Ilija Garasanin's "Nacertanije"
A REASSESSEMENTInstitute for Balkan Studies
Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences
Abstract: The 1844 draft of Serbian foreign policy, written by Ilija Garasanin, still provokes controversial interpretations as to its ultimate political goals. Here is stressed the role of Nacertanije in its historical context and analyzed through various foreign influences, Polish, French and British. Those influences, together with Serbian political and historical traditions, decisively shaped the final text of Nacertanije. In appendix is the new translation of Nacertanije by the author.
The document called Nacertanije (Draft), subtitled afterwards by one of its analysts as Programme for Serbia's foreign and national policy at the end of 1844, bearing the signature of Ilija Garasanin - was the first national programme of modern Serbia and one of the rare programmes of the kind preserved in written form. The secrecy which surrounded the creation of Nacertanije has given it a certain aura of mystique: it is believed that for full five decades only the leading political figures in Serbia and perhaps Montenegro were acquainted with it, and its contents were kept a secret even when its translation reached, through various channels, the archives of the ministries of Vienna and Budapest. For this reason, Nacertanije is often said to be of "subversive nature", characteristic of similar secret writings. However, the analysis of its genesis shows that a large circle of political figures knew about it, at least at the time of its creation (1).
Apart from the direct impact it had on the national policy of Serbia untill the creation of the common Yugoslav state in 1918, Nacertanije was a cause of constant controversy. Although these debates on the main messages of this document were conducted in terms of historiography, they usually reflected the political and national stands of its interpreters. The origin of dispute among numerous scholars and political analysts - as to whether this is a programme of an exclusively Serbian (or in a pejorative sense - Greater Serbian), or a broader, Yugoslav nature - is to be found here. Also, separated from the temporal context in which it was created, Nacertanije has often been used in various historical periods as the key to an incontestable argument proving that the Serbian "Piedmont-type" policy was permanently "hegemonistic" as regards the South Slavic regions (2).
Are the two concepts of Serbian policy, ascribed to Nacertanije, mutually compatible and to what extent? Do they rule each other out? How original is the Serbian national programme vis-à-vis its Polish, French and British sources? Was the so-called Pan-Serbian dimension of Nacertanije the permanent inspiration for every consideration of the Serbian question and to what extent? As a rule, these questions have been given opposing answers. The displacement of Nacertanije from the period in which it appeared, from the framework of political situation in Europe, the Balkans and Serbia - at the time, a vassal principality, formally part of the Ottoman Empire - considerably contributed to Garasanin's programme being partially or wrongly interpreted and differently assessed. Contrary to that, Nacertanije should be observed as a part of the geopolitical realities of the 1840s, in the context of different degrees of the national integration of the Balkan peoples, within the framework of their intertwined knowledge about themselves, bearing in mind the specificities of their positions in the post-revolutionary balance of power, established in Metternich's era.
The Historical Context
Nacertanije has two main sources: firstly, the historical tradition and revolutionary experiences of the renewed Serbian state which were formulated, in the final version, by Ilija Garasanin himself, as their modern interpreter; and secondly, the written advice and proposals resulting from the co-operation with Polish émigrés who, after the defeat of the Polish revolt in 1831, rallied around Prince Adam Czartoryski and his diplomatic bureau at the Hôtel Lambert in Paris (3).
Serbia's historical traditions have two strong roots in her medieval heritage: the autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church, established in the early 13th century and personified in the tradition of its founder - St.Sava, and the heritage (preserved in oral and ecclesiastic traditions) of the medieval state of Nemanjic dynasty, considered to have reached its peak with the vast but short-lived empire of Stefan Dusan in the mid-14th century when it was covering the area from the Drina river to the Peloponnesus, and from Sofia to Durrazo in Albania.
In addition to the medieval tradition there came the experience of the national and social revolution led by Karadjordje (1804-1813), and the gradual acquisition of the internationally recognized autonomous status within the Ottoman Empire under Prince Milos Obrenovic (1830). The leader (vozd) of the Serbian uprising, Karadjordje, aspired towards revolutionary solutions, combining Jacobin ideas with Napoleon's dictatorial experience. His successor, Prince (knjaz) Milos Obrenovic, after the demise of revolutionary activity in Metternich's Europe, achieved the same goals gradually, by diplomatic means, in accordance with the new standards in international relations. Along with the strengthening of the autonomy obtained in 1830, there was also greater internal turmoil in Serbia expressed in the struggle for the adoption of a liberal Constitution that would limit the patriarchal despotism of Milos Obrenovic. This movement was led by the notables - the so-called Defenders of the Constitution (Ustavobranitelji), or simply Constitutionalists. One of the youngest but the most prominent among them was Ilija Garasanin, who advocated the establishing of modern state institutions by means of reforms carried out in an administrative manner, and the strengthening of the state through an independent orientation in its foreign policy.
The internal order of the small Serbian Principality under the hereditary Obrenovic dynasty, although formally established by way of four Ottoman Hatti-sherifs (1829-1838), was no less dependent on the will of the suzerain court than on the influence of the European powers that dominated the Balkans. Economic domination of the neighbouring Habsburg Empire (Austria) over the Principality's trade was not as visible as the political protectorate of imperial Russia. The traditional and from 1774 to 1856 official protector of Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire, Russia was a power through whose crucial influence Serbia had acquired an autonomous, semi-independent status (4).
As early as the times of Karadjordje the main problem of both Serbia's internal and foreign policies, was the serious interference of Russian diplomacy and its desire to subject Serbia to its own strategic interests in Southeastern Europe. At the request of Russia and Austria, the Serbian Constitution (Sretenjski Ustav), written by the Prince's secretary Dimitrije Davidovic, was suspended in 1835 because it was suspected to had been inspired by French revolutionary solutions. The fourth Hatti-sherif, the so-called Turkish Constitution, was drawn up at the Porte in 1838 through joint efforts of Russian and Austrian ambassadors. In order to limit prince Milos's autocracy, the Turkish Constitution established the State Council (Drzavni Savet) consisting of 17 Constitutionalists appointed by the Porte (5).
Russian diplomats were used to treat Serbia as some kind of disobedient province, especially from the mid-1830s, when Russia's influence with the Porte was at its peak. In his efforts to limit Russian influence, Prince Milos turned, for the support and advice, to Colonel Hodges, the British consul in Belgrade. Taking advantage of the Anglo-Russian rivalry, he tried to secure his position and to exclude Serbia from Russia's further plans for the Balkans. After Prince Milos's resignation in 1839, and the expulsion of his younger son, Prince Michael, from Serbia in 1842, the Constitutionalists were faced with the same difficulties concerning the relations with Russia. The election of a new prince from the rival Karadjordjevic dynasty, Alexander - the candidate of the Constitutionalists - was considered in Russia as an impermissible revolutionary overthrow of the lawful hereditary Prince, and opposed to the Porte's valid acts, adopted with the consent of Russia and Austria. For their opposition to the constant Russian pressure, the Constitutionalists got support from the Polish émigré representatives in Constantinople (6).
The political activities of the Polish émigrés in the East were carefully planned and pragmatically carried out. They organized a branched network of secret diplomatic strongholds, financially and politically supported by French and British diplomacy (7). With the consent of Paris and London, the Poles directed all their efforts towards a long-term obstruction of the plans of Russia and Austria - the two empires which, along with Prussia, partitioned Poland. The regions where the interests of those powers overlapped were the Balkan provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Prince Czartoryski's intention was to make conditions for the establishment of independent Poland by using the Eastern question. Assuming that Russia and Austria intended to divide the Balkans between themselves in the near future, as they had done with Poland (only now without Prussia which had no direct interests in the East), Czartoryski and his associates made a project of a vast Southern Slav state that should be created around Serbia, and lean on France and Great Britain in its foreign policy.
Close contacts of the Polish émigrés with the Serbian Constitutionalists was the result of their common hostility towards Russia. The leading Constitutionalists in exile, Toma Vucic Perisic and Avram Petronijevic, made an acquaintance in Constantinople with Czartoryski's representatives, Michel Czaykowski and Ludwig Zwierkowski (pseudonym Dr. Lous Lenoir), who were sent to the Near East during the crisis (1839-1840). With the help of Polish representatives, who sent Zwierkowski to Belgrade, the Constitutionalists organized a revolt in Serbia in 1842, and expelled Prince Michael Obrenovic. After that, Alexander Karadjordjevic officially became the new Prince. In order to help organize the convocation of the Assembly (Skupstina) for the purpose of reinstating Prince Alexander to the Serbian throne, at Russia's ultimatum, Czaykowski himself arrived in Belgrade in 1843. Through the mediation of Polish representatives in Constantinople and Paris, Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic was recognized both by France and Great Britain as the lawful ruler of Serbia. For this reason, in his congratulations to the Prince, Czartoryski emphasized his own contribution to the recognition of the new Serbian régime (8).
The fact that the Constitutionalists had been won over to the anti-Russian and pro-Ottoman cause of the Polish émigrés fitted into the political plans of French diplomacy which supervised and supported Czartoryski's representatives, primarily through their ambassador in Constantinople (9).
In order to strengthen the Polish influence on the Constitutionalists' régime, Prince Czartoryski wrote, in 1843, a special memorandum called Conseils sur la conduite à suivre par la Serbie (10). He got acquainted with the Serbian question during Karadjordje's uprising . It was as early as 1803 that Czartoryski, in the capacity of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, learned from Arsenije Gagovic, an Orthodox Church dignitary from Herzegovina, about the plans of the Serbs to get rid of the Ottoman yoke and restore the state they had lost in fifteenth century. Czartoryski received similar memorandum in 1804 from the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Serbs in Austria, Metropolitan Stevan Stratimirovic, envisaging the creation of a "Slavic-Serbian Empire" with a Russian Prince as its ruler. In the first phase of his political activities, all the way up to 1830, Czartoryski kept advising the Balkan nations, on various occasions, to unite under the protectorate of the Russian Emperor. After 1830, his suggestions, especially to the Slavs, became quite opposite: that they should resolutely resist Russian influence (11).
Along with regular reports from his representatives - Czaykowski in Constantinople, and Zwierkowski in Belgrade - Czartoryski got additional information about the Serbs from Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz who, in 1841, as a professor of Slavic literature at the College de France, gave a series of lectures on Serbia and Serbian folk poetry. In his Paris office Czartoryski also received a group of Serbian students - the first generation of state scholarship holders sent to study in France in 1839. They informed him about the political situation in Serbia and extended to him greetings from the Constitutionalists (12). Recent research has shown that David Urquhart, a diplomat and publisher, Secretary of the British Embassy in Constantinople (1836-1837), seems to have had a certain impact on the shaping of Czartoryski's policy towards the Balkans Slavs. Urquhart was well acquainted with the situation in Serbia. He established close political relations with Czartoryski during his stay in London where Urquhart published the magazine Portfolio in 1833 (13).
In April 1833 Urquhart toured Serbia, met with Prince Milos Obrenovic and realized that the Principality had a unique position in Southeastern Europe. "I look upon it [Serbia], next to Greece, as the most important portion of Turkey in Europe - its political independence, its future and present influence on the masses of Musselman [Muslims] on its western and southern side, and on the masses of Rayas [Christians] on its eastern and southern, its position between Hungary, Austria, Turkey and on the Danube, are the most important considerations combined with the spirit of the people and the riches of the soil (14)." Urquhart took notice of Russia's efforts to rule Serbia, and Austria's concern for the gradual development and strengthening of an autonomous principality in its closest neighbourhood.
The main ideas for a political course set out by Czartoryski in his Conseils some ten years later, seem to have been defined by Urquhart through his talks with Prince Milos Obrenovic. Pressed by Russia's efforts to put him under its control for the sake of hers own interests in the Balkans, Prince Milos turned to Great Britain and France for support in conducting an independent foreign policy. Urquhart's report on Serbia to the Foreign Office in 1833 contained suggestion that Serbia should be freed from Russia's influence and, with the support of Paris and London, made the centre around which the neighbouring Slavic nations would rally. A transcript of this report had reached Czartoryski's office before he formulated the main courses of the Polish émigrés' policy towards Serbia and the Balkan Slavs. It was in Urquhart's political writings that Czartoryski might have encountered the persistent linking of the Polish and Eastern questions: "The existence of Poland is linked to the existence of Turkey. An iron hand RussiaÆ is holding them both. By becoming free from this power which is slowly wearing out, both sides would simultaneously liven up (15)." For France, as the rival of Austria and Russia, Urquhart had intended the role of a power that would separate them and fill the vacuum in the Balkans.
In his book on Serbia published in 1843, presently only partly preserved, Urquhart stressed that Serbia's role in the future might be similar to the one it had in the past: "Serbia was a great and powerful kingdom when the Muscovy was composed of distracted provinces, and while Poland was yet an unuttered name ... [she] is the centre within that great family of Slav resistance to Muscovite despotism and presents to Europe its chief security against Russian ambition." As such, the Serbs are "a factor of the greatest importance... [They] are the most important Slav nation after the Poles, and now, the struggle that used to sprinkle Polish plains until recently with blood has moved to its mountains... (16)." Urquhart's reports and writings about Serbia, presented in a condensed form, were an adaptation to British views of the ideas he had come to during his talks with Prince Milos.
Although illiterate, Prince Milos was able to understand that the precondition for Serbia's free development was to cast off any form of external dependence, even dependence on Russia, though the latter belonged to the same language group and had the same religion. It was, in a way, Milos's views and Urquhart's analyses that served as the premises for defining political action Czartoryski had launched in Serbia. Czartoryski attached special importance to French influence: its role was to support this "flag of European Slavism, leaning toward civilization and freedom, that would be quite opposite to the Asian Pan-Slavism of St. Petersburg (17)."
The Conseils, written in January 1843, were the general political basis of Serbian foreign and internal policies, aimed at creating a powerful Southern Slavic state around Serbia in the future. The breakaway from Russian influence had to be accompanied by a profession of loyalty to the Porte. Leanings towards Russia were envisaged only in the event of a conflict with Constantinople. A special stand was to be taken towards Austria. In order that Serbia could be freed from the influence of the two powers, it had to seek the support from France and Great Britain. Czartoryski focused his attention on Serbia's activities among the Serbs and the neighbouring Slavic peoples in Turkey and Austria. On the internal plane, he proposed a series of concrete measures, laying emphasis on the importance of administrative reforms and educational work, which he considered to be extremely important for the awakening of national self-consciousness (18).
The Polish émigrés although conservative in political sense, belonged, to certain extent, to the circle of liberal Catholics who made use of Serbia's unwillingness to submit to Russia's influence - already clearly expressed towards the end of Milos's first rule - and pointed it in a South Slav direction, stressing the advantages of co-operation with the liberal wing of the Croatian Catholic intelligentsia. The national movement of the Croats, which included a narrow stratum of intellectuals and aristocracy, was not clearly defined yet. Out of the desire to create the preconditions for the national emancipation of the Croats from the Germans, Hungarians and Italians within the Habsburg Empire, there appeared the Illyrian movement (Ilirski pokret), based on the supra-national model of an Illyrian nation, from which the Balkan Slavs were believed to originate. Considering the common language to be the main characteristic of the nation, the leaders of the movement - following the examples of earlier Dalmatian scholars and later on Napoleon who named Dalmatia, Istria, parts of Croatia, and Slovenia the "Illyrian Provinces" during the short-lived French rule - had taken the ancient name of the Illyrians as common for all the Southern Slavs. From the numerous reports by his agents on the Illyrians and their leader Ljudevit Gaj, Czartoryski might have drawn the conclusion that their ultimate goal was to create a common South Slavic state under the leadership of Serbia (19).
Combining the Jacobin ideology, built into the experiences of the Serbian national revolution, with the general ideas of liberal Catholicism which they themselves advocated, the Polish émigrés offered their own version of the ideology of Yugoslav unity as a synthesis based on religious tolerance and Slavic mutuality. In Belgrade in March 1843, a Polish representative delivered a copy of the Conseils to Garasanin who was temporarily in charge of the Serbian government. Czartoryski's advices left a strong impression on Garasanin, and were the points of departure in formulating the final text of Nacertanije (20).
The second important source of the Serbian national programme was the Plan for Serbia's Slavic Policy. It was written at Garasanin's request by the new Polish representative in Belgrade, Franz Zach. A Czech born in Moravia, Zach was the ardent advocate of Slavic solidarity. According to Zach's ideas, formulated in one particular memorandum sent to Czartoryski before his arrival in Belgrade - Serbia, strengthened by liberal reforms, was to become the centre around which the Southern Slavs would rally. The establishment of a commercial union between Serbia and another Serbian state - tiny Montenegro, would made it possible for Serbia to get access to the sea. Then the Belgrade government would open its agencies in Bosnia, Herzegovina and Bulgaria, and finally, it would get connected with the Serbs in southern Hungary (presently Vojvodina).
In Belgrade, Zach often spoke to Garasanin about the position of the Slavs in Turkey and Austria and the conditions required for their national awakening and afterwards, for their political union around Serbia. He thought that Serbia, preoccupied by its internal consolidation and pressure from the outside, was not sufficiently aware of the importance the spread of its political influence could have not only among the Serbs outside its borders, but also among the neighbouring Slavic nations with whom they intermingled. For this reason, in January 1844, Garasanin asked Zach to draw up his own plan for Serbia's Slavic policy. He addressed with the same request to a number of his Serbian associates, so that he would be able to compare several opinions (21).
Zach took Czartoryski's Conseils as the basis for his Plan, but he devoted a separate section to Croatia. Zach was in direct contact with the representatives of the Illyrian movement who, having been persecuted in Austria (1843-1845), found refuge in Belgrade. After his talks with Stjepan Car and Pavao Cavlovic, he made an idealized idea of the nature and importance of their entire movement. The principles of the Illyrian movement were something Zach could easily understand as they were very similar to analogous movements of the Czechs, Slovaks and the Poles. Speaking to the Illyrians about the fate of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Ottoman province where the Serbs were the most numerous ethnic group, Zach concluded that Bosnia should be annexed to Serbia. Ljudevit Gaj and his Illyrians accepted Zach's formulation of the main postulates for resolving the South-Slav question: 1) the unification of the Southern Slavs into a constitutional monarchy under Karadjordjevic dynasty; 2) advance towards that goal when European Turkey gradually evolved into a Slavic state; 3) Serbia as the nucleus and diplomatic representative of the South Slavs; 4) the annexation of Bosnia to Serbia, followed by a religious, Orthodox-Catholic agreement of Serbs and Croats in order to jointly win over the Bosnian Muslims; 5) an independent national policy, excluding Austria and Russia, and a possible alliance with France and Britain (22).
In the Plan's chapter about Croatia, which Garasanin left out of the final text of Nacertanije, Zach concluded that the language of the Croats was increasingly becoming Serbian day after day, and proposed closer cultural and political co-operation between Serbia and Ljudevit Gaj's Illyrian movement. Aware of the fact that a common Illyrian name was unacceptable to the Serbs, and not only because it was artificial, he proposed that it be kept in use, in the future, only in Austria. Just like Czartoryski, Zach pointed to the importance of the Serbs within the Military Frontier (Vojna Krajina), a region under the direct rule of Vienna, which - forming 17 regiments - represented military potential for the proposed Serbo-Croatian plans against Austria. Zach, who was well acquainted with the Illyrians' plans, adopted Czartoryski's views also in regard to their ultimate goal: that their desire should not be to create an Illyrian kingdom, but rather a unified empire under the Karadjordjevic crown (23).
Garasanin commended the Plan, satisfied because its main postulates, adapted to the local circumstances, corresponded to Czartoryski's Conseils which he considered to be the masterpiece of political wisdom. Garasanin discussed the Plan with other Constitutionalists and with his political advisors. Later on, he informed Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic about Zach's Plan. The Prince's enthusiasm for the Plan, however, was not shared by certain Constitutionalists who believed that Zach's ambitious Yugoslav visions went far beyond Serbia's modest diplomatic and military abilities.
However, the circle of political figures acquainted with the process of defining foreign strategy of Serbia was not limited only to the Polish representatives. Some of the advice and reports on Serbia were sent to the Porte, and the governments in Paris and London were informed about their contents through the French ambassador in Constantinople, Bourqueney.
Zach's Plan, although imbued with an idealistic view of Slavism and South Slavic co-operation, seemingly alien to the views of the Constitutionalists, still had certain common ground with Serbia's political traditions. Taking as its point of departure the only solid foundation - historical traditions, political thought in Serbia at first developed within the frameworks of historicism. The broad effect the Serbian 1804 Uprising had on various nations throughout the Balkans, and the new views on the geopolitical reality in Europe, resulted in modernly defined national goals. From historicism, mixed with German concept of nation basing on linguistic and cultural unity, there emerged Jacobin model of the nation-state as the articulation of the national revolution's goals: it was a synthesis adapted to the Balkan reality.
The defining of national priorities and strategic interests of the rebellious province, and afterwards of the Principality as well, required thorough historical and geographical knowledge and well-explained proposals - the tasks that awaited the nation's political élite. However, the Serbian public had at its disposal a very limited reading material both about Serbia's past and contemporary situations. The main source of historical knowledge - apart from folk poetry, oral historical chronicles about medieval glory, the struggle against the Turks and the desire to renew the empire lost in the Battle of Kosovo (1389) - were the works of "monastic historicism", compilations of older history books made in the eighteenth century. There was no accurate ethnographical, historical and geographical knowledge about the number of Serbs, their diffusion and their percentage compared to the nations they lived with. There existed only general notions about certain regions, acquired from the Serbian volunteers from Austria (among whom there were also learned persons), who rushed to join Karadjordje's uprising as early as 1804, and from the wave of those who kept moving to the Principality from all directions of the Balkans. The church élite held to the religious tradition and folk heritage, while among the enlightened intelligentsia, educated mostly at conservative Austrian and Hungarian schools and universities, there was no one, apart from a few exceptions, who would put together the existing knowledge and offer appropriate cultural matrix (24). In the centre of the historical consciousness of the Serbs, both the educated ones and the peasantry - the predomonently rural masses that carried out the state's renewal - lay the request for the restoration of medieval Empire whose glory stood for a measure of the aspirations of Garasanin's contemporaries. The function of "medieval literary historicism" which would spread 'the cult of national distinctivness even to the most submerged community and cultural category of Europe's population", (25) in case of Serbia, was exercised by folk poetry mixed with 'monastic historicism' adapted to oral tradition.
The desire to reunite the Serbs into a renewed empire was a programme that sprang from the messages of history, the programme which all the Serbian leaders, from Karadjordje to Milos Obrenovic, took as their starting point, as a national aspiration that went without saying, regardless of the fact that it was unachievable in the existing circumstances.
Along with the national goals that originated from the traditions of the centuries-long struggle against the Ottomans, among the political leadership of the Serbs, precisely because they intermingled with kindred Slavic peoples, there circulated, as potential solution, a specter of Yugoslav aspirations, which most often included the Bulgarians as well. Karadjordje planned a joint uprising with Montenegro, Herzegovina, Bosnia and Old Serbia (Sandjak of Novi Pazar, Kosovo, Metohija, northwestern Macedonia), regions from which most of the insurgents were recruited. However, the leader of the Serbian revolution also had ambitious plans for a radical geopolitical reconstruction of the Balkans. In 1810, through his special envoyé to Paris, Captain Rade Vucinic, a Serb from the Military Frontier (Vojna Krajina), referring to the decisions made by the national leaders, Karadjordje proposed to emperor Napoleon that Serbia should unite with other lands, in his opinion predominantly inhabited by his kinsmen - Bosnia, Herzegovina, the Illyrian provinces (Dalmatia with Dubrovnik, part of Croatia and Slovenia) and the Serbian-inhabited lands in Southern Hungary (Banat, Srem, Slavonia) - and possibly also with kindred Bulgaria, thus forming a unified state under a French protectorate. (26)
Prince Milos, who was generally thought to conduct a narrow national policy like some kind of Ottoman pasha, without any broader political visions, repeatedly said in confidence that Serbia's ultimate goal was to unite with Bosnia, Old Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. He called on the leaders of these lands to instigate an uprising and "thus to free yourselves from the Turkish occupation and to unite with us, with Serbia, so that we can renew the Serbian kingdom that had been destroyed in Kosovo". The British consul in Belgrade, who was familiar with Milos's secret plans at the time when the action was set to limit Russian influence on the Principality, considered that the Serbian Prince would surely get French diplomatic support for the unification of Bosnia and Serbia into an independent kingdom under the Obrenovic crown. Prince Milos also knew what the Yugoslav framework meant for the settlement of the Serbian question. A confidential statement of one of his associates to a Polish representative revealed that Prince Milos was secretly planning to unite into a Southern Slavic empire: Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Herzegovina, Uskokija (Krajina), Banat, the Slovenes, Illyria (perhaps Croatia), Dalmatia, Montenegro and the Albanian mountains. (27)
These views were based on a mixture of concepts: historical traditions as political heritage and source of political legitimism, and cultural (linguistic) identity as a modern foundation of nation-building. This concept is in a certain way similar to one defined by Anthony Smith on "etno-nationalism" who seeks to expand "by including ethnic 'kinsmen' outside the present boundaries of the 'ethno-nation' and the lands they inhabit or by forming larger 'ethno-national' state through the union of culturaly and ethnically similar ethno-national state". (28)
The fact that Serbs made the major part of the population in Herzegovina and Bosnia, in the Military Frontier (the "Yugoslav part"), Banat, Srem and Slavonia, and a minority in Dalmatia and Croatia, was the starting point of all Serbian plans. The concept of a still remote but, nevertheless, charted unification with the kindred Bulgarians, was an expression of Serbia's geopolitical needs, combined with a certain feeling of ethnic closeness resulting from kindred language, as well as from the customs and traditions of the patriarchal culture, dominant in the central Balkan area. The common heritage, from the claims to one another's historical heroes of the epic tradition to the Bulgarian taking of heroes from the Serbian national revolution for their own, could perhaps be yet another guideline in understanding the Serbian standpoints. Neither in Bulgaria, nor in Croatia, Slovenia or Dalmatia were there national movements analogous with the Serbian one in contents and intensity. The awareness of religious differences was clearly distinguished: in Bosnia, the agrarian rebellions of the Orthodox Serbs were of twofold nature - social and national; for them, the domestic Muslims were the same as the Turks who had been oppressing them for centuries, while the rebellions of Muslim beys against the Porte's reforms were motivated by social reasons - the struggle for preserving feudal privileges. (29)
One of the rare attempts, at the time, to determine the distribution of the Serbian-inhabited lands was made by the father of modern Serbian literacy Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic. According to Fichte's principle that it is language that makes a nation, Karadzic included among Serbian lands all the Southern Slavic provinces under Ottoman and Austrian rule where the Serbian stokavian dialect, which the Illyrians accepted as the common dialect for the Croats, was used. His views, resulting from co-operation with distinguished Slovak and Slovenian linguists (P. Safaryk, B. Kopitar, F. Miklosich), were not published until a few years after Nacertanije was written. (30)
Plans with broader Balkan and Yugoslav vision, expanding the narrow horizons limited by historical traditions, were being drawn up by the political leadership which, apart from the military commanders, district notables and religious dignitaries, included a diversified stratum of intellectuals, mostly Serbs from the Habsburg Monarchy, and an insignificant number of persons educated in Serbia. To this circle also belonged the son of one of the leaders of the 1804 Serbian Uprising, Ilija Garasanin. Owing to his abilities, Garasanin was predestined to conceptualize various influences, both domestic and foreign, and put them all together into what would be known in history as Nacertanije.
His contemporaries, both foreign and domestic, respected Garasanin as a man of free spirit and strong character. He enjoyed both the trust of the older notables who grew out from the national revolution and the respect of the younger generation, educated at foreign universities. The French consul in Belgrade had a high opinion of his qualities: "C'est un homme parmi les plus éstimés de la classe superieure de la nation qui rend justice à ses nobles qualités et à sa merite administrative". (31)
Final Text: From Historical Legitimism to the Nation-state Model
Garasanin carefully rewrote the final text of Nacertanije. Although certain paragraphs were literally taken from Zach's work, it was the essence of Garasanin's views. Garasanin left out of his text everything he thought to be unrealistic considering the existing geopolitical circumstances. Afterwards he submitted Nacertanije to Prince Alexander as a proposal for future national policy of the Serbian Principality.
Zach's main motive - to destroy Habsburg Empire - from which the Plan's pronounced Yugoslav dimension originated - was considered by Garasanin as politically unrealistic. Garasanin did not expect the downfall of Austria for another few generations: in 1844 this was to be on the verge of a utopia. To include the Yugoslav lands under Austrian rule in the Serbian national plan would only mean, in Garasanin's eyes, a direct Austrian interference in Serbia's internal affairs. It is for this reason that he left out of Zach's plan the entire chapter about Serbia's relations with Croatia which was more of a confidential report than a thoroughly developed programme of political co-operation. The Croatian national movement was neither clearly defined nor definitely shaped yet: the cultural activities of the Illyrians included only a very narrow stratum of enlightened intellectuals. The loyalty of all the strata of Croatian society was to the Monarchy and the Habsburg dynasty, even to Hungary which Croatia was part of. It is beyond any doubt that Garasanin's faith in the Illyrian leaders, who kept approaching him in Belgrade with various plans, was limited by his fear that many of them might be in the service of the Monarchy's political goals. Correctness of such assessment found its confirmation in Ljudevit Gaj's confidential reports on the situation in Serbia which were sent to Prince Metternich personally. Zach shared Garasanin's fears of the political use of the Illyrians: "L'illyrisme sera trempé de catholicisme, de tendance autrichienne, il me faudra bien de précaution pour éviter ce nouveau danger que je vois venir". (32) On the other hand, Garasanin has established good relations, based on Slavic mutuality, with the Bosnian Franciscans. They were very close to all religions in Bosnia and sought effective co-operation with the Orthodox Serbs in Bosnia and Serbia. The Franciscans were against the Bishop ordained by Vienna and the Vatican. Together with Serbia and the Polish émigrés they tried to maintain the national character of their mission.
It was for this reason that Garasanin left out of Zach's text expressions like "Southern Slavs", "Southern Slavic", "Southern Slavic Empire", and/or replaced them with "Serbs", "Serbian", "Serbian empire". Fearing that clerical Vienna might use the Roman Catholic Church to spread proselytism among Orthodox Serbs, Garasanin left out chapters on the jurisdiction of Roman Catholic Church and its further organization in Serbia.(The Serbian Principality was already a secularized state: the status of the Orthodox Church was regarded only as an important part of national identity. Garasanin insisted on a secularized concept of national integration. But, he wanted to protect the Orthodox Church in Serbia from the dominant clericalism of the Roman Catholic Church and its powerful organization, aware that liberal Catholics were just a circle of intellectuals without any significant influence within the Church.)
This act of his, viewed isolatedly from its real reasons, subsequently caused a series of misunderstandings among the interpreters of Nacertanije. Their most frequent criticism referred to Garasanin's neglect of co-operation with the Croats. However, at the time Nacertanije was written, the majority of intelligentsia in Croatia was largely Germanized or Hungarianized, and the rural population was totally passive in the national sense. During the 1840s, only German books were read in Croatia, and the only theater in Zagreb gave performances exclusively in German. It was not until 1843 that the first speech in vernacular tongue was given in Croatian parliament by Ivan Kukuljevic-Sakcinski. On that occasion, his proposal for the vernacular language - that is, stokavian dialect codified by Vuk S. Karadzic - to be adopted as the official language in Parliament, was rejected. (33)
Essentially, Nacertanije can be reduced to two main goals: 1) an independent policy must imply balancing between the great powers and relying on those who have no direct interests in the Balkans; it is possible to rely on Russia only as regards its support of Serbian aspirations, and this should by no means lead to Serbia's subjugation to the Slavic empire's Balkan goals; 2) the development of Yugoslav co-operation in order to carry out Serbia's unification, first with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then also with Montenegro, Old Serbia and Macedonia - the predominantly Serbian-ihabited lands within the Ottoman Empire - having in mind the access to the sea through a narrow belt in the north of Albania (today's Montenegrin coastal region of Ulcinj). For Garasanin, unification with the Southern Slavic peoples of the Habsburg Monarchy was a noble task for future generations - he thought that, considering the circumstances, only active co-operation was possible, primarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (34)
This was a new concept of foreign and national policies, imbued with liberal ideas and principles. Although, in view of its external framework, it was primarily a programme of cultural propaganda whose goal was to prepare the future political unification, Nacertanije marked an important turning point in the accomplishment of Serbia's national policy. Instead of undefined aspirations and unrealistic plans, conceived as a simultaneous series of national insurrections, national unification became quite pronouncedly a state programme, where the bearer of the national action was the State - a strong, enlightened, secularized and modernly organized one.
Nacertanije was compatible with the linguistic model of Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic. They are linked by the beleif that religion cannot be the main criterion in nation-building: a nation should rather be based on cultural identity, whose highest expression is the linguistic principle. Evolution from historicism as a source of political legitimismand linguistic unity as contemporary standard of nation-building towards modern national identity, based on nation-state model, was a Serbian version of two global, German and French concepts of national integration While relaying on German cultural concept which emerged from medieval traditions of Volk, the french Jacobin ideology in Serbia was the result of national and social revolution experienced in 1804 Uprising.
However, because of the priority it gave to Serbian instead of Yugoslav unification, and when taken out of the context of its own times, Nacertanije has been easily taken to be the starting point of every subsequent ‘Greater Serbian’ policy, which, in itself, represents the negation of national rights of other nations; it was taken as a writing holding the seed of future conflicts with the other South Slav nations.
All the mystifications in regard with Nacertanije are of political origin. For no other reason one could fail to see that, at the time when Nacertanije was being written, the national movement of the Serbs was the only one with clear national characteristics: other Slavic nations in the Balkans still had no such movements. (35) National awareness in certain regions was more of a local (for instance in Dalmatia) or religious (like in Bosnia), rather than ethnic nature: all of which was still very far from national identity in the modern sense. For this reason, Nacertanije is primarily a convincing testimony to the acceptance of liberal principles in the struggle for national rights.
A Great Principle
Besides the members of the Serbian government, and the political leaders outside the Principality, it is likely that Montenegrin Prince-Bishop Petar II Petrovic Njegos, one of the closest political friends of Garasanin, was also familiar with Nacertanije. When Garasanin became Foreign Minister (1861-1867), he acquainted the new Prince, Michael Obrenovic (second rule 1860-1868), with his draft of the Serbian foreign policy and he was permitted to carry it out. The result of Nacertanije's implementation was the establishment of the first Balkan alliance (1866-1868) and of close relations with the neo-Illyrian, National party (Narodna stranka) in Croatia-Slavonia led by Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer.
The Balkan alliance and negotiations about a common federal state with the Croats once again raised the issue of a global solution to the Yugoslav question. According to the views of Garasanin, who relied on theoretic postulates of the leading scholars and Serbian experience shaped by constant struggle with Ottomans, it was one nation for which the Serbian state, as the Balkan Piedmont, would be the main foundation. In his letter to Strossmayer in 1867, Garasanin pointed out: "The Serbian and Croatian nationalities are one - the Yugoslav (Slavic) nationality; religion is not to interfere in the least bit in national affairs; the state is the only basis of nationality; religion divides us and separates into three parts (i.e., Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Islam), but it can never be the principle of our unification into one state; it is our nationality, which is the same, that can". (36) For Garasanin it was a further evolution: after unification, based on cultural and linguistic unity the Serbian state was to merge into a new nation-state with a single Yugoslav nation. The main precondition for the future unification of the Serbs and the Croats was disintegration of the Habsburg Empire along national lines which, after the defeat of the Austrain army in Italy and Germany, seemed possible if only for a while. In a memoir submitted to Napoleon III in 1866, Garasanin warned him that the Habsburg Empire was a strange agglomeration of nations, which should be recomposed according to the principle of nationality.
Garasanin's successor as Serbian Foreign Minister, Liberal leader Jovan Ristic, also studied and tried to follow the main postulates of Nacertanije. After signing a Secret Agreement (Tajna konvencija) with Austria-Hungary in 1881, which totally submitted Serbia to will of the Viennese Court, Prince Milan Obrenovic sent a copy of Garasanin's document to Ballhausplatz and, as early as 1883, it was translated into German. Three years later, a copy of Nacertanije also found its way to Budapest. (37)
Through Ilija Garasanin's son, Milutin Garasanin, the leader of the conservatives - Progressive Party (Napredna stranka) in Serbia, his closest party associates were also acquainted with the contents of Nacertanije. It was also available to Prince Peter I Karadjordjevic, King of Serbia (1903-1918), and of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (1918-1921), who could find Nacertanije in the archives of his father, Prince Alexander. It is assumed as well that the leaders of the National Radical Party (Narodna radikalna stranka), the most numerous and influential political party in Serbia, also knew about Nacertanije and that its copy circulated among them. Nacertanije was published for the first time in March 1906, in the Radicals' magazine Delo. (38)
At the time the Radical Party (divided in two fractions, Old and Independent Radicals) dominated in Serbia (1903-1918), Nacertanije was not taken as a practical programme, but rather as a great statement of principle in respect of an independent foreign policy and Southern Slavic co-operation that would resolve the Serbian question. The concept of Nacertanije was enlarged by introducing the parliamentary democracy as substantial element for achieving ultimate national goals. The Radicals worked on the realization of these two great principles of Nacertanije by adapting them to the changed situation both in international relations, and in national movements in the Balkans, already clearly defined at the time, and gradually accepted formula on national unity of Serbs and Croats (later with Slovenes also). From Garasanin's Nacertanije, the Old Radicals led by Nikola Pasic also inherited a rational attitude towards Russian support of Serbian national goals - it was they who were using Russia's support of the Serbian goals without allowing to be used for Russian goals.
Finally, the nation-state model was accepted by political élite in Serbia only after its promotion by liberal Croatian intelligentsia in Dalmatia and Croato-Serb Coalition in Croatia-Slavonia, basing upon the idea of three "tribes" (Serb, Croat and Slovene) of the same, Yugoslav nation. Serbian views were based on the experience drawn from Garasanin's co-operation with Croats in the 1860s. Serbian élite opted for a nation-state model, the one that Serbia had experienced until 1804. During World War I, faced with Croat plans for a separate position of the Croatian entity within the future Yugoslav state and trying to secure Serbian political identity, Pasic opted for federal arrangment for Serbian entity (unification with Montenegro, Vojvodina, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Dalmatia) within future Yugoslavia, but only as a first step towards eventual nation-state. All these options were creative adaptation of Garasanin's views which had already been defined in Nacertanije and elaborated in the 1860s.
THE NACERTANIJE(DRAFT): THE PROGRAMME OF SERBIAN FOREIGN AND NATIONAL POLICY AT THE END OF 1844
(translated from Serbian by D.T. Batakovic)
Serbia must place herself in the ranks of other European states, creating a plan for her future or composing, so to speak, a long-term domestic policy to the principles of which she should firmly adhere, and according to which she should conduct herself and decide steadily all her affairs.
Movement and agitation among the Slavs has already begun and will, indeed, never cease. Serbia must well understand this movement along with the role or the assignment which she will have in it.
If Serbia ponders well enough what she is, and what her position is, and what are the peoples that surround her, she will realize that she is still very small, that she must not remain in such position, and that only through alliance with other neighbouring peoples can she fulfil the tasks for her future.
From this knowledge the plan and the foundation originate of Serbia's policy /which does not limit Serbia to her present borders, but endeavours to attach to her all the neighbouring Serbian peoples./
If Serbia does not vividly pursue this policy /and, worse still, if she rejects it/ failing to prepare a well-made plan fit for this assignment, she will be buffetted to and fro like a small vessel by the alien tempests until finally she will be broken into pieces on some huge reef.
What we wish and attempt to do here is to contribute somewhat and prepare the plan of Serbian policy abiding by its natural demands.
The Policy of Serbia
The Ottoman Empire /must/ disintegrate and this disintegration can only occur in two possible ways:
1. either it will be partitioned, or
2. it will be rebuilt anew by its Christian inhabitants.
Observations on tbe Partition of tbe (Ottoman) Empire/
We do not wish to comment extensively on this subject, but shall limit ourselves merely to observe that Austria and Russia must play the principal roles in this event since they are neighbouring and contiguous powers.
These two powers could easily agree and decide who is to receive certain lands and regions and where their borders shall lie. Austria can only aspire to rule over the western provinces, while Russia can only aspire to conquer the eastern ones. /Therefore, if/ a straight line were to be drawn from Vidin to Salonika, this question might be solved to the satisfaction of both parties.
Thus, in the event of a partition all the Serbs would fall into the Austrian portion.
Austria and Russia know well enough that the Ottoman Empire as such will not enjoy a long future. Therefore, both states are making use of this opportunity to extend their borders as quickly as possible. Both also work in every way to forestall and prevent the emergence of another Christian empire in place of the Ottoman Empire; for then, the fond hope and pleasant prospect would disappear for Russia of seizing and holding Constantinople, which has been her most cherished plan since Peter the Great; and Austria would then be in terrifying danger of losing her South Slavs.
Thus, Austria must, under all circumstances, keep being the enemy of a Serbian state. For the Serbs, then, agreement and understanding with Austria is a political impossibility; for thus she would tight the rope around her neck herself.
Only Austria and Russia are able to foster the collapse and partition of the Ottoman Empire. They are seeing to that. For many years, Russia has been preparing the ground for that situation. Austria cannot now do otherwise than to assist her and seek something for herself, as she did at the partition of Poland. Naturally, all the other powers, under the leadership of France and England, are opposed to the expansion and enlargement of Russia and Austria. They would probably consider as the most suitable means for forestalling such partition, the conversion of the Ottoman Empire into a new and independent /Christian/ state which would occupy the vacuum left by the Turkish collapse, offering the sole means to maintain the balance of Europe in its entirety. Other way out cannot be expected.
The Serbian state which has already seen its good start, but must strive to expand and become stronger, has its roots and firm foundation in the Serbian Empire of the 13th and 14th centuries and in the glorious and rich Serbian history. /It is known from this history/ that the Serbian rulers began to assume the position held by the Greek [Byzantine] Empire and almost succeeded in making an end of it in order to replace the collapsed Eastern Roman Empire with a Serbian-Slavic Empire. Emperor Dusan the Mighty had even adopted the coat-of-arms of the Greek Empire. The arrival of the Turks in the Balkans interrupted this enterprise, and prevented it from taking place for a long time; but now, since the Turkish power is broken and almost destroyed, the same spirit should act again, claim its rights anew, and continue the enterprise interrupted.
These foundations and walls of the Serbian Empire, therefore, must be cleared of all ruins and debris, and brought to light, so that a new edifice may be constructed on this solid and durable historical foundation. Such an enterprise will be endowed with inestimable importance and great prestige among all the nations and their cabinets; for then we Serbs shall appear before the world as the true heirs of our illustrious forefathers, doing nothing new but restoring their legacy. Hence, our present will not be without a link to the past, but they will make an interdependent, integrated, and well-ordered whole; thus, the Serbdom, its nationality and the life of its state stand under the protection of the sacred historical right. Our aspirations cannot be reproached as something novel and unfounded, as revolution and coup; but all must acknowledge that they are politically necessary, grounded in ancient ages, and embedded in the state and national life of the Serbian people whose roots continually send forth branches to blossom anew.
If we consider the revival of the Serbian Empire from this standpoint, then other South Slavs will easily understand this idea and accept it with joy; for probably in no European country is the memory of the historical past so vivid as among the Slavs of Turkey, for whom the recollection is intense and faithful of the celebrated figures and events of their history. Therefore, it may be counted as certain that this enterprise will be readily accepted among the people, making unnecessary decades of activity among them, just in order to prepare them to understand utility and value of an independent administration.
The Serbs were the first, of all the Slavs of Turkey, to struggle for their freedom with their own resources and strength; therefore, they have the first and foremost right to further direct this endeavour. Even now in many places, and in certain cabinets, it is anticipated and expected that a great future is imminent for the Serbs, and it is this fact which has attracted the attention of entire Europe. If we thought of Serbia as merely a principality, which she is now, and if this principality were not the nucleus of a future Serbian Empire, then the world would concern itself no more with Serbia than it did with the Moldavian and Wallachian principalities where there is no principle of independent life and which it considers only as Russian pendants.
A new Serbian state in the south could give Europe every guarantee that it would be distinguished and vital, capable of maintaining itself between Austria and Russia. The geographic position of the country, its topography, abundance of natural resources, the combative spirit of its inhabitants, their sublime and ardent national feeling, their common origin and the same language - all indicates its stability and promising future.
On the Means By Which Serbian Goal May Be Attained
When the goal is firmly determined, and steadfastly and vividly pursued, then /a capable government/ can easily and quickly find the means neccessary for its attainment, /for the Serbian people are so good that with them everything may be reasonably achieved./
1. Initial Means
In order to determine what can be accomplished, and how to proceed, the government must know the conditions and circumstances /of the peoples residing in the surrounding provinces./ This is the first prerequisite for exactly determining the means. Accordingly, it will be necessary, above all, to send sharp and unprejudiced people, loyal to the government, as investigators of the conditions of those lands and peoples, and the former /would be required/ to give exact written reports upon their return. /It is especially necessary to be informed/ on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and northern Albania. /At the same time the exact situation in Slavonia, Croatia and Dalmatia must be learned and, of course, this includes the peoples in Srem, Banat, and the Backa as well./
These agents must be provided with instructions on how to circulate and pass through these lands. They must be informed, /among other things,/ which places and persons they should pay particular attention to. Besides these factual instructions, they should be given a general instruction that would contain the following points which they will be required to carry out:
1. They should judge the political situation of the designated country, especially its political currents; gather data which will enable better aquaintance with the people, their feelings and their innermost desires; but above all, they should indicate what must be considered as an already recognized and publicly expressed popular demand.
2. Special scrutiny must be attached to the military condition of the country and people, such as its martial spirit, armament, the size and disposition of the regular army; the location of military stores and arsenals; the location of industries for wartime demands, such as food and armament; or where they come from and enter the country etc.
3. They should compose description or evaluation, and the list of the most important and influential men in the country, not excluding potential opponents /of Serbia/.
4. The attitude of people in every province toward Serbia and their expectations from her must be observed, along with what they want from her or fear of.
These instructions, naturally, must seek to learn what every agent has to say so far about the ongoing Serbian policy, as well as what hopes may be awaken and how the attention and regard, particularly of Serbia's friends, should be centered.
First of All to Define our Relations to Bulgaria
Bulgaria is the closest of all the Slavic countries to the glorious capital of the Ottoman Empire [Constantinople], and the greatest part of this country is easily accessible; most of the important military positions of the Turks, and more than half of their army are located here. In no other European country does the Turk feel so secure and more a master than in this one; the Bulgarians are deprived of all weapons; they have learned to submit and work - submissiveness and diligence have become their second nature. However, this observation must not prevent us from recognizing their true value, or lead us, which is worse still, to become contemptuous of them. It is an unfortunate fact that the Bulgarians, though they are the largest branch of the Slavic peoples living in Turkey, possess almost no confidence in their own strength, but it is only upon the stimulus coming from foreign countries [Russia] that they would dare attempt to liberate themselves. It is Russia that they look upon as the power which wishes and can do the most for their liberation. (Apart from the fact that Russia would only act in her own interests and would certainly replace the Turkish yoke with an even more oppressive one of her own), she would not venture, as we have already seen, on direct military aid of the Bulgarians, because Europe is aware of the true purpose of these allegedly benevolent Russian intentions toward Turkey; indeed, a general European war would ensue if Russia would want to cross the Danube once more. For this reason, Russia acts through others to accomplish what she is unable to attain directly. Prince Michael was, in this respect, her involuntary instrument, and she will, beyond any doubt, wish to return to her former plan which she has already started to effect through Prince Michael.
Since the government of Prince Alexander [Karadjordjevic] does not possess the confidence of Russia, for it does not permit itself to be used as a blind tool, Russia is forced to work for the overthrow of the present government in order to establish another government which would enable her to achieve her goals.
All attempts to deceive Russia and to convince her that the present government will follow her plan, would be foredoomed to failure. /Once Russia sees for herself/ that in Serbia an independent national spirit is awakening, she will not believe any proposals, because /Russia is much too clever to allow herself into a trap which is opposed to her designs/. Furthermore, it may well be thought that any attempts by Serbia to establish a close alliance and agreement with the other Slavs in Turkey, would be betrayed by Russia, if she only learnt about them, to Turkey, Austria and others, with the sole purpose to convince Europe that it is not Russia but rebellious and opposing Serbia who is encouraging such revolts. But, in spite of it all, Russia would be glad to receive information about these agreements in order to learn their trace and evolvement, and little by little, to gain control of them for her own aims.
The more independent Serbia becomes the less confidence Russia will have in her, and if Russia is not able /to change the situation in Serbia and destroy her independent policy/, then she will certainly endeavour to turn all the Slavs of Turkey away from Serbia, to divide them and keep them in disagreement so that she may deal with and enter into agreement with each (Slavic) branch separately. If, then, Serbia does not prove to be more active and enterprising than Russia, she will be defeated and left behind by the latter.
In this enterprise we must guard against illusion. Russia will never demean herself before Serbia, and if she sees that Serbia will not serve her devotedly and unconditionally, then she will reject every condition proudly and contemptuously. Even the sage advice of her own diplomats - men such as (Russian envoyé baron) Lieven - has been fiercly rejected precisely because they suggested only temporary concessions; is it feasible, then, to believe that she will appear to be more yielding to foreigners than to her own faithful servants? - Finally, if Russia does not find in Serbia anyone who would unconditionally serve her wishes, then, she will not hesitate to ally and work with those who would be willing to serve her only under certain conditions /for, after all, she could never give up Serbia completely/; but as long as she can find people in Serbia that would obey and serve her unconditionally, she will prefer such Serbs to true patriots.
Russia will not allow such a small state like Serbia to set conditions; she demands her advice to be obeyed unconditionally as commands, and those who wish to carry out her will must submit to her completely. It is true that sometimes she appeares to accept all who agree to serve her, but she does not employ them in anything, as some of them do not possess her confidence, so that such conduct of hers removes any possibility of deceiving her.
If Serbia wishes to come out from her present subordinate position and become a true state, she must endeavour, on her way towards independence, to take over the political power of Turkey by destroying it little by little; for this is the point upon which Serbian and Russian policies clash, because Russia also seeks to weaken the political power of the Ottoman Empire. However, despite this correspondence between the two policies, it does not necessarily follow that the aims and intentions of both are the same, or that their policies must be in harmony.
/In brief/: Serbia must endeavour to break down, but only stone by stone, the edifice of the Ottoman state, preserving its good material in order to erect, upon the solid foundation of the old Serbian Empire, a great new Serbian state. Even now while Serbia is yet under the Turkish rule, the work of preparation and modification can be carried out, because such enterprise cannot be undertaken and finished at the last moment.
We have spoken here in detail about the nature of Russian and Serbian policies, precisely because Bulgaria is the country in which Serbian and Russian influences primarily and largely are to come into contact.
We have discussed and demonstrated here why Serbian policy is not able to agree with Russian; however, it must be said that with no other could Serbia attain her aim easier than through an agreement with Russia; but this can occur only when Russia would agree to accept completely and absolutely the conditions of Serbia through which the aforermentioned intention, that is, her future in a broad sense, would be assured. An alliance between Serbia and Russia would, indeed, be the most natural one, but its conclusion would depend upon Russia herself, while Serbia should accept it with open arms, but only when it has been clearly established that Russia's proposals are sincere and open-hearted; this can only come about when Russia abandons her present policy, that is, when she decides that an alliance with Serbia, no matter how small she may be, is more natural than the one with Austria for whose sake she keeps the Western Slavs. Although I do not hope that Russia will ever be sincerely inclined towards Serbia, it is, nevertheless, necessary to mention here of what benefit such an occurrence might be for Serbia, who should immediately make use of it, for whatever has been said against Russia, it was not out of hate, but out of neccessity into which Russia herself has forced us by so many of her actions.
/A few more words about Bulgaria and then we will proceed further./ If we have learnt well the disposition of people's spirit in Bulgaria, and if our respect for her patriotic means is not too low, then we must conclude that a greater effort for its liberation from Turkish yoke is still far away. And again, that is where Russia's primary aspirations are directed to, because this country lies directly before the gates of Constantinople and in her road toward it; but Bulgaria has the same location and importance for Serbia that it has for Russia. If Russia keeps acting in Bulgaria for only a few years more the way she has been acting lately, and if Serbia let her act without doing anything herself, then Russia will indeed achieve such success that Serbian influence in Bulgaria will become useless. Let this be a warning and sign for Serbia, and never let her forget that a political friendship may be expected only if we have already showed and proved our love for the friends. Serbia must do something for Bulgaria because love and help need to be mutual.
After we have briefly indicated our attitide towards present Bulgaria and her great importance for Serbia, and after few words about the Russian influence that dominates there, we shall proceed to give an outline of some initial means for establishing the Serbian influence.
1. The Bulgarians do not possess educational and pedagogical institutions, therefore, Serbia should open her schools to the Bulgarians and grant scholarships to some of young Bulgarians who are studying in Serbia.
2. The Bulgarian clergy is mainly Greek, and not of Bulgarian nationality; therefore, it would be desirable and useful if a certain number of young Bulgars were trained in theology in Serbia and then returned as priests to their people and homeland.
3. Bulgarian liturgic and other religious books, together with other Bulgarian works, should be printed in Serbia; this important means has long been used by Russia, and Serbia must see to surpass her in that respect.
4. Reliable and capable people must be sent to travel through Bulgaria, who would draw the attention of the Bulgarian people to Serbia, awakening in them the feelings of friendship toward Serbia and the Serbian government, as well as hopes that Serbia will truely aid their liberation and provide for their welfare.
On tbe Policy of Serbia Towards Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Northern Albania
When we take into closer consideration the topography and geographical position of these lands, togehter with the military traditions of their inhabitants, their mentality and ways of thinking, we will easily come to the conclusion that this is the part of Turkey upon which Serbia can exert the greatest influence. The continuous determination and organization of this infuence seems to us to be the main task of Serbian policy in Turkey for the moment .
1. When two neighbouring peoples wish to conclude a close and intimate alliance their borders must be opened as much as possible so that continuous communication is most facilitated and stimulated. But Serbia seems to be separating herself from her co-nationals in Turkey as if by a Chinese wall, opening communications points in so few places that there are houses in bigger towns that have more doors for entry than the entire Principality of Serbia. Therefore, without reducing the border guard, we are to increase the number of points of contact, entry, and departure along the Serbian border with Bosnia. /And why not with Bulgaria as well ?/
The established system of separation might have been purposeful at the time; but to further maintain it, would be the same as shutting Serbia in and isolating her, which is in utter opposition to her future and prosperity.
2. We should act in such a manner that the two peoples, the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic, could reach mutual understanding and an agreement about their national policy, for only then can this policy be successfully brought into effect.
It is the duty of Serbia to propose the basic points of this policy to both parts of the people residing there, because she is able to act in this enterprise, and obliged to, owing to the years of experience and the diplomatically recognized rights. - One of the main points is: the principle of complete freedom of religion. This principle will satisfy all Christians, and who knows, in time it may become acceptable to some Muslims as well. But the most important and fundamental law of the state must be determined as follows: that the princedom must be instituted as hereditary. Without this principle which is the very embodiment of state unity, an enduring and permanent state union between Serbia and her neighbours is unthinkable.
If the Bosnians do not accept this solution the unevitable consequence would be the fragmentation of Serbdom into small provincial principalities under separate ruling families who would doubtless soon fall under the sway of foreign influences, because there would arise rivalry and envy between them. These families could never be led to sacrifice their personal interests for another family, even when the advancement of all these peoples would depend upon such a sacrifice.
/From these basic points it follows that if an attempt were made to effect any change in Bosnia prior to this general unification of Serbdom, such a change should be effected only in such a manner as to serve as a preparation for the general unification of all Serbs and their provinces into one whole; and this would be the only way in which the aims and interests common to all Serbs may be realized. - Therefore, I here emphasize Serbia merely because she alone is able to prepare that change, and being obliged to constantly work on it until the time will come to bring this plan to completion, Serbia will keep trying to make that time come./ - Thus, whoever is solicitious for the welfare of this people must not propose a hereditary princedom to the Bosnians. /In that case/, the most important figures should be elected among all the people, and not for life, but only for a certain time during which they would function as a sort of council. Even with such a separate and provincial authority the road would be open for advancement; it would then be an easy matter for Serbia eventually to bring about a closer union with Bosnia, which would be both possible and likely.
The third basic principle of this policy is that of unity of nationalities, whose diplomatic representative is to be the government of the Principality of Serbia. Whenever the validity of this principle is in question, it is to the governement that the Bosnians and other Slavs should turn to for protection and every assistance. Serbia, in this respect, must realize that she is the natural protector of all the Slavs living in Turkey, and that other Slavs will only concede her that right when she takes upon herself the duty of doing and saying something in their name. If Serbia sets to her neighbours bad and unfortunate example that she thinks only of herself without caring about the troubles or advancement of others, but being indifferent to them, then they would certainly follow such an example, and would not listen to her; thus, harmony and unity would be replaced by distrust, envy and misfortune.
3. Not only that all fundamental laws, the Constitution and all major institutions of the Principality of Serbia should be promoted among the people in Bosnia /and Herzegovina/, but a number of young Bosnians should be accepted into the Serbian officialdom to be operatively trained for political and financial profession, for law and public education, so that later these officials could apply in their own homeland what they have learned in Serbia. /Here it must be particularly observed that these young people should be specially supervised and educated in such a manner that their work becomes completely imbued by the redeeming idea of a general unification and great advancement. This obligation cannot be sufficiently emphasized./
4. /Special attention must be paid to diverting the peoples of the Roman Catholic faith from Austria and her influence, and their greater inclination towards Serbia should be fostered. This goal could be best achieved through the Franciscans there; the most important among them must be won over to the idea of the union of Bosnia and Serbia. To this end/, publishing of some prayer books and hymnals in the printing office of Belgrade should be ordered; also, liturgical books for Orthodox Christians and anthologies of popular poems which would be paralelly printed in Latin and Cyrillic alphabets; as a third step, a short and comprehensive history of Bosnia could be printed, in which the names and glory must not be omitted of several Bosnians who had converted to Muslim faith. It goes without saying that this history should be written in the spirit of the Slavic nationality and entirely in the spirit of the national unity of Serbs and Bosnians. Through the printing of these and similar patriotic works, /as well as through other necessary actions which should be reasonably determined and supervised/ Bosnia would be liberated from the influence of Austria and incline more to Serbia. In this way Croatia and Dalmatia would also procure books which cannot be printed in Austria, and this would naturally result in a closer relationship of these lands with Bosnia and Serbia. /Special attention should be given to this enterprise by entrusting the writing of the aforementioned history to a capable and deeply discerning person./
5. The entire foreign trade of Serbia is in the hands of Austria. /This is a misfortune whose exact consequences I shall leave the financial experts to determine, while I shall merely cite those facts that add to the importance of this plan./
Direct trade contact with foreign states through Zemun [Semlin] will always be a distressing affair. Consequently, Serbia must secure a new trade route which will connect her with the sea and provide her with a port. For the present, the only route possible is the one which leads through Skadar [Scutari] to Ulcinj. Here the Serbian merchant with his natural products would recognize natural Dalmatian seamen and traders as his nationals, but also as clever and capable people who would give him a hand honestly and efficiently when purchasing foreign wares. It is necessary therefore to establish a Serbian trade agency there to protect the selling of Serbian products and the buying of French and English goods.
For this work the government would have to take the first step providing for and appointing a commercial agent to Ulcinj who would instruct the Serbian merchant, as if pointing with his forefinger, where he should direct his attention. /This agent, entering into contact with our country's traders, would have to thouroghly explore a way to direct our trade towards favorable avenues abroad, and once the government makes certain of their benefit, it may publish such information through the newspapers, indicating to our traders the areas with lucrative prospects./ Even if only a few traders succeed in conducting good business at the outset, others would quickly follow their example, and /little by little this avenue of trade would be opened without the government having to forever concern itself about the matter; for merchants would themselves open routes of business, leaving the government's agents with their only concern to keep our merchants safe from any kind of oppression/. - From the foregoing it would follow that the price of Serbian products exported to the south would rise in the north, while the price of the products introduced into Serbia from the north would fall because of the competition with the products from the south. In a word, the Serb would in this way sell high and buy cheap.
This measure would be of no less importance in a political sense, since the new Serbian agent would find himself among a Serbian population, which situation would result in a stronger influence of Serbia upon the northern Albanians and Montenegro, and these are the peoples who actually hold the keys to the gates of Bosnia, Herzegovina, and the Adriatic Sea. We are assured that the institution and establishment of such Serbian agency there would be understood by these poples as a political act of inestimable importance on the part of Serbia, so that a closer union of the people of those provinces with Serbia would be an easy matter.
Not only that France and England would not be opposed to this, but they would even support it, whereas the Porte also would not be opposed to it because its only harbour would prosper as a result.
6. Gaining a greater influence over the Eastern Orthodox Bosnians will not be a difficult task for Serbia. However, more caution and attention must be exercised if the Bosnian Catholics are to be won over. At their head are the Franciscans. - Therefore, would it not be advisable if, in addition to the printing of books hitherto mentioned, one of these Bosnian friars were to be appointed to the Belgrade Lycée as professor of Latin or some other science. This professor could serve as an intermediary between Serbia and the Catholics of Bosnia, because such a step would be our first reassuring gesture and a proof of tolerance. Could not this same Franciscan establish a Catholic chapel for Catholics residing here, /thereby Austrian influence upon the erection of such a chapel, which will have to be built sooner or later, would be obviated. The chapel could be placed under the protection of the French consul residing here/.
This would give the French government reason and occasion to participate actively in this affair, and would at the same time free Serbia from the danger of having in Belgrade a Catholic church which would be under the influence of Austria.
7. Karadjordje was a naturally gifted military leader of very great experience; he was not able to foresee the predominant military importance which Montenegro has for Serbia, and which it will always have whenever the issue arises of Bosnia and Herzegovina breaking away from Turkey and joining Serbia. The campaign of this vojvoda at Sjenica and Novi Pazar is still well remembered by all Serbs, hence, it is not necessary that we marshal new arguments to support the following proposal : Let Serbia follow the example of Russia in Montenegro, and give the Metropolitan of Montenegro [Petar II Petrovic-Njegos] regular annual financial subsidies - in this way, for a small price, Serbia will have the friendship of a country which can, at the very least, raise an army of 10,000 mountain soldiers.
Finally we must observe that the deferment of this subsidy until the last minute will not produce the desired successful result, since Russia will justifiably be able to point to its own many annual subsidies, and in this way besmirch and arouse suspicion of Serbia's new proposal as the one made out of bare necessity; and the Montenegrins would then say : the Serbs did not help us when we were in need, which is proof to us that they are not our friends, but only wish to make a one-time use of us.
Srem, Backa, and Banat
At first glance it may be thought that Serbia must be on most friendly terms with those areas, since in origin, language, religion, law, and custom they are one and the same with the Serbs of Serbia. If this is not the case then the blame falls, in part at least, upon Serbia herself, because she has not tried enough to win the friendship of these Serbs. But it is to be hoped that despite all hostile influence of Austria this improper attitude will be changed in time and improved insomuch as the Principality of Serbia shall keep proving itself to be well organized, strong, just and enlightened state. - For the present, if nothing else, at least an effort should be made to become acquainted with the most important figures in these provinces, and to establish one important newspaper there which could, abiding by the Hungarian Constitution, act usefully in the interest of the Serbian cause and which should be edited by a very sincere man such as, for example, Mr. Hadzic or someone of the same calibre.
On tbe Alliance with the Czech Slavs
/Concerning these Slavs we will not say very much at this time not only because they do not fall within the scope of this plan but also because to the many it would seem at first to be impractical. Therefore, passing over this briefly and leaving the benefits of such an alliance to be derived from the very realization of this plan, we limit ourselves only to make the recommendation that we must begin making Serbia aware of the Slavs of Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia, and do this very cautiously and sagely so as not to arouse Austria's suspicions./
Previously published in: Balkanica, vol. XXV-1, Belgrade 1994, pp. 157-183.
Dusan T. Batakovic