The Balkan Wars
Автор: Valery Kolev, Christina Koulouri
Год издания: 2009
The Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 are an event of significant importance in the 20th century history of Southeast Europe. Their long-term consequences have influenced the political, socio-economic and cultural development of the region for decades and some of their effects are still the subject of scientific and even public discussions. Historiographies of the states involved in these wars have offered conflicting interpretations; varying not only between countries, but also within them. In countries such as Bulgaria and Turkey, the trauma of defeat triggered a quest for “responsibilities” while the identification of the “causes” of the war had political targets. For different reasons, in Serbia and Greece, who were the “victors” of the war, the Balkan Wars, became part of a further-reaching issue which included World War I (WWI) in the first case and the Asia Minor War in the latter. The roots of the Balkan Wars date back to the consequences of the Russian-Ottoman War of 1877-1878, that marked the end of the Eastern Crisis of 1875-1878, one of the most severe crises in the history of the so-called Eastern Question. That question consisted of three main elements: the diplomatic struggles between the Great Powers for influence in the Ottoman territories, the gradual decline of the Empire of the sultan and the national liberation movements of the Balkan peoples in striving for the establishment of their nation-states. The crisis of 1875-1878 was solved by the Great Powers at the Congress of Berlin. It proclaimed the independence of Montenegro, Romania and Serbia, who all gained new territories, as did Greece, and created the Principality of Bulgaria and the autonomous province of Eastern Rumelia. Reforms and autonomy had to be implemented in the other European lands of the Sublime Porte: Albania, Macedonia, Epirus, etc. Cyprus was ceded to British administration while Austria-Hungary occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina and Novi Pazar. Nevertheless, the Treaty of Berlin created a number of conflicts and tensions among the Balkan nations, because it did not follow the modern principle of nationality when it created the new borders. In many places it was not possible to follow this principle because different nationalities had lived there for centuries side-byside. None of the Balkan nations achieved national unification inside one state, and that unification became the main goal in their foreign policies. That urge resulted in a set of crises: the union of Eastern Rumelia with Bulgaria and the subsequent Serbo-Bulgarian war in 1885, the Greco-Turkish war of 1897, the uprising in Macedonia in 1903, the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary, the proclamation of Bulgarian independence in 1908, and the Albanian uprising of 1910-1912, as well as some more minor tensions. However, the main tendency in the history of the Balkan countries was of peaceful development and modernisation. Efforts were made to establish modern liberal constitutional institutions and political systems, and to create extensive communication networks, with an emphasis on railway and road construction, the building of industry and of active interior and foreign trade connections. In all respects, the Balkan countries were envisaging their integration into the European world. This created a spirit of competitiveness and progress. The development of national culture was one of the main fields for modernisation and competition in which the State acted as the key constructor of national identity. While all the Balkan nations created their nation-states, it was high time for the nation-states to consolidate the nations. The means used were public education, national holidays and celebrations, military service, national churches. The spirit of nationalism dominated every event and process.