South Slavic Union

The South Slavic Union was a late 19th to early 20th century idea of a federation encompassing all South Slavic states.


Following the weakening of the Ottoman Empire prior to World War I, Serbia and Bulgaria had gained independence and were looking to form a greater entity that would strengthen their international position. Disputes over territorial possessions within the federation, however, resulted in the Balkan Wars and World War I. Hostilities diminished and the movement was reinvigorated during the inter-war period, after several more states had gained independence as a result of the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The planned South Slavic Union would have encompassed all of what later became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, plus Greater Bulgaria. Some also hinted toward incorporation of Albania into the South Slavic Union, since a big portion of it was already within the borders of Serbia, as the autonomous republic of Kosovo. The original plan was to include all of Greater Bulgaria as well, which features all of present-day Bulgarian territory, plus expansions to the North (Romanian-controlled Dobrudzha and Northern Black Sea coast), the Southeast (Ottoman-controlled Odrine territories) and South (Greek Controlled Aegean Coast). It was agreed that Macedonia was to be included in the federation as an autonomous republic, thus the controversy as to which state should incorporate it was settled. Eventually, as Europe was on its way to World War II, Western Slavic people realized that the suggested by Eastern Slavs (Bulgarians) Eastern Borders of the South Slavic Union, or Greater Bulgaria would never come to reality. The temptation of the South Slavic Union having an Aegean coast and greater Black Seas coast, was seen as unrealistic by them. The Union was to be a democratic federation of states, which would have a great amount of autonomy, however, a dispute arose between Serbia and Bulgaria as to where the capital should be - Sofia or Belgrade. In the end, Serbia and Bulgaria could not agree on which should be the dominant power in the union, even though given the nature of the union, that question would not have arisen, but realists claim that power politics played a greater role in this case. Bulgaria would have had significantly more territory and possibly controlled all the Black Sea and Aegean ports of the country, while a Serbian-dominated West would have had a higher population, and greater say over the Adriatic coast and Northwestern affairs. In addition, smaller South Slavic nations were not very fond of having a bipolar federation in which they would hold very little or now say. Eventually, the two countries agreed that such a union would not function well and would end up splitting up between Bulgaria and the Western Balkans, and decided not to form a federation. Instead, Yugoslavia was formed to incorporate only Southwestern Slavic nations.


Had the South Slavic Union formed, the federation would have encompassed: Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Vojvodina, Kosovo and possibly Albania (probably united with Kosovo). It would have had a larger area than that of present-day Germany and a population of about 35 million people. It would have featured almost all of the Eastern Adriatic Coast, almost all of the Western Black Sea coast and a significant portion of the Aegean coast. It would have had a number of major cities, including Belgrade, Sofia, Sarejevo, Zagreb, Skopje, Plovdiv, Varna, Tirana, Podgorica, Ljubljana, etc.

As all of the aforementioned countries' economies are currently growing and all are either in or on the path to entry in the European Union, the idea of a South Slavic Union to be formed as a higher-integrated sub-entity within the European Union has been once again addressed. Due to the recent collapse of Yugoslavia, however, as well as Bulgarian-Macedonian tensions, resulting from different interpretations of history, as well as Bulgarian-Serbian tensions, resulting from the Kosovo war, such a sub-union is thought to not be possible at least for another few decades.

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