Balkan League

Balkan League

The Balkan League was the alliance of Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and Bulgaria against the Ottoman Empire during the Balkan Wars. Its founder was by large the Serbian Prime Minister Milovan Milovanović.

After the outbreak of the Italo-Turkish War in 1911, the Balkan states realized the need for co-operation in order to face Turkey. That realization, coupled with Russian diplomatic pressure, resulted in the signing of a secret bilateral defensive alliance between Serbia and Bulgaria on March 13, 1912, expanded by a military contract on May 12. Greece, not wishing to be left out of a possible alliance against the Ottoman Empire and the corresponding partition of territory, began negotiations with Bulgaria on a defensive alliance, which resulted in the signing of the Greco-Bulgarian treaty in Sofia, on May 29, 1912. This agreement was later followed by a similar one between Bulgaria and Montenegro, thus forming a network of alliances in the Balkans, aimed at Turkey.

These developments did not go unnoticed by the Great Powers. France, perceiving in the League a plan to impose Russian dominance on the Balkans, found itself allied with Austria-Hungary, itself unwilling to see a large Serbian state emerge on its southern border, and rallied the other Powers to issue a stern warning to the Balkan states.

However, the opportunity was too good to be missed by the Balkan League, as the Ottoman Empire was weak and riddled with internal strife. The allied governments intensified their military and diplomatic preparations. During the last days of September, the Balkan states and the Ottoman Empire mobilized their armies. The first state to declare war was Montenegro, on October 8, 1912, starting the First Balkan War. The other three states, after issuing an ultimatum to the Porte on October 13, declared war on Turkey on October 17.

During the war, the combined Christian armies effectively destroyed Ottoman power in Europe in a series of victories. However, the League's triumph was short-lived. The antagonisms between the Christian states still persisted, and after the successful conclusion of the First Balkan War, they resurfaced, especially over the partition of Macedonia. Mounting tensions effectively tore the League apart, and the Second Balkan War broke out among the former allies, with Bulgaria pitted against Serbia and Greece, later joined by Ottoman Empire and Romania.

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