The Macedonians and the decisions from the treaty of San Stefano and the congress of Berlin
The Macedonian situation during the Eastern Crisis
The break up of the Ottoman Empire was accelerated by the development of the concept of nations in Europe, but also as a result of internal changes in the Empire itself. The reflections of the French revolution and the demands for new borders in Europe based on the principle one state one nation, spurred the Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbs to organize their fight as a fight to form their own national states. At the same time, internal changes in the Empire, caused by abandoning the sipahi system, were accompanied with increased taxes, the authoritarian rule of local lords and tax collectors, the activities of armed gangs, the forcing of the peasant to perform unpaid labour etc. All this worsened the situation of the populace under Ottoman rule, and increased its resistance.
This was precisely the situation the Macedonian people found themselves in towards the end of the 19th century with regards to the “Eastern Issue”. In all the events connected to the break up of the Ottoman Empire and the new divisions of territories, the territory the Macedonian people inhabited was of interest, while the people itself did not participate as an equal entity. The interests of the Macedonian populace from these areas were not considered in any of the discussions led or any of the suggestions offered to resolve the Eastern Crisis in this period. At this time, Dimitar Pop Georgiev organized the Razlovci uprising (1876) and incited agitation against the Ottoman Empire.
The Russian-Turkish war and the Treaty of San Stefano
After the failed attempt of the Great Powers to resolve the problems of the Balkan people (the Conference of Constantinople) in 1877 Russia attacked the Ottoman Empire, and some of the nations under Ottoman rule joined the war on the side of Russia. A large number of Macedonian volunteers fought on the side of Russia, and later Serbia as well, in the hopes that they would accelerate the liberation of their native country. Later these fighters initiated revolutionary activities amongst the Macedonian, creating a number of free territories.
The quick progression of the Russian army and its nearing Constantinople forced the Ottoman Empire to sign a peace treaty with Russia. With the Treaty of San Stefano (a town near Constantinople, today called Yeshilkoy) in 1878 Serbia, Montenegro, Romania and Bulgaria were to become independent countries. According to the treaty, the newly formed Bulgarian state included the territories of what is today Northern and Southern Bulgaria and almost the entire territory inhabited by Macedonians.
The signing of Treaty of San Stefano and the division of territories it included caused dissatisfaction and numerous reactions from Macedonian ex-patriots, since Macedonia was not amongst the newly created states. The activities of Dimitar Robev, a Macedonian parliamentary in the Turkish parliament, were particularly notable in this period. He condemned propaganda of the neighbouring Balkan states that wanted to annex territories inhabited by Macedonians to their own. In May 1878 Robev arrived in Belgrade where he connected with the progressive Macedonian ex-patriots in order to secure support for the creation of an independent Macedonia. He also contacted notable Serbian dignitaries who, in order to protect their own interests, did not agree with Robev and accused him of wanting to become a feudal lord in an independent Macedonia.
The Congress of Berlin and the consequences for the Macedonian people
With the treaty of San Stefano, Russia gained enormous power. This was seen by the other European countries as a threat to them and their interests so, in June 1878, they called a congress in Berlin. At this congress the Treaty of San Stefano was completely revised, and the status of the Ottoman Empire was jointly decided by the European powers. With the new decisions, the Ottoman Empire lost a large part of its European territories, Russia's influence was reduced, the power of Austro-Hungary and Great Britain was increased, while Serbia, Montenegro and Romania gained independence.
With the decisions from the Congress of Berlin, Macedonia, within its geographic and ethnic borders, was separated from the envisaged “San Stefano Bulgaria” and returned to the Ottoman Empire. The Congress of Berlin envisaged administrative reform and certain autonomous rights for the territories inhabited by Macedonians. The reforms were not adequately implemented, which strengthened the dissatisfaction of the Macedonian population.
These decisions were not what the Macedonian people wanted and demanded – an independent Macedonian state. They expressed their dissatisfaction with the situation through uprisings (Macedonian-Kresna uprising, 1878), forming self-defence companies, raising revolts and organising conspiracies (the Brsjak revolt, also known as the Demirhisar conspiracy 1880-81).
The key position amongst all the revolutions to liberate the Macedonian people is held by the Ilinden revolution, which started on August the 2nd 1903. The revolution was organised by TMRO (the Secret Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation) in order to achieve autonomy. During the revolution the Krushevo Republic was formed. Thirteen days later the Ottomans took over and ended the first Balkan republic.
THE BALKAN WARS
The creation of the Balkan Alliance
After the Congress of Berlin the Balkan peninsula experienced a period of revolutions, treaties and conspiracies, directly involving two European forces – Russia and Austro-Hungary. In this period relations between Russia and Bulgaria worsened and Serbia attempted to increase its territories. Austro-Hungary was working on increasing the conflicts both between the Balkan states with predominantly Slavic population (Serbia, Bulgaria and Montenegro) and between those with predominantly non-Slavic population (Greece, Romania) in order to annex the territory of Bosnia and Hertsegovina.
Three Balkan states - Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece - expressed an interest to the European territories still under Ottoman rule. All three states were attempting to prove that the territories inhabited by Macedonians were actually part of their own territories, inhabited by their own population. To further this goal each of these states started influencing the Macedonian population through the schools and churches.
In the 1908-1909 period the Young Turk Revolution was raised, and the Turkish-Italian war came in 1911-1912. These events created favourable conditions for the Balkan states to attempt to win the remaining European territories under Ottoman rule. The first step in this direction was the alliance between Serbia and Bulgaria accompanied with a secret treaty that envisaged a division of the territories they planned to win, which were inhabited by Macedonians. After a series of treaties, the Balkan Alliance was formed as an alliance between Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro.
The First Balkan War and the London Peace Conference
In October 1912 Montenegro declared war on the Ottoman Empire. The other states of the Balkan Alliance joined it, with which the First Balkan War started. During the war the Balkan states managed to capture a large proportion of the remaining European territories of the Ottoman Empire.
The armies of the Balkan Alliance states acted on territories inhabited by Macedonians (the Serbian forces moved along the Vardar valley south to Florina, Bulgarian forces entered the area of what is today Pirin Macedonia up to the Aegean Sea, and the Greek forces were in the remaining parts of what is today Aegean Macedonia up to Thessaloniki).
In these conditions the Macedonian people saw a chance to gain their independence and form an independent state. Because of this a large number of Macedonians joined the armies of the neighbouring countries as volunteers, expecting that the Macedonian people will be treated as an equal ally that will be able to form its own state. Detachments led by Macedonian "voivodas" were formed. So, for example, the detachment led by Jane Sandanski freed Melnik and the surroundings and enter Thessaloniki as the advance of the Bulgarian army. Precisely at a banquet in Thessaloniki, in the presence of Bulgarian officers, Jane Sandanski attempted to express these expectations by toasting to a free and autonomous Macedonia. The Bulgarian officers openly opposed this idea and clearly showed that the victory over the Ottoman forces did not mean an independent Macedonian state would be formed, but that a new division and occupation would follow – only this time from the allied forces. The First Balkan War ended in may 1913 with the peace conference in London, with the mediation of the Great Powers.
Directly before the start of the conference, the Macedonian ex-patriots increased their activities. Particularly notable was the Macedonian colony in St. Petersburg lead by Dimitrie Cupovski. Cupovski travelled to Macedonia and initiated activities meant to help the formation of an independent and sovereign Macedonian state (an initiative to send a delegation to the London Peace Conference meant to put the issue of an independent Macedonia on the table and an initiative for widespread propaganda within and outside Macedonia). After leaving Macedonia and returning to St. Petersburg Memorandums were sent, one to the Great Powers at the London Peace Conference and one to the governments of the Balkan states. The Memorandums demanded Macedonia become a single, indivisible, independent Balkan state within its geographic and ethnographic borders and, as soon as possible, to call a Macedonian national assembly to solve the issue of the internal organisation of the country.
With the agreements from the London Conference there was a new division of territories. Most of the captured territory the Balkan allies divided amongst themselves and it was agreed that Albania becomes an independent state. The territories inhabited by Macedonians were no longer under the rule of the Ottoman Empire and was divided between the Balkan allies.
The Second Balkan War and the Peace Treaty of Bucharest
The First World War and the London peace treaty created new disagreements amongst the Balkan allies regarding the division of the territories captured from the Ottoman Empire. In the new war that started in the middle of 1913 Serbia and Greece were allies against Bulgaria, and were later joined by Montenegro, Romania and the Ottoman Empire. The Second Balkan War was led mainly on the territories inhabited by Macedonians, in order to divide them again. The Macedonian population was now directly in the centre of events, with no real possibility of influencing their own fate.
The peace conference between the winning states and the defeated Bulgaria was held in Bucharest, Romania in August 1913. With this treaty a more powerful Serbia was created, the position of Bulgaria was weakened, and the Ottoman Empire regained some of the territories it had lost.
At this conference a new division of the territories inhabited by Macedonians was made, between Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Albania. Bulgaria got what is today Pirin Macedonia along with Strumica and its surroundings; Serbia got what is today the Vardar part of Macedonia; Greece received what is today Aegean Macedonia; and a small part of the south-west territories inhabited by Macedonians went to Albania. With this division there was a permanent end to the centuries old connections between the Macedonian population in this area. None of the states that received territories inhabited by Macedonian recognised the Macedonian people as a nation and all conducted aggressive policies of forced assimilation and denationalisation.
WORLD WAR ONE AND THE PARIS PEACE CONFERENCE
The participation of the Macedonians in the war
The First World War found the Macedonian people divided amongst the neighbouring Balkan states. This was an important circumstance to the events going on in the Balkans directly before and during the First World War.
During the entire war, the Macedonian people were actively involved in military operations as part of the armies of the states under whose rule they were. Most often this involvement was mandatory and forced. Serbia mobilized the Macedonian population, drafting 53,000 Macedonians. These solders were sent without any form of military preparation into the front row. Bulgaria mobilised 33,000 Macedonians from the territory within Bulgaria. The same fate met the Macedonians from the territories within Greece, where the Greek government, despite its neutral position, drafted 20,000 Macedonians.
The territories inhabited by Macedonians, under Serbian rule, were attacked from Bulgaria by the troops of IMRO led by Todor Aleksandrov, which performed terrorist actions against the Serbian government. The result of these activities was usually the increased suffering of the Macedonian people – after the Bulgarian troops would withdraw, the Serbian government would only victimise the Macedonian population more.
At the same time, Macedonian revolutionaries, led by Jane Sandanski attempted to prevent Bulgaria from entering the war and to prevent its territorial expansion into territories inhabited by Macedonians. Jane Sandanski's group organised several meetings with Bulgarian political representatives at which the murder of the Bulgarian King Ferdinand was suggested. However, there was no support for these suggestions. In the meantime, the governing regime discovered their intentions and in April 1915 Jane Sandanski was murdered.
The opening of the Macedonian front
The possibility for a new allocation of territories motivated Bulgaria to enter the war on the side of the Central Powers. In October 1915, Bulgaria attacked the Serbian forces in Macedonia, and in the spring of 1916 the "Macedonian front" was opened. With this front the territory inhabited by Macedonians within Serbia and Greece was divided between the forces of the Antante and those of the Central Powers. This division remained until 1918 when the Front was broken and the forces of the Antante pushed the Central powers back north. The First World War ended with the signing of the Versailles Peace Treaty at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.
Consequences of the First World War for the Macedonian people
The consequences of the First World War for the Macedonian people were dire. Many villages and towns were burnt and erased from the maps. The Macedonian economy was destroyed. Desolation was everywhere, as were epidemics and hunger, which only worsened the situation. In both parts of the territories there was intensive requisition and robbing of national treasures, enforced labour and a massive draft, turning Macedonia into an enormous military camp. The Macedonian people resisted all of this in various ways. There were many Macedonian victims, both from the forcibly recruited solders and from the civilians.
The renewal of the "Macedonian issue" and the Paris Peace Conference
During the war, the "Macedonian issue" became of interest once more. The Macedonian ex-patriots were attempting to force a resolution of the "Macedonian issue" from the very beginning of the war, however activities to promote the idea of an independent Macedonian state intensified towards and after the end of the war. Several Macedonian organisations united to form one – General Council - in Switzerland, December 1918. They then sent an Appeal to the international public in which they argued the right of Macedonia and the Macedonians to sovereignty and independence. In St. Petersburg a Macedonian revolutionary committee was formed (led by Dimitrija Cupovski, Krste Misirkov and Nace Dimov) that initiated the idea of creating a Federal Democratic Balkan Republic, with Macedonia as an equal member. The Macedonian revolutionaries in Bulgaria from the Seres region of IMRO, led by Dimo Hadzi Dimov, announced a "Declaration to resolve the Macedonian issue" in which they demanded autonomy for Macedonia within its ethnic borders. Later this group connected with revolutionaries led by Gjorce Petrov and together formed a Temporary Consulate of the previously united IMRO, and sent a representative to the Paris Peace Conference. The ex-patriots in Constantinople organised a gathering at which a Memo was read, which suggested a unification following Switzerland's example.
During the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, the Macedonian issue was raised on several occasions and in several different ways (it was particularly discussed at the "Committee for the Creation of New States"). The desires and interests of the Macedonian people in gaining independence and creating their own state were clear and unmistakable, but found no positive response in the Great Powers. In the end, the Paris Peace Conference solved the Macedonian issue as a minority issue and the territory inhabited by Macedonians was divided amongst the four neighbouring states: Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, and Albania. Vardar Macedonia became a part of the newly crated Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenians. Pirin Macedonia became a part of Bulgaria (Strumica and the surroundings were taken away from it and given to the Kingdom of SCS). Aegean Macedonia remained a part of Greece, and a small part of south-west Macedonia was allocated to Albania.
The division of the territory inhabited by Macedonians left difficult and long-lasting consequences for the progression of national awareness and development - economic and socio-political, as well as cultural and educational.
 The term "Eastern Issue" (or "Eastern Crisis") covers the diplomatic problems in Europe during the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century related to the break up of the Ottoman Empire. Austro-Hungary, Great Britain and Russia are the major powers involved in the debate about the future of the decaying empire. Essentially, Great Britain and Austro-Hungary wanted a weak empire to persist, while Russia supported the formation of national states in the territory of the Balkan peninsula. The Eastern Issue is connected to the fear that one of the European forces will imperil the established equilibrium between them by gaining more from the changes happening in the Ottoman Empire.
 The term "Young Turk Revolution" covers the movement of the young Turkish intelligentsia in the Ottoman Empire, which considered that the weakness of the empire is the result of a corrupt system and the authoritarian rule of the sultan. Their goal was to preserve the Ottoman Empire through massive reforms throughout society.