Serbia, Europe, Historical Profile (1922), #021-The Balkan League


The annexation of Bosnia marked a turning-point in Serbian history. Henceforth public opinion, supported by prominent statesmen in every party, was practically unanimous in regarding a conflict with Austria-Hungary as sooner or later inevitable. Aehrenthal's policy inevitably strengthened the tendencies towards the creation of a Balkan League, and these were accelerated by the political unrest evoked throughout the Balkan peninsula by the Young Turk revolution.

At first the inclusion of Turkey in such a league was openly advocated by Russia, and favoured by Milovanovic and Venizelos. But the increasing chauvinism of the Young Turks in Macedonia led Venizelos to discuss with Bulgaria measures of common defence against a possible Turkish attack. Negotiations followed between Sofia and Belgrade in the winter of 1912. Secret treaties of alliance were concluded on March 13, 1912, between Serbia and Bulgaria and on May 29 between Bulgaria and Greece. There was no actual treaty binding Serbia and Greece, while the SerboMontenegrin treaty, concluded in Sept. 1912, was less political than military, and provided for separate though parallel action.

By the first of these each State was bound to assist the other with all its forces in the event of an attack, and in particular in the event of any Great Power trying to annex any portion of Turkey's Balkan possessions. If internal troubles should arise in Turkey, either ally might initiate proposals for military action, and any point upon which agreement was not reached should then be referred to Russia for decision.

Special provision was made for possible conquests, Serbia recognizing Bulgaria's rights over the territory lying east of the Rhodo mountains and the Struma river, and Bulgaria similarly recognizing Serbia's rights north and west of the Sar mountains. The districts lying between these limits, the Aegean and the Lake of Okhrida were to form "a distinct autonomous province, " but should their partition prove inevitable, then Serbia undertook to make no claim beyond a line drawn from the Lake of Okhrida to near Kriva Palan ka on the old Turco-Bulgarian frontier and including Skoplje, but not Monastir. Prilep or Veles.

In the event of a dispute the tsar was to act as arbitrator, and Bulgaria undertook to accept the more southerly line as its new frontier with Serbia if the tsar should decide in its favour. In the event of war Bulgaria undertook to place at least 200, 000, Serbia at least 150, 000 men in the field against Turkey. If either Turkey or Rumania attacked Bulgaria, Serbia was to send 100, 000 men to her aid, while she on her part must provide 200, 000 men in support of Serbia in the event of an attack by Austria-Hungary.

Internal disorder spread rapidly throughout Turkey-in-Europe after 1911; and the repressive policy adopted by the Committee of Union and Progress towards all non-Turks culminated in a reign of terror at the parliamentary elections of 1912, a recru-descence of Komitadji activities and a fresh Albanian rising. The premature death of Milovanovic on July 1 both deprived Serbia of her ablest modern statesman, and removed one of the few restraining influences in any Balkan capital. On Sept. 12 Pasic, who placed almost unreserved reliance on Russian support, became premier at the head of a purely Old Radical cabinet.

Nothing could now have arrested the growing anarehy in Turkey. Public opinion in Belgrade and Sofia was roused by a massacre of Bulgarians at Kocana on Aug. 1. By the middle of the month Skoplje, and the entire district recognized by the secret treaty as Serbian, were in the hands of the insurgent Albanians. The proposals for reform put forward by Count Berchtold on Aug. 20 prompted the Balkan Allies to hasten their preparations, and before the Powers had taken any collective action, they mobilized almost simultaneously (Oct. 1).

At the last moment the Porte announced its intention to enforce the Vilayet Law of 18S0, which had from the first remained on paper. Soon after, the Powers addressed a conciliatory Note to Constantinople and simultaneously warned the Allies that even in the event of their victory no change in the territorial status quo would be tolerated.

The four allies decided to precipitate events, and before any further Note could reach them, the King of Montenegro, by an act of undoubted collusion, declared war upon Turkey. On Oct. 13 the other three Balkan Governments presented to the Porte a series of far-reaching demands, culminating in racial autonomy for all the nationalities of the Ottoman Empire; and four days later the Turks, without even deigning to answer the note, declared war on Serbia and Bulgaria (see BALKAN* WARS).

      "Serbia, Europe, Historical Profile (1922), #021-The Balkan League," The Encyclopedia Britannica. (New York: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1922); digital edition, ( : posted 15 Jan 2013)

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