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Ilija Garašanin's "Načertanije": A REASSESSEMENT

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

Institute for Balkan Studies
Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences
Belgrade Dušan T. Bataković

Previously published in: Balkanica, vol. XXV-1, Belgrade 1994, pp. 157-183.

Abstract: The 1844 draft of Serbian foreign policy, written by Ilija Garašanin, still provokes controversial interpretations as to its ultimate political goals. Here is stressed the role of Načertanije in its historical context and analyzed through various foreign influences, Polish, French and British. Those influences, together with Serbian political and historical traditions, decisively shaped the final text of Načertanije. In appendix is the new translation of Načertanije by the author. [linked]

The document called Načertanije (Draft), subtitled afterwards by one of its analysts as Programme for Serbia's foreign and national policy at the end of 1844, bearing the signature of Ilija Garašanin - was the first national programme of modern Serbia and one of the rare programmes of the kind preserved in written form. The secrecy which surrounded the creation of Načertanije has given it a certain aura of mystique: it is believed that for full five decades only the leading political figures in Serbia and perhaps Montenegro were acquainted with it, and its contents were kept a secret even when its translation reached, through various channels, the archives of the ministries of Vienna and Budapest. For this reason, Načertanije is often said to be of "subversive nature", characteristic of similar secret writings. However, the analysis of its genesis shows that a large circle of political figures knew about it, at least at the time of its creation (1).

Apart from the direct impact it had on the national policy of Serbia until the creation of the common Yugoslav state in 1918, Načertanije was a cause of constant controversy. Although these debates on the main messages of this document were conducted in terms of historiography, they usually reflected the political and national stands of its interpreters. The origin of dispute among numerous scholars and political analysts - as to whether this is a programme of an exclusively Serbian (or in a pejorative sense - Greater Serbian), or a broader, Yugoslav nature - is to be found here. Also, separated from the temporal context in which it was created, Načertanije has often been used in various historical periods as the key to an incontestable argument proving that the Serbian "Piedmont-type" policy was permanently "hegemonistic" as regards the South Slavic regions (2).

Are the two concepts of Serbian policy, ascribed to Načertanije, mutually compatible and to what extent? Do they rule each other out? How original is the Serbian national programme vis-à-vis its Polish, French and British sources? Was the so-called Pan-Serbian dimension of Načertanije the permanent inspiration for every consideration of the Serbian question and to what extent? As a rule, these questions have been given opposing answers. The displacement of Načertanije from the period in which it appeared, from the framework of political situation in Europe, the Balkans and Serbia - at the time, a vassal principality, formally part of the Ottoman Empire - considerably contributed to Garašanin's programme being partially or wrongly interpreted and differently assessed. Contrary to that, Načertanije should be observed as a part of the geopolitical realities of the 1840s, in the context of different degrees of the national integration of the Balkan peoples, within the framework of their intertwined knowledge about themselves, bearing in mind the specificities of their positions in the post-revolutionary balance of power, established in Metternich's era.

The Historical Context

Načertanije has two main sources: firstly, the historical tradition and revolutionary experiences of the renewed Serbian state which were formulated, in the final version, by Ilija Garašanin himself, as their modern interpreter; and secondly, the written advice and proposals resulting from the co-operation with Polish émigrés who, after the defeat of the Polish revolt in 1831, rallied around Prince Adam Czartoryski and his diplomatic bureau at the Hôtel Lambert in Paris (3).

Serbia's historical traditions have two strong roots in her medieval heritage: the autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church, established in the early 13th century and personified in the tradition of its founder - St. Sava, and the heritage (preserved in oral and ecclesiastic traditions) of the medieval state of Nemanjić dynasty, considered to have reached its peak with the vast but short-lived empire of Stefan Dušan in the mid-14th century when it was covering the area from the Drina river to the Peloponnese, and from Sofia to Durrazo in Albania.

In addition to the medieval tradition there came the experience of the national and social revolution led by Karadjordje (1804-1813), and the gradual acquisition of the internationally recognized autonomous status within the Ottoman Empire under Prince Miloš Obrenović (1830). The leader (vožd) of the Serbian uprising, Karadjordje, aspired towards revolutionary solutions, combining Jacobin ideas with Napoleon's dictatorial experience. His successor, Prince (knjaz) Miloš Obrenović, after the demise of revolutionary activity in Metternich's Europe, achieved the same goals gradually, by diplomatic means, in accordance with the new standards in international relations. Along with the strengthening of the autonomy obtained in 1830, there was also greater internal turmoil in Serbia expressed in the struggle for the adoption of a liberal Constitution that would limit the patriarchal despotism of Miloš Obrenović. This movement was led by the notables - the so-called Defenders of the Constitution (Ustavobranitelji), or simply Constitutionalists. One of the youngest but the most prominent among them was Ilija Garašanin, who advocated the establishing of modern state institutions by means of reforms carried out in an administrative manner, and the strengthening of the state through an independent orientation in its foreign policy.

The internal order of the small Serbian Principality under the hereditary Obrenović dynasty, although formally established by way of four Ottoman Hatti-sherifs (1829-1838), was no less dependent on the will of the suzerain court than on the influence of the European powers that dominated the Balkans. Economic domination of the neighbouring Habsburg Empire (Austria) over the Principality's trade was not as visible as the political protectorate of imperial Russia. The traditional and from 1774 to 1856 official protector of Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire, Russia was a power through whose crucial influence Serbia had acquired an autonomous, semi-independent status (4).

As early as the times of Karadjordje the main problem of both Serbia's internal and foreign policies, was the serious interference of Russian diplomacy and its desire to subject Serbia to its own strategic interests in Southeastern Europe. At the request of Russia and Austria, the Serbian Constitution (Sretenjski Ustav), written by the Prince's secretary Dimitrije Davidović, was suspended in 1835 because it was suspected to had been inspired by French revolutionary solutions. The fourth Hatti-sherif, the so-called Turkish Constitution, was drawn up at the Porte in 1838 through joint efforts of Russian and Austrian ambassadors. In order to limit prince Miloš's autocracy, the Turkish Constitution established the State Council (Državni Savet) consisting of 17 Constitutionalists appointed by the Porte (5).

Russian diplomats were used to treat Serbia as some kind of disobedient province, especially from the mid-1830s, when Russia's influence with the Porte was at its peak. In his efforts to limit Russian influence, Prince Miloš turned, for the support and advice, to Colonel Hodges, the British consul in Belgrade. Taking advantage of the Anglo-Russian rivalry, he tried to secure his position and to exclude Serbia from Russia's further plans for the Balkans. After Prince Miloš's resignation in 1839, and the expulsion of his younger son, Prince Michael, from Serbia in 1842, the Constitutionalists were faced with the same difficulties concerning the relations with Russia. The election of a new prince from the rival Karadjordjević dynasty, Alexander - the candidate of the Constitutionalists - was considered in Russia as an impermissible revolutionary overthrow of the lawful hereditary Prince, and opposed to the Porte's valid acts, adopted with the consent of Russia and Austria. For their opposition to the constant Russian pressure, the Constitutionalists got support from the Polish émigré representatives in Constantinople (6).

The political activities of the Polish émigrés in the East were carefully planned and pragmatically carried out. They organized a branched network of secret diplomatic strongholds, financially and politically supported by French and British diplomacy (7). With the consent of Paris and London, the Poles directed all their efforts towards a long-term obstruction of the plans of Russia and Austria - the two empires which, along with Prussia, partitioned Poland. The regions where the interests of those powers overlapped were the Balkan provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Prince Czartoryski's intention was to make conditions for the establishment of independent Poland by using the Eastern question. Assuming that Russia and Austria intended to divide the Balkans between themselves in the near future, as they had done with Poland (only now without Prussia which had no direct interests in the East), Czartoryski and his associates made a project of a vast Southern Slav state that should be created around Serbia, and lean on France and Great Britain in its foreign policy.

Close contacts of the Polish émigrés with the Serbian Constitutionalists was the result of their common hostility towards Russia. The leading Constitutionalists in exile, Toma Vučić Perišić and Avram Petronijević, made an acquaintance in Constantinople with Czartoryski's representatives, Michel Czaykowski and Ludwig Zwierkowski (pseudonym Dr. Lous Lenoir), who were sent to the Near East during the crisis (1839-1840). With the help of Polish representatives, who sent Zwierkowski to Belgrade, the Constitutionalists organized a revolt in Serbia in 1842, and expelled Prince Michael Obrenović. After that, Alexander Karadjordjević officially became the new Prince. In order to help organize the convocation of the Assembly (Skupština) for the purpose of reinstating Prince Alexander to the Serbian throne, at Russia's ultimatum, Czaykowski himself arrived in Belgrade in 1843. Through the mediation of Polish representatives in Constantinople and Paris, Prince Alexander Karadjordjević was recognized both by France and Great Britain as the lawful ruler of Serbia. For this reason, in his congratulations to the Prince, Czartoryski emphasized his own contribution to the recognition of the new Serbian regime (8).

The fact that the Constitutionalists had been won over to the anti-Russian and pro-Ottoman cause of the Polish émigrés fitted into the political plans of French diplomacy which supervised and supported Czartoryski's representatives, primarily through their ambassador in Constantinople (9).

Direct Influences

In order to strengthen the Polish influence on the Constitutionalists' regime, Prince Czartoryski wrote, in 1843, a special memorandum called Conseils sur la conduite à suivre par la Serbie (10). He got acquainted with the Serbian question during Karadjordje's uprising . It was as early as 1803 that Czartoryski, in the capacity of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, learned from Arsenije Gagović, an Orthodox Church dignitary from Herzegovina, about the plans of the Serbs to get rid of the Ottoman yoke and restore the state they had lost in the fifteenth century. Czartoryski received similar memorandum in 1804 from the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Serbs in Austria, Metropolitan Stevan Stratimirović, envisaging the creation of a "Slavic-Serbian Empire" with a Russian Prince as its ruler. In the first phase of his political activities, all the way up to 1830, Czartoryski kept advising the Balkan nations, on various occasions, to unite under the protectorate of the Russian Emperor. After 1830, his suggestions, especially to the Slavs, became quite opposite: that they should resolutely resist Russian influence (11).

Along with regular reports from his representatives - Czaykowski in Constantinople, and Zwierkowski in Belgrade - Czartoryski got additional information about the Serbs from Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz who, in 1841, as a professor of Slavic literature at the College de France, gave a series of lectures on Serbia and Serbian folk poetry. In his Paris office Czartoryski also received a group of Serbian students - the first generation of state scholarship holders sent to study in France in 1839. They informed him about the political situation in Serbia and extended to him greetings from the Constitutionalists (12). Recent research has shown that David Urquhart, a diplomat and publisher, Secretary of the British Embassy in Constantinople (1836-1837), seems to have had a certain impact on the shaping of Czartoryski's policy towards the Balkans Slavs. Urquhart was well acquainted with the situation in Serbia. He established close political relations with Czartoryski during his stay in London where Urquhart published the magazine Portfolio in 1833 (13).

In April 1833 Urquhart toured Serbia, met with Prince Miloš Obrenović and realized that the Principality had a unique position in Southeastern Europe. "I look upon it [Serbia], next to Greece, as the most important portion of Turkey in Europe - its political independence, its future and present influence on the masses of Musselman [Muslims] on its western and southern side, and on the masses of Rayas [Christians] on its eastern and southern, its position between Hungary, Austria, Turkey and on the Danube, are the most important considerations combined with the spirit of the people and the riches of the soil (14)." Urquhart took notice of Russia's efforts to rule Serbia, and Austria's concern for the gradual development and strengthening of an autonomous principality in its closest neighbourhood.

The main ideas for a political course set out by Czartoryski in his Conseils some ten years later, seem to have been defined by Urquhart through his talks with Prince Miloš Obrenović. Pressed by Russia's efforts to put him under its control for the sake of hers own interests in the Balkans, Prince Miloš turned to Great Britain and France for support in conducting an independent foreign policy. Urquhart's report on Serbia to the Foreign Office in 1833 contained suggestion that Serbia should be freed from Russia's influence and, with the support of Paris and London, made the centre around which the neighbouring Slavic nations would rally. A transcript of this report had reached Czartoryski's office before he formulated the main courses of the Polish émigrés' policy towards Serbia and the Balkan Slavs. It was in Urquhart's political writings that Czartoryski might have encountered the persistent linking of the Polish and Eastern questions: "The existence of Poland is linked to the existence of Turkey. An iron hand RussiaÆ is holding them both. By becoming free from this power which is slowly wearing out, both sides would simultaneously liven up (15)." For France, as the rival of Austria and Russia, Urquhart had intended the role of a power that would separate them and fill the vacuum in the Balkans.

In his book on Serbia published in 1843, presently only partly preserved, Urquhart stressed that Serbia's role in the future might be similar to the one it had in the past: "Serbia was a great and powerful kingdom when the Muscovy was composed of distracted provinces, and while Poland was yet an unuttered name ... [she] is the centre within that great family of Slav resistance to Muscovite despotism and presents to Europe its chief security against Russian ambition." As such, the Serbs are "a factor of the greatest importance... [They] are the most important Slav nation after the Poles, and now, the struggle that used to sprinkle Polish plains until recently with blood has moved to its mountains... (16)." Urquhart's reports and writings about Serbia, presented in a condensed form, were an adaptation to British views of the ideas he had come to during his talks with Prince Miloš.

Although illiterate, Prince Miloš was able to understand that the precondition for Serbia's free development was to cast off any form of external dependence, even dependence on Russia, though the latter belonged to the same language group and had the same religion. It was, in a way, Miloš's views and Urquhart's analyses that served as the premises for defining political action Czartoryski had launched in Serbia. Czartoryski attached special importance to French influence: its role was to support this "flag of European Slavism, leaning toward civilization and freedom, that would be quite opposite to the Asian Pan-Slavism of St. Petersburg (17)."

The Conseils, written in January 1843, were the general political basis of Serbian foreign and internal policies, aimed at creating a powerful Southern Slavic state around Serbia in the future. The breakaway from Russian influence had to be accompanied by a profession of loyalty to the Porte. Leanings towards Russia were envisaged only in the event of a conflict with Constantinople. A special stand was to be taken towards Austria. In order that Serbia could be freed from the influence of the two powers, it had to seek the support from France and Great Britain. Czartoryski focused his attention on Serbia's activities among the Serbs and the neighbouring Slavic peoples in Turkey and Austria. On the internal plane, he proposed a series of concrete measures, laying emphasis on the importance of administrative reforms and educational work, which he considered to be extremely important for the awakening of national self-consciousness (18).

The Polish émigrés although conservative in political sense, belonged, to certain extent, to the circle of liberal Catholics who made use of Serbia's unwillingness to submit to Russia's influence - already clearly expressed towards the end of Miloš's first rule - and pointed it in a South Slav direction, stressing the advantages of co-operation with the liberal wing of the Croatian Catholic intelligentsia. The national movement of the Croats, which included a narrow stratum of intellectuals and aristocracy, was not clearly defined yet. Out of the desire to create the preconditions for the national emancipation of the Croats from the Germans, Hungarians and Italians within the Habsburg Empire, there appeared the Illyrian movement (Ilirski pokret), based on the supra-national model of an Illyrian nation, from which the Balkan Slavs were believed to originate. Considering the common language to be the main characteristic of the nation, the leaders of the movement - following the examples of earlier Dalmatian scholars and later on Napoleon who named Dalmatia, Istria, parts of Croatia, and Slovenia the "Illyrian Provinces" during the short-lived French rule - had taken the ancient name of the Illyrians as common for all the Southern Slavs. From the numerous reports by his agents on the Illyrians and their leader Ljudevit Gaj, Czartoryski might have drawn the conclusion that their ultimate goal was to create a common South Slavic state under the leadership of Serbia (19).

Combining the Jacobin ideology, built into the experiences of the Serbian national revolution, with the general ideas of liberal Catholicism which they themselves advocated, the Polish émigrés offered their own version of the ideology of Yugoslav unity as a synthesis based on religious tolerance and Slavic mutuality. In Belgrade in March 1843, a Polish representative delivered a copy of the Conseils to Garašanin who was temporarily in charge of the Serbian government. Czartoryski's advices left a strong impression on Garašanin, and were the points of departure in formulating the final text of Načertanije (20).

The second important source of the Serbian national programme was the Plan for Serbia's Slavic Policy. It was written at Garašanin's request by the new Polish representative in Belgrade, Franz Zach. A Czech born in Moravia, Zach was the ardent advocate of Slavic solidarity. According to Zach's ideas, formulated in one particular memorandum sent to Czartoryski before his arrival in Belgrade - Serbia, strengthened by liberal reforms, was to become the centre around which the Southern Slavs would rally. The establishment of a commercial union between Serbia and another Serbian state - tiny Montenegro, would made it possible for Serbia to get access to the sea. Then the Belgrade government would open its agencies in Bosnia, Herzegovina and Bulgaria, and finally, it would get connected with the Serbs in southern Hungary (presently Vojvodina).

In Belgrade, Zach often spoke to Garašanin about the position of the Slavs in Turkey and Austria and the conditions required for their national awakening and afterwards, for their political union around Serbia. He thought that Serbia, preoccupied by its internal consolidation and pressure from the outside, was not sufficiently aware of the importance the spread of its political influence could have not only among the Serbs outside its borders, but also among the neighbouring Slavic nations with whom they intermingled. For this reason, in January 1844, Garašanin asked Zach to draw up his own plan for Serbia's Slavic policy. He addressed with the same request to a number of his Serbian associates, so that he would be able to compare several opinions (21).

Zach took Czartoryski's Conseils as the basis for his Plan, but he devoted a separate section to Croatia. Zach was in direct contact with the representatives of the Illyrian movement who, having been persecuted in Austria (1843-1845), found refuge in Belgrade. After his talks with Stjepan Car and Pavao Cavlović, he made an idealized idea of the nature and importance of their entire movement. The principles of the Illyrian movement were something Zach could easily understand as they were very similar to analogous movements of the Czechs, Slovaks and the Poles. Speaking to the Illyrians about the fate of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Ottoman province where the Serbs were the most numerous ethnic group, Zach concluded that Bosnia should be annexed to Serbia. Ljudevit Gaj and his Illyrians accepted Zach's formulation of the main postulates for resolving the South-Slav question: 1) the unification of the Southern Slavs into a constitutional monarchy under Karadjordjević dynasty; 2) advance towards that goal when European Turkey gradually evolved into a Slavic state; 3) Serbia as the nucleus and diplomatic representative of the South Slavs; 4) the annexation of Bosnia to Serbia, followed by a religious, Orthodox-Catholic agreement of Serbs and Croats in order to jointly win over the Bosnian Muslims; 5) an independent national policy, excluding Austria and Russia, and a possible alliance with France and Britain (22).

In the Plan's chapter about Croatia, which Garašanin left out of the final text of Načertanije, Zach concluded that the language of the Croats was increasingly becoming Serbian day after day, and proposed closer cultural and political co-operation between Serbia and Ljudevit Gaj's Illyrian movement. Aware of the fact that a common Illyrian name was unacceptable to the Serbs, and not only because it was artificial, he proposed that it be kept in use, in the future, only in Austria. Just like Czartoryski, Zach pointed to the importance of the Serbs within the Military Frontier (Vojna Krajina), a region under the direct rule of Vienna, which - forming 17 regiments - represented military potential for the proposed Serbo-Croatian plans against Austria. Zach, who was well acquainted with the Illyrians' plans, adopted Czartoryski's views also in regard to their ultimate goal: that their desire should not be to create an Illyrian kingdom, but rather a unified empire under the Karadjordjević crown (23).

Garašanin commended the Plan, satisfied because its main postulates, adapted to the local circumstances, corresponded to Czartoryski's Conseils which he considered to be the masterpiece of political wisdom. Garašanin discussed the Plan with other Constitutionalists and with his political advisors. Later on, he informed Prince Alexander Karadjordjević about Zach's Plan. The Prince's enthusiasm for the Plan, however, was not shared by certain Constitutionalists who believed that Zach's ambitious Yugoslav visions went far beyond Serbia's modest diplomatic and military abilities.

However, the circle of political figures acquainted with the process of defining foreign strategy of Serbia was not limited only to the Polish representatives. Some of the advice and reports on Serbia were sent to the Porte, and the governments in Paris and London were informed about their contents through the French ambassador in Constantinople, Bourqueney.

Historical Traditions

Zach's Plan, although imbued with an idealistic view of Slavism and South Slavic co-operation, seemingly alien to the views of the Constitutionalists, still had certain common ground with Serbia's political traditions. Taking as its point of departure the only solid foundation - historical traditions, political thought in Serbia at first developed within the frameworks of historicism. The broad effect the Serbian 1804 Uprising had on various nations throughout the Balkans, and the new views on the geopolitical reality in Europe, resulted in modernly defined national goals. From historicism, mixed with German concept of nation basing on linguistic and cultural unity, there emerged Jacobin model of the nation-state as the articulation of the national revolution's goals: it was a synthesis adapted to the Balkan reality.

The defining of national priorities and strategic interests of the rebellious province, and afterwards of the Principality as well, required thorough historical and geographical knowledge and well-explained proposals - the tasks that awaited the nation's political élite. However, the Serbian public had at its disposal a very limited reading material both about Serbia's past and contemporary situations. The main source of historical knowledge - apart from folk poetry, oral historical chronicles about medieval glory, the struggle against the Turks and the desire to renew the empire lost in the Battle of Kosovo (1389) - were the works of "monastic historicism", compilations of older history books made in the eighteenth century. There was no accurate ethnographical, historical and geographical knowledge about the number of Serbs, their diffusion and their percentage compared to the nations they lived with. There existed only general notions about certain regions, acquired from the Serbian volunteers from Austria (among whom there were also learned persons), who rushed to join Karadjordje's uprising as early as 1804, and from the wave of those who kept moving to the Principality from all directions of the Balkans. The church élite held to the religious tradition and folk heritage, while among the enlightened intelligentsia, educated mostly at conservative Austrian and Hungarian schools and universities, there was no one, apart from a few exceptions, who would put together the existing knowledge and offer appropriate cultural matrix (24). In the centre of the historical consciousness of the Serbs, both the educated ones and the peasantry - the predominantly rural masses that carried out the state's renewal - lay the request for the restoration of medieval Empire whose glory stood for a measure of the aspirations of Garašanin's contemporaries. The function of "medieval literary historicism" which would spread 'the cult of national distinctivness even to the most submerged community and cultural category of Europe's population", (25) in case of Serbia, was exercised by folk poetry mixed with 'monastic historicism' adapted to oral tradition.

The desire to reunite the Serbs into a renewed empire was a programme that sprang from the messages of history, the programme which all the Serbian leaders, from Karadjordje to Miloš Obrenoćic, took as their starting point, as a national aspiration that went without saying, regardless of the fact that it was unachievable in the existing circumstances.

Along with the national goals that originated from the traditions of the centuries-long struggle against the Ottomans, among the political leadership of the Serbs, precisely because they intermingled with kindred Slavic peoples, there circulated, as potential solution, a specter of Yugoslav aspirations, which most often included the Bulgarians as well. Karadjordje planned a joint uprising with Montenegro, Herzegovina, Bosnia and Old Serbia (Sandjak of Novi Pazar, Kosovo, Metohija, northwestern Macedonia), regions from which most of the insurgents were recruited. However, the leader of the Serbian revolution also had ambitious plans for a radical geopolitical reconstruction of the Balkans. In 1810, through his special envoyé to Paris, Captain Rade Vučinić, a Serb from the Military Frontier (Vojna Krajina), referring to the decisions made by the national leaders, Karadjordje proposed to emperor Napoleon that Serbia should unite with other lands, in his opinion predominantly inhabited by his kinsmen - Bosnia, Herzegovina, the Illyrian provinces (Dalmatia with Dubrovnik, part of Croatia and Slovenia) and the Serbian-inhabited lands in Southern Hungary (Banat, Srem, Slavonia) - and possibly also with kindred Bulgaria, thus forming a unified state under a French protectorate. (26)

Prince Miloš, who was generally thought to conduct a narrow national policy like some kind of Ottoman pasha, without any broader political visions, repeatedly said in confidence that Serbia's ultimate goal was to unite with Bosnia, Old Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. He called on the leaders of these lands to instigate an uprising and "thus to free yourselves from the Turkish occupation and to unite with us, with Serbia, so that we can renew the Serbian kingdom that had been destroyed in Kosovo". The British consul in Belgrade, who was familiar with Miloš's secret plans at the time when the action was set to limit Russian influence on the Principality, considered that the Serbian Prince would surely get French diplomatic support for the unification of Bosnia and Serbia into an independent kingdom under the Obrenović crown. Prince Miloš also knew what the Yugoslav framework meant for the settlement of the Serbian question. A confidential statement of one of his associates to a Polish representative revealed that Prince Miloš was secretly planning to unite into a Southern Slavic empire: Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Herzegovina, Uskokija (Krajina), Banat, the Slovenes, Illyria (perhaps Croatia), Dalmatia, Montenegro and the Albanian mountains. (27)

These views were based on a mixture of concepts: historical traditions as political heritage and source of political legitimism, and cultural (linguistic) identity as a modern foundation of nation-building. This concept is in a certain way similar to one defined by Anthony Smith on "etno-nationalism" who seeks to expand "by including ethnic 'kinsmen' outside the present boundaries of the 'ethno-nation' and the lands they inhabit or by forming larger 'ethno-national' state through the union of culturally and ethnically similar ethno-national state". (28)

The fact that Serbs made the major part of the population in Herzegovina and Bosnia, in the Military Frontier (the "Yugoslav part"), Banat, Srem and Slavonia, and a minority in Dalmatia and Croatia, was the starting point of all Serbian plans. The concept of a still remote but, nevertheless, charted unification with the kindred Bulgarians, was an expression of Serbia's geopolitical needs, combined with a certain feeling of ethnic closeness resulting from kindred language, as well as from the customs and traditions of the patriarchal culture, dominant in the central Balkan area. The common heritage, from the claims to one another's historical heroes of the epic tradition to the Bulgarian taking of heroes from the Serbian national revolution for their own, could perhaps be yet another guideline in understanding the Serbian standpoints. Neither in Bulgaria, nor in Croatia, Slovenia or Dalmatia were there national movements analogous with the Serbian one in contents and intensity. The awareness of religious differences was clearly distinguished: in Bosnia, the agrarian rebellions of the Orthodox Serbs were of twofold nature - social and national; for them, the domestic Muslims were the same as the Turks who had been oppressing them for centuries, while the rebellions of Muslim beys against the Porte's reforms were motivated by social reasons - the struggle for preserving feudal privileges. (29)

One of the rare attempts, at the time, to determine the distribution of the Serbian-inhabited lands was made by the father of modern Serbian literacy Vuk Stefanović Karadžić. According to Fichte's principle that it is language that makes a nation, Karadzic included among Serbian lands all the Southern Slavic provinces under Ottoman and Austrian rule where the Serbian štokavian dialect, which the Illyrians accepted as the common dialect for the Croats, was used. His views, resulting from co-operation with distinguished Slovak and Slovenian linguists (P. Safaryk, B. Kopitar, F. Miklosich), were not published until a few years after Načertanije was written. (30)

Plans with broader Balkan and Yugoslav vision, expanding the narrow horizons limited by historical traditions, were being drawn up by the political leadership which, apart from the military commanders, district notables and religious dignitaries, included a diversified stratum of intellectuals, mostly Serbs from the Habsburg Monarchy, and an insignificant number of persons educated in Serbia. To this circle also belonged the son of one of the leaders of the 1804 Serbian Uprising, Ilija Garašanin. Owing to his abilities, Garšsanin was predestined to conceptualize various influences, both domestic and foreign, and put them all together into what would be known in history as Načertanije.

His contemporaries, both foreign and domestic, respected Garašanin as a man of free spirit and strong character. He enjoyed both the trust of the older notables who grew out from the national revolution and the respect of the younger generation, educated at foreign universities. The French consul in Belgrade had a high opinion of his qualities: "C'est un homme parmi les plus éstimés de la classe superieure de la nation qui rend justice à ses nobles qualités et à sa merite administrative". (31)

Final Text: From Historical Legitimism to the Nation-state Model

Garašanin carefully rewrote the final text of Načertanije. Although certain paragraphs were literally taken from Zach's work, it was the essence of Garašanin's views. Garašanin left out of his text everything he thought to be unrealistic considering the existing geopolitical circumstances. Afterwards he submitted Načertanije to Prince Alexander as a proposal for future national policy of the Serbian Principality.

Zach's main motive - to destroy Habsburg Empire - from which the Plan's pronounced Yugoslav dimension originated - was considered by Garašanin as politically unrealistic. Garašanin did not expect the downfall of Austria for another few generations: in 1844 this was to be on the verge of a utopia. To include the Yugoslav lands under Austrian rule in the Serbian national plan would only mean, in Garašanin's eyes, a direct Austrian interference in Serbia's internal affairs. It is for this reason that he left out of Zach's plan the entire chapter about Serbia's relations with Croatia which was more of a confidential report than a thoroughly developed programme of political co-operation. The Croatian national movement was neither clearly defined nor definitely shaped yet: the cultural activities of the Illyrians included only a very narrow stratum of enlightened intellectuals. The loyalty of all the strata of Croatian society was to the Monarchy and the Habsburg dynasty, even to Hungary which Croatia was part of. It is beyond any doubt that Garašanin's faith in the Illyrian leaders, who kept approaching him in Belgrade with various plans, was limited by his fear that many of them might be in the service of the Monarchy's political goals. Correctness of such assessment found its confirmation in Ljudevit Gaj's confidential reports on the situation in Serbia which were sent to Prince Metternich personally. Zach shared Garašanin's fears of the political use of the Illyrians: "L'illyrisme sera trempé de catholicisme, de tendance autrichienne, il me faudra bien de précaution pour éviter ce nouveau danger que je vois venir". (32) On the other hand, Garašanin has established good relations, based on Slavic mutuality, with the Bosnian Franciscans. They were very close to all religions in Bosnia and sought effective co-operation with the Orthodox Serbs in Bosnia and Serbia. The Franciscans were against the Bishop ordained by Vienna and the Vatican. Together with Serbia and the Polish émigrés they tried to maintain the national character of their mission.

It was for this reason that Garašanin left out of Zach's text expressions like "Southern Slavs", "Southern Slavic", "Southern Slavic Empire", and/or replaced them with "Serbs", "Serbian", "Serbian empire". Fearing that clerical Vienna might use the Roman Catholic Church to spread proselytism among Orthodox Serbs, Garašanin left out chapters on the jurisdiction of Roman Catholic Church and its further organization in Serbia. (The Serbian Principality was already a secularized state: the status of the Orthodox Church was regarded only as an important part of national identity. Garašanin insisted on a secularized concept of national integration. But, he wanted to protect the Orthodox Church in Serbia from the dominant clericalism of the Roman Catholic Church and its powerful organization, aware that liberal Catholics were just a circle of intellectuals without any significant influence within the Church.)

This act of his, viewed isolatedly from its real reasons, subsequently caused a series of misunderstandings among the interpreters of Načertanije. Their most frequent criticism referred to Garašanin's neglect of co-operation with the Croats. However, at the time Načertanije was written, the majority of intelligentsia in Croatia was largely Germanized or Hungarianized, and the rural population was totally passive in the national sense. During the 1840s, only German books were read in Croatia, and the only theater in Zagreb gave performances exclusively in German. It was not until 1843 that the first speech in vernacular tongue was given in Croatian parliament by Ivan Kukuljević-Sakcinski. On that occasion, his proposal for the vernacular language - that is, štokavian dialect codified by Vuk S. Karadžić - to be adopted as the official language in Parliament, was rejected. (33)

Essentially, Načertanije can be reduced to two main goals: 1) an independent policy must imply balancing between the great powers and relying on those who have no direct interests in the Balkans; it is possible to rely on Russia only as regards its support of Serbian aspirations, and this should by no means lead to Serbia's subjugation to the Slavic empire's Balkan goals; 2) the development of Yugoslav co-operation in order to carry out Serbia's unification, first with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then also with Montenegro, Old Serbia and Macedonia - the predominantly Serbian-inhabited lands within the Ottoman Empire - having in mind the access to the sea through a narrow belt in the north of Albania (today's Montenegrin coastal region of Ulcinj). For Garašanin, unification with the Southern Slavic peoples of the Habsburg Monarchy was a noble task for future generations - he thought that, considering the circumstances, only active co-operation was possible, primarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (34)

This was a new concept of foreign and national policies, imbued with liberal ideas and principles. Although, in view of its external framework, it was primarily a programme of cultural propaganda whose goal was to prepare the future political unification, Načertanije marked an important turning point in the accomplishment of Serbia's national policy. Instead of undefined aspirations and unrealistic plans, conceived as a simultaneous series of national insurrections, national unification became quite pronouncedly a state programme, where the bearer of the national action was the State - a strong, enlightened, secularized and modernly organized one.

Načertanije was compatible with the linguistic model of Vuk Stefanović Karadžić. They are linked by the belief that religion cannot be the main criterion in nation-building: a nation should rather be based on cultural identity, whose highest expression is the linguistic principle. Evolution from historicism as a source of political legitimis and linguistic unity as contemporary standard of nation-building towards modern national identity, based on nation-state model, was a Serbian version of two global, German and French concepts of national integration While relaying on German cultural concept which emerged from medieval traditions of Volk, the french Jacobin ideology in Serbia was the result of national and social revolution experienced in 1804 Uprising.

However, because of the priority it gave to Serbian instead of Yugoslav unification, and when taken out of the context of its own times, Načertanije has been easily taken to be the starting point of every subsequent ‘Greater Serbian’ policy, which, in itself, represents the negation of national rights of other nations; it was taken as a writing holding the seed of future conflicts with the other South Slav nations.

All the mystifications in regard with Načertanije are of political origin. For no other reason one could fail to see that, at the time when Načertanije was being written, the national movement of the Serbs was the only one with clear national characteristics: other Slavic nations in the Balkans still had no such movements. (35) National awareness in certain regions was more of a local (for instance in Dalmatia) or religious (like in Bosnia), rather than ethnic nature: all of which was still very far from national identity in the modern sense. For this reason, Načertanije is primarily a convincing testimony to the acceptance of liberal principles in the struggle for national rights.

A Great Principle

Besides the members of the Serbian government, and the political leaders outside the Principality, it is likely that Montenegrin Prince-Bishop Petar II Petrović Njegoš, one of the closest political friends of Garašanin, was also familiar with Načertanije. When Garašanin became Foreign Minister (1861-1867), he acquainted the new Prince, Michael Obrenović (second rule 1860-1868), with his draft of the Serbian foreign policy and he was permitted to carry it out. The result of Načertanije's implementation was the establishment of the first Balkan alliance (1866-1868) and of close relations with the neo-Illyrian, National party (Narodna stranka) in Croatia-Slavonia led by Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer.

The Balkan alliance and negotiations about a common federal state with the Croats once again raised the issue of a global solution to the Yugoslav question. According to the views of Garašanin, who relied on theoretic postulates of the leading scholars and Serbian experience shaped by constant struggle with Ottomans, it was one nation for which the Serbian state, as the Balkan Piedmont, would be the main foundation. In his letter to Strossmayer in 1867, Garašanin pointed out: "The Serbian and Croatian nationalities are one - the Yugoslav (Slavic) nationality; religion is not to interfere in the least bit in national affairs; the state is the only basis of nationality; religion divides us and separates into three parts (i.e., Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Islam), but it can never be the principle of our unification into one state; it is our nationality, which is the same, that can". (36) For Garašanin it was a further evolution: after unification, based on cultural and linguistic unity the Serbian state was to merge into a new nation-state with a single Yugoslav nation. The main precondition for the future unification of the Serbs and the Croats was disintegration of the Habsburg Empire along national lines which, after the defeat of the Austrian army in Italy and Germany, seemed possible if only for a while. In a memoir submitted to Napoleon III in 1866, Garašanin warned him that the Habsburg Empire was a strange agglomeration of nations, which should be recomposed according to the principle of nationality.

Garašanin's successor as Serbian Foreign Minister, Liberal leader Jovan Ristić, also studied and tried to follow the main postulates of Načertanije. After signing a Secret Agreement (Tajna konvencija) with Austria-Hungary in 1881, which totally submitted Serbia to will of the Viennese Court, Prince Milan Obrenović sent a copy of Garašanin's document to Ballhausplatz and, as early as 1883, it was translated into German. Three years later, a copy of Naćertanije also found its way to Budapest. (37)

Through Ilija Garašanin's son, Milutin Garašanin, the leader of the conservatives - Progressive Party (Napredna stranka) in Serbia, his closest party associates were also acquainted with the contents of Načertanije. It was also available to Prince Peter I Karadjordjević, King of Serbia (1903-1918), and of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (1918-1921), who could find Načertanije in the archives of his father, Prince Alexander. It is assumed as well that the leaders of the National Radical Party (Narodna radikalna stranka), the most numerous and influential political party in Serbia, also knew about Načertanije and that its copy circulated among them. Načertanije was published for the first time in March 1906, in the Radicals' magazine Delo. (38)

At the time the Radical Party (divided in two fractions, Old and Independent Radicals) dominated in Serbia (1903-1918), Načertanije was not taken as a practical programme, but rather as a great statement of principle in respect of an independent foreign policy and Southern Slavic co-operation that would resolve the Serbian question. The concept of Načertanije was enlarged by introducing the parliamentary democracy as substantial element for achieving ultimate national goals. The Radicals worked on the realization of these two great principles of Načertanije by adapting them to the changed situation both in international relations, and in national movements in the Balkans, already clearly defined at the time, and gradually accepted formula on national unity of Serbs and Croats (later with Slovenes also). From Garašanin's Načertanije, the Old Radicals led by Nikola Pašić also inherited a rational attitude towards Russian support of Serbian national goals - it was they who were using Russia's support of the Serbian goals without allowing to be used for Russian goals.

Finally, the nation-state model was accepted by political élite in Serbia only after its promotion by liberal Croatian intelligentsia in Dalmatia and Croato-Serb Coalition in Croatia-Slavonia, basing upon the idea of three "tribes" (Serb, Croat and Slovene) of the same, Yugoslav nation. Serbian views were based on the experience drawn from Garašanin's co-operation with Croats in the 1860s. Serbian élite opted for a nation-state model, the one that Serbia had experienced until 1804. During World War I, faced with Croat plans for a separate position of the Croatian entity within the future Yugoslav state and trying to secure Serbian political identity, Pašić opted for federal arrangment for Serbian entity (unification with Montenegro, Vojvodina, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Dalmatia) within future Yugoslavia, but only as a first step towards eventual nation-state. All these options were creative adaptation of Garašanin's views which had already been defined in Načertanije and elaborated in the 1860s.


1) There is a vast literature on Načertanije. The most valuable articles based on research in various archives are: D. Stranjaković, Jugoslovenski nacionalni i drzavni program Kneževine Srbije 1844, Sremski Karlovci 1931; Idem, "Kako je postalo Garašaninovo Načertanije", Spomenik, vol. XCI, Srpska Kraljevska Akademija, Beograd.1939, pp. 63-113; V. J. Vučković, "Knez Miloš i osnovna politicka misao sadrzana u Garašaninovom Načertaniju", Jugoslovenska revija za medjunarodno pravo, vol. I, Beograd 1954, pp. 44-56; Idem, "Prilog proučavanju postanka "Načertanija" (1844) i "Osnovnih misli"(1847)", Jugoslovenska revija za medjunarodno pravo, vol. VIII-1, Beograd.1961, 49-79; R. Perović, "Oko "Načertanija" iz 1844. godine", Istorijski glasnik, vol. 1, Beograd 1963, 71-94; V. Zacek, "Česšo i poljsko učešće u postanku Garašaninova "Načertanija" (1844), Historijski zbornik, vol. XVI, Zagreb 1963, pp. 35-56; R. Ljušić, Knjiga o Načertaniju, Beograd 1993, pp. 24-43, which summarize previous analysis.

2) Cf. M. Valentić, "Koncepcija Garašaninovog "Načertanija" (1844)", Historijski pregled, vol. VII, Zagreb 1961; N. Stancčić, "Problem "Načertanija" Ilije Garašanina u nasoj historiografiji", Historijski zbornik, vol. XXII-XXIII, Zagreb 1968-1969, 193-195; C. Jelavich, "Garasanin's Nacertanije und das grosserbische Programme", Südostforschungen, vol. XXVIII, München 1968.

3) M. Handelsman, Czartoryski, Nicholas Ier et la question du Proche Orient, Paris 1934, pp. 24-39

4) Cf. R. Ljušić, Kneževina Srbija 1830-1839, Beograd, SANU 1985.

5) Cf. S. Jovanović, Ustavobranitelji i njihova vlada 1838-1858, Beograd, Geca Kon 1925.

6) D. Stranjaković, Vlada ustavobranitelja 1842-1853, Srpska Kraljevska Akademija, Beograd 1932.

7) For their mission in the Ottoman Empire in 1843-1844 Polish representatives obtained 10.000 francs from the French Ministry, raised in 1847 to 28.000 francs. Substantial help was given by the Foreign Office, through an association led by Lord Dudley Stuart. (M. Handelsman, La politique yougoslave du prince Czartoryski entre 1840 et 1848, I. Organisation, in: Bulletin International de l'Acdémie polonaise des sciences et des lettres, no 8, Cracowie 1929, pp. 107-111.)

8) M.A.E, Paris (Archives du Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres), Turquie, Direction politique, Vol. 292, Fo 34, no 12; Ibid, Vol. 292, Fo.56, no 14; reports of Bourqueney to Guizot, August 1844. Cf. D.MacKenzie, Ilija Garasanin. A Balkan Bismarck, Boulder, Colorado 1985; V. Stojančević (ed.), Ilija Garasanin 1812-1874 (collection of works), Beograd, SANU 1991.

9) In his letter to Prince Alexander on September 16, 1843 Czartoryski wrote: "Prenant l'intérêt le plus vif au bien-être de la Serbie, j'ai vu, Prince, avec joie et j'ai été heureux de pouvoir contribuer à faire apprécier ici et à Londres la prudence et la fermeté de Votre conduite, malgré les écueils et les pieges dont on Vous entouré. La Serbie et la Pologne ont des intérêts et des ennemis comuns, les mêmes vertus leur sont nécessaires. Votre nation vient d'en donner un noble exemple." (quoted in: D. Stranjaković, "Kako je postalo Garašaninovo Načertanije", p. 67.)

10) The text in: M. Handelsman, Czartoryski, Nicholas Ier et la question du Proche Orient, Paris 1934, pp. 33-38; also in: D. Stranjaković, "Kako je postalo Garašaninovo Načertanije", pp. 10-115.

11) M. Handelsman, "La question d'Orient et la politique yougoslave du prince Czartoryski apres 1840", Sciences et travaux de lAcadémie des sciences morales et politiques, Paris 1929, pp. 6-10.

12) Lj. Durković-Jakšić, "Saradnja Jugoslovena i Poljaka u Parizu 1848-1849", Istorijski časopis, vol. XIX, Beograd 1972, p. 192; V. Pavlović, "Srpski studenti u Parizu 1839-1849", Istorijski časopis, vol. XXXIII, Beograd 1986, pp. 187-202.

13) H. Gleason, The Genesis of Russophobia in Great Britain. A Study of the Interaction of Policy and Opinion. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1950, pp. 173-177; H. Henning Hahn, Aussenpolitik in der Emigration. Die Exildiplomatie Adam Jerzy Czartoryskis 1830-1840, München 1978, pp. 231-238; M. Ekmecic, Stvaranje Jugoslavije 1790-1918, vol.1, Beograd 1989, pp. 224-228, 473-474.

14) S. K. Pavlowitch, Anglo-Russian Rivalry in Serbia 1837-1839. The Mission of Colonel Hodges. Mouton & Co., Paris 1961, pp. 20-21.

15) D. Urquhart], England and Russia: being a fifth Edition of England, France, Russia and Turkey, London 1835, p. 4, quoted in: M. Ekmečić, Stvaranje Jugoslavije 1790-1918, vol. I, p. 227.

16) D. Urquhart, A Fragment of the History of Servia, (London 1843), Beograd, Arhiv Srbije 1989. p. 14.

17) "Mémoire présenté à M. de Bourqueney le 22 février 1844 au sujet des défiances que lui exprimaient l'Ambassadeur d'Angleterre et l'intervence d'Autriche contre les Slaves, et les rapports de ceux-ci avec les Polonais", in: Portofolio, London, n° XI, 1. 06. 1844.

18) Ekmečić, Stvaranje Jugoslavije 1790-1918, vol. 1, pp. 366-367.

19) Stranjaković, "Kako je postalo Garašaninovo Načertanije", pp. 31-32.

20) bid., p. 69.

21) Zach wrote in his report: "Mes conversations fréquentes avec Mr. Ilia [Garasanin] sur les Slaves de la Turquie et de l'Autriche m'ont fourni l'occasion de lui exposer peu à peu les vues sur ces peuples. Je viens de m'engager de lui dresser un plan sur la mani ere d'agir sur les Slaves, car il comprend qu'il est déjà temps de s'en occuper formellement, pour ainsi dire systématiquement. Je travaille soigneusement et je vous communiquerai une traduction de mon projet. Permettez que je vous avoue ma joie sur la confiance du ministre [Garasanin]. Il m'a dit: ‘Je demande la même chose à plusieurs de mes amis pour que nous soyons éclairés sur la question; nous verrons qui l'emportera'." (quoted in: H. Batowski, Postanjy sojuszu balkansiego 1912 r., Kraków.1939, 133.)

22) D. MacKenzie, Ilija Garasanin. A Balkan Bismarck, p. 51.

23) D. Stranjaković, "Kako je postalo Garašaninovo Načertanije", pp. 70-71.

24) N. Radojčić, Geografsko znanje o Srbiji početkom XIX veka, Beograd 1949.

25) Smith, National Identity, London, Penguin 1991, pp. 89-90.

26) A. Boppe, Documents inédits sur les relations de la Serbie avec Napoléon Ier (1809-1814), "Otadžbina", Beograd 1888, pp. 8-10.

27) M. Handelsman, Adam Czartoryski, vol. II, Warszawa 1949, pp. 95-96; V. Stojančević, "Politički pogledi kneza Miloša Obrenovića na pitanje oslobo|enja balkanskih naroda", Istorijski casopis, vol. IX-X, Beograd 1959, pp. 345-362.

28) A. Smith, National Identity, p. 90.

29) D.Stranjaković, "Buna hriscana u Bosni 1834.", Godišnjica Nikole Čupića, vol. 40, Beograd 1931, pp. 215-220.

20) V. St. Karadžić, "Srbi svi i svuda", in: Kovčežić za istoriju jezika i običaja Srba sva tri zakona, vol. 1, Bec 1849, pp. 1-27.

21) M.A.E., Correspondance consulaire et commerciale, Turquie, vol. 2, Belgrade, le 20 décembre 1844.

22) Biblioteka Czartoryskich, Krakow, Ms. 5393; M. Ekmečić, Stvaranje Jugoslavije 1790-1918, vol. I, p. 367.

23) J.Herzeg, Ilirizam, Beograd, Luca 1935, p. 35.

24) D. T. Bataković, "Načertanije: baština ili hipoteka", in: Načertanije, M. Josić-Višnjić (ed.), Književna zajednica MJV, Beograd 1991, pp. 5-12. There is only one translation of Nacertanije in English by P. Hehn, "The Origins of Modern Pan-Serbism: The 1844 Nacertanije of Ilija Garasanin", East European Quarterly No 2, 1975, pp. 158-171, which is not entirely precise. Cf. our translation in Appendix.

25) Nikša Stančić stressed that in 1844 "nations in the Slavic South were not yet completely constituted". (Cf. N. Stančić, "Problem "Načertanija" Ilije Garašanina u nasoj historiografiji", Historijski zbornik, vol. XXII-XXIII, Zagreb,1968-1969, 195.

26) V. J. Vućković, Politička akcija Srbije u južnoslovenskim pokrajinama Habsburške monarhije 1859-1874, SAN, Beograd 1965, p. 274.

27) Haus, -Hof und Staatsarchiv, XIX/1883 Serbian Reports, varia de Serbie 1883, fol. 11/1-18/8.

28) M. Vukićević, "Program spoljne politike Srbije na koncu 1844. Godine", Delo, vol. 38, Beograd 1906, pp. 321-336.

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