San Stefano, Treaty of (1878)

views updated May 18 2018


Signed on 3 March 1878, this treaty concluded one of the major wars fought between Russia and the Ottoman Empire (18771878).

Among the provisions of the Treaty of San Stefano were the following:

  1. Serbia and Montenegro received their independence from the Ottoman Empire and were granted additional territory.
  2. Independence was also gained by Romania, which lost southern Bessarabia to Russia but was compensated by the acquisition of the Black Sea province of Dobrudja.
  3. Bosnia and Herzegovina were granted autonomy and were promised reforms, to be supervised jointly by Russia and Austria.
  4. In addition to southern Bessarabia, Russia also acquired a substantial part of northeastern Anatolia, including the provinces of Batum, Kars, and Ardahan.
  5. Unexpectedly, the treaty also called for the creation of Greater Bulgaria. Its territory extended from the Danube and the Black Sea
    to the Aegean Sea in the south and included much of Macedonia. Nominally a part of the Ottoman Empire, Greater Bulgaria was to be ruled by a Christian government and to possess a national militia. For the next two years, it was also to remain under Russian occupationa clear indication of the direction in which Russia was moving: Bulgaria guards the northern access to the Turkish Straits.

It soon became obvious that the Treaty of San Stefanoa major gain in Russia's contest with the Ottoman Empire for supremacy in the Balkan-Black Sea regionwould not be allowed to stand. Among the great powers, early concern was expressed by Great Britain and Austria-Hungary. Britain had long opposed Russia's aggrandizement at the expense of the Ottoman Empire and particularly the Russian drive toward the Turkish Straits. Austria-Hungary shared British apprehensions and was also perturbed by the creation of the Russian puppet state of Greater Bulgaria. Bowing to the British, Austro-Hungarian, and later German pressure, Russia agreed to submit the terms of the treaty of San Stefano to a great power congressthe Congress of Berlin.

The resulting Treaty of Berlin (1878) endorsed many of the provisions negotiated at San Stefano. Russia and Romania kept their territorial gains. Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro retained their independence, and the latter two retained much of the territory allocated to them. Bosnia and Herzegovina were, however, placed under Austrian control, and England was permitted to occupy Cyprus. Finally, despite Russian objections, the Congress of Berlin dismantled Greater Bulgaria. The latter was split into three parts: Bulgaria proper, located north of the Balkan mountains; East Rumelia, situated south of them; and Macedonia. All remained under Ottoman suzerainty but were granted autonomy and were promised reforms.

Great Britain was the main beneficiary of the Congress of Berlin. Supported by Austria-Hungary, Britain denied Russia the opportunity to become the sole arbiter of the affairs of the Ottoman Empire. The congress also prevented Russia from becoming the patron of Greater Bulgaria. Great Britain also acquired Cyprus; strategically located in the eastern Mediterranean, the island was used four years later to effect the British occupation of Egypt.


Langer, William L. European Alliances and Alignments, 18711890, 2d edition. New York: Knopf, 1950.

Sumner, Benedict H. Russia and the Balkans, 18701880. Oxford: Clarendon, 1937.

oles m. smolansky

San Stefano, Treaty of

views updated Jun 27 2018


The Treaty of San Stefano was the agreement marking formal conclusion of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878. With Turkish forces soundly beaten in the field by the beginning of 1878, the two sides agreed to an armistice at Adrianople on 31 January, followed by formal peace negotiations at San Stefano, a settlement close to Constantinople. There, on 3 March 1878, representatives of Tsar Alexander II (N. P. Ignatiev and A. I. Nelidov) and Sultan Abdul Hamid II (Safvet Pasha and Sadullah Bey, with Mehmet Ali assisting) concluded a peace treaty that heavily favored the victorious Russians.

According to its terms, Montenegro, Serbia, and Romania received their full independence, along with substantial territorial cessions, including northern Dobruja for Romania. Bosnia and Herzegovina were granted autonomy, while a greatly enlarged Bulgaria (with a seaboard on the Aegean) became an autonomous principality, with the right to elect its own ruler, who would be considered a vassal of the sultan. Turkish troops were to be withdrawn from Bulgaria, while fifty thousand Russians remained for at least two years. In the event of future hostilities, neutral commercial vessels retained the right of free trade through the Turkish Straits. Russia received the right to transit ten warships annually through the Turkish Straits. Bessarabia, which had been ceded to Turkish-dominated Romania according to the Treaty of Paris in 1856, reverted to Russian control, while a series of locales along the Black Sea coast and in Asia Minor, including Batumi, Ardahan, Bayazid, and Kars, also went to the Russians. Finally, the San Stefano agreement obliged the sultan to pay an indemnity of 510 million rubles to Russia, to reform Armenian administration, and to grant self-government on the model of Crete to Albania, Epirus, and Thessaly.

This treaty greatly expanded and solidified Russian influence in the Balkans, especially after the creation of an enlarged Bulgaria with a substantial Russian presence. Conditions were now ripe to assure future Russian control over the Ottoman Empire, an eventuality that neither England nor Austria-Hungary was prepared to accept. Moreover, because San Stefano appeared to violate previous international agreements over the Turkish Straits and the fate of "Europe's sick man" (as the Ottoman Empire was called), other European powers, including France, Germany, and Italy, saw their interests and the precarious Balkan balance at stake. Russia, diplomatically isolated and financially exhausted, now faced the prospect of contending with a gathering hostile European coalition. The result was Russian acquiescence to a great-power review of San Stefano's provisions at the Congress of Berlin in June–July 1878, during which the more significant elements of Russia's wartime gains and dictated settlement were nullified. A tenuous peace ensued, but the arrangement outraged Russian and Balkan nationalists of various stripes, fostered mutual Russian-German distrust, and led indirectly to the secret Austro-German Dual Alliance of 1879.

See alsoArmies; Congress of Berlin; Russo-Turkish War.


Jelavich, Barbara. St. Petersburg and Moscow: Tsarist and Soviet Foreign Policy, 1814–1974. Bloomington, Ind., 1974.

Sumner, Benedict Humphrey. Russia and the Balkans, 1870–1880. Oxford, U.K., 1937.

Bruce W. Menning

San Stefano, Treaty of

views updated May 08 2018


The Treaty of San Stefano, signed March 3, 1878, ended the Russo-Turkish War (18771878).

On January 31, 1878, with Russian victory over Turkey a foregone conclusion, the belligerents agreed to an armistice at Adrianople, followed by peace negotiations at San Stefano, a village near Constantinople. There, Count Nikolai Pavlovich Ignatiev, former ambassador to the Porte, and Savfet Pasha worked out final terms for signature on March 3, the anniversary date of Tsar Alexander II's imperial accession.

Accordingly, Turkey agreed to pay reparations of 1.41 billion rubles, of which 1.1 billion would be cancelled by cession to Russia in Asia Minor of Ardahan, Kars, Batumi, and Bayazid. In the Balkans, Turkey ceded northern Dobrudja and the Danube delta to Russia for ultimate transfer to Romania, in return for Romanian agreement to Russian occupation of southern Bessarabia. With a seaboard on the Mediterranean and an elected prince, Bulgaria remained under nominal Turkish control, while Bosnia and Herzegovina received autonomy. Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro received their independence, along with territorial enlargement. Turkey was obliged strictly to observe concessions for local participation in government that were inherent in the Organic Regulation of 1868 on Crete, while analogous regimes were to be implemented in Thessaly and Albania. The Porte was also to introduce reforms in Turkish Armenia.

The San Stefano Treaty formally went into effect on March 16, 1878, but concerted opposition from Great Britain and Austria-Hungary, together with Russia's growing diplomatic isolation, meant that the agreement remained only preliminary. Indeed, its main provisions subsequently underwent substantial revision at the Congress of Berlin in July 1878.

See also: berlin, congress of; russo-turkish wars; turkey, relations with


Jelavich, Barbara. (1974). St. Petersburg and Moscow: Tsarist and Soviet Foreign Policy, 18141974. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Oleg R. Airapetov

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