This issue was initially raised by the Bulgarians; mainly by those Bulgarians of the diaspora who, in attempting to achieve national rehabilitaion, made territorial claims on Macedonia. These Bulgarian nationalistic feelings were considerably reinforced by the establishment of the Bulgarian Exarchate (1870)1, and in particular by the Treaty of San Stefano (March 1878), according to which northern and central Macedonia was annexed to Bulgaria. Of course, the Treaty of Berlin (June/July 1878) reinstated Ottoman domination in the region2, but the temporary ceding of Macedonian areas to the Bulgarians encouraged these claims, while the establishment of the Bulgarian Principality (1878) and the annexation of Eastern Rumelia to Bulgaria (1885) created new centres of propaganda. By the end of the century there had led to the formation of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization(IMRO, 1893) and the Central Committee (1985) which adopted systems of violence and armed intervention often tolerated by the Ottoman authorities.
Serbia's claims to a free passage to the Aegean sea and its attempts to win over thje Slav-speaking population of NW Macedonia by infiltrating the Church and Education, as well as Roumanian claims on the Vlach-speaking Greeks, date back to the end of the 19th c., while the claims of the Albanians at the end of the 19th c. included the vilayets of Monastir and Thessaloniki in their autonomistic programme3. It must noted however that these situations never supported the existence of a seperate Macedonian nationality. The crisis deepened at the beginning of the 20th c. and led to the Macedonian Struggle (1904-1908) and to the two Balkan Wars (1912-13) which resulted in the liberation of Macedonia from the Turksih yoke nad the recognition of the predominance of Hellenism in the area through the annexation of the largest part of Macedonia to Greece. Bulgarian aspirations were pursued in other forms both during the inter-war period and after World War II. Then a new, radically revised Yugoslavian policy was formulated with an integrated programme aimed at putting forward the existence of a seperate MAcedonian Nation. Today, after the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the problem has become more acute since the once autonomous Republic of Skopje now demands to be recognized by the international community as an independent state with the spurious name of Macedonia.
The present study cannot fully examine all the issues that have been mentioned. Howver, there is a comprehensive bibliography4 in spite of the fact that there has not yet been a systematic and objective exploitation of all the records and other sources. This study is an attempt to be as informative as possible and to provide an enlightening historical review of the problem as it appears from World War II until today5.