History Optional Paper- 2 Solution – 2015: Q.5 (c)
Q.5 (c) “The Berlin Congress (1878) failed to unlock the Eastern Question. Though there was no longer major war in Europe for nearly three decades after the Treaty of Berlin, it contained the seeds of many future wars.” Critically Evaluate.
The Berlin Congress (1878) was a diplomatic meeting of the major European powers at which the Treaty of Berlin replaced the Treaty of San Stefano, which had been signed by Russia and Turkey at the conclusion of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78.
The Congress solved an international crisis caused by the Tresty of San Stefano by revising the peace settlement to satisfy the interests of Britain (by denying Russia the means to extend its naval power and by maintaining the the integrity of Ottoman Empire) and to satisfy the interests of Austria-Hungary (by allowing it to occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina and thereby increase its influence in the Balkans).
Though the Berlin Congress solved the Eastern Question in the short run, it failed to do so in the long run because:
(1) It revised the Treaty of San Stefano not in the interest of justice and equity but in the interests of Austria and Britain. They were called the guarantors of the Turkish integrity but they took large portion of the Turkish spoil.
(2) It ignored the national sentiment of the Balkan peoples. Slavs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who desired union with their fellow Slavs of Serbia, were handed over to Austrian rule. The division of Bulgaria was a blow to the national inspiration of the Bulgars.
(3) The christians of Macedonia were left in the hand of Turkish Sultan even after the Bulgarian atrocities had shown what kind of treatment they might expect.
(4) Though there was peace for near future, the Congress contained the seed of future wars.
Treaty of Berlin with the seeds of future wars
Holding back Russia from Balkan and encouraging Austria complicated the Eastern Question instead of solving it. Austra was allowed to commit herself to the policy of acquiring territory in the Balkans in the direct opposition to Russian and Serbian national feeling. Her occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina embittered her relations with Serbia and Russia and this in the long run gave rise to the complications which directly led to the First World War.
Bismarck, although he posed as “honest broker” was obliged to take sides between Austria and Russia in the crisis. He chose Austria and alienated Russia. As a result, Russia was thrown into the arms of France. Here was the remote origin of estrangement between Russia and Germany, which before long divided Europe into two rival camps, the Dual Alliance between Russia and France and Bismarck’s Triple Alliance. Thus the political situation in Europe began to take that shape which produced the Great War of 1914.
The Berlin Congress failed to consider adequately the aspirations of the Balkan peoples and, thereby, laid the foundation for future crises in the Balkans. The Macedonian problem led to the Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913.
The Balkan wars and the First World Wars were caused by many other reasons also like increasing armed race, imperialism, nationalism, balance of power games, secret treaties etc, but the Berlin Congress gave birth to many of these reasons.
Thus instead of bringing about the pacification of the Balkans and solving the Eastern Question, the Treaty of Berlin contributed to increase the unrest and friction among the Balkan peoples, which produced in the future wars.