The Carnegie Commission in Macedonia, Summer 1913

by Iakovos D. Michailidis

Following the Balkan Wars, during the summer of 1913, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace set up a committee to investigate the situation in the Balkans in general and in Macedonia in particular. The results drawn from this investigation were printed in Washington DC in 1914 under the title Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Cause and the Conduct of the Balkan Wars. Since then the Committee's remarks have been reproduced many times by scholars and laymen as objective sources about Macedonian history within an ocean of propaganda and misinformation. In 1993 the Carnegie Endowment reprinted the 1913 report with an introduction by George Kennan, the late American Ambassador to the USSR in the 1950s and to Yugoslavia in the 1960s.

Maria Todorova has made clear that the reproduction of this report is part of a process which led to the standardisation of the Balkan peoples as blood-thirsty savages seeking revenge. But there is more than that. In 1995 the report was translated into Bulgarian and published jointly by the Carnegie Endowment and the Foundation for Free and Democratic Bulgaria. Bulgarian interest in this report is neither fresh nor accidental; neither is Greek and Serbian reluctance to use it as a reliable source of reference a historical coincidence. A recent article by Prof. Ivan Ilchev ("Karnegievata Anketa na Balkanite prez 1913g" [The Carnegie Committee Research in the Balkans in 1913] in Makedonija: Istorija i polititseska sadba (1912-1941), Sofia 1998, vol. 2, pp. 241-256) sheds considerable light on the background of the Carnegie 1913 mission.

Baron d'Estournelle de Constant, a distinguished French senator was appointed chairman of the Committee probably due to its devotion to the cause of peace as well as his deep knowledge of the Eastern Question. However, although de Constant considered himself a philhellen, his views concerning the Macedonian Question were far from compatible with Greek foreign policy. As early as in 1903 the French Baron had espoused in public the idea of Macedonian independence along with many liberal personalities of the time who had been moved by the sufferings of the Slavs under Ottoman rule.

D'Estournelle invited seven prominent Europeans and Americans to man the Committee: the French lawyer and M. P. Justin Godart, Samuel Hutton, Professor at Columbia University, the Briton Francis Hirst, editor of The Economist, the journalist Henry N. Brailsford, the Russian Professor of History and member of the Duma Pavel Miljukov, the German Professor of Law Walter Schucking, and his Austrian colleague Joseph Redlich. The multinational character of the Committee was in principle a guarantee for a neutral and objective approach. In reality the Committee was dominated by two men, Brailsford and Miljukov.

The former, very much like d'Estournelle, was a liberal who had sided with the Greeks against the Turks in 1897 and with the Bulgarians of Macedonia against the Turks in 1903. That year, as a member of the London based Balkan Committee, he participated into a mission to relieve the Macedonian peasantry from the grievances they had suffered after the ill-fated Iliden uprising. In 1906 he published his study Macedonia, its Races and their Future which supported independence for the Bulgarians of Macedonia and permanently cut his links to Greece.

The latter, Pavel Nikolajevic Miljukov, a historian and sociologist, had been appointed in 1897 by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education Professor of History at the School for Higher Education in Sofia. The following year he joined the Russian diplomatic mission in Bulgaria and in 1899 he published his study European Diplomacy and the Macedonian Question. During his long residence in Sofia he was associated with Bulgarian academic and diplomatic circles; moreover, he also travelled to Macedonia and Thrace three times between 1903 and 1908.

In Belgrade the Carnegie Committee did not exactly enjoy a red carpet reception. The Serbs were highly suspicious about the presence of a well known Bulgarophile, Miljukov, in the Committee. Friction also prevailed during the Committee's visit to Thessaloniki, although Greeks were basically reserved due to the participation of Brailsford. Indeed it was Miljukov who collected information from the Bulgarian community of Thessaloniki and met with the leader of the Bulgarian Socialists, Dimitar Vlahov. Then Miljukov travelled to Sofia when he was received with enthusiasm by high ranking state officials and experts, among them the Foreign Minister N. Genadiev and the distinguished ethnographer, then Associate Professor of Literature in Sofia University, Jordan Ivanov, a Macedonian himself from Kratovo and a well known partisan of Greater Bulgaria. The latter advanced to Miljukov his statistics which had been based on a Bulgarian survey realised before 1900 by the Inspector of the Bulgarian Schools in Macedonia, Vasil Kunchev. Based on that, Miljukov wrote four out of the seven chapters of the Carnegie report while Brailsford prepared only one.

Miljukov did not even pretend to be neutral. In one of his interviews in a Bulgarian newspaper he said that the Treaty of Buchurest was the greatest injustice in Balkan history, clearly implying that the Bulgarians deserved a better portion of the Ottoman inheritance. His statement was soon forgotten as well as his background. Greeks and Serbs may have won the wars but were defeated in the battle of propaganda. Had they known the far-reaching impact of this report, they would have reconsidered their welcoming ceremonies.

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