“For us, the Bulgarian people, the name of Neuilly is not related to the beautiful districts, but to that of a catastrophe” affirms the Bulgarian professor Daniel Vatchkov, director of the Institute of the historical studies in his native country. In front of him, a hundred Neuilléens and diplomats gathered at the Hôtel de Ville in Neuilly-sur-Seine.
This Wednesday evening, the municipality decided to arrange its village hall, where the Treaty of Neuilly was signed, as it was a century earlier today. Under the gold of the Republic and the City, large tables covered with purple fabric frame the office where Georges Clemenceau – then Prime Minister – and Alexandre Stamboulisky – his Bulgarian counterpart – signed this text on November 27, 1919.
Less known than that of Versailles, which settled the fate of Germany after the First World War, the Treaty of Neuilly decided the fate of Bulgaria. “The war indemnities represented more or less the annual budget of the country, which made its reimbursement impossible, details the Bulgarian historian. The army was no longer allowed to be offensive, which gave the impression that Bulgaria could no longer defend itself against its neighbors and, above all, the modification of the borders had caused significant migratory flows. So many factors that put the country in difficulty in the following decades.
Local history to discover
An often overlooked story of Neuilleens. “It is one of the great treaties of the post-war period. We thought we had to explain it and above all make it known”, explains Jean-Christophe Fromantin mayor (DVD) of the city. The choice of Neuilly-sur-Seine would have followed two imperatives: a comfortable setting and close to Paris but also, it is said, because Clemenceau would have been keen to house the Bulgarian delegation in a city which suffered from the Prussian occupation in 1870.
At the end of the negotiations, even if they were not successful, the Bulgarian Prime Minister wrote a letter of thanks to the inhabitants of the city for their behavior. This letter, as well as many explanations around the history of the Treaty, can be read by all.
Because beyond this ceremony, the town hall also mounted an exhibition in this reconstructed village hall, with a dozen explanatory panels on the different actors, the context, the consequences but also the process of this signature.
This route is also enriched with photographs, maps and period films in the decorated room as in 1919. This visit also allows you to discover a huge fresco representing this signature inside the municipal council hall. “When you chair the municipal council you only see that,” smiles Jean-Christophe Fromantin. The visit to this exhibition is free during the opening hours of the town hall.
“It is not treaties that are bad, it is wars”
The idea of celebrating this historic event follows a report by Bulgarian television in Neuilly-sur-Seine. From there, the mayor got in touch with the Bulgarian ambassador to organize this commemoration. “Living through this event allows us to realize that peace is precarious and that it is not a simple thing,” explains the city councilor. The intensity of this ceremony shows that history is not just written on paper. “
A state of mind shared by the Bulgarian historian Daniel Vatchkov. “I was surprised by this approach, he admits, but I take it as therapy: when there is a problem, you have to talk about it and make it known. But the most important thing is to appreciate peace because it is not treaties that are bad, it is wars. But when the periods of peace are too long, we tend to forget it. “
After the speeches of the various ambassadors and their representatives, the European anthem was sung. The assembly then rose silent. The Bulgarian ambassador, associated with this initiative, unfortunately had a last minute impediment. As a result, the signing of the city’s guest book could not be done as planned. But for the mayor, this is only a postponement.
Exhibition in free visit to the town hall of Neuilly-sur-Seine during the opening hours of the town hall until Wednesday, December 4 at noon.