In order to finally solve the so-called ”Macedonian” and “Albanian” questions today we can call the history to help us.
Владислав Б. Сотировић, 08.06.2010
For that reason, our intention is to present one already existing diplomatic contract between Serbia and Greece in 1861. Historia est magistra vitae!
The sources are telling us that the pivotal impetus for the making of the First Balkan Alliance came from the side of Serbia’s prince Mihailo I Obrenović whose predominate political task in the Serbian foreign policy was to create a united South Slavic state under Serbian leadership, which would be composed by all South Slavic territories within the Ottoman Empire. For this purpose he needed close cooperation with other Balkan Christian states and people as Serbia was not strong enough to alone defeat the Ottoman Empire on the battlefield. Consequently, the most reasonable solution was to create a joint Balkan military-political defensive-offensive coalition, which would militarily defeat Turkey and expel Ottoman authorities from the Balkans as a fundamental precondition to the creation of the united South Slavic state in the Southeast Europe.
It has to be said that the Second Balkan Alliance (1912-1913), which was put into effect during the First Balkan War 1912-1913 against the Ottoman Empire, was actually to a great extent a revitalization of the First Balkan Alliance (1866-1868). The nucleus of both of these Balkan Alliances for the general Balkan war against the Ottoman Empire can be found in the project from 1861 by the Serbian prime minister and minister of foreign affairs from 1861 to 1867, Ilija Garašanin (1812-1874) – the author of Načertanije 1844 (a secret program of Serbian political unification into a single national state) – to make a political-military pact with the Kingdom of Greece. To be more precise, Ilija Garašanin submitted in early March of 1861 a secret memo to Serbia’s Prince Mihailo Obrenović (1825-1868, prince from 1839 to 1842 and from 1860 to 1868) in which the author urged the prince that Serbian national interest called for a pact with Greece that would be a foundation for a wider Balkan pact against the Ottoman authority. This memo was based on Garašanin’s previous proposal on the Balkan coalition in which he dealt with the Albanian question and relations with the Habsburg Monarchy. The memo was detailed instruction to the chosen Serbian deputy to the Greek court to negotiate with Athens about the creation of bilateral Serbian-Greek military-political alliance that was directed against the Ottoman Empire. The deputy was obliged to investigate the inner political and military situation of Greece with special attention on the questions of: 1) what was the main task of Greek national policy, and 2) which foreign power had the predominant role in Greek foreign policy. The deputy was authorized to inform the Greek king that the Serbian prince hoped that Greece was willing to conclude a pact with Serbia for the common Christian interest in the Balkans.
According to the memo, there were crucial reasons for the alliance, firstly between Serbia and Greece and later on among all other Balkan Christians interested in the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire: 1) the common Christian faith of the Serbs and Greeks; 2) the common necessity and desire for freedom; 3) the creation of united national independent states of the Serbs and Greeks; 4) as a good example for the rest of the Balkan Christian nations for their own national liberation from the Ottoman yoke; 5) the fact that if Greece and Serbia did not liberate their brothers who still lived in Turkey both Greece and Serbia would disappear as independent states; 6) both of these countries could lose their independence, which could be prevented by their alliance, otherwise the great European powers could conclude that the Greeks and Serbs were not mature enough to enjoy their own independent national states for the reаson that at the time of the memo only а minority of the Serbs and Greeks lived within the borders of their own national states; 7) the creation of а Greek-Serb pact wоuld disrupt the belief and practice that the destiny of the Serbs and Greeks mainly depended on the decisions of the great European powers in their diplomatic cabinets; and 8) the “Eastern Question” had to be resolved by the Balkan peoples themselves but not by the great European powers.
The initial aim of the Greek-Serb pact was to form a joint cooperation, which would be recognized by Europe as a justifiable political-military alliance for the purpose of realization of their national requirements based on Serbian and Greek ethno-historic rights at the expense of the Ottoman Empire. However, the fundamental aim of this pact was territorial dismemberment of the Ottoman European possessions, which would be divided by the signatories of the pact. The signatories had to prevent European diplomacy to support Ottoman territorial integrality or to partition the lands of Turkey among the great European powers without participation of the regional Balkan Christian states whose compatriots lived in the Ottoman Empire. Finally, both Serbia and Greece had to assist their brothers from Turkey to rise in arms against the Ottoman yoke. Serbia’s prince Mihailo accepted the ideas from the memo and from that time the main task of Serbia’s foreign policy was to create the Balkan political-military alliance.
In the same year (1861) Garašanin was appointed by the Serbian government as a deputy to the Sublime Porte in Istanbul to discuss a delicate problem of the position of the Muslims in the Principality of Serbia. Garašanin used this diplomatic mission in Istanbul to become more familiar with the inner political conditions within the Ottoman Empire and to establish many contacts with the foreign ambassadors in the Ottoman capital. Surely, the biggest achievements of Garašanin’s diplomatic activity in Istanbul were the very sucessful negotiations between him and Marco Renieris – the Greek representative in Istanbul (1861-1863) on the creation of the Serbian-Greek alliance.
The Greek motive for these negotiations was the desire to reestablish the Byzantine Empire (lost to the Turks in 1453 and all the time considered by the Greeks as the Greek national state), while the Serbian vision was the remaking of the Serbian Empire from the mid-14th century and state unification of all Serbs who had been living within the Ottoman Empire. The Greek diplomatic contacts with the Serbs in regard to the creation of the anti-Ottoman political-military alliance dated back to the beginning of the 19th century, i.e. from the time of the existence of the Greek national secret society – Philiki Hetairia (“Friendly Society”). However, the main dispute in Greek-Serbian relations and negotiations have been the questions of Macedonia and Albania for the reason that both sides pretended to include major parts of these two Ottoman provinces into their own united national states according to their ethnic and historical rights. For instance, the whole portion of geographical Macedonia (from Mt. Olympus to Mt. Šara and from Ohrid Lake to Mt. Rhodope), southern Bulgaria (south from the Balkan Mountain), southern Albania and all of Thrace were claimed by the Greek champions of “Megali Idea” who fought for reconstruction of the Byzantine (Greek) Empire.
For the purpose of resolving both the “Macedonian Question” and the “Albanian Question” Garašanin proposed to Renieris that the geographical territory of Macedonia and Albania be divided into Serb and the Greek spheres of influence: I) the Serbian influence was to be established in the districts of Albanian cities of Durrës and Elbasan and the districts of Macedonian cities of Ohrid, Prilep, Veles, Štip, Kratovo and Kyustendil, and II) the Greek influence would dominate in the Albanian districts of Berat and Korçë and in Macedonian districts of Bitola, Demir Kapija, Radović and Razlog. Therefore, according to this proposal, the territories of Albania and Macedonia would be shared into two spheres of influence – northern Serbian and southern Greek. This Garašanin’s proposal was accepted in the same year by the Greek diplomacy and Garašanin’s proposal was accepted in the same year by Greek diplomats and it became a key point of two documents: the “Outline of Serbian-Greek Convention from 1861″ and the “Outline of Contract between Greece, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro from 1861″. Both of them later became the basis for the creation of the First Balkan Alliance in 1866-1868.
According to Article V of the “Outline of Serbian-Greek Convention from 1861″, the Principality of Serbia assumed obligations to: 1) increase its regular (standing) army to 12,000 soldiers; 2) organize in the best way its people’s (territorial) army; and 3) supply with arms and ammunition the peoples from Bosnia, Herzegovina and Bulgaria for the purpose of armed struggle (“revolution”) against the Ottoman Empire. The precise territorial division of the Ottoman Balkan possessions between the Balkan states and reconstruction of Balkan political outlook was fixed in the “Supplement to the Article III” of the same document which states that: 1) the Kingdom of Greece will annex Thessaly, Epirus (including and the northern Epirus what is today southern Albania), Macedonia, Thrace and the Aegean Islands; 2) the Kingdom of Serbia will be established by unification of (at that time) the Principality of Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Upper (present day northern) Albania and Montenegro (only in the case that the Montenegrin authorities accepted unification with Serbia; if not, Montenegro would be separate and independent state); 3) the Kingdom of Bulgaria will be established and its borders fixed later; and 4) the Principality of Walachia and the Principality of Moldavia will become united into a single Kingdom of Dacia.
Garašanin’s proposal on the division of Serbian-Greek spheres of influence in Albania and Macedonia became a part of the “Supplement to the Article III” of the “Outline of Serbian-Greek Convention from 1861″ as well. However, in the same convention it was anticipated that if Bulgaria did not join the Balkan alliance and Greece did not occupy Thrace with Constantinople (Istanbul), the central portion of Albania would become part of the Greek sphere of influence as territorial compensation for the lost Thrace and Istanbul, but at the same time Serbia would annex north-western Bulgaria (from Timok River to Isker River) in order to keep the balance of power in the region. Finally, the convention finished with the belief that this Serbian-Greek-Bulgarian-Albanian alliance would prevent partition of the Balkans by Russia and the Habsburg Monarchy. Therefore, the “Outline of Serbian-Greek Convention from 1861″ became the foundation for the “Outline of Contract between Greece, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro from 1861″. The ultimate purpose of both documents was to create the Balkan political-military “alliance on the basis of the ancient historical rights of the Balkan nations and principles of justice and ethnic rights for the ultimate goal to bring happyness and security to the Balkan peoples”.
The “Outline of Serbian-Greek Convention from 1861″ was a kind of Balkan declaration of national rights drafted on the principles of: 1) making single and free nationally homogenous states of Balkan peoples instead of the multi-national, multi-religious and multi-linguistic heterogenous and opressive Ottoman Empire; 2) “the Balkans to the Balkan peoples”; 3) self-determination of small nations who lived in multi-national states; 4) independent self-administration of each nation; and 5) non-interference of the great European powers into Balkan affairs. However, both Serbia and Greece excluded the people(s) from Macedonia and the ethnic Albanians from these rights and principles because of the two crutial reasons. Firstly, for both of them a separate Macedonian ethno-nationality did not exist (like for Bulgarians as well) and consequently an independent state of Macedonia as a national state of the “Macedonians” could not be established. Secondly, while Serbia and Greece recognized the existence of a separate Albanian ethno-linguistic nationality they came to the conclusion that an independent state of Albania, as a national state of Albanians, also could not be created for the simple reason: the Albanians were not “mature enough” to be given responsibiity of self-government of their own independent state. Therefore, “the best solution” was to divide the territory of Macedonia and Albania between Serbia and Greece: Serbia would rule northern Albania and northern Macedonia, while Greece will do the same with the southern portions of these two Balkan provinces. A demarcation line between Serbian and Greek-administered portions of Albania and Macedonia would run from Durrёs on Albanian littoral, south from Albania’s Elbasan, between Macedonia’s Prilep and Bitola and Razlog and Kyustendil to the western slopes of Mt. Balkan. It has to be stressed that the Balkan allied states of Montenego, Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria adopted the same attitude in regard to the Albanian and Macedonian questions during the creation of the Balkan Alliance in 1912. On the other hand, at that time neither the Albanians nor the Macedonian Slavs had any ideas and plans for the creation of their own national states. The Albanians did it for the first time only in 1878.
Soon after reaching on agreement with Greece about a joint action against the Ottoman Empire Serbia started to arm its military forces and to reform the army. For that purpose the Serbian authorities obtained several loans, but the main problem was with transportation of the armaments and ammunition to Serbia through the territories of the Habsburg Monarchy (from France) or the Ottoman vassal principalities of Walachia and Moldavia (from Russia). In mid-August of 1861 Serbia’s People’s Assembly (the national parliament) passed a new law establishing the people’s army of 50,000 soldiers. However, this desision was strongly opposed by both the Ottoman Sublime Porte and Austria as a violation of the sultan’s decrees (Hatti Sheriffs) from 1829, 1830 and 1833 regarding Serbia’s autonomy within the Ottoman Empire.
References: DAS – Archives of Ilija Garašanin, Agreement with the Greeks, 1861.
 AMAE – Mission de M. Garachanine, 1861, by Luis Doson (1822-1890), French vice-consul in Belgrade, to Eduard Thouvenel (1818-1866), French ambassador in Istanbul from 1855 to 1860 and minister of foreign affairs from 1860 to 1863; AD – vol. IV, 1861, 148; DAS – Archives of Ilija Garašanin, Ilija Garašanin to Filip Hristić“, 1861; Ibid, Ilija Garašanin to Ali-Pasha, 1861. Filip Hristić (1819-1905) was the prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Serbia from 1860 to 1861 and the state councillor from 1861 to 1870. Ali-Mehmed Pasha (1815-1871) was five time grand vizier and several times Ottoman minister of foreign affairs from 1856 to 1871.
 DAY – Description of the work about general agreement for uprising and unification, 1876. Atanasije Nikolić (1803-1882) was a member and secretary of Serbia’s Council from 1861 to 1868; DAS – Archives of Ilija Garašanin, Ilija Garašanin to Filip Hristić, 1861 and Ilija Garašanin to Jovan Ristić, 1867. Jovan Ristić (1831-1899) was a head of Serbia’s ministry of foreign affairs from 1858 to 1861 and Serbia’s representative in Istanbul from 1861 to 1867.
 Castellan, History of the Balkans, pp. 253-255; Јакшић, Вучковић, Спољна политика Србије, p. 72; Стојанчевић В., Милош Обреновић, pp. 67-71. About Serbia’s struggle for national unification in the 1830s see: Љушић Р., Кнежевина Србија, pp. 381-394.
 AMAE – Montero to Walewsky, 1859, 78. Count Alexander Walewsky (1810-1868) was a French minister of foreign affairs from 1855 to 1860.
 DAS – Archives of Jovan Ristić, Outline of Serbian-Greek Convention from 1861.
 DAS – Archives of Jovan Ristić, Outline of Contract between Greece, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro from 1861.
 DAS – Archives of Jovan Ristić, Konduriotis to Renieris, November 20th, 1861, Athens. At that time Konduriotis was Greek minister of foreign affairs. About the Greek-Serbian alliance from the 1860s see: Lascaris, La première Alliance entre la Grèce et la Serbie.
 DAS – Archives of Ilija Garašanin, Ilija Garašanin to Filip Hristić, 1867.
 On the Albanian case see: Bartl, Albanien.
 AMAE – Tastu to Thouvenel, August 13th, 1861; Ibid., Thouvenel to Tastu, August 21st, 1861; Ibid., Tastu to Thouvenel, November 16th, 1861. Tastu was a French general consul in Belgrade 1861-1862. Eduard Thouvenel (1818-1866) was a French ambassador in Istanbul from 1855 to 1860. See also: Ристић Ј., Спољашњи одношаји Србије, p. 177.
 OSH – Raports von Konstantinopel, Ludolf to Rechberg“, September 27th, 1861; Ibid., Oral protest by Austrian consulate in Belgrade“, January 24th, 1862. Count Ludolf was an officer in Austrian embassy in Istanbul. Count Johan von Rechberg-Rothenlöwen (1806-1899) was an Austrian foreign minister from 1859 to 1864.
Владислав Б. Сотировић