Balkan League
(1912)
   An alliance of Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, and Bulgaria against the Ottoman Empire during the First Balkan War. Eleutherios Venizelos, the prime minister of Greece, had pushed for an alliance with Bulgaria early in 1911 to protect oppressed Christian subjects of Ottoman rule in Macedonia. Bulgaria thought Greece was too weak and too close to war with the Porte over Crete. But the weakness of the Ottomans in the Italo-Turkish War resulted in the Balkan states putting aside differences to tackle their irredentist ambitions. In March 1912, a secret bilateral defensive alliance was signed between Serbia and Bulgaria, which a military contract in May expanded. Athens then signed a military alliance with Sofia, and Sofia signed a similar one with Montenegro. Thus Balkan states formed a network of alliances against Constantinople.
   The Great Powers immediately saw a threat to their interests. France feared Russian domination of the Balkans and with Austria-Hungary, itself unwilling to see an expanded Serbia on its southern border, rallied the other powers to caution the Balkan states against a change in the balance of power. But the Balkan League felt strong enough to challenge the Ottoman Empire militarily. On October 8, 1912, Montenegro was the first state to declare war. After issuing an ultimatum to the Porte on October 13, the other three states declared war four days later. The combined Balkan armies effectively destroyed Ottoman power in Europe and carved up Macedonia. But the alliance did not hold. After the successful conclusion of the First Balkan War, differences over the partition of Macedonia surfaced. Bulgaria’s jealousy of Serbia and Greece tore the League apart and led to the Second Balkan War.
   See also <>; <>; <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Gerolymatos, André. The Balkan Wars: Conquest, Revolution, and Retribution from the Ottoman Era to the Twentieth Century and Beyond . New York: Basic Books, 2002;
    Glenny, Misha. The Balkans: Nationalism, War, and the Great Powers, 1804-1999 . New York: Viking, 2000;
    Mazower, Mark. The Balkans: A Short History . New York: Modern Library, 2000.
   ANDREKOS VARNAVA

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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