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Chapter 12

The Balkans
Between the Great Powers


In 1870, most of the Balkans were still under Ottoman control, with the exception of the few Balkan Christian groups who had managed to free themselves and form their own independent states. The Greeks were one of these groups, although independent Greece still only included the Peloponnese, Attica and a few of the Cycladian islands. The Serbs were another group, although autonomous Serbia far from including all of the Serbian people. Some Serbian refugees of the 17th and l 8th centuries became Austrian or Hungarian subjects; others remained under Turkish rule. The Montenegrins had an independent patriarchal state, and finally, by means of the Crimean War, the Rumanians created an autonomous principality, although many Rumanians still lived outside of it in Transylvania and Bukovina. The Bulgars, the Albanians, numerous Macedonian and Bosnia-Herzegovinian Serbs remained Ottoman subjects. Repeated intervention by the Great Powers in the Balkans during the first two-thirds of the 19th century was considered an encouraging sign by the Turkish-ruled populations. The United Kingdom was strongly opposed to the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, especially in any way that might allow the Russians access to the eastern Mediterranean. The British attitude

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hardened in 1869 when the opening of the Suez Canal made the Mediterranean the shortest route to India. Russia and, to a lesser degree, Austria-Hungary, watched everything that happened in the Balkans with great interest. Both hoped to see the Turks leave, in theory to liberate the Christian peoples, but also for other obvious political and economic reasons. For the Russians, the Balkans could open a gate to the sea. To the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, the Balkans seemed a natural geographic extension of the Empire. Part of the Empire's population had racial kin living in the Balkans, so Russian presence in the region threatened the cohesion of the Dual Monarchy; Russian-liberated Slavic states acted as magnets, attracting Slavs away from Austria-Hungary. Therefore, as far as Vienna was concerned, if the Balkans had to be liberated, better it be by Austria-Hungary than by Russia.

This conflict of interests, latent since the beginning of the century, began to develop into a pronounced rivalry in the 1870s. During that time, Russia appeared particularly interested in the Bulgarians. As we noted in previous chapters, national consciousness came late to the Bulgarians, but by 1870, Bulgarian patriots had become more active. Most of them were living in exile in Rumania, and under the leadership of Basil Levski (1837-1873) and Ljuben Karavelov (1834-1891), they began to pave the way for revolt. They were in contact with members of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Revolution, a secret organization in existence since 1869. They also distributed subversive literature and organized terrorist attacks. Levski was caught participating in such an act, and was executed in February, 1873. The Russian government supported Bulgarian aspirations for independence, both through a committee to aid the Slavs created in 1856 in St. Petersburg, and through the diplomatic channels of Ambassador Ignatiev at Constantinople. One concrete result occurred in 1870; the Bulgarian church gained its independence from the patriarchate at Constantinople, and an independent Bulgarian exarchate was created with authority over Macedonia and all of Bulgaria proper. Then the Russian government began to feel the negative effects of Bulgarian activism within Russia, and hesitated to encourage further acts of terrorism.

Austro-Hungarian authorities had little interest in Bulgaria and made no effort to hinder Russia's actions there. They were attentive, however, to happenings in Bosnia-Herzegovina whose territory adjoined autonomous Serbia and Montenegro. The Austro-Hungarians hoped that the eventual liberation of Bosnia-Herzegovina would not lead to an expansion of Serbia toward the Adriatic, because Serbia's access to the Adriatic could eventually benefit Russia. In the spring of 1875, Emperor Franz Joseph took a trip to inspect the Dalmatian and Croatian border with the Ottoman Empire. The Slavic population of Bosnia-Herzegovina took this as a cue to rise up against

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the Turks, who were experiencing a serious political and financial crisis. Sultan Abdul-Aziz I (1861-1876) was again pressuring his subjects in the Ottoman Empire in order to cover interest payments on the foreign debt. Officially sanctioned extortion by Turkish tax collectors provoked an insurrection in a Serbian village of Herzegovina in July, 1875. Within a few weeks the unrest had spread throughout the province and into Bosnia. Volunteers from Serbia joined the revolutionaries. The Turks reacted violently, massacring the civilian population, but the insurrection left its mark. In April, 1876, Bulgarian revolutionary committees unleashed a general revolt. Bulgarian exiles from Rumania came to lend a hand to their compatriots under the leadership of Hristo Botev. The Great Powers intervened on behalf of the sultan, demanding payment of Turkish debts and an improvement of the lot of the Christian populations. This intervention, which came at a time when new revolts were breaking out everywhere, provoked a nationalistic reaction from the Turks; in Salonika, they assassinated the French and German consuls and harassed European residents.

Despite repression, the revolutionary movement gathered force in the Balkans. In July, 1876, Serbia and Montenegro entered the fray. These two countries hoped to share Bosnia-Herzegovina, and together were trying to contain any expansion of liberated Bulgarians to the west. The struggle against the Turks had not diluted ancestral rivalries between the Serbs and the Bulgarians. The Serbs were quickly defeated by the Turks, but the Montenegrins, commanded by the Russian general Tchernaiev, fared better.

The rapid deterioration of the Ottoman Empire led first to a palace revolt in Constantinople. In May, 1876, Abdul-Aziz was deposed by his nephew Murad, who went mad shortly thereafter and was deposed in turn on August 30,1876, by his brother Abdul-Hamid Il(1876-1909). In view of the mounting disturbances and the severe repression that resulted, Austria- Hungary and Russia agreed on an eventual joint intervention. In July, 1 876, Count Andrassy met with his Russian counterpart Gorchakov in Bohemia, and the two diplomats worked out a division of the Balkans: the west, or Bosnia-Herzegovina, would go to Austria-Hungary, and the east, or Bulgaria, would become Russia's.

In Constantinople, agents of the Great Powers continued negotiations with the sultan. The British were anxious to humor the Turks and settled for vague promises that the lot of the Christians would be improved. But Russia, supported by Austria-Hungary, insisted on definite commitments from the Turks. The Turks replied with dishonesty and Turkish partisans proceeded to carry out new massacres in Bulgaria, provoking a Russian declaration of war on April 24, 1877. The Russians attacked on two fronts, in the Caucasus in the direction of Armenia, and in Bulgaria toward Constantinople.

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Armenia and Bulgaria were quickly liberated. The Turks requested an armistice on January 3 1, 1878, and signed the Treaty of San Stefano on the following March 3. The treaty represented a major victory for Russia and at the same time guaranteed the liberation of nearly all the Balkan peoples. States that were already autonomous, such as Rumania, Serbia and Montenegro, gained total independence and slightly expanded their territories. An autonomous greater Bulgaria, under Russian influence, came into being. Russia expanded its territory in Asia Minor with Kars Ardahan and Batum, then annexed Bessarabia, which had been ceded by Rumania. Rumania in turn received part of Bulgarian Dobrudja in compensation. As expected, Austria-Hungary took over the administration of Bosnia- Herzegovina.

Great Britain, and to a lesser extent, Austria-Hungary, reacted sharply to this Russian presence in the Balkans. Disraeli, the English prime minister, threatened to intervene and promised the Turks his support. (The Turks later reciprocated by ceding Cyprus to the English.) In view of the agitated emotional climate in Great Britain, Gorchakov agreed to the meeting of a European congress suggested by Bismarck. At the Congress of Berlin (June 13-July 13, 1878), Russia lost ground. Rumania, Serbia and Montenegro remained independent, but the latter two countries had to give up some of what they had gained from the Treaty of San Stefano. Serbia kept Vranje, Nish and Pirot. Montenegro kept the port of Antivari. Greater Bulgaria was dismembered with the south remaining in the hands of the Turks; Rumelia was proclaimed a Turkish province, but with a Christian government and an autonomous administration; northwestern Bulgaria, including Sofia, became an autonomous principality. Thrace and Macedonia, assigned to greater Bulgaria at San Stefano, remained Turkish.

For the peoples concerned, the Congress of Berlin was highly upsetting. It was a painful failure of Russian policy in the Balkans even though they had held on to Kars, Batum and Bessarabia. Relations between St. Petersburg and Vienna, already deteriorating, suffered even more when Austria- Hungary retained control over certain areas. Its presence in Bosnia- Herzegovina and in the sanjak of Novi Pazar separated the Serbs from Montenegro and thus from all possibility of access to the Adriatic coast. For the Serbs, Austria became a potential adversary just as formidable as the Turks. The Bulgars, whose human losses had been considerable, were far from satisfied in losing Thrace and Macedonia. Once again, the Great Powers had looked after their own interests first when deciding the fate of the Balkan peoples.

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The coronation of Prince Charles of Hohenzollern in 1866 marked the beginning of independent Rumania. A constituent assembly elected by landholders and the bourgeoisie adopted a constitution in 1866 which made Rumania a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature. The senate had 120 members elected by the wealthier citizens, while members of the chamber of deputies were elected by quasi-universal suffrage. Until World War I, Rumanian politics were dominated by the Boyars and the large landowners, and by the Liberal party of John Bratianu which defended the interests of the bourgeoisie.

Matters of foreign policy played a major role throughout this period. The Rumanian parliament took advantage of the Russo-Turkish war to declare total independence on May 21, 1877, which was ratified by the Treaty of San Stefano and the Congress of Berlin. The Rumanian army also fought alongside the Russians in the war for Bulgarian liberation. Shortly thereafter, in 1881, Prince Charles took the title of King of Rumania. His long reign (1881-1914) coincided with Rumania's entry into international politics. With family ties to the Hohenzollerns of Germany, King Charles had a natural preference for the central empires. In 1883, on the advice of most of his ministers, he made a secret agreement with Austria-Hungary and remained faithful to this alliance despite public opinion, which tended towards France.

Throughout this period, most of the politically aware and the population as a whole demonstrated a kind of uncompromising nationalism which surfaced in two forms. The first, irredentism, represented a desire to gather all Rumanians together within a single state. Territories they considered irredenta, or belonging to them because they contained a large proportion of Rumanian inhabitants, were Bessarabia, ceded to the Russians in 1878, and Transylvania. Transylvania had been Hungarian since the time when the ancestors of the Rumanians were still in Albania, but the Rumanians had been moving there gradually since the 13th century, eventually making up half of the population. Nationalist elements in Bucharest financed the activities of the National Rumanian party in Transylvania, and offered scholarships to Rumanians on the outside who wanted to come and study in Bucharest. The Cultural League, founded in 1890, strengthened the links between Rumanian intellectual circles in Rumania and Transylvania.

The second type of Rumanian nationalism took shape as anti-Semitism. This anti-Semitism was facilitated by legislation; as late as 1888, the Court of Appeals still denied Rumanian nationality to Jews, even those born in

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Rumania. This was contrary to the resolutions of the Congress of Berlin which had given equal rights to all the inhabitants of the newly independent countries. The only way for Jews to escape subjugation was to request naturalization, but between 1880 and 1900 only 200 naturalizations were granted. Moreover, there were hundreds of pogroms which were met with complicity by the authorities. Parisian academics were quick to lash out against Austria-Hungary during the trial of the petitioners in 1894, when several Transylvanian Rumanians were condemned to prison and freed the following year; but these same academics remained strangely silent on the matter of the daily persecution of Jewish victims in Rumania, and were willing to sacrifice the 100,000 Transylvanian Jews to Rumanian irredentism. Socially, Rumania was particularly traditional. Most of the people were poor peasants. In spite of the poorly managed agrarian reform of 1864, the peasants' condition deteriorated because available plots of land became inadequate to meet the rapidly increasing population. Demands on the land grew and were joined by heavy taxation, made even heavier by a corrupt administration. Two major peasant revolts broke out, one in March, 1888, and a more serious one in February-March, 1907. The latter uprising was brutally suppressed by the army under General Avarescu. In the Giurgiu region, the army resorted to artillery to subdue unruly villages. In the closing years of the 19th century, the birth of industry built on extraction of resources (oil from Ploesti, for example), and on processing of agricultural products, led to the formation of the Social Democratic Workers' party of Rumania in 1893. This party sought to improve the harsh living conditions of the workers and to obtain universal suffrage. The Russian revolution of 1905 and the Rumanian uprising of 1907 reinforced the socialist movement which reorganized in 1910 to become the Marxist-inspired Social Democratic party.

Serbia and Montenegro

The Congress of Berlin had recognized Serbia's independence, but the country was still small and archaically organized, with a population of a little over two million inhabitants. (Belgrade, the capital and the only major city, had less than 30,000 inhabitants.) With no access to the sea and no railroad -- the Belgrade-Nis line was only completed in 1881 -- Serbia consisted of peasants with small- and medium-sized holdings devoted principally to raising grains, trees, shrubs and pigs. The few existing industries specialized in processing agricultural products.

A long tradition of struggle against the Turkish occupying forces had hardened the Serbian peasants, who used their primitive tools as weapons with ardor. Even such arms were precious while the liberation of the Serb populations were still not complete. Some Serbs were still subjects of the Ottoman Empire while others were subjects of Austria-Hungary, and Serbia

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had not forgotten them. In addition to the Turks, the Serbs saw another enemy in Bulgaria who, like Serbia and Greece, had eyes on a key passageway between the worlds of the Danube and the Aegean: Macedonia.

Since the early 19th century, Serbia had been almost exclusively governed by princes from the Obrenovitch family. Michael (1859-1868), the son of Miloch, frequently visited western Europe. He knew his country was backward and hoped to modernize it, but his attempts at changes within the regime provoked opposition. After his assassination on June 10, 1868, possibly by a supporter of the rival Karageorgevitch dynasty, power went to a 14-year-old, French-educated nephew, Milan Obrenovitch. During Milan IV's reign (1861-1889), Serbian institutions were liberalized. The constitution of 1869 made the country a constitutional state in which, at least in principle, major freedoms were guaranteed. The prince, who took the title of king in 1882, retained executive powers but shared legislative powers with a parliament, the Skupshtina, which was composed of 160 delegates, 120 of them elected by the people and the rest appointed by the prince. There were two political parties. The liberal party was actually conservative, favoring alliance with Austria, and had the support of the wealthy peasants who saw Austria-Hungary as the natural market for agricultural surpluses. The radical party spoke for the poor peasants and favored closer ties with Russia. In the September, 1883 elections, the radicals won, but the king continued to rule with the conservatives. This led to a major peasant uprising which was severely suppressed. Milan IV provoked further conflict with his subjects when he divorced his immensely popular Russian wife, Natalie, in 1888. Faced with a mounting wave of discontent, the king brought out a new, more liberal constitution in 1888, in which all of the delegates to the parliament were to be elected.

Suddenly, on March 6, 1889, the king abdicated in favor of his 12-year-old son, Alexander, for whom he appointed three regents. The regents adopted a policy of extreme dependence on Austria-Hungary, and bloody political confrontations multiplied. King Alexander momentarily resolved the crisis when, on April 13, 1892, he made it known he was personally taking over the reins of government. The radicals, who held a majority in parliament, expected a lot from the young king, but were quickly disappointed. In 1894, Alexander abolished the constitution of 1888 and reverted to the more authoritarian one of 1869. In fact, Alexander I ruled as an absolute monarch, while his wife Draga, who was divorced from a Serbian officer, engaged in a variety of intrigues. Over 80 percent of Serbian trade was with Austria-Hungary, and these growing ties added to the general discontent. During the night of June 10, 1903, a military plot, organized by the brother of Queen Draga's ex-husband, resulted in the assassination of the king, the queen, all members of the Obrenovitch family and several

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ministers and court dignitaries. Several days later, the parliament unanimously decided on Peter Karageorgevitch as king. Thus the descendant of George the Black, hero of the uprising of 1804, became King Peter I.

The new sovereign had spent most of his life abroad. Peter I had fought in the French army under General Bourbaki in 1870-l871, and had distinguished himself at the battle of Villersexel. His coronation marked a decisive change in Serbia's foreign policy. Under Peter I, pro-Russianism took hold, and the king entrusted Nikola Pashitch, the head of the radical party and staunch supporter of alliance with Russia, with considerable power. The king immediately reinstated constitutional rule, and the elections brought in a solid radical majority.

Peter I turned to France for financial credit which he used to buy military equipment from Creusot. Austria-Hungary countered in 1905 by closing its border to Serbian agricultural products which were then sold to France. As a result of the coup d'etaf in Belgrade, Russia reversed its defeat at the Congress of Berlin.

In Montenegro, a tiny state of 3470 square miles and 236,000 inhabitants, independent since 1878, development was peaceful. Prince Nicholas (1860-1918) tried to modernize the country, reorganize the administration, and put an end to the patriarchal and tribal system that had characterized the country up until then. Economic progress led to the formation of an embryonic socialist party in 1903, under the direction of Jovan Hajdukovitch. Simultaneously, a liberal party favoring union with Serbia was created in educated circles, whose numbers had increased under the more open policy of the prince. Having proclaimed himself king of Montenegro, Nicholas gave his subjects a constitution in 1905, although he actually retained exclusive power and gave parliament only a minor role. Nevertheless, the majority of Montenegrins looked toward Belgrade for direction, rather than to their king.

Independent Bulgaria

The Congress of Berlin had created an autonomous Bulgarian principality of two million inhabitants, subject to the Ottoman Empire. Eastern Rumelia, with its 800,000 people, was made into an Ottoman province headed by a Christian governor at Plovdiv (Philipponpolis) chosen by common consent of the Great Powers and the sultan.

In conformance with the resolutions of Berlin, the Russians were responsible for setting up a government in the Bulgarian principality. A Constituent Assembly was elected and met at Tirnovo on February 22, 1879. Despite opposition from the conservatives supported by Russian authorities, the liberal majority in the assembly voted to adopt a constitution that granted power to a National Assembly, Sobranje, elected by universal suffrage. The

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office of chief of state was unanimously entrusted to Prince Alexander of Battenburg, a nephew by marriage of the Czar and an officer in the Prussian army. On July 31, 1879, the prince moved to Sofia, which was proclaimed the capital city. Prince Alexander knew that he had the support of Russia behind him when he began to set up a reign of personal power in Bulgaria. In April, 1881, he suspended the constitution. The Russians felt that through Prince Alexander, who was loyal to them, they could make the young Bulgaria a vassal principality. They were in for a disappointment because the prince wanted to retain his new authority and keep his country independent. In 1884, the Czar and his nephew broke off relations and the Russian advisors were sent home. In order to gain the popularity of the Bulgarian people -- who disliked his authoritarian regime -- Prince Alexander appealed to national pride by promoting Bulgarian unity. The National Assembly and the Rumanian population were pleased. On September 18, 1885, led by the writer Zachary Stojanov, Rumanians who wanted to unite with Bulgaria seized power at Plovdiv. Two days later, Prince Alexander triumphantly entered the capital of Rumania.

After five centuries of Ottoman domination, the Bulgarian people were reunited within an independent state of 3,500,000 inhabitants. Unified Bulgaria remained fragile, however; Turkey refused to recognize the forceful takeover, and Serbia, faced with the disquieting prospect of a powerful state at its borders, took the offensive and attacked. The Serbian army was easily beaten at Slivnitza on November 5, 1 885, and only the mediation of Austria saved Serbia from an even greater catastrophe. An international conference held at Constantinople recognized the de facto union of the two Bulgarian principalities. This personal triumph of Prince Alexander, the "hero of Slivnitza, " provoked the wrath of the Czar. A regiment led by officers sympathetic to Russia invaded the royal palace and forced Alexander to abdicate on August 9, 1886. The Bulgarian people fought back, and the president of the National Assembly, Stefan Stambulov, called back the sovereign to whom the Bulgarians owed their unification. Prince Alexander then returned to his capital, while the Russian government continued to demand his resignation.

Stambulov, who held the reins of power and had popular support, became the spokesman for Bulgarian nationalism confronting this Russian interference. Russophile elements were weeded out of the army, and elections held in late 1886 resulted in a wide majority for the anti-Russian nationalists. Stambulov then began his search for a prince to reign over Bulgaria, for in late-19th century Europe it was inconceivable for an independent state to become a republic. After long negotiations with the Great Powers, Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg was called to the throne on July 7, 1887, by an

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overwhelming majority in the Bulgarian assembly. Until then, the new prince had served as an officer in the Austro-Hungarian army. He came from a family that had given Belgium its first king, Leopold I, and had given England a husband for Queen Victoria, Prince Albert. His maternal grandfather was none other than King Louis-Philippe. Thus, the coronation of Prince Ferdinand was generally considered a victory for Austria-Hungary and Germany, and a second setback for Russia in Bulgaria. The Russian government refused to recognize the new prince for a long time. Russia came out of the affair embittered; it had assisted in the emancipation of Bulgaria in the hope of acquiring a subordinate state, but twice successively Bulgarians and their chosen princes had refused to substitute the Russian yoke for Ottoman domination.

During the first years of Ferdinand's reign, Stambulov was the power behind the throne. He resigned in May, 1894, and in July of 1 895 was assassinated. From that time on, Prince Ferdinand himself governed with the support of a coalition of conservatives and liberal Stambulists. As the century drew to a close, new political groups began to form alongside the traditional parties. The Social-Democratic party, champion of the budding working class, was founded secretly in 1891 by Dimitri Blagoev (1856-1924). It was later strengthened by Georgi Dimitrov (1882-1949) with the creation of the first Socialist Union in 1904, and by the Agrarian Union in 1899 which promoted agrarian reform and the abolishment of peasant debts. The Bulgarian working class was small in number, and the effects of its Social-Democratic party were correspondingly weak. Under the leadership of Alexander Stambolijski (1879-1923), the Agrarian Union made rapid progress among the peasants and managed to obtain 29 percent of the vote in the 1911 elections.

Despite all the political activity, Bulgaria was still theoretically under Ottoman rule. Autonomy was not independence, regardless of the similarities. This equivocal situation was settled on September 22, 1908. Taking advantage of the Ottoman Empire's internal difficulties and of the international crisis provoked by the Austro-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Prince Ferdinand declared the kingdom of Bulgaria independent and proclaimed himself Czar of the Bulgarians, a title once used by his medieval forbearers.

At the dawn of the 20th century, three Balkan states gained control of their destinies. They had much in common politically, socially, and economically, with their authoritarian monarchies and essentially peasant societies. Foreign policy, however, divided them and even put them in opposition. Some were proteges of Austria-Hungary (Serbia and Bulgaria, and then Bulgaria alone), while others were dependent on Russia (Rumania, Montenegro and Bulgaria at first, then Rumania, Montenegro and Serbia).

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At that moment in history, the Great Powers were divided into two antagonistic factions, the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, and the Triple Entente of France, Britain and Russia. Clearly, there was some danger in reproducing these divisions on a small scale in the Balkans, even more so since there were numerous quarrelsome elements among the Balkan people, and the slightest dispute could generate a conflict.


By the beginning of the 20th century, the unstable Balkan peninsula had become a jousting field for Austria-Hungary and Russia, who confronted each other through the Bulgarians and the Serbs. Meanwhile, many ambitions were aroused by the progressive vulnerability of the Turkish Empire still controlling the Christian populations of Macedonia, Thrace and Albania. These were to flare up violently in the years preceding World War I.

The Macedonian Problem

The Congress of Berlin had left Macedonia to the Turks, to the great disappointment of the Greeks, Serbs and Bulgarians, each of whom claimed legitimate rights to the territory. Before the Turkish conquest, the area belonged to the Byzantine Empire and was frequently under Bulgarian and Serbian attack. By the early 20th century, Macedonians numbered about three million, living in the Vardar Valley and the surrounding mountainous regions. They were divided into three main nationalities: a Greek majority lived on the Aegean coast with the port city Salonika, with islands of Turks and Bulgarians; Serbs were present throughout the interior of the country, with a high concentration around Skopje, but were usually a minority in the interior compared to the Bulgarian population; Bulgarian influence was great, and strengthened noticeably with the creation of an independent Bulgarian exarchate in 1870, with jurisdiction over all of Macedonia. Besides these three major nationalities making up roughly four-fifths of the population, there were a multitude of other ethnic groups: Albanians and Vlachs in the mountainous regions, and Turks, Armenians and Jews in the cities.

The liberation of Bulgaria in l885 raised great hopes in Macedonia at a time when local intellectual circles were becoming more and more conscious of a "Macedonian" entity. Bulgarian influence grew even stronger with the formation in 1893 at Salonika of IMRO, the Interior Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. IMRO organized sporadic terrorist attacks and assaulted Turkish authorities. As the century opened, the entire interior was ripe for insurrection. On August 2, 1903, IMRO launched a massive uprising known as the Saint Elias' Day (Ilinden) rebellion. It involved all of

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Macedonia and extended into Thrace. The Turks reacted with brutality, and thousands of Macedonians fled into Bulgaria. The Great Powers were divided on the Macedonian question: Great Britain wanted to see major reforms in Macedonia; Austria-Hungary and Russia, who were attempting to mend their relationship, agreed at Murzteg not to intervene but to ask the sultan for a few token reforms. Bulgarian neutrality on this matter led to dissent within the IMRO and a splintering along ethnic lines. Some of the Macedonian revolutionaries turned toward Belgrade, and in 1910 at Skopje founded a Macedonian socialist group advocating a Balkan federation with room for an independent Macedonian republic. Others remained faithful to Bulgaria, making the Macedonian question yet another subject of contention between Serbia and Bulgaria.

The 1908 Crisis in Bosnia

Since 1878, Austria-Hungary had governed Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as the sanjak of Novi Pazar in the name of the sultan. The half-civilian, half-military administration was competent and efficient; roads and railroads had been built, but there had been no changes in the social structures inherited from the Turks. The Austro-Hungarian government depended on the Catholics and Moslems to reinforce its authority, while the Orthodox followers remained openly sympathetic to Serbia.

In early 1908, in order to demonstrate its intention to remain in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austria-Hungary arranged with the sultan to construct a railroad between Bosnia and Macedonia. When the project was announced, Russia and its Serbian allies were highly suspicious, and considered intervening with France on the side of the Macedonians. In the Ottoman Empire, the reaction was a heightened nationalism. The "Young Turks, " hostile to any concession made to the Great Powers, staged a revolution in July, 1908, and forced a liberal constitution on Sultan Abdul-Hamid. The Young Turk revolution, further weakening the Ottoman Empire, brought a new wave of hope to Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece.

To prevent Serbia from taking advantage of the situation and re-questioning the status of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austria-Hungary simply annexed the province on October 5, 1908, leaving Novi Pazar to the Turks. Serbia protested vigorously, but like Russia, whose army was still reorganizing after the Russo-Japanese war, was not able to intervene militarily and had to accept the new situation. Austria had earned the bitter resentment of the Serbs, a fact demonstrated in Bosnia-Herzegovina with the proliferation of secret pro-Serbian societies financed and supported by Serbian military circles and by a flurry of anti-Austrian propaganda.

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The Balkan Wars of 1912-1913

The Turkish revolution of 1908 had so weakened the Ottoman Empire that unrest spread throughout the occupied territories. The sultan, who had tried to seize absolute power in 1909, was deposed by his brother, Mohammed V (1909-1919). The Young Turks took over and restored state order with expedient brutality -- in the name of the unity of the Empire. Despite constitutional guarantees assuring all races their equality, the new power was used arbitrarily against non-Turks. The victims were mainly Armenians, Greeks, Macedonians, and Thracian Bulgarians.

Although they had always been loyal subjects of the sultan, the Albanians supported the Young Turk revolution of 1908. The Albanian people had begun their period of national awakening in the late 19th century. A league for the defense of the Albanian nation had been founded, which promoted numerous schools and an Albanian language press. In 1908, Albanians hoped to obtain autonomous status and formed a political organization around Ismail Kemal Vlora, who was in close contact with the Young Turks. But the nationalistic attitude of the Young Turks left no room for Albanian aspirations. Anti-Turk uprisings broke out in Albania in 1909-1910, while Vlora and the 25 Albanian delegates spoke for the autonomist movement in the parliament at Constantinople.

Along with the trouble in Albania, the Turkish government became embroiled in armed conflict with Italy over Tripolitania (1911-1912). The Turks lost Cyrenaica and Tripolitania (Lybia), Rhodes and the Dodecanese islands to Italy. The Ottoman Empire appeared so vulnerable that the Balkan states decided to liberate Macedonia. Russia, ever conscious of its interests in the Balkans, advised the Serbs and Bulgarians to unite against the Turks. An alliance was formed in February, 1912. Greece joined it in May, and Montenegro in October. This Balkan League of Christian Peoples was determined to expel the Turks from eastern Europe. Each of the participants in the alliance had to contribute a military contingent to the common struggle: 300,000 men from Bulgaria, 150,000 men from Serbia, 120,000 men from Greece. Bulgaria, which supplied the largest contingent, expected to be amply repaid for it.

In the summer of 1912, the Turks found out about the plot and sent military reinforcements. On October 8, Montenegro opened hostilities by declaring war on the Ottoman Empire, marking the beginning of the first Balkan War. In the days that followed, Turkey retaliated by declaring war on Bulgaria and Serbia, but not on Greece. However, this did not stop Greece from keeping its agreement with the Allies. The Balkan coalition was quickly victorious. On October 24, the Serbian army under General Putnik and crown prince Alexander defeated the Turks at Kumanovo, then entered Skopje and Monastir a few days later along with Montenegrin

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reinforcements. The Greeks, doing their part, liberated Thessalia and Epirus, then lay siege to Janina (Ioannina). That day the Serbs won at Kumanovo, while the Bulgarians battled the Turks at Kirk-Kilisse then at Lule Burgas. From there, they marched on Constantinople; along the way they attacked Adrianople (Edirne) and finally took it on March 23, 1913.

The Greeks and Serbs entered Albanian territory as they advanced. Ismail Kemal Vlora mistrusted the intentions of the Balkan League countries and decided to take the Albanian cause before international opinion. At Valona he called together representatives of all the Albanian peoples, Moslem, Orthodox, and Catholic. This assembly declared Albanian independence on November 28, 1912. Vlora formed a provisory government, then went to London to attend a conference of the Great Powers arranged to consider the situation created by the Balkan War.

At the conference, Austria-Hungary and Italy favored an independent Albanian state, but were opposed by Russia and France who backed Serbian and Greek claims on the country. After long negotiations, the prelirninaries of the London conference were produced May 30, 1913. These were to serve as a basis for future peace in the Balkans. Turkey was only allowed to keep Constantinople and its immediate surroundings in Europe. An independent and neutral Albania was set up under the protection of the Powers, who would also select a prince. Macedonia was to be divided up among Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia, who were to come to an agreement on the division by themselves.

The division of Macedonia in 1912 quickly set allies against each other. Bulgaria had hoped for the largest share of the province, but was thwarted by an agreement between the Greeks and the Serbs. Bulgaria retaliated on June 23, 1913, by attacking its former allies. Czar Ferdinand's initiative ended in failure, as he had against him not only the Serbs and Greeks, but also the Rumanians. Even the Turks, in trying to limit their losses, opposed his efforts.

The Treaty of Bucharest concluded the second Balkan War on August 10, 1913. Turkey regained Adrianople and part of eastern Thrace, now called European Turkey. Rumania received a small part of Dobrudja that Bulgaria had refused to cede in 1878, a region with a Bulgarian majority and a continuing source of tension between the two countries. Greece got the Macedonian coast with Salonika (Thessaloniki) and Chalcidique (Kavalla), the island of Crete and several central Aegean islands. Serbia obtained most of western and central Macedonia with the towns of Skopje, Ochrid and Bitola, thus incorporating Bulgarian and Albanian populations into her territory. Serbia also received a piece of the sanjak of Novi Pazar, the rest going to Montenegro. With this, Serbia's authority extended over a territory of 34,600 square miles and over more than 4.5 million people. Montenegro,

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through acquisition of the sanjak of Novi Pazar, had a common border with Serbia. Bulgaria gained only a little on the western border, but in the south reached the Aegean by annexing part of Thrace with the port of Dedeagatch (later Alexandroupolis). The Balkan wars left deep scars. The loss of human life was heavy; 156,000 Bulgarians, 71,000 Serbs, 68,000 Greeks and some 10,000 Montenegrins fell in the fratricidal wars. The division of conquered Turkish territory also caused bitterness, especially among the Bulgarians who felt poorly compensated for their efforts, and, after their defeat, found themselves totally isolated in the midst of hostile neighbors. On the international level, Austria-Hungary was extremely concerned about Serbia's advance, with its territory now adjoining Montenegro's. Even more disquieting was the ever shriller anti-Austrian propaganda in the Serbian press and the increasing activity of secret societies such as the Serbian officer-led "Black Hand."

Austria-Hungary could no longer count on any country in this part of Europe except Bulgaria and Albania. Even Germany, its ally since 1872, was pressing harder to bring the Ottoman Empire into its own system of alliances. The Albanian question nearly brought Austria-Hungary and Serbia into conflict in September of 1913, when Serbia refused to withdraw from Albanian territory. The Serbs ultimately bowed to international pressure, and in December, 1913, the Great Powers agreed on definitive borders for Albania. Independent Albania had a territory of 10,800 square miles, contained 800,000 inhabitants, and was given a German prince, Wilhem of Wied, as sovereign. This was victory for the Central Powers. The Albanian state blocked Serbia's--and therefore Russia's--direct access to the Adriatic Sea. Albanians remained dissatisfied with their borders, because 400,000 of their compatriots had been incorporated into Serbia by the Treaty of Bucharest.

The Balkan wars marked an apparent victory for the indigenous Christian populations in eastern Europe, gaining independence in the wake of retreating Turkish domination. On the other hand, the Great Powers' involvement in the wars intensified nationalism and rivalry between neighboring peoples with race and even religion in common, dividing the region by fostering divergent allegiances. In fact, the Balkan peoples did not realize they were not masters of their own fate, but that decisions concerning them were being made in St. Petersburg, Vienna, London or Paris.

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