Friday, August 15, 2008

The Macedonian Question, Britain and the Southern Balkans 1939-1949

Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN13: 978-0-19-923768-5
ISBN10: 0-19-923768-9
Publisher: Oxford University Press (May, 2008)
Author: Dimitrios Livanios

The Macedonian Question—the struggle for control over a territory with histor­ically ill-defined borders and conflicting national identities—is one of the most intractable problems in modern Balkan history. In this lucid and persuasive study, Dimitris Livanios explores the British dimension to the Macedonian Question from the outbreak of the Second World War to the aftermath of the Tito-Stalin split.

Investigating British policy towards the Bulgar-Yugoslav controversy over Mace­donia, the author assesses the impact of British actions and strategy during this period, with a particular focus on wartime planning concerning the future of Yugoslavia and Bulgaria and attempts to prevent Tito from creating a federation of the South Slavs both during and after the war. Making extensive use of British archives, Livanios brings to light important documentary evidence to offer a fresh perspective on the emergence of the federal Macedonian unit within Tito's Yugoslavia, and on the efforts to create a functioning Macedonian national ideology.

an abstract...

While the British were busy planning the future of the Balkans, others had already shaped it. By the last quarter of 1944, the communists were the indisputable rulers in Yugoslavia, and were working hard to become so in Bulgaria too. Tito had turned the old 'Southern Serbia' (and 'Vardarska Banovina') into the 'People's Republic of Macedonia', without taking the trouble to consult his Bulgarian comrades, let alone the Greeks, and was perceived as entertaining designs for the incorporation of all parts of Macedonia into his new (and increasingly impatient) federal unit. Although the clarification of his actual intentions is hindered by the distracting noises of Macedonian guerrillas and politicians, it was Tito's Macedonian designs and his plans for a Balkan federation that activated the British factor.

The British had always been supporters of the status quo, but in late 1944 they had an additional reason not to want any change of borders. Many in the Foreign Office perceived with apprehension the erection of a monolithic Slavdom, plotting to detach Greek Macedonia from Athens, and to establish a united Macedonia, which would inevitably pose a grave danger to their lines of communications in the eastern Mediterranean basin.

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