Balkan Nationalism

Balkan Nationalism


"Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind,"- Albert Einstein.
There were two kinds of nationalism in 19th Century Europe:
(1) the desire of subject peoples for independence -
It led to a series of national struggles for independence among the Balkan peoples. Other powers got involved and caused much instability.
(2) the desire of independent nations for dominance and prestige -
As the powers try to dominate each other in Europe, their rivalries may be regarded as one of the causes of the First World War.

The Balkan states of Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Montenegro attacked Turkey. They attacked in October 1912, and defeated the Turks. The result allowed Serbia to increase her territory. When the government of Austria became worried, larger European powers stepped in and Russia in turn had to agree to the Austrian terms as a way of limiting the rapidly expanding Serbian territory. The Balkans, just like the other European Countries around this time, were experiencing strong nationalistic ideologies. Nationalism in this scenario would be defined as the desire for people to be ruled by themselves. For the Balkans this meant the expulsion of all foreign presence. Soon, the Balkan countries started attacking each other. Each of the individual countries started to uprise, and many gained independence. Serbia staged an uprising in 1804-1813 that would eventually gain it autonomy in 1830, with Montenegro receiving international recognition as an independent state in 1860. The Greeks also engaged in revolution and civil war in the 1820s, gaining independence in 1830. Bulgaria attacked Serbia and Greece, and then Montenegro, Romania, and Turkey joined forces with Serbia and Greece and they all attacked Bulgaria. Bulgaria finally was forced to make peace and give up many of her claims from previous wars.

The strategic location of the Balkans made them important to Russia and Habsburg Austria as frontier territories, to Britain as a communications link with its far Eastern colonies, and to the Ottomans themselves, who on seeing the decline of their empire were unwilling to cede and more territory to their rivals.