Western Outlands

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Territories ceded to Yugoslavia by Bulgaria according to the Treaty of Neuilly, 1920

The Western (Bulgarian) Outlands (Bulgarian: Западни (български) покрайнини, transliterated: Zapadni (Balgarski) pokraynini) is a term used by Bulgarians to describe several territorially separate regions located in southeastern Serbia and eastern Macedonia which at one point passed directly from Bulgaria to Yugoslavia.

The territories in question were ceded by Bulgaria to the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1920 as a result of the Treaty of Neuilly,[1] following the First World War. According to the Yugoslav census of 1991, two of the largest cities in the Western Outlands, Bosilegrad and Dimitrovgrad, were populated primarily by Bulgarians.

Today, the territories referred to by the term cover an area of 1,545 square kilometres (597 sq mi) in Serbia. In 1919 the same territories corresponded to the following parts of the Bulgarian okrugs: Kyustendil, 661 square kilometres (255 sq mi); Tsaribrod (nowadays Dimitrovgrad) 418 square kilometres (161 sq mi); Tran 278 square kilometres (107 sq mi); Kula 172 square kilometres (66 sq mi); and Vidin 17 square kilometres (6.6 sq mi).

Internal Western Outland Revolutionary Organization[edit]

The Internal Western Outland Revolutionary Organization (Bulgarian: Вътрешна западнопокрайска революционна организация, Vatreshna zapadnopokrayska revolyutsionna organizatsiya), IWORO, was a Bulgarian revolutionary organization active in the Western Outlands between 1921 and 1941 in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (until 1929), and then its successor, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.[2]

The organization was established in 1921 on the basis of several detachments created straight after the cession of the Western Outlands to Serbia in 1920. The IWORO initially concentrated on propaganda and delivery of Bulgarian literature. The period of armed resistance started in 1922 and the organisation carried out numerous assaults on the TzaribrodBelgrade railway, on bridges, Serbian garrisons and barracks until 1941 when the region was occupied by Bulgarian troops.

Unlike the other three Bulgarian revolutionary organizations active in the interwar period — the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation in Macedonia, the Internal Thracian Revolutionary Organisation in Thrace and the Internal Dobrujan Revolutionary Organization in Dobruja — IWORO did not put up the tactical slogan demanding autonomy for the region but fought “for the liberation of the Western Outlands and their restoration to Bulgaria”.

Controversy[edit]

Ethnic map of Serbia showing location of Bulgarian-majority settlements according to the 2002 census.

The Serbian angle deems the term controversial, referring to parts of a neighboring country's territory as "western outlands" can imply territorial claims, as in the example of Germany regarding Alsace in France.

For this reason, the term has not been used by Belgrade in contacts with Sofia since 1948. It was mentioned once, in the 1947 Bled Agreement by Josip Broz Tito and Georgi Dimitrov. This was in the period of Joseph Stalin's push[citation needed] for a Communist super-state in the Balkans, the Balkan Federative Republic, which was to include Yugoslavia, Albania and Bulgaria. The BFR idea was abandoned with the Informbiro Resolution of 1948, when the split between Tito and Stalin occurred. Despite not being used internationally (until the 1990s when it was revived), it is very widely used in internal social and political communication in Bulgaria.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Treaty of Peace Between the Allied and Associated Powers and Bulgaria, and Protocol and Declaration signed at Neuilly-sur-Seine, 27 November 1919
  2. ^ Manchev, Krŭstyo (1999). History of the Balkan peoples (XIX-XX century). Academic publishing house "Acad. Marin Drinov". p. 185.