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Balkan Wars (1912–1913)

BALKAN WARS (19121913)

Warfare among the states of the Balkan Peninsula that affected the balance-of-power politics in Europe and contributed to the outbreak of World War I.

In the first Balkan War (October 1912March 1913), the Ottoman Empire fought against the Balkan League composed of Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Montenegro. The second Balkan War (JuneJuly 1913) pitted the former allies against each other and also involved Romania.

The Young Turk Revolution of 1908 in the Ottoman Empire precipitated changes in the Balkan status quo. Bulgaria declared independence, and Austria annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina, reducing Ottoman control in Europe to Thrace, Macedonia, and Albania. Fear of Austro-Hungarian expansion and the vulnerability of the Ottoman Empire, at war with Italy over Libya since 1911, prompted the formation of the Balkan League with Russia's blessing. The Christian Balkan states temporarily reconciled conflicting geopolitical ambitions and irredentist disputes over ethnically mixed Macedonia. They hoped for a more advantageous repartitioning of the region at the expense of the Ottoman state.

Montenegro opened hostilities against the empire over border disputes. At the same time, Bulgaria and Serbia, which had launched in March 1912 the series of alliances that led to the Balkan League, mobilized their armies. The Ottoman government hastily concluded peace with Italy and declared war against the Balkan allies on 17 October 1912. The Ottomans suffered defeats in both Macedonia and Thrace, as Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in November. On 16 December 1913, upon a ceasefire agreement and appeals from Anglophile Ottoman Grand Vizier Kamil Paşa, ambassadors convened at the London Conference. The Ottomans surrendered Macedonia and Western Thrace but refused to yield Edirne, which was besieged by Bulgaria. Failure to agree on revised borders led to a Bulgarian offensive in February 1913. This action forced the Ottomans to surrender the European territories to the west of the EnezMidye Line, a situation formalized at the London Conference of 30 May.

Disagreement about the repartitioning of Macedonia revived old rivalries. Bulgaria, dissatisfied with its allotment, surprised former allies Serbia and Greece with an attack on 29 June. This led to an anti-Bulgarian realignment that also included Romania, which feared losing territory to its southern neighbor. The Ottomans exploited the disarray to recover Edirne from the Bulgarians in July. The Treaty of Bucharest of 10 August 1913, between Bulgaria and its former allies, was followed by the Istanbul Treaty between Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire (29 September 1913), which left Edirne in Ottoman hands. The Ottomans concluded separate treaties with Greece (in Athens on 14 November) and Serbia (in Istanbul on 14 March 1914). Greece obtained the Aegean islands, except the Dodecanese, which went to Italy. The Muslims of ceded territories were given a choice of immigrating into the empire. The borders that emerged at the end of these treaties have changed remarkably little despite the shocks of World War I and later events.

In the Balkan wars, the Ottomans lost more than 80 percent of their European territory inhabited by 4 million people. The new demographic and geopolitical realities triggered domestic political and ideological change in the Ottoman Empire. On 23 January 1913, the Committee for Union and Progress implemented a coup against Kamil Paşa, ostensibly because he lost Edirne. At the end of the wars, with the Ottoman relinquishment of predominantly Christian territories, the empire was largely reduced to its Muslim-dominated Asian lands. This fact was reflected in the ideological reorientation toward a distinctly Islamic Ottomanism and in the proliferation of Turkish cultural activity.

see also committee for union and progress; edirne.


Bibliography

Király, Béla K., and Djordjevic, Dimitrije, eds. East Central European Society and the Balkan Wars. Boulder, CO: Social Science Monographs; Highland Lakes, NJ: Atlantic Research and Publications, 1987; distributed by Columbia University Press.

Stavrianos, L. S. The Balkans, 18151914. New York: Holt Rinehart, 1963.

Hasan Kayali

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Balkan Wars

BALKAN WARS

Following the Bosnian crisis of 1908 to 1909 and the formal annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary, Russia abandoned its policy of reaching a modus vivendi with Vienna on the Balkans. Weakened by the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 to 1905 and the Revolution of 1905, it now sought a

defensive alliance with Serbia and Bulgaria as a way to regain influence in the region. Although the diplomatic discussions that ensued were not intended to further the already fractious nature of Balkan rivalries, events soon ran counter to Russia's intentions.

The Young Turk Revolution of 1908 had sought to revitalize the Ottoman Empire but instead hastened its dismemberment. In 1911 the Italian annexation of Tripoli laid bare the weakness of the Turks, and the remaining Ottoman holdings in Europe suddenly became inviting targets for the states in the region. With Russian encouragement, Serbia and Bulgaria joined in a pact in March 1912, the genesis of a new Balkan League. Two months later Albania revolted and called upon Europe for support. That same month, May 1912, Bulgaria and Greece entered into an alliance, and in October, Montenegro joined the partnership.

What Russian foreign minister Sergei Sazonov saw as an alliance to counter Austro-Hungarian influence in the Balkans was now a league bent upon war. The March pact between Serbia and Bulgaria had already presaged the conflict by calling for the partition of Macedonia. Reports of impending war in the Balkans during the summer and fall of 1912, and also of a belief that Russia would come to the aid of its Slavic brethren, led Sazonov to inform Sofia and Belgrade that theirs was a defensive alliance. Nonetheless, by autumn public sentiment in southeastern Europe left the Balkan allies little choice.

On October 8, 1912, Montenegro attacked Turkey. On October 17 Serbia and Bulgaria joined the conflict, followed two days later by Greece. The Balkan armies quickly defeated the Turks. Bulgarian forces reached the outskirts of Istanbul, and in May 1913 the Treaty of London brought the First Balkan War to a close. The peace did not last long, however, as the creation of a new Albanian state and quarrels among the victors over the spoils in Macedonia led to embitterment, especially on the part of Sofia, which felt cheated out of its Macedonian claims.

On the night of June 2930, 1913, one month following the peace treaty, Bulgarian troops moved into the north-central part of Macedonia. The other members of the coalition, joined by Romania and, ironically, the Turks, joined in the counterattack. Bulgaria was quickly defeated and, by the Treaty of Bucharest, August 10, 1913, was forced to cede most of what it had gained in Macedonia during the First Balkan War. In addition, the Ottoman Empire regained much of eastern Thrace, which it had lost only months earlier. Romania's share of the spoils was the southern Dobrudja.

Serbia was the principal victor in the Balkan Wars, gaining the lion's share of Macedonia as well as Kosovo. Bulgaria was the loser. In many respects, Russia lost as well because the continuing instability in the Balkans undermined its need for peace in the region, a situation clearly demonstrated by the events of the summer of 1914.

See also: albanians, caucasian; bucharest, treaty of; bulgaria, relations with; greece, relations with; montenegro, relations with; serbia, relations with; turkey, relations with; yugoslavia, relations with

bibliography

Jelavich, Barbara. (1964). A Century of Russian Foreign Policy, 18141914. Philadelphia: Lippincott.

Rossos, Andrew. (1981). Russia and the Balkans: Inter-Balkan Rivalry and Russian Foreign Policy, 19081914. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Richard Frucht

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Balkan Wars

Balkan Wars, 1912–13, two short wars, fought for the possession of the European territories of the Ottoman Empire. The outbreak of the Italo-Turkish War for the possession of Tripoli (1911) encouraged the Balkan states to increase their territory at Turkish expense. Serbia and Bulgaria accordingly concluded (1912), with the aid of Russian secret diplomacy, a treaty of alliance. In a secret annex, the treaty provided for joint military action and the division of prospective conquests. The outbreak of the war (Oct., 1912), in which Greece and Montenegro joined the original allies, was followed by the speedy expulsion of the Turks from all of European Turkey, except the Constantinople area. After the conclusion of hostilities Serbia showed intentions of annexing a large part of Albania, in order to gain an outlet on the Adriatic, but this step toward a "Greater Serbia" was opposed by Austria-Hungary and Italy and by the Albanians, who had proclaimed their independence. Conferences of the ambassadors of the Great Powers at London created (1913) an independent Albania of fair size, thus cutting Serbia off from the sea. Dissatisfied with these terms, Serbia demanded of Bulgaria a greater share of Macedonia. Bulgaria thereupon attacked (June, 1913) Serbia, only to be attacked by Romania, Greece, and Turkey. As a result of this Second Balkan War, Bulgaria lost territory to all her enemies by the Treaty of Bucharest (Aug., 1913). The Balkan Wars prepared the way for World War I by satisfying some of the aspirations of Serbia and thereby giving a great impetus to the Serbian desire to annex parts of Austria-Hungary; by alarming Austria and stiffening Austrian resolution to crush Serbia; and by giving causes of dissatisfaction to Bulgaria and Turkey.

See G. Young, Nationalism and War in the Near East (1915, repr. 1970); E. C. Helmreich, The Diplomacy of the Balkan Wars, 1912–1913 (1938, repr. 1969).

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Balkan Wars

Balkan Wars (1912–13) Two wars involving the Balkan states and the Ottoman Empire. In the first, the Balkan League (Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Montenegro) conquered most of the European territory of the Ottoman Empire. The second war (mainly between Serbia and Bulgaria) arose out of dissatisfaction with the distribution of these lands. Serbia's victory added to the regional tension before World War I.

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