An impressive galaxy of diplomats gathered in Berlin to reconsider the San Stefano Treaty Bismarck was elected president in accordance with customary practice. By this time he had lost some of his old vigor, and according to his own account he downed a tumbler of port every few hours to keep going. Yet he dominated the congress, and time and again his energy and decisiveness kept it from breaking up. Disraeli was another outstanding personality. He suffered from asthma and gout and hobbled around on a stick. But Bismarck was sufficiently impressed by him to remark, "The old Jew, he is the man." Disraeli's associates were on tenterhooks lest he address the congress in his barbarous French. They coped with the delicate situation by informing him that the entire gathering eagerly waited to hear a speech from "the greatest living master of English oratory." No one ever quite knew.'' whether Disraeli took the hint or accepted the compliment. The Russian,foreign minister, Prince Gorchakov, could not resist attending, though he was eighty and had to be carried upstairs to the chamber. He did not contribute much to the work of the congress with his artificial graces, inordinate vanity; and passion for bon mots.
In addition to these and other diplomats representing the great powers, there were delegates from Turkey and from the Balkan states. The latter were at least politely heard before being ignored. But the Turks were both ignored and insulted. "If you think the Congress has met for Turkey," Bismarck bluntly told them, "disabuse yourselves. San Stefano would have remained unaltered, if it had not touched certain European interests." (21) Even the British, who supposedly were the champions of the Turks, gave them orders and suffered no back talk. The British ambassador in Constantinople Sir Henry Layard, assured Salisbury that he had made certain of the cooperation of the chief Turkish delegate, Caratheodory Pasha. "I have given Caratheodory to understand that if I find him playing false I will leave no stone unturned to break his neck, and as he knows I can do it, it is to hi' interest to keep well with us."( 22)
The congress was not a meaningless rubber-stamp affair. It is true that agreements had been reached beforehand but these were of a general nature. On several occasions the congress almost foundered over specific is sues. such as the amount of territory that Russia should obtain in eastern Asia Minor and the degree of control that Turkey should keep over the southern Bulgarian province. Finally satisfactory terms were arranged and the treaty signed on July 13, 1878.
The essential difference between the Treaty of Berlin and that of San Stefano has to do with Bulgaria. The large autonomous principality originally established now was divided into three parts: Bulgaria proper, north Of the Balkan Mountains, to be autonomous with its own elected prince, though tributary to Constantinople; Eastern Rumelia, south of the Balkan Mountains, to be under a Christian governor appointed by Constantinople but approved by the powers; and Macedonia, which was to remain under direct Turkish administration. Thus the Bulgaria of Berlin was only one third hat of San Stefano and was completely cut off from the Aegean.
Serbia and Montenegro were declared independent and given additional territory, though not as much as stipulated at San Stefano. Rumania also became independent and acquired part of the Dobruja, though, as expected, she was forced to surrender southern Bessarabia to Russia. Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the crisis originated, were handed over to Austria to occupy and administer though not to annex. Austria was also authorized to garrison the strategic Sanjak of Novi Bazar located between Serbia and Montenegro. This provision was designed to forestall a development that Austria always feared-a large, united Yugoslav state that might attract the South Slavs under Hapsburg rule. Greece claimed Crete, Thessaly, Epirus, and a part of Macedonia, but received nothing. The powers had so many other interests to promote that they evaded the Greek case by inviting the Turkish government to come to terms with Greece concerning the rectification of frontiers. Bismarck remarked cynically that with thousands of years of history behind them the Greeks could afford to wait a few more to fulfill their ambitions.
Russia received Batum, Kars, and Ardahan in addition to southern Bessarabia. The British had prepared for this Russian advance in Asia Minor by concluding earlier, on June 4, the Cyprus Convention with the Turks. This committed the British to resist any further Russian expansion in Asia Minor; in return they were to occupy and administer the island of Cyprus for as long as the Russians retained Kars and Batum. When the French demurred at this new British foothold in theeastern Mediterranean, Bismarck told them, "Why do you not go to Carthage?"
1. Cited by W. L. Langer, European Alliances and Alignments 1871-1890 (New York, 1931),p.15.
2. Cited by G. Trubetzkoi, "La politique russe en Orient, le schisme bulgare," Revue d'histoire diplomatique, XXI (1907),191.
3. From 1874 memorandum of N. P. Ignatiev in izvestiia Ministerstva Inostrannykh Del (St. Petersburg, 1914),Bk.IV,p.92.
4. Cited by R. W. Seton-Watson, "Les relations de l'Autriche-Hongrie et de la Serbie entre 1868 et 1874; la mission de Benjamin Kallay a Belgrade," Le monde slave, III (August, 1926), 283.
5. N. Iorga, Correspondance diplomatique roumaine sous le roi Charles 1, 18661880 (Paris, 1923), p. 324.
6. Cited by A. Onou, "The Memoirs of Count N. Ignatyev," Slavonic Review, X (December, 1931), 390, 391.
7. A. Leroy-Beaulieu, "Les reformes de la Turquie, la politique russe et le panslavisme," Revue des deux mondes, XVIII (December 1, 1876), 530.
8. Cited by B. H. Sumner, Russia and the Balkans 1870-1880 (Oxford, 1937), p. 582.
9. Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, 3rd Series, CCIV, 81-82.
10. Edited by D. Harris, A Diplomatic History of the Balkan Crisis of 1875-1878: The First Year (Stanford, Calif., 1936), pp. 107-108.
11. Cited ibid., p. 120
12. Ibid., p. 379.
13. Iorga, op. cit., pp. 128-129.
14. Cited by D. Harris, Britain and the Bulgarian Horrors of 1876 (Chicago, 1939), p. 235.
15. W. F. Monypenny and G. E. Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli (New York, 1920), VI, 70.
16. H. G. Elliot, Some Revolutions and Other Diplomatic Experiences (London, 1922), pp. 285-286.
17. Cited by M. D. Stojanovic, Great Powers and the Balkans 1875-1878 (Cambridge, Eng., 1938), p. 134.
18. Monypenny and Buckle, op. cit., VI, 111.
19. Gwendolen Cecil, Life of Robert Marquis of Salisbury (London, 1921), II, 139.
20. Monypenny and Buckle, op. cit., VI, 217-218.
21. Cited by R. W. Seton-Watson, Disraeli, Gladstone and the Eastern Question (London, 1935), p. 450.
22. Ibid., p. 445.
23. Cited by Langer, op. cit., p. 160.
24. Cited by Seton-Watson, Disraeli, Gladstone and the Eastern Question, p. 490.
25. H..D. Wolff, Rambling Recollections (London, 1908), II, 265.
(Excerpts from "The Balkans Since 1453" by L. S. Stavrianos, Professor of History, Northwestern University, published in 1963 by Holt, Rinehart and WinstonLibrary of Congress Catalog Card Number: 58-7242)
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