The Bucharest peace treaty – 100 years later

The 10th August this year will mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Bucharest peace treaty which divided the ethno-geographical territory of Macedonia between the Balkan countries.
The consequences from that act are still felt in Macedonia and the region.
Prof. Dr. Konstantin Nikiforov, director of the Slavic institute at the Russian academy of sciences (RAS) thinks that the treaty was verysignificant for the Balkan and determined the development of the countries in the region for decades. Macedonia was finally divided but it is good that the archive materials are looked at.
“The actions from 1913 can still be felt today. The BPT had a dual influence on Macedonia – on one side the country was finally divided byit and stayed that wayfor a long time, while on the other side, a part that was called Vardar Macedonia back then, gained independence and became a country where the Macedonian nation and language were created. We can talk about what was good or bad, or about the issues that are still unresolved, but Macedonia is a realitytoday, it exists. The fact that there are Macedonians and Macedonian language cannot be changed, which is the most important thing” – said Nikiforov at the break during the Sixth Macedonian-Russian scientific meeting on the topic “The Bucharest peace treatyfrom 1913 and its long-term consequences on Macedonia and Southeast Europe” which was recently held in Skopje. 
Academician Blaze Ristovski said that even after 100 years, the BPT has no new influence on Macedonia.
“The treatyis a finished fact. The conditions are the same even after 100 years, as well as the stances of certain countries. The BPT was an act that was faithful for Macedonia, but also the wider Balkan region, even though it concerns Macedonia the most as it divided its territory and people for the first time, determined its faith and brought Macedonia to a position where its name and identity are disputed. It’s a historical tragedy, but we, as scientific workers, should register it and present it in front of the domestic and international public” – said Ristovski.
He thinks that it must be known that the BPT was a plot against the existence of former Macedonia as an independent country, even though everybody at the time were hoping that Macedonia would get its independence before Albania, which didn’t happen because of some powerful countries.
“Back then, Macedonia wasn’t smaller than Greece or Serbia in its ethno-geographical borders. Thanks to their relations with Serbia, Greece managed to appropriate more than 50% and get in a position to define our existence as country and nation now and make the problems for us which are known to the entire world” – said academician Ristovski.
He added that the scientific meeting that marked the tragic date from 100 years ago was very significant because it was organized in cooperation with RAS.
“The veryfact that there will be an anthologythat will go around the world through the company of the two academies is veryimportant. Russia was a factor in making the Balkan alliances during the war, was an arbiter during the war, and then became one of the countries that supported the alliances for the division of Macedonia” – said Ristovski.
He said that MASA was trying to examine all the acts and facts in order to get to the most objective truth, which until now, was created and presented bythe sides with interest.
In his welcoming speech at the opening of the scientific meeting, the President of MASA, academician Vlado Kambovski, characterized the Balkan wars and WWI as a great saga that still hasn’t finished.
“The goal of the topic of this meeting is not just to study history, but to answer some open issues – unresolved national issues, different degrees of development and integration, different state-legal relation in the resolution of the national issues, establishing the democracy and democratic rights in the Balkan countries, etc.” – said Kambovski.
According to him, the consequences from the Balkan wars can only be overcome by peace, dialogue, tolerance and valuing the principle that there are no territorial solutions to the ethnic issues in the Balkan.
Eight representatives from Russia, led by Prof. Dr. Konstantin Nikiforov, and 23 researches from different areas of sciences in Macedonia presented their works on topics related to the BPT and the Balkan wars at the scientific meeting.
The presented results and the discussions that came from those results will be published in a separate joint anthology made by MASA that will be presented at the Seventh Russian-Macedonian scientific meeting in Moscow in 2015.
The final conclusion from the National scientific meeting on the topic “Macedonia in the Balkan wars and 100 years after the BPT” was that Macedonia is still feeling the consequences from the act that divided its ethnic territory out that Macedonia was still living through and surviving the consequences from the BPT every day.
“Everything that has been happening to us political-wise in all fields is the consequence of the events of 1912 and 1913. Going from the realitythat Serbia lost its share of the preyfrom the Balkan wars, our southern and eastern neighbors are setting conditions and issues that would disrupt all our efforts for full integration in the international institutions, fearing that the opening of the borders will lead to cultural and spiritual union of the Macedonian people” – said Gjorgjiev.
He added that in order to prevent that from happening, they are trying to present us in front of the international public as a threat to their stability and territorial integrity.
He pointed out that no revision of the treaty was possible because it was an international agreement signed in 1913 with no annexes and that was onlyreferring to dividing territories among the sides that were in war. “Unfortunately, at that moment Macedonia was not a subject, but a part of the Ottoman Empire” – said Gjorgjiev.
Prof. Dr. Mihajlo Minoski is of the same opinion and says that in historythere were no coincidences and everything was related.
“The factor of great European forces had a strong influence on the BPT because theystood behind the former Balkan countries and gave the treatylegitimacy. That stance was further confirmed at the Versailles peace conference in 1919 with a small revision and small territorial changes that confirmed the division of Macedonia despite a host of requests from Macedonians and Macedonian organizations and societies for solving of the Macedonian issue. The positions, politics and interests of the great European forces were such that Macedonia was a bargaining chip in making the order in the Balkan, through which they would fulfill their own regional interests” – said Minoski.
Professor Gjorgjiev thinks that the 1913 BPT practically“buried” the idea of autonomous Macedonia.
“The idea of independent Macedonia was treated in Bulgarian history as an issue of the Bulgarian liberation movement and one stage in the union of Macedonia and Bulgaria. But, if one follows the relevant archive materials, memoire literature and the press from that time, one will get a different impression. The basic idea of the Macedonian revolutionary movement at the time was actually Macedonia’s autonomy within the Ottoman Empire, but as a transitional stage towards an independent country” – said Gjorgjiev.
He said that the founders of the Macedonian revolutionary organization formulated this idea while having in mind the complexinternational and Balkan constellations and the appetites of the great forces and the Balkan countries towards Macedonia.
“That way, theythought they would minimize the sovereignty and integrity of the Ottoman Empire. In addition to that, the idea of autonomy had the international backing in the article 23 of the Berlin treaty and theythought they would be able to reduce the aspirations of the neighboring countries towards Macedonia. That is whyin every official act theyfocused generally on the idea of Macedonia’s autonomy without revealing the intentions that would come as a second phase of the solution to the Macedonian issue, which was to become an independent country” – said Gjorgjiev.
Prof. Dr. Gjorgji Malkovski from the organizational board of the National scientific meeting said that the BPT was a historical event which laid the foundations of the division of the Macedonian ethnic territory and brought great injustice to the Macedonian nation and country.
“At this scientific meeting we are interpreting the historical events, but 100 years later, which means that we are taking into account the problems that we are facing today as they are presented to us in practice – not recognizing the Macedonian nation and name and the reasons for that.
Those reasons have been deeplyrooted after the Bucharest treaty when the former small Balkan countries became larger territories and expanded over the Macedonian ethnic territories. That is whytoday we are going to speak with the truth, the material evidences, the arguments and facts, because the truth is unique and no one can fight it or stop it” – said Malkovski.
The president of the World Macedonian Congress, Todor Petrov, said that even after 100 years, the entire Macedonian scientific public had no answer as to what happened to us with the signing of the BPT.
“To the WMC, the true answer to the question about what happened 100 years ago is that this year we are marking 100 years of occupation of Macedonia and genocide over the Macedonian people that are still going on, unfortunately with Europe’s blessing and the request by Athens to change the state name Macedonia” – said Petrov.
At the National scientific meeting, organized bythe Organization of reserve officers of Macedonia, the Institute of history within the Faculty of Philosophy at the “Saints Cyril and Methodius” University and the Institute of national history, 17 prominent Macedonian professors and intellectuals from different areas presented their work.
The papers were made on different topics related to the Balkan wars and the Bucharest Peace Treaty and the consequences they had on Macedonia and its people, as well as on the political processes in the Balkan.
Valentin Jankovski