Berlin Congress of 1878 and Balkan War

The treaty of San-Stefano caused tension for the Britain and other western European Powers. So, the rising tension led to an another event in the world history. It was led by the great leader Bismarck from Germany, British Prime Minister Disraeli, and other delegates from the Austria and Russia.

Britain initially asked Tsarist Russia to amend the provisions of the treaty of San-Stefano but Russia refused to do so. The circumstance led to the Berlin Congress of 1878. The conference also prepared the ground for the two Balkan War.

Berlin Congress of 1878

Till now the centre of activities was Vienna, London and Paris. For the first time, Berlin got the chance to host an international event. So, this was enough to show that Germany was rising. The important decisions of Berlin Congress of 1878 were:

  1. Bulgaria was divided and kept under the protection of Turkey.
  2. The Black Sea became the neutral zone.
  3. To maintain the balance of power, Britain took Cyprus and Austria took Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Berlin Congress of 1878
Berlin Congress of 1878

Berlin Congress of 1878 succeeded in maintaining peace for some time. In long run, Berlin Congress of 1878 created the ground for the first World War because of the following reasons:

  1. The decisions of Berlin Congress of 1878 annoyed the Russia. Russia felt humiliations and moved closer to the France. They came out with the Franco-Russia Military Convention in 1892.
  2. According to Berlin Congress of 1878, Bosnia-Herzegovina was given to Austria. This was unacceptable to Serbia because Serbia considered Bosnia-Herzegovina as its own territory.
  3. By hosting this congress at Berlin, Germany indirectly entered into Eastern Question.

In this way, Berlin Congress of 1878 made the peace but created the ground for big upheaval. After the Berlin Congress of 1878 Britain, France, Germany, Austria and Italy were on the one side. So, while Russia was alone.

In this scenario, it was not possible for Russia to directly fought for its interest. So, Tsarist Russia opted for the indirect path which gave birth to new development in Eastern Europe i.e. Pan-Slavism.


The Balkan Region

The countries which are located nearby the Balkan Range are known as Balkan Countries. Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovenia, Greece, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, Kosovo etc. are the Balkan Countries. The powerful states of the surrounding areas were having their eye on these states.

The Balkan Region was the powder keg of Europe. On its north-western frontier, there was Austro-Hungarian Empire and on its south-east frontier, there was declining Ottoman Empire. Russia was on the eastern side of these states. Due to its geostrategic location, major European powers were interested in the Balkan Region.

Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire

So, gradually there developed a feeling of nationalism. The inhabitants of these countries were Slav people. Slowly and gradually they started their nationalistic movements. So, this was the Pan-Slavism movement. Russia gave its support to these Slav nations.

Pan-Slavism and Young Turk Movement

Under Pan-Slavism, the objective of Serbia was to unite all the areas dominated by the Slav people. Actually, Serbia wanted to establish a greater Serbia. The young Ottoman Turks also started a Young Turk Movement in 1910. Its objective was to counter the Pan-Slavism.

The intelligent and military officials of Turkey started the Young Turk Movement. Their core objective was political and cultural reforms. So, under the political reforms, they demanded civil rights, freedom of expression etc. In cultural reforms, the objective was to promote Turkish culture especially the Turkish language in the entire Ottoman Empire.

The Pan-Slavism and Young Turk Movement created the ground for the cultural clash between eastern Europe and Turkey. So, it was clear that there was going to be the war in future. As a precautionary step Greece, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Serbia united and from Balkan League in 1911. So, this prepared the ground for the two Balkan Wars.

Balkan Wars

First Balkan War

After the long war of 300 years, in eastern Europe, Turkey was completely exhausted. Taking the advantage of the situation, Austria purchased Bosnia-Herzegovina from Turkey in 1911. In this irritation, Montenegro attacked Turkey in 1912. So, it immediately got the backing of Balkan League, leading to first Balkan War of 1912.

In this war, Montenegro defeated Turkey. Turkey was economically and politically exhausted. So, by the London Agreement of 1913, Turkey left its claim on eastern Europe. So, this fulfilled the dream of independence for eastern Europen nations. From here, started the story of Second Balkan War.

Balkan League 1911
Balkan League 1911

Second Balkan War

In 1913, Balkan nations got independence. But after this, they started fighting among themselves for territories. In 1913, Montenegro attacked Serbia. So, this saw the involvement of entire eastern European nations leading to Second Balkan War.

So, the situation was tensed in eastern Europe. In this on 28th June 1914, an incident took place in the Serbia which became the immediate cause of the First World War.

We will discuss Archduke Ferdinand Episode in next coming post. 🙂

Thank you so much. 🙂 Stay Connected. 🙂

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