotiations were conducted when the Greek government "gave up" the northern Macedonia and Serbia "gave up" the south-east Macedonia.

During the following years till the end of the 19th century beside the intensive diplomatic activity and the stronger "legal" propaganda, the Greater circles, tried to organise new armed actions in Macedonia in 1885 and they sent so called andar bands (Greek armed bands) in Kažansko, Bersko, Negusko, Sersko and other districts in order "to organise rising" with propagative and plundering aims-similar as the previous actions. Beside that, this had a main aim. From the previous studies it could be seen that this was the preparation for the Greek-Turkish War in 1897, which was inspired by Germany and Austria. The latter thought to use Greece and Turkey completely or one of them and then to attract them to the Great powers. Terrain for that was prepared by the Etniki Eteria (National Society) led by Greek officers. Within the framework of megali idea, the National Society led by the king ruling elements, with the knowledge of the government, prepared great military psychosis and agitated "a general rising" in Macedonia. Some people form the opposition resisted that agitation (through the magazine "Nea imera") because they reckoned "the Greeks would not raise a rising". As far as the Slav population was concerned, it was known from the beginning that it would not help the struggle which had an aim to impose the Greek idea and "we do not have right to expect help from it as long as we consider Macedonia... completely Greek". Regardless these and other sound resistances of the oppositon special četnik bands called "rising bands" were sent but without any result.

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