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The Balkan Wars and Causes

The Balkan Wars and Causes

The instability in the Balkans was the weak link in the complex relationships that had developed in Europe. A little Balkan war was swamped in a struggle of European powers and there became a general upheaval in Europe, which destroyed its stable civilization. The clash with Serbia in July 1914 affected an issue of such magnitude, it is not surprising all the powers soon became involved; all of them had interests at stake.

The underlying conflict of interest of particularly Russia and Austria-Hungary over the Balkans made the situation during this time explosive. Both sought to dominate the Balkans after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The peak of nationalism played a major role in developing tensions in Europe; for it had been causing dissatisfaction since the Congress of Vienna in 1815. Conflicts in the Balkans threatened Austria's status, concessions to Serbian nationalism would bring about nationalism for Romanians, Slovaks and Czechs each having their own demands. Once the Habsburg monarchy allowed this it would inevitably disappear as a great power. Austria-Hungary had no intention of replacing the Ottoman Empire as the "Sick man of Europe." Austria was worried Russia would encourage Pan Slavism and leave the Austrian empire vulnerable. Russia's concern in the Balkans was the control of Constantinople (a warm water port) and the security of its borders in Asia and the Far East. This worried Britain as Constantinople was near the route to India and it was feared Russia would cut off this route.

Austria was Germany's only ally therefore it was important for Germany to preserve the Habsburg Empire for fear that it's collapse would leave Germany vulnerable to the other Great Powers in Europe. The potential collapse of Austria-Hungary was important for not only the Vienna government but for Austria's German ally, for the other great powers, and the balance of the power system. These long standing rivalries increased tension, involving all powers. It may have been Grand Austrian design to 'squash' Serbia in order to reassert its Empire. The only way for Austria to regain its dominance was to have a war with Serbia; it was not their intention for the war to spread across Europe. This long-standing rivalry triggered the spark that caused the outbreak of war.

A major step towards war was the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908. It was believed a policy of annexation could restore Habsburg...

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