Written: July 1915.
Source: Revolutionary History.
Transcribed/HTML Markup: Ted Crawford and David Walters, September 2006.
Public Domain: Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line 2006. You can freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive as your source, include the url to this work, and note the transcribers & proofreaders above.
In accordance with the statutes of the Federation, the Executive Committee of the Social-Democratic Party and the General Commission of the Trade Unions have appointed the following as members of the Executive Committee of the Inter-Balkanic Socialist Bureau;: Dr. C. Rakovski, D. Marinesco (1st secretary of the PSD) and D. Popp, secretary of the General Commission of the Trade Unions.
All matters concerning the Bulletin must be addressed to comrade D.Marinesco, secretary of the Executive Committee, Str, Sf. Ionica 12, Bucharest, Roumania.
It was during the 1909 Christmas holidays that the 1st Inter-Balkanic Social-democratic conference convened by the S.D. Party of Serbia met in Belgade. The latter was only carrying out a decision made at a private meeting of the delegates of the Balkan Social-democratic parties at the Congress held at Stuttgart in 1907. The second Inter-balkanic conference, whose deliberations and resolutions are reproduced below and the convening of which is due to the initiative of the Social-democratic Party of Roumania, is a continuation of the Belgrade conference and entirely accepts its aims and principles.
The “broad” Socialist Party of Roumania was not invited to either the Belgrade or Bucharest conferences. All the efforts of the socialists of Serbia and Roumania to obtain the agreement of the Bulgarian “narrows” to invite the “broads” have failed and only resulted in a delaying of the conference. In addition the refusal of the “narrows” to attend a conference also attended by the “broads” presented the Socialist Party of Roumania with the following dilemna: either give up the conference or accept collaboration with only one of the Bulgarian socialist parties. Once the necessity of a choice was accepted there could be no hesitaton. The socialists of Roumania opted for collaboration with the “narrows” whose programme and tactics brought them close to the Social-democratic Party of Roumania. It was in these circumstances that the latter convened the second Socialist Inter-Balkanic conference in the interests of socialism and peace in the Balkans. The debates and resolutions which the reader will find below fully describe its aims and justify its convocation.
Prior to the convening of the Conference the Socialist parties of the Balkans had drawn up and agreed to sign the following manifesto:
The terrible world war has gone on now for eleven months. For what aims was it declared? The immediate cause of it breaking out was the conflict between Serbia and Austria-Hungary. But this conflict was the result of the urge for conquests in the Balkans of Austria-Hungary and the aspirations for territorial expansion of the rulers of Serbia. The world war was in its turn inevitable because the Austrian-Serb conflict had raised the question of the possession of the Balkan Peninsula, where the expansionist interests of all the capitalist states clashed.
Beside the general struggle for the world market the main objective of the present war is the sharing out of the Balkan Peninsula and Turkey. This truth is confirmed by the actual course of events.
The declaration by which the Tsar declared war on Turkey states openly that the Russians would be fighting for the conquet of the Black Sea shores.
At the same time if Italy has thrown itself into the fight it was because it was no longer content to have only Albania, willingly ceded by Austria, but wanted to get its hands on to the western part of the Balkan Peninsula just as Russia wanted to become masters of the eastern part and transform the Black Sea into a Russian lake.
The allied fleets of France and England control the Aegean Sea which bathes the shores of Bulgaria and Greece) while to the north of the peninsula the Austrian army, which has once before invaded Serbia, prepares a new invasion.
Elsewhere the gigantic armies of the belligerents mass on the frontiers of Roumania, prepared to trample it underfoot at any moment.
Never has the menace of the politics of conquest of the great powers been as imminent or as clear as today. The circle of iron and fire squeezes the Balkans ever more tightly.
Following the entry of Italy into the game, Austria-Hungary no longer has any political considerations to hold it back from conquering Serbia and Macedonia, while strategic considerations actually push it in this direction.
This is how Italy and Austria proceed, arms in hand, in the sharing out of the western and central parts of the Balkan Peninsula, a partition already envisaged under the guise of “spheres of influence” in secret clauses when the Triple Alliance was formed: clauses which were made public when the war actually broke out.
Russia, however, cannot consider territorial conquests towards the west where it would come up against powerful neighbours. Therefore its principal aim is directed towards the Balkan Peninsula and Turkey where it has interests and where its expansionist policy will meet the least resistance.
The European war will return to its beginning and it is here, in the Balkans, that the bloodiest and most horrible episodes will occur unless the Balkan peoples themselves are able to hold back the waves of aggressive imperialism.
What are the dominant classes and Balkanic dynasties doing? What are the Balkan governments doing at the very time that the Balkan peoples are being pushed to the edge of the abyss and threatened with the tragic fate of the Belgian, Polish and Ukrainian peoples?
In Serbia the dominant classes, after having condemned a people to extermination and ruin in pursuit of the idea of a Great Serbia, are today forced to see for themselves that the Russian Tsarism, which inspired them, has now abandoned them. It has promised a large part of the Serb provinces of Austria to its new ally Italy, which it needs more because it is stronger,
In Greece the dominant classes are at the stage of bargaining, the price of which will be the future of the Greek people, lulled – and duped – by the dream of the resurrection of the ancient Byzantine empire.
In Roumania the dominant classes await the opportune moment to throw themselves on Hungary or Russia, or again to repeat the savage 1913 invasion of Bulgaria, and in so doing condemn new working masses to a regime of destitution.
In Bulgaria they prepare a new calamity for the people by their blind and criminal revanchist politics.
The ruling classes and dynasties of the Balkans hold down the conquered peoples in Macedonia, Dobruja and Thrace under a regime of exceptional persecution.
This provides the best of proofs that their aim was not the liberation and unity of the Balkan peoples but the conquest of new territories, larger markets, new masses of producers and tax payers to be exploited and robbed.
By such politics they only increase the animosity between the Balkan peoples and facilitate the work of the imperialists.
The war into which the governments seek to throw the Balkan peoples – as is the case for the Bulgarians, Roumanians and Greeks who have up till now been spared this calamity – will not be a war of defence or national unity but a war in which the Balkan armies will be bodies obeying the commands of Petersburg or Berlin. It will be a war in which the Balkan peoples will shed their blood and abandon their homes ravaged by fire to satisfy the selfish interests of the ruling classes and place themselves under a foreign yoke.
The Balkan bourgeoisie, incapable of understanding that its historic mission should at present be the creation of a union of the Balkan peoples and unable to rise above its petty interests, is split into two camps, fighting each other to decide to whom it is preferable to sell the liberty of the peoples: to Russia or Italy, to Germany or Austria-Hungary.
In the Balkan capitals the press, statesmen, entire parties are selling and buying each other with the millions supplied by the belligerent states.
A terrible treachery, rare in history is being prepared.
At this tragic hour the Balkan proletariat raises its voice to protest at the project of treachery and national murder of the ruling classes and governments of the Balkans. It sounds the alarm in the midst of the working class and popular masses so that they may take upon themselves the welfare and independence of the Balkan Peninsula. It is in their interest and it is their duty to struggle for the realisation of a Balkan Federation which, since the Belgrade Conference of 1909, has become the aim of the Balkan proletariat , the desirability of which subsequent events have proved anew.
The Balkan wars, and the world war too, prove that only the independent Union of the Balkan peoples, free of the guardianship of the great powers, can assure their liberty and the national unity of each of its peoples.
The Balkan social-democracy is opposed to Balkan alliances such as those of 1912, which have as sole aim to make war and serve as an instrument of Russia, because such an alliance can again lead to catastrophes even worse than those caused by the Balkan War.
Social-democracy is also hostile to a Balkan alliance under the control of Germany and Austria-Hungary.
The military and dynastic alliances in the Balkans have served and now serve foreign interests: they are harmful to the Balkan peoples.
The Balkan proletariat fights for the political and economic union of the Balkan peoples, decided by their parliaments on the basis of the widest liberty.
Balkan social-democracy fights for a federal Balkan Republic based on national autonomy, which will ensure the independence of the peoples, cause the hate that animates them to disappear, unite them through their federal organisation, and will give them their surest means of defence by the setting up of national militias in place of standing armies.
At present the Balkan states uphold a militarism beyond their means which in no way defends the country since its principal aim is the oppression of the masses and the conquest of foreign peoples. During the Balkan War this militarism has served the dreams of conquest and grandeur of the Balkan dynasties and bourgeoisies. Today, though it is a question of national defence, militarism will continue to serve the same nationalist and dynastic policy. Following on their internecine struggles the Balkan governments, transformed into pawns of the great powers, prepare the armed force of the Balkan peoples not to ensure their own defence but in order to place them at the service of this or that belligerent state.
This would be the greatest of crimes and a veritable suicide for the Balkan people.
If the Balkan peoples had been united none of the great powers would have dared attack them, especially if they had aspired only to defend their soil and their freedom. It is only the Balkan Republic and the formation of national militias, replacing the standing armies, which could unite all the forces of the Balkan peoples and imbue them with the enthusiasm needed to successfully oppose foreign invasions.
Any war of conquest in the Balkans, provoking new hatreds and a new struggle for hegemony, will put fresh obstacles on the road to the realisation of the Balkan Republic. This is an additional reason for the social-democratic parties of the Balkans to struggle against the participation of the peoples of the Balkans in the war.
The maintenance of an honest and definite neutrality is called for in the Balkans more than in any other countries.
Today, together with the world proletariat, the social-democracy of the Balkans raises high the banner of peace and loudly affirms its decision to fight side by side with the proletarians of the whole world, remaining also on the soil of the revolutionary class struggle for the triumph of socialism which, by abolishing the causes of national antagonisms and war, will create the conditions which will give rise to fraternity and lasting peace between peoples.
Down with war!
Long live peace between peoples!
Long live the Federal Republic of the Balkans!
Long live revolutionary socialism!
The Executive Committee of the Social-democratic Party of Roumania: Dr E. Arbore, A. Constantinesco, Gh. Cristesco, I.C. Frimou, D. Marinesco, Dr C. Racovski.
The Central Committee of the Social-democratic Party of Bulgaria: D. Blagoeff, G. Kircoff, V. Kolaroff, Chr. Cabactchief, Gh. Dimitroff.
The Central Committee of the Social-democratic Party of Serbia: R. Iovanovitch, Trishcha Katzlerovitch, Dragischa Laptevitch, Douschan Popovitch, T. Petrovitch, M. Timoschitch, F. Filipovitch.
The Executive Committee of the Social-democratic Party of Greece: P. Dimitratos, M. Gallias, A. Sarandidis, J. Amariglio, H. Benrubi, Alb. Couriel, Is. Saragussi, H. Haguel.
The proceedings of the 2nd Inter-Balkanic Socialist Conference were opened by a meeting called by the Bucharest section of the Social-democratic Party of Roumania in the big Dacia Hall on Sunday 5/18 July. When the delegates of the Balkan countries appeared the whole audience rose to their feet and acclaimed them enthusiastically.
Declaring the meeting open comrade D. Marinesco, secretary of the Social-democratic Party of Roumania, welcomed the socialist delegates from Bulgaria and Greece and regretted the enforced absence of the Serbian comrades.
He then informed the meeting that the Roumanian government had issued a written warning threatening to take measures against the foreign delegates if they took the floor at the meeting. Hearing this the entire hall burst into protestations and prolonged booing.
The chair continued by declaring that the so-called liberal government will be tarred with shame by this act but without achieving its aim since the speeches of the foreign delegates would be read out and the audience would thus learn what they had to say.
When the Greek delegate, comrade Sideris, whose speech was read first, was called, the meeting burst into applause and ovations.
Here is a summary of Sideris’s speech:
The fact that only the proletariat has the courage to raise itself in the middle of the storm to protest against the war proves that only socialism represents the idea of the brotherhood of peoples, of peace and civilisation. The importance of the meeting in Bucharest consists in demonstrating that the Balkan peoples insist on remaining at peace despite the incitements of both groups of belligerents who each seek to win them to their side, and despite the chauvinist agitation of their ruling classes. The Balkan capitalists, encouraged by the profits resulting from the territories won following the first two Balkan wars, would like to make use of the present circumstances without considering that it would cost the Balkan countries dear if they took part in the European conflict and thus risked losing their national existence.
The Greek deputy showed, with examples drawn from the history of his country, how the greed of the Greek bourgeoisie grew in parallel with its successes; how pan-hellenism, after having dreamt at first of Greek independence, went on to demand the annexation of new territories, and after the last Balkan war, conceived the mad idea of restoring the Byzantine empire and even that of Alexander the Great by the annexation of vast territories in Asia Minor. He added that similar policies tending towards hegemony were also pursued by the other Balkan states.
He called on the assembly to oppose the politics of hegemony by the politics of Balkan solidarity; and to oppose the ambitious policies of conquest by a Federal Balkan Republic.
The next speakers were comrade N. Ionesco, delegate from Galatz, and comrade Al. Constantinesco, member of the Executive Committee of the PSD of Roumania. The first insisted on the necessity of unity between the Balkan socialists in order to obtain the maximum of advantages for the socialist cause during the settlements that would follow the present war. The second spoke of the foresight shown by the Roumanian socialists over three years by denouncing the blind and greedy policy of the Roumanian oligarchy.
Comrade Kolaroff, socialist deputy for Plovdiv (Bulgaria), was due to speak on behalf of the Bulgarian delegation, but his speech was read too. But this did not diminish the profound effect it had on the audience.
He greeted the Roumanian proletariat on behalf of the organised proletariat of Bulgaria and he, too, stressed the moral vigour of socialism which, alone, in the midst of barbarism continued the tradition of civilisation. Comrade Kolaroff stressed particularly the responsibility that rested on socialism in the Balkans for reaching the common goal: the maintenance of peace and the neutrality of the Balkan states not involved in the war.
Comrade Racovski, member of the Executive Committee of the PSD of Roumania, began his speech by expressing his deep regret at the enforced absence of the Serbian comrades, whose defiant and truly socialist attitude in the Skoupchtina (the Serbian House of Deputies) and in the country during this war had filled with joy the whole International that had remained loyal to the class struggle.
After having condemned the Roumanian government for the absurd, stupid and useless measure it found necessary in forbidding the foreign delegates to speak comrade Racovski got on to the theme of his speech: the Socialist Inter-Balkans Conference.
First, he declared that in their dual role as socialists and as representatives of small nations the delegates assembled in Bucharest protested against the violation of the neutrality of Belgium, and also against the invasion in Serbia, and the acts of violence committed by Russia, and by the Ruthenians and the Poles in Galicia. He refuted the arguments put forward to justify these violations, saying that the only ones entitled to bring to account the Serbian and Belgian governments for their errors were the proletariat and people of these countries and that no state had the right to appoint itself judge of its neighbour.
The speaker developed a powerful argument in favour of a Balkan federation from the fate of Belgium. He argued later that in Eastern and Central Europe a homogeneous national state had no future. Forced, as it is, to also annexe a large number of members of other nationalities if it is to incorporate its own co-nationals, the national state can only be a tyrannical state torn by internal conflicts and menaced by external wars. Only a federal structure can provide equilibrium, peace and well-being.
He exposed the absurd policy of Roumanian nationalism which has no faith in democratic progress and which looks to the world war to achieve its aim of achieving “national unity” and better conditions for the Roumanians under the rule of neighbouring empires. He ironically criticised the diplomacy of Europe and that of Roumania stricken with an impotence which also is at the base of the capitalist regime. The speaker then exalted the idea of a republican Balkan federation. This idea, hated, persecuted and slandered by the advocates of nationalism acquires for precisely this reason the value of a great social ideal merging with the struggle against war and capitalism.
After the speeches the meeting unanimously adopted the following resolution:
The workers and citizens of the capital of Roumania, assembled in a great popular meeting called by the Social-democratic Party of Roumania on 5/18 July, joyfully greet the presence among them of representatives of the socialist parties of the Balkans and, in agreement with them, proclaim that the sole guarantee for the political, economic and cultural progress of the Balkan states is their union in a common state, in a Federal Balkan Republic.
Realising that peace is a precondition for the realisation of this aim and that any participation by Balkan states on the side of any of the belligerent groups could create new conflicts between the Balkan states by transforming them into tools of the great powers, this meeting most forcefully condemns warlike agitations. It declares that the maintenance of strict and absolute neutrality is the only policy compatible with the interests of the Balkan peoples.
This meeting sends its fraternal greetings to the proletariat of all the belligerent countries, dragged into the war despite their wishes. It expresses its wish that the war should end and peace be re-established.
This meeting protests forcefully against the liberal government which, by forbidding the foreign socialist from speaking, has demonstrated once more that it practices a policy of provocation against the Roumanian working class.
Long Live the Federal Balkan Republic!
Long Live Peace!
Long Live International Socialism!
The sessions of the Inter-Balkanic Conference began on Monday morning in the great hall of the socialist and trade union organisations of Bucharest.
The following delegates participated:
Comrade Racovski greeted the delegates of the Balkan proletariat on behalf of the Roumanian party and trade unions and declared the 2nd Inter-Balkans Socialist Conference open. He continued;–
After yesterday’s enthusiastic demonstration and the speeches in the Dacia Hall, it would diminish the importance of the present conference if I were to go over them again.
Nevertheless there is a fact that I want to mention: we socialists are not the first to have agitated for a federation of the Balkan peoples. We have precursors. The idea has been put forward by others as well. It has been embraced in turn by political parties and governments: it has equally been advocated by bourgeois politicians and even shared by sovereigns.
This circumstance may engender confusion and ambiguity to the detriment of our idea.
It could be argued that, if despite an almost age-old discussion – we believe the federalist idea was advocated even during the Greek insurrection – it has not been achieved, this is the best proof that it is a utopian idea and that you, Balkan socialists, are chasing fantasies that are fated to disappear into thin air the moment they come into contact with political realities.
To this we reply: the bourgeois agitators could only compromise the idea of a Balkan federation because they used it only as an expedient, good for certain occasions and to be dropped as soon as the governments obtained the support they desired. For us the Balkan federation is an aim and not a political expedient. While this idea has found itself in conflict with the particularist and selfish interests of the bourgeoisie of each country it has on the contrary been identified with the internationalist aims of the proletariat.
The first Inter-Balkan conference in Belgrade in 1909 had to content itself with a declaration of principles. Today we shall take a step forward. We are entering the road of Balkan socialist unity and of searching for the appropriate means of popularising the idea of a republican Federation.
Comrade Blagoeff (Bulgaria) said:
We see in a republican Balkan Federation a condition permitting the most rapid progress and a means of political defence against the rapacious great powers. If in the west all groupings together of hitherto separate states can only be beneficial for their development and, especially for the class struggle of the proletariat, how much more useful and necessary is this unification in the Balkans where industry is backward and the proletariat small in numbers and scattered between several small states! The Balkan socialist parties, feeble so long as they remain confined within the national territorial limits of each state, would become redoubtable if the barriers between these states disappeared.
The response that this idea has found among the popular masses of the Balkans is the touchstone of the correct view of Balkan socialism.
Our point of view has been approved and gradually adopted by international socialism. Kautsky has applauded this idea and so have many other socialists. The Copenhagen International Congress of 1910 has adopted it in its programme, and the Basle Congress of 1912 included it in its manifesto.
Election of the Bureau
The provisional president, comrade Racovski, proposed, as a tribute to the Serbian fraternal party, absent despite its wishes, the election of our valued comrade Dragischa Laptchevitch, a Serbian socialist deputy, as honorary president of our conference.
This proposal was unanimously adopted.
Comrade Kircoff (Bulgaria) proposed the dispatch of a greetings telegram to the Social-democratic Party of Serbia.
The definitive Bureau was made up as follows: Dr C. Racovski, president, D. Marinesco and C. Titcheff, secretaries, I. Sion, press officer.
On the proposal of the president the Conference elected a Commission composed of comrades V.Kolaroff, Gh. Kircoff, C.Gherea, C.Racovski and A.Sideris, instructed to elaborate a declaration of principles.
Comrade Racovski read out the Agenda: 1) Means of promoting the idea of a republican Balkan federation. 2) The Balkan socialist parties and the reestablishment of the International.
On the first item comrade Racovski put forward a number of proposals on behalf of the Socialist party of Roumania for a common inter-Balkanic organisation. Comrade Kircoff associated himself with these proposals on behalf of the Bulgarian delegation and added to them.
General discussion on these proposals was opened.
Comrade Constantinesco (Roumania) proposed that the 4th of August – anniversary of the declaration of war – be designated as a day of simultaneous demonstrations in favour of a Federal republic in all the Balkan countries.
He made other suggestions which appear in the motion voted on.
Comrades Gherea (Roumania), Kircoff, Kolaroff, Gh. Dimitroff (Bulgaria) opposed Constantinesco’s proposals for demonstrations on 4th August on practical grounds.
May 1st, already fixed as a day for demonstrating the international solidarity of the workers was the most appropriate date for an inter-Balkans demonstration. Otherwise we would seem to be promoting a separate socialism.
On top of that the organisation of a new festival called for time and effort which would be better focused on organising the May Day demonstrations.
Comrade Sideris (Greece) agreed with the above propositions and hopes his party will support them.
At the start of this session, the president read out telegrams received from various sections of the Social-democratic parties of Roumania and Bulgaria. He also read out a telegram congratulating the Conference from M. Paul Boujor, of the University of Iassy, who was also a member of the Roumanian Senate.
On a proposal by comrades G. Cristesco and Racovski the Conference, while regretting the absence of the socialist delegates from Turkey, condemned the execution by the Turkish military of ten workers belonging to the “Hintchak” organisation.
The session opened at 5 o’clock
The president, comrade Racovski, read out the following telegram sent to the Serbian Socialist Party:
Radnicke Novine Nish.
The second Inter-Balkanic Socialist Conference consider it a duty to salute the memory of Toutzovitch, acclaimed by Balkan socialists as the most noble and devoted champion of the federal ideal.
The Conference deeply regrets the absence of the Serbian comrades, elect comrade Lapcevitch as their honorary president and express the hope of obtaining your approval of its decisions. It sends the fraternal greetings of the Greek, Bulgarian and Roumanian proletariat to the socialist proletariat of Serbia.
Long Live the Balkan Federation!
Long Live International Socialism!
On behalf of the Conference.
The discussion on the Agenda was resumed.
Comrade Dr E. Arbore (Roumania) asked for explanations on the method of election to the socialist inter-Balkanic Bureau of the two delegates who will represent each Balkan country.
Comrade Gh. Cristesco (Roumania) did not think the trade unions should have delegates on the Bureau as their activity is limited to purely industrial matters.
Comrade A. Constantinesco objected that the previous speaker was in opposition to the prestige of the Roumanian workers’ and socialist movement.
Comrade Gherea insisted that a deeper examination of the question was needed.
Comrade Racovski said that the socialist union of the Balkans included the trade unions as well as the parties, and that the former must be represented in the Bureau so as to be able to defend their interests whenever these were in involved.
Comrade Kolaroff said that if Gh. Cristesco’s proposal was accepted it would lead to an unwelcome schism between the unions and the party. If the Conference did not arrange for representation of the unions in their future common organ we would soon see a separate and possibly antagonistic Inter-Balkanic trade union organisation side by side with an inter-Balkanic socialist one.
Gh. Dimitroff (General secretary of the Bulgarian trade unions) stressed the importance of a Federal Republic of the Balkans for the unions. He said the unions could not abstain from certain political questions.
Comrades Constantinesco, Arbore, Racovski, Cristesco also spoke on the same subject.
A commission composed of Dimitroff, Constantinesco and also including the Bureau of the Conference was appointed to draw up a definitive statement on the organisation of the future Social-democratic Workers Federation of the Balkans.
Last updated on 18.10.2011