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from Ideology to Aggression

Jovan Cvijic
Selected statements

Excerpts written mainly around the turn of the century, revealing his Greater Serbian inclinations

Jovan Cvijic (1865-1927) is considered the founder of modern geographic science in Serbia. He did extensive research and writing on Balkan geography. He had a great knowledge not only of the geography of Serbia and the surrounding regions but also of the history and current events of those areas.

He was also interested in Serbia's political advancement and because of this he often lost his scientific impartiality when writing about Serbia or the Balkans in a geographic context. Much of is work was and is used as a scientific justification for Greater Serbian politics.

There is no one work of Cvijic that can be set aside as some kind of geographic doctrine for the Greater Serbian idea, but his political inclinations regarding Serbia's expansion can be seen throughout his body of work. In this section, statements from various articles and publications by Cvijic in which he clearly shows his Greater Serbian inclinations in the context of an academic/scientific work are presented. All of these statements reflect the assertions of present Greater Serbian ideologists, and it can be seen that Cvijic's work, since he was a reputable geographer, is used as 'scientific proof' of their territorial claims.

* * *

First, some of Cvijic's general thoughts on Serbia's need and fitness to dominate the surrounding areas. Here he displays a great deal of emotional involvement in the subject at hand: ". . . all Serbs were inspired by high national morale and a desire to avenge the old defeats and found a new, even larger state."  (Cvijic, "Balkansko Poluostrvo i juznoslovenke zemlje, osnove antropogeografije, I, Zagreb 1922.)

"The world must know and realize that Serbia can operate with a much larger entity that the territory it now holds. The greatest possible territorial transformations may take place with Serbia. And we must not flinch from this fear pouring into the world if it is useful to our national interests."  (Cvijic, "O nacionalnom radu", commemorative speech 1907, reprinted in Govori i Clanci, I, Beograd 1921 p. 51-76).

"The Serbian problem must be resolved by violent means. Both Serbian states must chiefly prepare themselves militarily and educationally, sustain their national energy in the military portions of the Serbian population, and use the first possible opportunity to debate Serbian questions with Austro-Hungary."  (Cvijic, Aneksija Bosne i Hercegovine i srpsko pitanje, 1908. reprinted in Govori i Clanci I, Beograd 1921, p. 202-233.)

Cvijic also claims provides reasons for the incorporation of surrounding Balkan territories into Serbia. The Dinaric region he speaks of is Bosnia and Dalmatia: "Outside of the Morava-Vardar depression (South Serbia and Macedonia) there are no territories in the western half of the Peninsula suitable for forming durable life. . .The economic and trading interests of certain Dinaric regions even now aim for the Morava-Vardar depression; these lands canot acquire life and importance unless they join with the Morava-Vardar state. . ."  (Cvijic, "Geografske osnove makedonskog pitanja", Questions balkaniques, Paris 1916. Reprinted in Govori i Clanci I, Beograd 1921, p. 27-51.)

He has this to say about Bosnia and Herzegovina. Note that he boldly assumes the Serbian nature of this region thus making it seem that Serbia has a right to claim territory that it never held:  ". . . it is widely known that Bosnia and Herzegovina are lands settled entirely by people who are purely  Serbian in race. . ." "As an unassailable minimum for the principle of nationality it must stand that one cannot relinquish that central dominion, the heartland of a nation to another country, a foreign state (Austro-Hungary); this is what Bosnia and Herzegovina are to the Serbian people." (Cvijic, Aneksija Bosne i Hercegovine i srpsko pitanje, 1908. Reprinted in Govori i Clanci I, Beograd 1921, p. 202-233).

He has the following to say on Serbia's need and 'right' to an Adriatic outlet: ". . .the aspirations of Serbia for the Albanian coastline are justified and conditioned not only by geographic but also by historic tradition." ". . .for economic independence, Serbia must acquire access to the Adriatic Sea and one part of the Albanian coastline: by occupation of the territory or by acquiring economic and transportation rights to this region. This, therefore, implies occupying an ethnographically foreign territory, but one that must be occupied due to particularly important economic interests and vital needs. Such occupation might be called an anti- ethnographic necessity and in such a form it is not against the principle of nationality. In this case it  is all the more justified because the Albanians of northern Albania came about through a merging of the Albanians and Serbs."

(Speaking of the Serbian army in the Balkan Wars): ". . .every soldier knew that this military march must secure one part of the Adriatic castline and an Adriatic port, on which economic independence of his country would depend. . . a single thought and a single will led all members of the Serbian people to spread their state territory to the shores of the sea and an Adriatic port."  (Cvijic, "Izlazak Srbije na Jadransko More", Glasnik Srpskog Geografskog Drustva, 1912. Reprinted in Govori i Clanci II, Beograd 1921, p. 9-25).

He also made ethnographic arguments for Serbian claims to coastal regions when, like Vuk Karadzic, he asserted that the people of Dubrovnik were Serbians: "It seems that the Slavs who settled these lands in the 6th and 7th centuries were settled at first on the steep cliffs above the town where the is located today, on cliffs that used to be wooded with an oak forest, known then as a 'dubrava'. This, then, is the origin of the Serbian name form the city of Dubrovnik, that replaced the earlier Greek-Romanese name (Ragusa). Subsequently the development of the city was marked by this two-fold Slavic- Roman identity. The Latin and Slavic people merged here, a mixture that can always be noted though the population quickly and completely became Serbian."  (Cvijic, "Iz drustvenih nauka." Selected texts. Cvetko Kostic, editor. Beograd 1965.)


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