The Balkan Troubles

The Balkan Troubles I. Introduction Print section Balkan Wars, two consecutive wars fought from 1912 to 1913 among the countries of the Balkan Peninsula for possession of European territories held by the Ottoman Empire. The Balkan Wars severely damaged European alliances and helped kindle the volatile conditions that led to the outbreak of World War I (1914-1918). II. Background Print section At the close of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, the Treaty of Berlin, signed on July 13, 1878, provided for an autonomous principality of Bulgaria. The remaining Bulgarian province, called Eastern Rumelia, was placed under the control of the Ottoman Turks.

In 1885 a revolution broke out in Eastern Rumelia, and the province was joined to Bulgaria proper. That voluntary annexation led to trouble with Russia. The tsar withdrew all Russian officers then serving in the Bulgarian army, and King Milan of Serbia thought it a good time to realize his territorial aspirations. On November 14, 1885, Serbia declared war on Bulgaria. In a campaign that lasted less than five months, Serbia was defeated but was saved from absolute destruction by the intervention of Austria. A series of conspiracies followed.

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The Bulgarian ruler, Prince Alexander I of Battenberg, was abducted by Russian and Bulgarian conspirators but was recaptured in a few days. He was forced to abdicate and left the country in September 1886. Prince Ferdinand I of the house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha succeeded Alexander as ruler a year later. Austria played a conspicuous role in these Balkan disturbances. The Austrian foreign ministers tried to establish internal discord between the Slav countries (Bulgaria and Serbia) and the non-Slav ones (Greece and Romania).

War almost broke out again in 1908 when Austria annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, a step bitterly resented by Serbia. III. First Balkan War Print section The Balkan states saw in the Turkish revolution of 1908-1909 and the Italo-Turkish War of 1911-1912 an opportunity to retaliate against the Turks, their former oppressors. In March 1912, Serbia arranged a treaty of alliance with Bulgaria. Greece concluded a military convention with Bulgaria the following May. Tension increased steadily in the Balkan Peninsula during the summer of 1912, especially after August 14, when Bulgaria dispatched a note to the Turks demanding that Macedonia, then a Turkish province, be granted autonomy.

The Balkan states began to mobilize on September 30, and eight days later Montenegro declared war on the Ottoman Empire. On October 18 the Balkan allies entered the war on the side of Montenegro, precipitating the First Balkan War. The Balkan Alliance won a series of decisive victories over the Turks during the next two months, forcing them to relinquish Albania, Macedonia, and practically all their other holdings in southeast Europe. Late in November the Turks sued for an armistice. An armistice agreement was signed on December 3 by all the Balkan allies except Greece, which continued military operations against the Turks. Later in the month, representatives of the belligerents and the major European powers met in London to decide the Balkan question.

The Turks rejected the peace conditions demanded by the Balkan states, and the conference ended in failure on January 6, 1913. On January 23, a successful coup d’tat brought an extreme nationalist grouping to power in the Ottoman Empire, and within a week fighting resumed. In the subsequent fighting Greece captured Ionnina, Albania, and Adrianople (now Edirne, Turkey) fell to Bulgaria. The Turks obtained an armistice with Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia on April 19, 1913. Montenegro accepted the armistice a few days later.

Another peace conference, with the major European powers again acting as mediators, met at London on May 20. By the terms of the Treaty of London, concluded on May 30, the Turks ceded the island of Crete (Krti) to Greece and relinquished all territories in Europe west of a line between the Black Sea port of Midye and Enez, a town on the coast of the Aegean Sea. Boundary questions and the status of Albania and the Aegean Islands were referred to an international commission. IV. Second Balkan War Print section The Treaty of London created friction among the Balkan allies, especially between Serbia and Bulgaria.

Among the causes of the friction was the Bulgarian refusal to recognize the Serbian claim to certain Bulgarian-held portions of Macedonia. In addition, Serbia was resentful because it failed to obtain territory along the Adriatic Sea. On June 1, 1913, Greece and Serbia concluded an alliance aimed against Bulgaria. The Second Balkan War began on June 29. On that date a Bulgarian general, acting without orders from his government, launched an attack on Serbian defensive positions.

The Bulgarian government disavowed this attack, but on July 8 Serbia and Greece declared war. Within the next two weeks Montenegro, Romania, and the Ottoman Empire entered the war against Bulgaria. On July 30, Bulgaria, unable to withstand this coalition, asked for and received an armistice. By the ensuing peace agreement, signed at Bucharest, Romania, on August 10, Bulgaria lost considerable territory, including nearly 7770 sq km (nearly 3000 sq mi) allotted to Romania. The agreement, among other things, awarded most of Macedonia to Serbia and Greece. By later agreements Bulgaria also yielded a large territory to the Turks. Bibliography The best balkan stuff u can get History Essays.