The Significance of the Second Balkan Conference
First Published: 1915 in
Rabotnicheski Vestnik No. 77, July 12.
Source: Georgi Dimitrov, Selected Works
Sofia Press, Sofia, Volume 1, 1972, pp. 49-52
Online Version: Marxists Internet Archive
Speech at a public meeting in Sofia, July 9, 1915
The Second Balkan Social Democratic Conference in Bucharest marked a further step along the road towards the triumph of the Balkan Federative Republic which was started in 1909 at the First Balkan Social Democratic Conference in Belgrade. The latter had only drawn up and formulated the fundamental principles on the unity and common strugof the Social Democratic Parties in the Balkan states and entrusted the practical organization of this common struggle to a second conference.
Unfortunately, however, the work successfully begun at Belgrade had to be suspended for a certain time owing to the political developments and the Balkan Wars.
Today we have to thank primarily the fraternal Rumanian Party for the organization of the Second Balkan Social-Democratic Conference in Bucharest, because it not only assumed the initiative in convening this Conference, but also took great pains to guarantee its full success.
The Bucharest Conference elucidated, developed, reaffirmed and extended the fundamental principles laid down at the Belgrade Conference. Its main task, however, was to establish the necessary organizational forms, ways and means in the fight of the Balkan Social Democrats for the establishment of a Balkan Federative Republic.1)
The Second Balkan Social-Democratic Conference dewith the absolute unanimity all the participating delegates that the workers' Social-democratic Parties and the trade union associations of the Balkan states should form a Balkan Workers' Social Democratic Federation with one Inter-Balkan Bureau composed of two delegates per country, one from the Party, and the other from the Trade Union association, with an executive committee elected by the Workers' Social Democratic Party and the general Trade Union in Rumania. Instead of individual Social-democratic Parties, hitherto acting separately and without coordination, a united Balkan Social Democracy was formed.
The first major practical step for the unification of the Balkan nations has been made by unifying the socialist proletariat in Rumania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece into one Balkan Social Democratic Federation.
And this federation of the Balkan Social Democratic Parties and trade union associations is being formed not only because it is quite obvious that only artificial boundaries divide the peoples of the Balkan Peninsula and that they are bound by the same fate, but because without this organization it is impossible to carry out an effective struggle for the realization of a Balkan Federative Republic, in which all the Balkan peoples can find their only true salvation.
Guided by the principle that a single Social-democratParty and a single trade union association per country should join it, the Balkan Social-democratic Federation will endeavour to attract the social-democratic parties which subsequently are to be formed in Turkey, Albania and Montenegro into its ranks, provided they adopt the principles of international revolutionary socialism.
The Balkan Social-democratic Federation will be repreat the International Socialist Bureau2) and the intercongresses by a single Balkan delegation in which the Federative Social-democratic Parties and trade unions will be equally represented.
The Conference entrusts the executive committee with the task of starting the publication of a Balkan Socialist Bulletin in French and German to keep the international proletariat informed on the situation in the Balkans and the struggle for a Balkan Federative Republic; the federated parties and trade unions assume the obligation to render each other assistance by exchanging delegates to their congrsses, orators at their meetings, newspapers and various publications, etc.. May Day is set as a day of a common demonstration in all countries in favour of the Balkan Federative Republic.
The Inter-Balkan Bureau will edit special pamphlets on the Balkan question and the struggle for a Balkan Feder ative Republic, to be published in all the Balkan languages.
Without listing other points of detail in the decisions of the Conference (those who are interested may read them in the Rabotnicheski Vestnik), you can see the great useful ness of the newly-established Balkan Social-Democratic Federation for the Balkan proletariat.
But the Bucharest Conference had to take a stand also on the present war and the tasks of the International. Unanimously it proclaimed the necessity of an immediate reof the International which is possible today only on the basis of revolutionary socialist and proletarian internationalism.
For this purpose the Conference expressed its great desire that the Social-democratic Parties of the belligerent countries might immediately break with the so-called civil peace3) and return again to implacable class struggle.
In sending most cordial greetings to Rosa Luxemburg,4) Liebknecht5) and to all who remained loyal to the principles of international revolutionary socialism, the Conference pointed out that it was absolutely necessary to start a ruthstruggle against opportunism, social imperialism and trends of deviation within the International.
The Bucharest Conference concluded its work by voting a resolution against military provocations in the Balkan states and for the preservation of peace and neutrality at any cost.
(Here the speaker describes the impressive meeting which preceded the Bucharest Conference and the indignation of the Bucharest proletarians at the Government's decision preventing delegates from addressing the meeting).
There is no need to point out in detail the tremendous historic, political and - as Comrade Sideris rightly put it - moral significance of the work which the Second Balkan Social-Democratic Conference did. It opens up a new and bright epoch for the Balkan proletariat and the peoples on the Balkan Peninsula.
Our task today after this epoch-making conference will be to popularize the idea of a Balkan Federative Republic among the widest circles of the Bulgarian proletariat and working people and to rally the workers in the ranks and under the banner of the Balkan Social Democratic Federation!
It is only thus that we shall represent a worthy section of the Balkan International. Marching shoulder to shoulder with our brothers from Rumania, Serbia and Greece, we shall bring closer the day of triumph of the Balkan Federative Republic which will mark a sure stage towards the great proletarian social revolution!.
A Balkan Democratic Federation was raised as a slogan at the First Balkan Socialist Conference in Belgrade in 1910, in connexion with the growing threat of imperialist aggression on the Balkans. The Balkan socialist parties advocated fraternal understanding of the Balkan peoples, which would enable them to defend their freedom and national independence against the aggressive encroachments of the imperialists. The federation was 'to facilitate the settlement of all outstanding national issues in the Balkans, including the Macedonian question. Macedonia, which was split into three parts, was to be reunited into a single state enjoying equal rights within the framework of the Balkan Democratic Federation (Georgi Dimitrov).
The Balkan Communist Federation (1919-1939) opposed the imperialist attempts to turn the Balkans into a bridgehead for an antiSoviet war and advocated friendship with the Soviet peoples.
The International Socialist Bureau is the executive organ of the 2nd International. Set up after the Paris Congress (1900) with headquarters in Brussels, it actually ceased to exist after Belgium's occupation by the Germans during the First World War.
'Civil peace' or Burgfrieden in Germany, 'sacred unity' in France, 'industrial peace' in Great Britain, were the slogans put forward by the bourgeoisie during the First World War and taken up by the 2nd International. They aimed at putting an end to the class struggle during the war. The Left-Wing Socialists, unlike the Right-Wing Socialists, continue to fight against the bourgeoisie and the war, and in the Bulgarian National Assembly voted against the war credits.
Luxemburg, Rosa (1871-1919) - prominent revolutionary, one of the leaders of the Polish and German proletariat and organizer of the German Communist Party, representing like Lenin the leftwing in the 2nd International at the Congresses of Paris (1900) and Amsterdam (1903). At the Stuttgart Congress (1907) Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg introduced in the anti-war resolution the famous amendment on turning an imperialist war into a civil war. Rosa Luxemburg spent almost all the war years in prison and during the January 1919 rising she and Liebknecht were brutally murdered.
Liebknecht, Karl (1871-1919) - one of the leaders of the German proletariat, tribune of the German Revolution, took an active part in the youth conference in Stuttgart (1907), which laid the foundations of the political organization of Germany's working youth. After the first Russian Revolution, he advocated the Russian methods of struggle - a general political strike. On December 2, 1914, Liebknecht was the only Reighstag member to vote against the war credits after which he became the banner of internationalism and of the revolutionary anti-war struggle. In 1915 he wrote his famous leaflet The Main Enemy Is within Our Own Country, raising the slog, Not civil peace, but civil war! On May 1, 1916, he addressed a meeting in Berlin, spreading leaflets with the slogans 'Down with the War!', 'Down with the Government!' Arrested, he was sentenced to four years of forced labour. In 1917 and 1918, in letters sent from the prison, Liebknecht addressed ardent appeals to the German workers in defence of the Russian Revolution. On December 30, 1918, he co-chaired with Rosa Luxemburg a conference of the Spartacus Union, turning it into a constituent congress of the German Communist Party. As leader of the January Rising (1919) in Berlin, Liebknecht, together with Rosa Luxemburg, was brutally murdered on January 19, 1919 by the police gangs of the Social Democrats Eberts, Scheidemann, and Noske.