Balkan Communist Federation

Balkan Communist Federation

The Balkan Communist Federation was a communist umbrella organisation in which all the communist parties in the Balkans were represented. It was dominated by the Soviet Union and Comintern requirements. The Federation had been previously called the "Balkan Democratic Federation" and the "Balkan Socialist Federation". It advocated a Balkan Federative Republic that would have included Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Greece, and Turkey; some projects also involved Romania, but most of them only envisaged its fragmentation. The body thus oversaw the activities of the Bulgarian Communist Party (BKP), the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ), the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP), and, to a certain measure, those of the Communist Party of Romania (PCdR). It was disestablished in 1939.


On January 7 and 9, 1910, the First Balkan Socialist Conference was held in Belgrade, then within the Kingdom of Serbia. The main platforms at the first conference were Balkan unity and action against the impending wars. Another important aspect was the call for a solution to the Macedonian Question.

In 1915, after a Conference in Bucharest; it was decided to create a Revolutionary Balkan Social Democratic Labour Federation, comprising groups who adhered to the Zimmerwald Conference and opposed participation in World War I. Initially headed by Christian Rakovsky, it had Vasil Kolarov and Georgi Dimitrov among its prominent activists. In 1915, Dimitrov wrote that Macedonia, "...which was split into three parts...", would be, "...reunited into a single state enjoying equal rights within the framework of the Balkan Democratic Federation." [Cite web|url=|title="The Significance of the Second Balkan Conference"|author=Georgi Dimitrov|accessmonthday=August 2|accessyear=2006] was important to settle outstanding national issues. This independent and united Macedonia would have consisted of the corresponding geographical departments of Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Greece.

The Federation was repressed by national governments at different intervals (Rakovsky himself was arrested by the Romanian government in 1916).



After the October Revolution in Russia, Rakovsky remained present in Russia and joined the Bolshevik government. In March 1919, he represented the Balkan Federation upon its adherence to the Comintern. The Communist Federation was formed in 1920-1921, and was influenced by Vladimir Lenin's views on nationality ("see Proletarian internationalism").

The manifesto of the federation stated that,

The nations of southeastern Europe possess all the cultural conditions for autonomous development. They are related economically. They should be related politically. Socialism will therefore uphold with all its influence the idea of the solidarity of the Balkan nations.Stavrianos, L. S. (1942) "The Balkan Federation Movement. A Neglected Aspect" in The American Historical Review, Vol. 48, No. 1. pp. 30-51.]

From the beginning, the Bulgarians assumed a leading role in the BCF. In Sofia, May-June 1922, the question of the "autonomy of Macedonia and Thrace" was raised by Vasil Kolarov and was backed by Dimitrov, the Bulgarian delegate who presided over the meeting. The Greek delegate asked for a postponement as he was reluctant to approve a motion that was not on the agenda.

By June 1923, the Agrarian National Union government in Bulgaria was overthrown and Premier Aleksandar Stamboliyski murdered. The coup was executed by Aleksandar Tsankov, the Military League, and the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO). However, the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP) remained neutral and outside any decision making process; when they took action, many were killed, and Dimitrov ran for his life to Serbia. With the setback, the BCP had to show to the rest of the country that it was strong and at the heart of things, so it campaigned for "a united and independent Macedonia" and pushed for the neighbours to endorse them.

In December 1923, Balkan Communist Federation held its 5th Conference in Moscow. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) delegate Nikolaos Sargologos signed the motion without central authorisation; instead of returning to Athens, he emigrated to the United States. The KKE political organ and newspaper, "Rizospastis", was against the motion because it saw it as good for BCP in Bulgaria but disastrous for the KKE in Greece.

Policy of the Greek Communist Party (KKE)

The KKE found the BCF's position on Macedonia difficult but briefly went along with it. In June 1924, at its 5th meeting, it recognised "the Macedonian people" and in December 1924, it endorsed the motion for "a united and independent Macedonia and a united and independent Thrace" with the perspective of entering into a union within a Balkan federation "against the national and social yoke of the Greek and Bulgarian bourgeoisie". However, in 1928 it suffered a crushing defeat at the Greek elections, especially in Greek Macedonia.

By 1927, disentions within the KKE made the motion untenable and in March, the KKE conference watered it down, calling for autodetermination of the Macedonians until they join a "Balkan Soviet Socialist Federation" and only for "a section of Macedonia (Florina area) inhabited by Slavomacedonians [At the time the term "Slavomacedonian" was not considered offensive: the "Greek Helsinki Monitor" reports that the term, "was accepted by the community itself". However, today the term has pejorative connotations.] " (Holevas 1992).

By 1935, it simply called for "equal rights to all" due to the "change of the national composition of the Greek part of Macedonia" and hence because "the Leninist-Stalinist principle of self-determination demands the substitution of the old slogan".

Policy of the Yugoslav Communist Party (YCP)

The Communist Party of Yugoslavia (YCP) had its own problems and disentions; fears of Serbianisation of the party and of the Vardar Banovina, whose inhabitants felt closer (though not necessarily identified) to Bulgaria than the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The YCP followed the KKE example in 1936.

ee also

*United Macedonia



*E. Kofos (1964) "Nationalism and Communism in Macedonia"; Thessaloniki, Institute of Balkan Studies

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