Old and New Insights on the History of Intelligence and Diplomacy in the Balkans

by Bogdan Teodor (Volume editor) Jordan Baev (Volume editor) Matthew Crosston (Volume editor) Mihaela Teodor (Volume editor)
©2023 Edited Collection XIV, 326 Pages
Series: South-East European History, Volume 1


Bringing together twelve experts from nine countries, this volume explores intelligence and diplomatic activities, both historical and contemporary, in the Balkan region. Covering a wide range of periods and radically different historical conditions, the various contributions are united by a common theme: the intimate relationship between diplomacy and intelligence.
Subjects include: the Venetian dragomans of Zara; ‘informal diplomacy’ between Bulgaria and Turkey; ‘diplomacy without a state’ (Adam Czartoryski’s ‘embassy’ in Paris); diplomacy and diplomats in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918-1943); case studies on diplomats Otto von Essen, Stojan Novakovič, Adam Czartoryski, Josip Djerdja, and Jovan Dučić; British policy toward Albania during the Second World War; diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Albania; the 1992 ‘arms delivery scandal’ in Bulgaria; and the normalization of Bulgarian bilateral relations with Turkey.
"A volume of notable orginality, both in respecte of its disciplinary contribution to the history of intelligence and diplomacy, but also in its geographical focus. As is demonstrated admirably in this collection of papers, the Balkans have been down the centuries and remain an area of competing strategic interests." - Dennis Deletant, Emeritus Professor, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Advance Praise
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
  • Introduction: The Connection between Intelligence and Diplomacy from a Regional Perspective
  • PART I Diplomacy and Intelligence in the Balkans: Cultural and Human Factors
  • Chapter 1 The Venetian Dragomans of Zara. A Proposal for Research of Diplomatic Sources from the State Archives of Zadar
  • Chapter 2 Sipping Coffee with the Enemy: Otto von Essen in Moldavia, Wallachia, and Bulgaria (1829–1830)
  • Chapter 3 Between (Trans)national and Imperial Perception: A Biographical Study of Stojan Novaković
  • Chapter 4 Agents of the Hotel Lambert in the Balkans in the 1830s and 1840s
  • Chapter 5 Jovan Dučić: The Kingdom of Yugoslavia’s First Ambassador
  • Chapter 6 Yugoslav Diplomats in Albania, 1945–1948: Josip Djerdja
  • PART II The Balkans: The “Shades” of Intelligence and Diplomatic Activities
  • Chapter 7 The “Shades” of Bulgarian-Turkish Cooperation (1919–1923): Informal Diplomacy and Revolutionary Activities
  • Chapter 8 The Special Operations Executive in Albania: A Bitter Aftermath
  • Chapter 9 Balkan States’ Development Immediately after World War II: Through the Eyes of Czechoslovak Diplomats
  • Chapter 10 Warm Friendship in the Cold War? The Development of Diplomatic Relations between Switzerland and Albania since 1970
  • Chapter 11 “Weapons for the Republic of Macedonia”: Intelligence at the Center of a War between State Institutions
  • Chapter 12 Bulgarian Turks Influencing Bulgarian-Turkish Relations (1989–1990)
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
  • Series Index

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Introduction: The Connection between Intelligence and Diplomacy from a Regional Perspective

While International Relations (I.R.) theories and Diplomatic History have been among the most developed areas in Social Sciences and Humanities, Intelligence Studies started initially in the United Kingdom and U.S.A. less than fifty years ago as a part of Security Studies. As Matthew Crosston points out in a recent work, “there is no doubt that Intelligence Studies will always be a close cousin to Security Studies, with both researching many of the same problems and concerned about similar dangers and riddles”.1 Thus, a significant part of I.R. studies in the postwar years became International Security Studies (I.S.S.). As Barry Buzan indicated, I.S.S. was viewed in the beginning as an independent field of study. However, it later became an I.R. “sub-field” and one of its core elements.2 I.S.S. was also viewed as directly aligned with Strategic Studies and parallel to ←1 | 2→Military, Defense, and War studies. Moreover, Intelligence History was usually described as an interdisciplinary hybrid area between Military and Diplomatic History.3 It was within the border zone somewhere “between war and peace”. However, as Oxford professor in Intelligence History Christopher Andrew underlined, scholars of international relations must take greater account to study the role of intelligence, which is all but absent in most contemporary international relations theory.4

Contemporary historiography on International Security and Intelligence Studies had its most intensive development in what is called the Anglosphere, especially within a variety of existing I.R. research schools (like neorealism, liberal revisionism, social constructivism, etc.).5 In the last decade, some multidisciplinary volumes revealed the European context of Intelligence History as various intelligence and national security services across the continent engaged in bilateral and multilateral interaction and cooperation.6 Several multinational scholarly projects revealed the extent of collaboration between Central and East European communist security services during the Cold War era.7 However, a similar regional approach for the Balkans has not yet been done. This is the first obvious contribution of the present volume, filling this obvious gap in the existing literature.

While the study of diplomacy has been a centuries-long subject of academic discussion, sustained but still somewhat inconsistent scholarship on intelligence began only in the late 1950s. At the beginning, most of the works were at the descriptive level and from a biographical perspective and focused on a single country. Any mentions of an intelligence–diplomacy connection and their explicit interactions were more peripheral than central.8 Only since the mid-1980s did scholars like M. Herman, S. Breckinridge, A. Codevilla, A. Bozeman, ←2 | 3→K. Hamilton, R. Langhorne, and James Der Derian raise questions about the relationship of intelligence to policy and diplomacy. At the time, more often than not, intelligence was seen as a direct rival to diplomacy.9 In the 2000s, issues in conducting intelligence and relating it to diplomacy became more prominent. The bulk of this work was from American and British authors (see for example M. Howard, G.R. Berridge, John D. Stempel, Len Scott).10 Two major contemporary compendiums on intelligence, including the relationship between intelligence, policy, and diplomacy, sum up the state of the field: Loch K. Johnson and J. J. Wirtz, Strategic Intelligence: Windows into a Secret World11 and Strategic Intelligence, edited by Loch K. Johnson.12

The first significant Intelligence History publications in Central and Eastern Europe appeared only in the post-Cold War era. These regional studies require the elaboration of some basic terms and methodology to better frame this present study. When viewing Intelligence as a “normal function of government” and a key instrument in policy formation of states13, it is easy to find similarities and differences between Intelligence and Diplomacy. In the last two decades there have been a few efforts to publish original periodic journals covering regional intelligence and security history in Southeastern Europe. The first such journal was launched in 2000 in Zagreb (National Security and the Future) under the editorship of the first head of the Croatian intelligence service, Prof. Miroslav Tudjman. In 2009, a new professional journal appeared in Bucharest under the auspices of the National Intelligence Academy, the Romanian Intelligence Studies Review, which has had an English edition since 2014. Another regional exemplar was published ←3 | 4→in Athens under the auspices of an independent expert institution R.I.E.A.S. (Research Institute for European and American Studies) in 2014, initially known as the Journal of Mediterranean and Balkan Intelligence, but since renamed in 2018 to the Journal of European and American Intelligence Studies.

The present volume is a new effort to unpack the nature of the connection between intelligence and diplomatic history. It is not an exercise in abstract theorizing, but a volume of empirical studies paying attention to Balkan intelligence and diplomatic activities, and to their impact on both politics and societies. This regional focus on the Balkans was determined by the fact that the area has always carried a prominent role in European intelligence/diplomatic activities over the centuries, with numerous intelligence organizations still being present in the Balkans, whether openly or covertly. The aim of this volume is to analyze and put into debate various practical facets of intelligence and diplomatic activities in the Balkans and to provide a better understanding on what a historical perspective can add to our explicit understanding of intelligence and diplomacy more generally. The book consists of twelve chapters by authors from various academic institutions in nine European countries. The academic status of the contributors ranks from young researchers and doctoral students to well-established scholars. This diversity of geography, voices, and career status provides one of the most unique approaches on the subject in recent memory.

There are some logical limits to the scope of the volume and some brief observations about the challenges of writing on Balkan intelligence and diplomatic history. It was necessary to clarify selection criteria and frameworks in order to make a final selection of the numerous received proposals, which overall came from 13 countries (eight of them from the Balkan region directly). It was very hard to ensure a balance between thematic, geographic, and chronological criteria when there were so many disparate proposals that really were only loosely connected to one another. Therefore, the proposals themselves organically imposed a thematic selection, which clarified the chronological issue as well: new insights, sources, and interpretations from young promising scholars and their various national historiographic schools. Most of the proposals are based on the case study approach, which is quite logical since the area of Intelligence History and Intelligence Studies is still new for contemporary historiography in the Balkans. There were a few proposals on public diplomacy and on “diplomacy without a state,” as was the case of Adam Czartoryski’s “embassy” in Paris and its intention to construct the first intelligence network in the Balkans. It was agreed to include several well-known topics and personalities for national historiography, but also some that were not well known from a regional or international perspective, such as the case of Stojan Novakovič.

From a geographic perspective, the papers selected correspond with the main goal of the volume, to view the Balkans both as object and subject in a regional ←4 | 5→European perspective. We had to exclude some topics, such as the evolution of intelligence organizational structures and analysis, multilevel regional diplomacy, and Great Power influence, and in part a theoretical dimension, which is logical since the size and scope of the present volume needed to stay consistent and not too unwieldy in terms of size. As Winston Churchill said and as this book shows, the Balkans have always produced more history than it could consume. We believe one chief reason for that is because of how intelligence and diplomacy have always been intertwined, creating a nexus of political, ethnic, economic, and strategic importance that far exceeds what the region should rightfully be able to produce. In this respect, the potential of an eventual second volume about the Russian influence in the Balkans is quite promising. Perhaps even the idea of developing a Balkan Network for Intelligence and Diplomatic History can emerge from the present volume’s success.

The volume is divided into two balanced parts. Part I is People Who Shaped Intelligence and Diplomacy in the Balkans, comprised of six semi-biographical chapters with a focus on a little researched area: “the impact of culture on intelligence gathering and perceptions, where qualitative understanding of individual and group interpretations is essential to expanding upon existing work”.14 Special attention was paid to the human factor, with several studies focused on quite prominent national individuals in the field of diplomacy and intelligence: Stojan Novakovič, Adam Czartoryski, Josip Djerdja, and Jovan Dučić. Specific references were made to archives from various national archival departments, such as the diplomatic reports of Venetian dragomans kept in the State Archives of Zadar, Croatia; Stojan Novakovič’s personal collection from the Serbian Archives; diaries and memoirs from the Czartoryski Archives and the Czartoryski Museum in Krakow; the Josip Djerdja reports from the Archives of Yugoslavia and the Diplomatic Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia; and the Jovan Dučić reports from the Archives of Yugoslavia.

Part II is entitled The “Shades” of Intelligence and Diplomatic Activities in the Balkans, presenting six more chapters, mainly focused on the development of bilateral relations between Balkan states and their contacts and collaborations with other European countries. These were largely researched from national archives such as the Bulgarian and Czech National Archives, the Great Britain Foreign Office Archives, the Archive of the T. G. Masaryk Institute from Prague, the Swiss Federal Archives, the U.N. and League of Nations Archives in Geneva, the Archives of Contemporary History from Zurich, and the Historical Archives of the Albanian Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs in Tirana. Taken together, the volume’s two parts present readers with little-known documentation of both people and engagements that in fact had significant impact ←5 | 6→on intelligence/diplomatic history across this critically important region from the fifteenth all the way to the twenty-first century.

The first chapter from Part I discusses the early modern diplomatic history of frontier societies in the border zone of coexistence and conflict between the Ottoman Empire and the catholic Republic of Venetia in the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries. Maja PERIĆ reveals more thoroughly some not very well-known cross-cultural regional diplomatic sources in the state archives of Zadar, Croatia, viewing the specific function of Dragomans not just in their formal role of translators but also as special messengers, negotiators, and de facto intelligence actors.

The second chapter is dedicated to the intelligence mission of a young officer with noble German-Swedish-Finnish origin in the Russian armyOtto von Essen. During the Russian-Turkish War of 1828–29, he was entrusted to gather and provide to the army staff actual military intelligence information from his trips to the current territories of Moldova, Romania, and Bulgaria. Sabira STÅHLBERG explains “the human side of spying in a historical context”, analyzing the 1830 memoirs of an intelligence officer with a multicultural background and who acted in the totally different sociocultural environment of early nineteenth-century Balkans.

Abdurrahman İÇYER dedicates his biographical study to the prominent Serbian historian, politician, and diplomat Stojan Novaković. His life and legacy were viewed not only from a national, but also transnational perspective, since Novaković was mentioned by historians with Austrophile, Turkophile, and Russophile approaches. However, Stojan Novakovic ultimately remained an ardent supporter to the national doctrine for a Greater Serbia.

Tomasz Jacek LIS focuses his research on a unique story of European diplomacy and intelligence in the nineteenth century. Though an independent Polish state did not exist in the mid-nineteenth century, the activity of Prince Adam Czartoryski in exile in France (after serving as Russian foreign minister) was considered service in favor of his fatherland. Even official Polish historiography nowadays describes the residence of Czartoryski in Hotel Lambert in Paris as the temporary but official location of the Polish foreign ministry.15 At the same time, the Polish Prince and his noble collaborators established an intelligence network in the Balkans, operating from Constantinople, that worked for France and Great Britain against Russian and Austrian activities in the Balkans. Later, some of them offered their services in favor of the Ottoman Empire. The most popular was Michal Czajkowski (known as Mehmet Sadık Paşa), who fascinatingly created, at the beginning of the Crimean War in 1853, the first regular Christian military unit inside the Muslim Ottoman army (a Cossack regiment) to fight against the Russians.16

←6 | 7→The last two chapters of Part I examine episodes of twentieth-century Yugoslav diplomacy. Božica SLAVKOVIĆ MIRIĆ studies a significant period in postwar Yugoslav-Albanian bilateral relations (1945–48), with the special role played in its intensive development by Ambassador Josip Djerdja. The research is based on newly revealed documents from political and diplomatic archives in Belgrade. Danilo BOSNIĆ and Djordje MILIĆ present the profile of “poet-diplomat” Jovan Dučić, who performed his diplomatic duties in one of the most difficult moments in the history of interwar Yugoslavia. During his long-term diplomatic career, Dučić had 13 missions in eight European countries, including serving as head of the Yugoslav mission in Italy (1933–37) and Romania (1937–39).


XIV, 326
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2023 (January)
Balkans History Intelligence Diplomacy Archive Connection Covert actions Network Insights Relations Historical perspective Challenges Bogdan Teodor South-East European History Jordan Baev Matthew Crosston Mihaela Teodor Old and New Insights on the History of Intelligence and Diplomacy in the Balkans
New York, Berlin, Bruxelles, Lausanne, Oxford, 2023. XIV, 326 pp., 6 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Bogdan Teodor (Volume editor) Jordan Baev (Volume editor) Matthew Crosston (Volume editor) Mihaela Teodor (Volume editor)

Bogdan Teodor has a PhD in history in 2011 from ‘Alexandru Ioan Cuza’ University of Iași, Romania, as well as an MA in European and security studies and a BA in contemporary history from the same university. Currently he is an associate professor in intelligence history and security studies at ‘Mihai Viteazul’ National Intelligence Academy, Romania. Jordan Baev has a PhD in contemporary history from Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (1982). In 1996 he was elected Associate Professor in Security Studies, in 2013 Full Professor in International History at Rakovski National Defense College, and since 2019 he is a visiting professor in Intelligence History at Sofia University. He has written more than 300 publications in fourteen languages, published in 25 countries, on diplomatic, military and intelligence history. Matthew Crosston has a PhD from Brown University and an MA from the University of London. Currently he is Director of Academic Transformation at Bowie State University. He is widely published and sought after on issues of war, intelligence studies, national security, education innovation, and change leadership. Mihaela Teodor has a PhD in history in 2011 from ‘Alexandru Ioan Cuza’ University of Iași, Romania, as well as an MA in European and security studies and a BA in history and French language from the same university. She is Senior Researcher in the security studies domain at the National Intelligence Institute, ANIMV ‘Mihai Viteazul’ National Intelligence Academy, Romania.


Title: Old and New Insights on the History of Intelligence and Diplomacy in the Balkans
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