January 1, 2016

Diplomat Ivo Andric about petition of Macedonians to League of Nations in Geneva in 1932

I can not accept and enforce a document in which Serbian people are depicted as an impostor in one of our provinces!

Confidential diplomatic reports of Ivo Andric: Edward the 8th, The King of England, thanked the Macedonians living in Canada for their loyalty! A petition of twelve Macedonian refugees from Sofia “with offensive expressions about our regime outside Southern Serbia”!

“Mr. Minister, as I already had the honor of notifying you during our last stay in Geneva, the Secretariat of the League of Nations because of eventual objections by our government, on 17th November submitted a petition signed by 12 Macedonian refugees in Sofia to our permanent delegation. I concluded immediately that the petition contained a significant number of exceptionally offensive expressions (for example, our regime in Southern Serbia is characterized as Serbian domination and our people there are depicted as rotten Serbian impostors), which is why I have decided to protest to the Secretariat’s section in charge and to turn the attention towards the consequences that this petition might have on the overall minority procedure by delivering such documents to the governments.

The “Vardar Valley” project – rejected by the League of Nations 80 years ago?

As chief of matters in the permanent delegation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in the League of Nations, in April 1932 Ivo Andric sent an interesting report related to Macedonia about a project, which is still current, the “Vardar Valley”. Namely, Andric reported about the work of the Committee of public affairs which was in session the previous week in Paris, where 13 projects proposed by Greece, Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland and Yugoslavia were reviewed. According to Andric, Greece proposed building roads and drainage of the valley of Vardar and Struma Rivers.

Only the drainage of Struma’s basin was accepted, but only prior to expertize at the spot. Bulgaria didn’t receive money for a railway connection with Romania; Latvia received money for roads; out of ten railway track projects, Poland only received money for two; and out of the five proposals, Yugoslavia got money for four. Only the “Vardar Valley” proposal was rejected. As Andric reported – “The Committee could not pass the project about the Morava – Vardar – Aegean Sea project because its eventual building did not seem technically, nor economically justified according to the principles of this international action, which particularly refers to the section from Stalach to the Aegean Sea.” Ambassador Andric was happy to report that the Committee accepted the project for the drainage of the Skadar Lake and the project for a system of roads from the Austrian border, across Ljubljana, Zagreb, Belgrade and Nish, to Thessaloniki.

It is unknown why Andric didn’t mention any Macedonian city along this road even though it passed the whole length of the country, from Preshevo to Thessaloniki. Perhaps, it was because to him, Macedonia was a “province got by an agreement” where “our people are depicted as crooked Serbian impostors”.

Among other Andric’s reports about Macedonia and the Macedonian issue was his report about the activities of the Macedonians in America while he was Acting Chief of the Political department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which was prepared in collaboration with the embassy in London. The report was dated 14th October 1936 and it concerned, as he said, the Congress of the Macedonian political organization in Indianapolis, USA: “It is my honor to inform you that the Organ of the MPO in USA and Canada, Macedonian Tribune, which is published in Indianapolis, USA, dedicates its whole 19th September issue to the Congress of the Macedonian brotherhoods, held in Toronto on the 5th, 6th and 7th the previous month. According to the newspaper, there were around 5000 Macedonian and Bulgarian workers present, whose event was reinforced by the Croatian separatists in Canada.

The Congress was in session for three days and one of the decisions was to send a resolution to all the countries in the League of Nations against the terror that the Serbian authorities are doing in Macedonia. It was also decided that their immigrating organ, The Macedonian Tribune, was published twice a week on six pages. The newspaper also communicated a telegram from the English King, Edward the 8th, directed to the Congress through the governor in Canada, in which he expressed his gratitude to the Macedonians living in Canada for their loyalty while he also thanked for their telegram.

The newspaper continued with the information that the Serbian and the Greek consuls tried to undermine the meaning of the Congress with the Canadian authorities by blaming the Macedonian expatriates to be terrorists, but they failed. The newspaper also wrote about the historic fight of the Macedonians for a free Macedonia, communicating Hristo Nizamov’s speech in which he explained “who is Macedonia, why it should be free, what are her sons and daughters looking for and what kind of fight are they having”. A total of 3600 dollars were collected at the Congress.

Yugoslav ambassador in fascist Germany!

After three years in the permanent delegation in Geneva, Andric got a wealth of experience and contacts with world diplomats accredited in the League of Nations, so in 1935 he was at the very top of Yugoslav diplomacy; he became Acting Chief of the Political department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Two months later he became second in charge in the Yugoslav diplomacy – by a decree issued by the royal governor on 5th November 1937 he was named vice-minister of foreign affairs. On 5th February 1939, Cincar-Markovic, who was an ambassador in Berlin till then, became the minister of foreign affairs in the new government of Dragisha Cvetkovic.

A new ambassador in Berlin had to be appointed and the choice was Ivo Andric. That is how future Nobel prize winner, writer Ivo Andric became an ambassador in Hitler’s fascist Germany, where he stayed until 1941. He started working on 10th April 1939 and there were 15 more people working with him in the Mission. According to Miladin Miloshevic, who researched the diplomatic engagement of Ivo Andric in detail, the mission in the Third Reich was particularly difficult and delicate, with Andric himself saying later in his life that those years were the most difficult ones in his life.

After the demonstrations in Belgrade, when the pact with Hitler was rejected, the diplomatic relations were abolished, Yugoslavia was attacked and Ambassador Andric, along with the people who worked in the embassy left Berlin on 7th April 1941. By a special train he got to the Swiss border town of Konstanz, where all the Yugoslav diplomatic representatives from Europe were gathered, approximately 200 people.

There, Andric was offered to enter the neutral Switzerland, but he refused because he didn’t want to leave the people he worked with in the embassy in Berlin. He stayed in Konstanz until 30th May 1941 when he was taken to Belgrade by a special train. He arrived there on 1st June 1941. After the hearing at the Gestapo, 11 diplomats, mostly consuls, were returned to prison in Germany. Six of them were convicted for espionage and sent to camp, and the rest were released and brought back to Yugoslavia. Andric remained in Belgrade. With a decision by the Ministry council on 15th November 1941, he was retired as a highest ranking diplomat.

Blaze Minevski (Матица на иселеници)

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