« ПретходнаНастави »
throne. The rulers of Bulgaria and Rumania were Germans and the crown prince of Greece was a brother-in-law of the Kaiser, William II. Germany had obtained from Rumania an important railroad concession and from Turkey the right to build a railroad to Bagdad and the Persian Gulf. German officers went to Turkey to train her soldiers, and the Teutonic powers showed that they intended to bolster up Turkey and support her against her enemies. Germany had thus supplanted Great Britain as the protector of the Ottoman dominions. Out of this policy there had grown up in the Balkans a serious rivalry between Russia and the Teutonic powers.
This rivalry reached the danger point in October, 1908, when Austria-Hungary formally annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Turkish provinces which she had been administering since 1878. It was a favorable time for such an act of aggression, for conditions in the Ottoman Empire were unsettled as a result of a revolution that had been carried out in the previous summer. At about the same time, Bulgaria severed the weak bond that held her to the Turkish Empire by declaring her absolute independence. Both of these acts were a clear violation of the treaty of Berlin, but Turkey, conscious of her weakness, was induced to acquiesce in this loss of territory,
The powers, however, did not consider that Turkey alone was concerned with this infraction of a treaty to which they were signatories. Italy, Great Britain, Russia, Montenegro, and Serbia were all displeased at Austria's action. Serbia had hoped that as long as the provinces maintained a nominal connection with the Turkish Empire, some stroke of fortune might cause them to fall to her. She was especially anxious to have them because they would give her an outlet to the Adriatic and would enable her to round out her dominions if she should ever become the Greater Serbia of her dreams, a kingdom which would include as subjects the Serbs of the then Austro-Hungarian provinces as well as those of her own country.
Russia, too, was very much excited over the annexation. She felt that not only were the interests of her protégé, Serbia, compromised, but that her own position in the Balkans was also jeopardized. She determined to support Serbia, and since the diplomatic negotiations offered no satisfactory adjustment of the differences, she began to mobilize her army.
At this juncture Germany declared in favor of Austria-Hungary and announced her willingness to give the latter country military assistance if necessary. Germany was free to take this stand because the Young Turk party, which
9 Stowell, 21.
was responsible for the July revolution and which had gotten control of the government, had shown signs of preferring Great Britain to Germany as their country's protector. This fickleness on the part of the Ottoman Government gave Germany the opportunity of disciplining her new friend and at the same time of doing a good turn for her old ally. Russia had not as yet recovered from the military weakness exhibited in the Russo-Japanese War, and great Britain and France, being unwilling to go to war over this quarrel, advised her to yield. She, therefore, withdrew her opposition, and Serbia, under pressure from the Entente powers, declared on March 31, 1909, that she acquiesced in the annexation of the provinces as a fait accompli.
The crisis was thus passed without war, but a feeling of humiliation and bitterness was left in the hearts of the Serbs and Russians. Smarting under this feeling, “the Russian Government began to reorganize its army, to construct strategic railways, and to do everything in its power to insure Russia against a like humiliation in the future.” 10
In the early fall of 1912, war broke out between Turkey and the Balkan states of Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece. The time was favorable for joint action against the Otto10 Hayes, II, 708.
man Empire, for that power had been weakened by the Turco-Italian war and by internal troubles in Albania and Macedonia. The Christians in Macedonia had been oppressed for years, and conditions were not improved when the Young Turks came into power in 1908. A spirit of discontent began to manifest itself in secret revolts and assassinations, which was aggravated by the ineffective efforts of the Turkish officials to allay it. These unjust and unwise measures caused the Serbs, the Bulgars, and Greeks in Macedonia to suspend their hatred of each other and thus made it easier for the Greek and Bulgarian Governments to bury their differences and act together against the common enemy. The Albanians, despite their historic friendship for the Porte, were also chafing under recent grievances. Revolts broke out in 1910 and 1911, in which the Montenegrins made common cause with the insurgents. This brought on a friendly feeling between the Northern Albanians and the Serbs of Serbia and Montenegro.
Conditions were thus favorable for a union of the Balkan states against Turkey. Accordingly, in the spring of 1912 engagements were entered into whereby Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, and Montenegro were united into an alliance against Turkey, the object of which was the liberation of the Balkan Christians from Otto
man misrule. The formation of this alliance did not mean an immediate break with the Porte, and it was not until October that war was declared on Turkey.11
In the meantime, the powers had made an effort to prevent war. They agreed to act in concert and announced (October 8) to the Balkan Allies that they would not approve of a war with Turkey at that time. They promised that reforms in the government of European Turkey should be made, but were unwilling that anything should be done to affect the integrity or independence of the Ottoman Empire. In case the Allies should go to war with the protégé of the powers, they would be restrained by the latter from taking any territory in European Turkey. If the powers had been in a position to back up these strong words with concerted action, the threat would have silenced the Allies and peace would have been maintained. But the Allies were aware of the rivalry between Austria-Hungary and Russia in the Balkans, and so were not frightened away from their plan of dividing the Ottoman dominions in Europe.
The Allies were successful in their military 11 The authorities disagree as to the nature of the Balkan Alliance. For a fuller discussion of this subject, see Hayes, II, 527; Holt and Chilton, European History, 485; Schurman, The Balkan Wars, 34–39; Gibbons, The New Map of Europe, 264-66.