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Did Serbia benefit from the Balkan Wars?

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Introduction

DID SERBIA BENEFIT FROM THE BALKAN WARS? The 20th century arrived with momentous events in the making or on the horizon. The Balkan peoples were in stages of uneven development. Those that had a state, such as the Serbs, were a powerful magnet for their brothers who were living under foreign rule, much to the discomfort of Austria-Hungary, which had a large Slav population within its borders. Those that did not have a state, such as the Albanians, were still attempting to begin the process of nation building. Ten years of almost continuous war began with the onset of the Balkan Wars in October 1912 and lasted - at least for Serbia - through World War I and to the resolution of the status of Albania in May 1922. This decade was decisive both in shaping the modern Serbian state and in forming Serb national consciousness. And as a result of the "first serious fighting in Europe since the fall of Plevna in 1877"1, the Balkan Wars impact was significant in shaping the eventual outcome of the Balkans after the First World War. Since March of 1912, Bulgaria and Serbia had conducted secret negotiations under the guidance of the Russian Tsar to formulate a military alliance to rid the Balkans of the last vestiges of Turkish domain: Thrace, Macedonia, and the four vilayets of Albania. Turkey's military engagement with Italy over Tripoli, along with its difficulty in suppressing the Albanian and Arab revolts within the Empire, and as J Lampe puts it 'Ottoman vulnerability'2, signalled to these two rivals that circumstances proved ripe to expand their kingdoms once the Turks were fought and banished. ...read more.

Middle

Later in the month, representatives of the belligerents and the major European powers met in London to decide the Balkan question. "The Balkan Wars should have finished at the London Conference in January 1913. But the humiliation of the Turkish army re-ignited the bitter domestic struggle in Istanbul between the Liberals and the CUP."3 The Turks rejected the peace conditions demanded by the Balkan states, the chief sticking point being Adrianople, and the conference ended in failure on January 6, 1913. On January 23, a successful coup d'�tat brought an extreme nationalist grouping called the 'Young Turks' to power in the Ottoman Empire, and within a week fighting resumed. Again the allies were victorious: Io�nnina fell to the Greeks and Adrianople to the Bulgarians. Under a peace treaty signed in London on May 30, 1913, the Ottoman Empire lost almost all of its remaining European territory, including all of Macedonia and Albania. Albanian independence was insisted upon by the European powers, and Macedonia was to be divided among the Balkan allies. 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. Dissatisfied with these terms, Serbia demanded of Bulgaria a greater share of Macedonia. However, Bulgaria refused to recognize the Serbian claim to certain Bulgarian-held portions of Macedonia. On June 1, 1913, Greece and Serbia concluded an alliance aimed against Bulgaria. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Balkan Wars profoundly influenced the subsequent course of European history. By creating a strong and ambitious Serbia, the peace settlements engendered fear and anti-Serbian sentiment in neighbouring Austria-Hungary. The dismantling of the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria created equally dangerous tensions in south-eastern Europe. These conditions greatly intensified the contemporary forces in shaping a general European conflict. 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. "In Serbia and Montenegro the result of the two successive Balkan Wars, though these had exhausted the material resources of the two countries, was a justifiable return of national self-confidence and rejoicing such as the people, humiliated and impoverished as it had habitually been by its internal and external troubles, had not known for very many years. At last Serbia and Montenegro had joined hands. At last Old Serbia was restored to the free kingdom."8 Therefore, the result was the impetus desired by Serbia for so long to finally try to fulfil her long term aim - that of unification of South Slavs one way or another. She had gained very crucial territories including Kosovo, and other states such as Bosnia - Herzegovina and other ethnic groups such ass the Croats and the Slovenes took great pleasure in watching the old Empires of The Habsburgs and the Ottomans fall to pieces. It stimulated further ethic nationalism and created such a vibe for Pan-Slavism and unification, that could not be quelled again by any Great Power. ...read more.

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