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30.01.2013 12:11 - ON THE CHARACTER OF THE OFFICIAL BILATERAL OTTOMAN-BULGARIAN RELATIONS, 1879 - 1909
Автор: vkolev22 Категория: История   
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Последна промяна: 30.01.2013 12:14


 The modern Bulgarian state was restored as a result of the Russia-Turkish war of 1877-1878 and according to the stipulations of the Treaty of Berlin was established as “an autonomous and tributary Principality under the sovereignty of the Sultan with a Christian government and national army". As a sign of its dependency upon the Sublime Porte it has to pay an yearly tribute including part of the Ottoman public debt, to respect the existing regime of capitulations and foreign consular jurisdiction, to implement the Ottoman obligations towards the Russe-Varna railway and the Company of the Oriental railways. The Bulgarian prince as a high official of the Sultan and after being elected by the people through a representative body, has to be approved by the Great powers and by the Porte with an imperial firman. According to the Ottoman state protocol it ranked immediately after the Grand Vezier, side by side with the Khedive of Egypt and preceeding the Cabinet ministers. Thus the Treaty of Berlin formulated as one of the primary objectives of Bulgarian state and national development the achieving of complete state sovereignty and independence. At that time there were two main examples of the development of such self-governing countries within the borders of the Ottoman empire. One of them was the aforementioned Egypt, where the ruling local elite was making extremely small steps usually under strong British pressure, that finally resulted in the British domination and later occupation of the country. The Sublime Porte was directing the Principality to follow a similar policy. According to the reports of the Bulgarian representatives in Istanbul, the Porte states that "the two governments should be considered as one entity" and because of that "there could not be diplomatic relations between them, because the Bulgarian government could not be considered as a separate one from the imperial government".[1] However the other example of the previously autonomous Balkan Christian countries like Romania, Serbia and Montenegro with their quick urge for independence that resulted in its proclamation with the Treaties of San-Stefano and Berlin, was far more popular among Bulgarian statesmen. On many occasions those countries helped Bulgaria in overcoming obstacles of mainly protocol character, using their own precedents. The first steps of challenging Ottoman sovereignty were made by the Constituent Assembly in Tirnovo in the spring of 1879. The deputies removed all texts from the Russian project of the Bulgarian fundamental law that mentioned the vassal status of the Principality, The Sultan as it`s Sovereign and it`s dependency towards the Sublime Porte. They even changed the very title of the document from Organic Statute to Constitution, characteristic of a sovereign nation state. The only notion of the vassal satus was article 17, that indicated the limited range of the foreign policy of the country, concentrated only on the neighbouring states and postulating a complicated procedure in its execution, connected with the Parliament.[2] Despite the protests of the Ottoman delegate, the representatives of the Great powers signed the protocols of the Assembly, thus confirming the Constitutional text and actually approving the first ammendment of the Berlin treaty.[3] The first Bulgarian governments up to the Union with the autonomous province of Eastern Rumelia in September 1885 had to impose the very right of the Principality to exercise its own foreign policy that was rejected by the Sovereign. The position of Sofia was based upon the Berlin treaty, the Constitution and the tradition, establishedby the neighbouring countries, while the position of the Porte was based upon the same treaty and the abstract tradition. Only a week after its appointement in July 1879, the first Bulgarian Cabinet send diplomatic repesentatives in the neighbouring capitals Belgrade, Istanbul and Bucharest. They were of unique character, bearing the title of Prince`s Agents and in practice were outside of the official diplomatic corps according to the Regulations of the Vienna congress of March 1815. They were accredited not to the Head of the State as was the usual practice, but to the government and they had to be approved by the Ottoman government. However the neighbouring countries that had alredy moved through the steps, that the Bulgarian cabinet was just starting, acted in favour of the new country. Serbia at once incorporated the Prince`s agent within its diplomatic corps, despite the protests from Istanbul. Romania agreed to recognise the Bulgarian agent even before its official approval by the Porte and Prince Carol accepted his official letters of accreditation, breaking the international protocol.[4] However in 1883 Russia rejected the agent of prince Alexander to be sent to Sankt-Petersburg, but in 1889 Austria-Hungary was the first non-neighbouring country and Great power to accept a Bulgarian diplomat. The Dual Monarchy gave the Bulgarian representative a full status of a Diplomatic Agent and incorporated him into the diplomatic corps in Vienna in late 1896.[5] The Austrian example was soon followed by the Great Powers and the other Europen states. Thus within a period of nearly 20 years Bulgaria realised a full scale of active diplomatic repesentation in Europe (ius legationum activum). In early 1908, before the proclamation of Bulgaria`s independence,  Russia recognised the Bulgarian diplomatic representative in Sankt-Petersburg the position of an Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Minister, characteristic of a fully independant state.[6] The passive side of diplomatic representation (ius legationum passivum) of the foreign countries in Sofia was executed in the summer of 1879, when they appointed their representatives, bearing the status of a Diplomatic Agent and Council General.[7] However the vassal status of the principality resulted in a series of tensions between Bulgaria and the Sublime Porte. The Ottoman representative in Sofia bore the title of a High Commissioner of the Vakifs and tried to assume a unique position among the other diplomats. When their body rejected him the status of a permanent Doayen, he insisted on remaining outside of the diplomatic corps being before or after it in Bulgarian state protocol. The refusal of that proposal ended with his withdrawall for many years.[8] The diplomatic correspondence between Sofia and Istanbul in French was rejected by the Porte, that insisted on using Turkish language, which was rejected by Sofia on its side. The very possibility of the Bulgarian representative in Istanbul to directly address the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was rejected at first and was later tacitly accepted. The Ottoman proposition was that the Prince`s Agent should correspond with the Ministry of the Interior through a special Bureau of the privileged Villayets, that was unacceptable according to Bulgarian diplomacy.[9] Another difficulties aroze within the normal functioning of the consular relations between the Principality and the other countries. Sofia rejected the exequatures of the foreign consuls, given by the Porte before the war and despite the protests of the latter, ordered the local authorities to abstain from cooperating with them. That made even the Great powers to comply with the Bulgarian position and within 1879-1880 all foreign consuls received their new exequatures from the Bulgarian government. On the other hand the Bulgarian consuls had the position of Trade Agents, underlying the vassal state of the Principality.[10] All those difficulties were combined with regular Ottoman protests over every separate initiative and step of Bulgarian foreign policy, even on the occasion of Sofia`s adherence to the World Postal Union and the World Telegraph Union in 1879 and 1880. New protests came considering the minting of the first Bulgarian coins in Britain in late 1880. They had to bear the official coat of arms of the Principality, but not the image of the Prince because of his state of a vassal ruler. His right to establish the first decoration the Order of "Saint Alexander" lead even to a formal break of official relations between the Sovereign and the Vassal states. With a lot of strong will, using the international situation to its best and not without considerable risks, Bulgarian governments were strengthening the state sovereignty and loosing the vassal strains over the country.[11] A major breakthrough was made in 1885 with the Union with Eastern Rumelia. The sudden Serbian military attack on November 2nd made the Principality remind the Porte of the doublesided obligations between the two states. The war was declared on Bulgaria and not on the Ottoman empire, but the attack was upon formally Ottoman territory and the appeal from Sofia for a military assistance was met in Istanbul with embarrasement. The war was a short one and the Porte`s expected and logical refusal to engage in military operations against Serbia was considered yet another step in the tacit denial of sovereign rights over Bulgaria. Despite of that an Ottoman diplomat was appointed as Head of the Bulgarian delegation in the peace negotiations in Bucharest at the beginning of 1886 and he signed the peace trety preceeding the Bulgarian delegate.[12] The precedent of the Serbo-Bulgarian war was used in the spring of 1897 when Greece attacked the Ottoman empire. The appeal of the Porte for a military assistance from the two vassal states Bulgaria and Egypt was tacitly rejected. While Egypt broke diplomatic relations with Greece, Bulgaria refused to do even that, but only condemned the Greek military actions and diplomatically supported the Sublime Porte. There was no sence in the Principality`s participation in the peace negotiations and it was considered an absurd by all.[13] After 1886 the Principality made new steps in breaking the ties with the empire. The new Prince Ferdinand was not officially recognized by the Great Powers and by the Porte for almost 10 years, still he ruled over the country and was tacitly accepted. The imperial firmans for his appointement as both Prince of Bulgaria and Governor-General of Eastern Rumelia, sent in Sofia in April 1896, were considered anachronistic by Bulgarian society. In the meanwhile Sofia was successful in obtaining its first international loans from Britain in 1888 and from Landerbank in Vienna in the 1890-ies, in signing its first short-term trade agreements with Britain in November 1889, and later with Austria-Hungary and Italy, despite the protests of Russia.[14] The Mediterranean Entente of March 1887 played an indispensible role in the stabilization of the country after the two subsequent crises of the Union and the Detronization of prince Alexander, opposing the Russian pressure.[15] The reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Russia in February 1896 was considered as a suitable time for further steps in strengthening of the national sovereignty. The Bulgarian diplomats were granted full rights as Diplomatic Agents. Bulgarian Trade Agents were appointed in the Ottoman provincial centers in Macedonia and Thrace. New trade conventions were signed with almost all Europen states in 1895-1897, when Russia for the first time renounsed its privileges according to the capitulations regime. Bulgaria started the implementation of the system of secret diplomacy with the Sofia treaty with Serbia in February 1897, the Russia-Bulgarian military convention in May 1902 and the Belgrade treaty with Serbia in March 1904, thus overcoming the constitutional obstacles that were marks of its limited vassal capacity.[16] New steps were made during the First Hague Conference in May-June 1899. With the assistance of the Netherlands and the consent of the Great Powers, the Bulgarian delegation took its place according to the alphabetical order as a truly sovereign state and not as a part of the Ottoman delegation. That precedence was followed also at the World Agricultural Congress in Rome in 1905. At the Geneva conference in the summer of 1906 for the first time Bulgaria acted completely on it`s own because of the absence of an Ottoman delegation. The presence of the delegation of the Sovereign was not an obstacle for such a position at the Second Hague conference in the summer of 1907.[17] This short survey of the official bilateral Ottoman-Bulgarian relations in their first 30 years reveals the serious contradiction between their form and their essence. While the formal side may still be considered dubious, unclear and disputable, because of the different and even opposing standpoints based upon the general texts and formulas of the international treaties and upon the diplomatic protocol, their essence and history reveals the strive of a separate nation state for full and unlimited independence. That independence was finally proclaimed on September 22nd 1908 and was recognized by the international community in April the following year.  
[1]Г. Марков,Провъзгласяването и признаването на независимото Царство България през Балканската криза (1908 – 1909 г.)”, Известия на държавните архиви, 95-96, 2008, p. 3. [2]Конституция на Българското княжество, urnovo, 1879), р. 5. [3]А. Гиргинов, Държавното устройство на България, (Български печат:Sofia), 1921, p. 32-37. [4]Елена Стателова, Дипломацията на Княжество България, 1879-1886. (БАН:Sofia, 1979), p. 93-94. [5]Tsentralen Dŭrzhaven Arhiv (Central State Archives of Bulgaria, Sofia), fond 304k (Bulgarian Diplomatic Agency in Vienna), opis 1, archivna edinica 229 – entire. [6]А. Гиргинов, op. cit., p. 52. [7]Елена Стателова, Радослав Попов, Василка Танкова. История на българската дипломация, 1879-1913. (БАН: Sofia, 1994), р. 7-8. [8]Външната политика на България, vol 1, 1879-1886, (Наука и изкуство:Sofia, 1978), p. 432. [9] Ibidem, p. 208-211, 23-215. [10]М. Матева, Консулските отношения на България, 1879-1986,(Петър Берон: Sofia, 1988), р. 19-22. [11]Външната политика на България, p. 399, 420. [12]Елена Стателова, Андрей Пантев, Съединението, 1885, (Народна просвета: Sofia, 1985), р. 157-176. [13]А. Гиргинов, op. cit., p. 51. [14]Елена Стателова, Радослав Попов, Василка Танкова, op. cit., p. 144. [15] Ibidem, p. 91-178. [16]Ibidem, p. 185-221, 291-346. [17]Хр. Хесапчиев, Служба на България в чужбина. Военно-дипломатически спомени, 1899 – 1914. (Наука и изкуство: Sofia, 1993), p. 161-209.



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