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Treaty of Berlin, 1878: Wikis


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Southeastern Europe after the Congress of Berlin.

The Treaty of Berlin was the final act of the Congress of Berlin (June 13-July 13, 1878), by which the United Kingdom, Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Hamid revised the Treaty of San Stefano signed on March 3 of the same year. The most important task of the Congress was to decide the fate of the re-established Principality of Bulgaria.[1] However, Bulgaria was excluded from the talks at Russian insistence.[2]

The treaty formally recognized independence of the de facto sovereign principalities of Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, together with the autonomy of Bulgaria, though the latter remained under formal Ottoman overlordship and was divided into three parts: the Principality of Bulgaria, the autonomous province of Eastern Rumelia, and Macedonia, which was given back to the Ottomans[3], thus undoing Russian plans for an independent—and Russophile--"Greater Bulgaria". The Treaty of San Stefano had created an enormous Bulgarian state, which was just what Great Britain and Austria-Hungary feared most.[4] The former Sanjak of Novi Pazar was placed under Austro-Hungarian occupation, though formally remaining a part of the Ottoman Empire.

The three newly independent states subsequently proclaimed themselves kingdoms: (Romania in 1881, Serbia in 1882 and Montenegro in 1910, while Bulgaria proclaimed full independence in 1908 after uniting with Eastern Rumelia in 1885. Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia in 1908, sparking a major European crisis.

The Treaty of Berlin accorded special legal status to some religious groups; it also served as a model for the Minorities System that was subsequently established within the framework of the League of Nations.[5] It also vaguely called for a border rectification between Greece and the Ottoman Empire, which occurred after protracted negotiations in 1881 with the transfer of Thessaly to Greece.

It is interesting to note that the Marquess of Salisbury, the British Foreign Secretary at the Congress, had originally supported the Russian position and the Treaty of San Stefano. After returning from the Congress, Salisbury confessed that by supporting Austria-Hungary instead of Russia, the British had "backed the wrong horse."

According to British historian A. J. P. Taylor: "If the treaty of San Stefano had been maintained, both the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary might have survived to the present day. The British, except for Beaconsfield in his wilder moments, had expected less and were therefore less disappointed. Salisbury wrote at the end of 1878: We shall set up a rickety sort of Turkish rule again south of the Balkans. But it is a mere respite. There is no vitality left in them."[6]

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