Srđan Mićić

Minority Petitions Against Yugoslav Authorities Before the League of Nations

Abstract: This article deals with Yugoslavia’s tactics against Bulgarian and Hungarian minority petitions, which were filed before the League of Nations and later promoted before the European Congress of Nationalities. The analysis is based on the documents preserved in the Records of the Permanent Delegation in Geneva, which is the most reliable source on the tactics since other significant Yugoslav institutions have been hardly been preserved at all.

Key words: Yugoslavia, Minority Rights, League of Nations, Bulgarians, Hungarians


From the Yugoslav viewpoint the crucial difference in forming particular tactics were measures employed by the Bulgarian and the Hungarian minorities during the Interwar Period. Although the Hungarian minority was recognized – and in that sense had represented one of the three largest minority groups – it was not affiliated with illegal activities such as guerilla warfare or terrorism. Therefore, their petitions represented a minor menace compared to the Bulgarian case. Yugoslavia's inactivity in minority rights was evident until the Stresemann-Zaleski dispute had opened a full discussion on the international system. It sparkled action led by Marinković and supported wholeheartedly by Fotić. Also, the discussion initiated series of Hungarian and Bulgarian petitions. The main Yugoslav strategy in the Bulgarian case was to prove the connection between the minority complaints and terrorist operations conducted on Yugoslav soil. The main challenge was the petitions signed by Shalev, Anastasov, and Iliyev, as former official representatives of the local population. The Yugoslav authorities had to change their course of action and focus on discrediting petitioners rather than proving their allegiance to the IMRO. Nevertheless, Iliyev’s public denunciations on the cooperation between the Bulgarian petitioners and terrorist organization had its impact on countering the Bulgarian-Hungarian activities through the European Congress of Nationalities.