Published on March 5, 2014
POLITICS IN EUROPE BEFORE I WORLD WAR Berlin Congress, 1878: after Russian-Turkish war in 1878, european powers met to reorganize the countries of the Balkans. Serbia, Montenegro and Greece expanded its borders. Romania and Bulgaria gained its independence from the Ottomans. Bosnia and Herzegovina was part of Austria sphere of influence. Ottomans ceded Cyprus to British.
By the end of the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire had become the controlling force in the region. Most of the Balkan nation-states emerged during the 19th and early 20th centuries as they gained independence from the Ottoman Empire.
1.Nationalism caused a intense competition betweem nations. Fierce rivalries had developed among Europe's powers. 2. Competition for raw materials and markets. Great Britain leadership was challenged by Germany. Germany economy was the fastest growing in the continent. 3. Territorial disputes: France had lost Alsace and Lorraine as a result of the Franco-Prussian War (1870). Austria-Hungria and Russia both tried to dominate the Balkans. 4. Imperialism: in 1905 and 1911 Germany and France nearly fought over who would control Morocco. 5. Militarism: increasing nationalism led to an arms race. Nations believed that to be a great country they needed a powerful army. Generals in each country developed plans to mobilize, organize and move troops in case of war.
BISMARCK ALLIANCES Bismarck thought France was the greatest threat. He believed France wanted revenge for its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870). Bismarck first goal was to isolate France. In 1879 formed the Dual Alliance between Germany and Austria-Hungary. In 1882, Italy joined the two countries, forming the Triple Alliance.
Bismarck network of alliances were unstable. Germany was allied with Russia and Austria-Hungary, two rivals in the Balkans.
1890: William II (Germany). Germany's foreign policy changed. Kaiser William II forced Bismarck to resign and took himself the power. He didn't renew the treaty with Russia. So Russia left the Triple Alliance and signed a military alliance with France. France was no longer isolated. In case of war Germany would be forced to fight on a twofront war (eastern and western borders).
TRIPLE ENTENTE. During the 1890's Germany built its own small empire in Africa. William II started a shipbuilding program in an effort to make the German navy equal to Great Britain. In response, UK formed an alliance with France (1904): the Entente. In 1907 they included Russia as a member of the alliance.
By 1907, two rival alliances existed in Europe: Triple Alliance: Germany, AustriaHungary and Italy. Triple Entente: France, Great Britain and Russia. A dispute between two rival alliances could draw the continent into a war
THE BALKANS By the beginning of the 20th Century, the Ottoman empire was declining. Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia had formed nations. Each country was willing to extend its borders.
Serbia hoped to absorb all the Slavs on the Balkan peninsula. Russia, a slavic nation, supported Serbia nationalism. Austria, which feared rebellion among the slavic population, felt threatened by Serbia's growth. And Russia and AustriaHungary wanted the Balkans as their sphere of influence.
In 1908 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina. Russia was unprepared for war and Germany supported Austria.
On June 28, the heir to the Austro-hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife visited Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia. There, they were shot. The killer was Gavrilo Princip, a 19 years old serbian.
Germany offered Austria-Hungary an unconditional support. On July 23rd Austria presented an ultimatum to Serbia: 1. End to all anti-austrian activity. 2. Allow Austrian officials into Serbia to conduct and investigation. Serbian leaders agreed most of Austrian demands. But on July 28th Austria-Hungary rejected Serbia's offer and declared war. Inmediately, Russian Emperor ordered the mobilization of the troops toward the Austrian border.
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