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The Eastern Question Two things happened during the nineteenth century to disturb the internal affairs of the

e Balkans. The first was the introduction of novel social and economic forces. The second was the increasing intervention of outside political forces. As the century advanced these developments merged, as international diplomacy and international commerce became linked in the thinking of Europe's Great Powers. "The Eastern Question" revolved around one issue: what should happen to the Balkans if and when the Ottoman Empire disappeared as the fundamental political fact in the Southeastern Europe? The Great Powers approached each crisis with the hope of emerging with the maximum advantage. Treaties: Karlowitz and Kuchuk Kainarji (spoken about) Each country will be spoken about individually: Russia Russia tended to be the most visible disturbing agent and was usually the agent of each new Turkish defeat. Russia began the Early Modern period as the most backward of the Great Powers but also was the state with the greatest potential to tap new resources and grow. Under the 1774 Kuchuk Kainarji Treaty, Russia gained access to the north shore of the Black Sea. More important, the same treaty gave Russia important rights to intercede on behalf of the Orthodox millet and to conduct commerce within the Ottoman Empire. Most of Russia's subsequent policies expanded on these two concessions. One aim of Russian policy was control of local client states. Russian policy toward the Orthodox Christians of the Balkans involved mixed elements of compassion and self-interest. Russians deplored the abuse of Balkan fellow Christians and Slavs (the Pan-Slav movement of the 1800s brought forward similar Russian interests, in a slightly different form). When a state like Serbia fell under Austrian influence, the Russians would switch their support to a regional rival, such as Bulgaria. Russia had fewer ties to non-Slavic states like Romania: absent Pan-Slav ties, Russian policy often came across as mere domination, especially when Russia annexed territory, such as Bess Arabia which was seized in 1878 and in 1940.

A second aim of Russian Balkan policy was retention and expansion of rights of navigation from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean. Russia wanted full rights not only for its merchant trade but also for warships to pass through the Straits, while resisting the rights of other states to send ships (especially warships) into the Black Sea. In general, Russia has had to accept compromises that allow free traffic for all merchant ships and no traffic for warships (except the largely harmless Turkish navies). A third aim of Russian policy, arising from the first two, has been outright physical possession of Istanbul and the Dardanelles. Annexation of that region would guarantee passage of the Straits, and make Balkan client states unnecessary.

Great Britian: During the period 1815 to 1878 (and in fact up to 1907, when Russia and England allied against Germany) Great Britain was Russia's most consistent rival for Balkan influence. British interests led to intermittent support for Ottoman rule. British Balkan interests derived from interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. Given Britain's position as the most industrialized European state in the early 1800s, economic interest played a large role, as distinct from simple geo-political interest. Britain needed to secure the shipping lanes to India. Those trade routes passed through areas like Suez that were nominally Turkish. Britain's strategic and humanitarian interests in the Ottoman parts of the Balkans tended to be in conflict. In 1876, William Gladstone (a past and future Prime Minister) wrote a pamphlet called "The Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East" condemning the massacres that the Turks carried out while suppressing the latest Balkan revolt. After that year, no British cabinet could provide unlimited support for the sultan. In 1853, Britain had gone to war rather than see Russian influence grow in the Balkans, but when the Russians invaded and defeated Turkey in 1877-78, Britain stood by. In 1878 Britain took control of the island of Cyprus, and in 1883 occupied Egypt and the Suez Canal. With those outposts under control, Britain's need to intervene on the Balkan mainland waned, although Britain did keep an eye on Greece and Russia's privileges at the Straits.

Britain also had important trading interests within the Ottoman Empire itself and later in the successor states. Short term profits, political or economic, had to be balanced against long term interests. Investors in railroads and state bonds preferred to take as much profit as they could, as soon as they could; this tendency often pulled resources out of Turkey that might have contributed to stability and long term profit. In general, British capitalists tried to take as much profit out of Turkey as possible, without fatally weakening the country and killing the golden goose. France: France, like Britain, had both political and economic Balkan interests. During the Napoleonic wars, France was a major threat to Ottoman rule. Napoleon himself invaded Egypt in 1798. After defeat in 1815, France lost military and political clout: restoring French influence in the Concert of Europe became a goal. French economic interests tended to outweigh political interests during the 1800s. France had commercial rights in Turkey dating back to the Capitulation Treaties of the 1600s. Marseilles, France's busiest port relied heavily on trade with the Ottomanruled Eastern Mediterranean. France was also the protector of Catholics in Turkey: French intervention in the quarrels between Orthodox and Catholic monks in Jerusalem was one excuse for the Crimean War. Under Napoleon III, France also followed a policy of support for nationalists and this meant support for rebels against the Ottomans. There was a special feeling of affinity in the case of Romania. Many Romanian leaders had a French education and cultural ties. The Romance roots of their language made Romania seem like an outpost of Latin culture in a sea of Slavs. During the crisis and war of 1875-78, the Turkish state went bankrupt. French bondholders were the biggest potential losers in case of a default so the French state pursued conservative fiscal policies in Turkey. When the Ottoman Public Debt Administration was created to monitor Turkish state finances, French directors played a major role: their policy begrudged every Turkish pound diverted away from debt repayment. Like British investors, French investors forced their government to balance competing interests.

Austria: At one time Austria had been the main threat to Ottoman rule, but after 1699 there were few actual territorial transfers to the Habsburgs. Russia replaced Austria as the real threat to Ottoman survival. However, Austria retained a major interest in the Ottoman Empire. The Balkans were adjacent to Hungary: Vienna had no desire to see a weak Ottoman neighbor replaced by a potentially strong Russia, or by pliant Russian clients in Serbia or Bulgaria. Austrian (and later Austro-Hungarian) Balkan interests resembled those of Russia; Habsburg diplomats came to very different conclusions about plans to partition or annex Balkan territory. Austria especially saw the Western Balkans as an economic resource and a potential market. Control of the coast was the key to allowing Austria's foreign trade to pass through the Adriatic Sea, and the empire could ill afford to let that region fall under the control of a hostile Great Power or a growing Balkan nation. The ruling German Austrians (with their Hungarian partners after 1867) had no ethnic or religious ties to the Slavs of the region. Austria's economic wealth was concentrated in advanced regions like northern Italy and Bohemia. After the defeat of 1866 made it clear that Germany, not Austria, would be the leader of Central Europe, southeastern Europe remained as Vienna's only available arena for the exercise of power. At the same time, the 1867 Ashleigh with the Magyars made the annexation of Slavic areas less attractive. The Magyars made up barely 50% of the population in Hungary and had no desire to end up as a minority by annexing more Slavic or Romanian lands.