THE MACEDONIAN AGITATION

THE MACEDONIAN AGITATION
The Times, London, April 12, 1901, pp. 3-4
(From our own correspondent.)
Vienna, April 11.

A correspondent of the news sheet Information has had an interview with M. Sarafof, the president of the Bulgarian Macedonian Committee, who was arrested a few days ago at Sofia. M. Sarafof made an instructive statement. He said that the whole movement had been misunderstood. It must be divided into two periods. During the first period it was under the leadership of men who were in close connection with the Bulgarian court itself and had been employed by several successive Ministries. The latter used the committee and the influence which it had in the country in order to fortify their own position, and to carry out the programmes of their parties. M. Sarafof continued thus: -

“In 1895 we young men were sent to Macedonia to prepare an insurrection, or, at all events, to try and start an outbreak of some kind, if only to show Europe that Prince Ferdinand constituted a powerful factor in the Balkan Peninsula and that his deposition would be a greater danger for the peace of the continent. It was only after these disturbances that the Powers, one after the other, recognized Prince Ferdinand as chief of the new Bulgarian dynasty. This first phase of the Macedonian movement, owing to the fact that it was subordinated to different party interests, acquired no hold on the bulk of the population in Macedonia. We young people have therefore been endeavouring for some years past to separate the Macedonian cause from Bulgarian domestic politics. If the rulers of the Principality now declare that they cannot tolerate us as a State within the State, it shows that we have at least succeeded in emancipating ourselves from the pernicious influence of the Bulgarian government. It is only because we are no longer disposed to sacrifice ourselves for this or that party, and regard the liberation of Macedonia as a question of honour for the entire people, that the Bulgarian Government is persecuting us….

“It is a grievous error to suppose that we seek to acquire Macedonia on behalf of Bulgaria. We Macedonians consider ourselves to be an entirely separate national element, and we are not in the least disposed to allow our country to be seized by Bulgaria, Servia, or Greece. We will, in fact, oppose any such incorporation with all our might. Macedonia must belong to the Macedonians. The misunderstanding has arisen through our residing in Bulgaria. The circumstance of our having prepared a Macedonian insurrection while living in this country led to the conclusion that we were aiming at a union between the two Slav provinces. That is, however, perfectly absurd. If we were to be expelled from Bulgaria and were to settle in Switzerland nobody would suppose that we intended to liberate Macedonia on behalf of Switzerland; we merely go where we find the most favourable opportunities for our revolutionary work….

But, wherever we may be, we wish to keep our movement distinct from the national aspirations of the independent Balkan States. We shall energetically resist any attempt on the part of those States to secure Macedonia for themselves. We have been reproached with wanting to disturb the peace of Europe. That leaves us indifferent. What do we infortunate Slavs care for the peace of Europe! Russia has frequently promised us that she will soon take our cause in hand. Only a short time ago a Russian statesman told me that we should be patient, as whenever Russia was no longer occupied in East Asia she would come forward in favour of the autonomy of Macedonia. My own conviction is, however, that Russian diplomacy will first begin to think of us when it decides to realize its own ideal of the conquest of Constantinople. Its object will than be not the emancipation of Macedonia, but its subjugation. Consequently, my friends and myself are resolved to separate entirely the movement we are prompting from Russia’s Balkan policy. Without in any way wishing to identify our efforts with the policy of Vienna, I am nevertheless of opinion that Austro-Hungarian aspirations are infinitely less dangerous for the autonomy of Macedonia than are those of Russia. The conquest of Macedonia by Austria-Hungary is impossible, owing to the composition of that Monarchy and to the resistance which such a plan would find on the part of all the Balkan peoples…..


“I must, at the same time, clearly state that we neither ask for, nor would accept, any official support of our movement from Austria-Hungary. We will have nothing to do either with official Bulgaria or with official Servia, nor yet with official Austria-Hungary. We are revolutionists, and count only upon one-half of the peoples of Europe. In order to put and end to the misunderstandings among the Slav States of the Balkans concerning the movement in which we are engaged, two of our friends will shortly go to Servia and then proceed further in order to deliver lectures. Macedonia must no longer be a source of dissension among the Balkan countries. Emancipation must form the basis upon which the federation of those countries can be founded.”

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