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The Eastern Question

The Eastern Question

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Published by ashnaik76

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Published by: ashnaik76 on Feb 15, 2012
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The Eastern Question
Ψ
Two things happened during the nineteenth century to disturbthe internal affairs of the Balkans. The first was the introductionof novel social and economic forces. The second was theincreasing intervention of outside political forces. As the centuryadvanced these developments merged, as internationaldiplomacy and international commerce became linked in thethinking of Europe's Great Powers.
Ψ
"The Eastern Question" revolved around one issue: what shouldhappen to the Balkans if and when the Ottoman Empiredisappeared as the fundamental political fact in the SoutheasternEurope? The Great Powers approached each crisis with the hopeof 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 usuallythe agent of each new Turkish defeat. Russia began the EarlyModern period as the most backward of the Great Powers butalso was the state with the greatest potential to tap newresources and grow.Under the 1774 Kuchuk Kainarji Treaty, Russia gained access to thenorth shore of the Black Sea. More important, the same treatygave Russia important rights to intercede on behalf of theOrthodox millet and to conduct commerce within the OttomanEmpire. Most of Russia's subsequent policies expanded on thesetwo concessions.One aim of Russian policy was control of local client states. Russianpolicy toward the Orthodox Christians of the Balkans involvedmixed elements of compassion and self-interest. Russiansdeplored the abuse of Balkan fellow Christians and Slavs (thePan-Slav movement of the 1800s brought forward similarRussian interests, in a slightly different form).When a state like Serbia fell under Austrian influence, the Russianswould switch their support to a regional rival, such as Bulgaria.Russia had fewer ties to non-Slavic states like Romania: absentPan-Slav ties, Russian policy often came across as meredomination, especially when Russia annexed territory, such asBess Arabia which was seized in 1878 and in 1940.
 
Ψ
A second aim of Russian Balkan policy was retention andexpansion of rights of navigation from the Black Sea into theMediterranean. Russia wanted full rights not only for itsmerchant trade but also for warships to pass through the Straits,while resisting the rights of other states to send ships (especiallywarships) into the Black Sea. In general, Russia has had toaccept compromises that allow free traffic for all merchant shipsand no traffic for warships (except the largely harmless Turkishnavies).
Ψ
A third aim of Russian policy, arising from the first two, has beenoutright physical possession of Istanbul and the Dardanelles.Annexation of that region would guarantee passage of theStraits, and make Balkan client states unnecessary.
Great Britian:
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During the period 1815 to 1878 (and in fact up to 1907, whenRussia and England allied against Germany) Great Britain wasRussia's most consistent rival for Balkan influence. Britishinterests led to intermittent support for Ottoman rule.
Ψ
British Balkan interests derived from interests in the EasternMediterranean. Given Britain's position as the most industrializedEuropean state in the early 1800s, economic interest played alarge role, as distinct from simple geo-political interest. Britainneeded to secure the shipping lanes to India. Those trade routespassed through areas like Suez that were nominally Turkish.
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Britain's strategic and humanitarian interests in the Ottomanparts of the Balkans tended to be in conflict. In 1876, WilliamGladstone (a past and future Prime Minister) wrote a pamphletcalled "The Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East"condemning the massacres that the Turks carried out whilesuppressing the latest Balkan revolt.
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After that year, no British cabinet could provide unlimitedsupport for the sultan. In 1853, Britain had gone to war ratherthan see Russian influence grow in the Balkans, but when theRussians invaded and defeated Turkey in 1877-78, Britain stoodby.
Ψ
In 1878 Britain took control of the island of Cyprus, and in 1883occupied Egypt and the Suez Canal.
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With those outposts under control, Britain's need to intervene onthe Balkan mainland waned, although Britain did keep an eye onGreece and Russia's privileges at the Straits.
 
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Britain also had important trading interests within the OttomanEmpire itself and later in the successor states. Short termprofits, political or economic, had to be balanced against longterm interests.
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Investors in railroads and state bonds preferred to take as muchprofit as they could, as soon as they could; this tendency oftenpulled resources out of Turkey that might have contributed tostability and long term profit.
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In general, British capitalists tried to take as much profit out of Turkey as possible, without fatally weakening the country andkilling the golden goose.
France:
Ψ
France, like Britain, had both political and economic Balkaninterests. During the Napoleonic wars, France was a major threatto Ottoman rule. Napoleon himself invaded Egypt in 1798. Afterdefeat in 1815, France lost military and political clout: restoringFrench influence in the Concert of Europe became a goal.
Ψ
French economic interests tended to outweigh political interestsduring the 1800s. France had commercial rights in Turkey datingback to the Capitulation Treaties of the 1600s. Marseilles,France's busiest port relied heavily on trade with the Ottoman-ruled Eastern Mediterranean.
Ψ
France was also the protector of Catholics in Turkey: Frenchintervention in the quarrels between Orthodox and Catholicmonks in Jerusalem was one excuse for the Crimean War.
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Under Napoleon III, France also followed a policy of support fornationalists and this meant support for rebels against theOttomans. There was a special feeling of affinity in the case of Romania. Many Romanian leaders had a French education andcultural ties. The Romance roots of their language madeRomania seem like an outpost of Latin culture in a sea of Slavs.
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During the crisis and war of 1875-78, the Turkish state wentbankrupt. French bondholders were the biggest potential losersin case of a default so the French state pursued conservativefiscal policies in Turkey. When the Ottoman Public DebtAdministration was created to monitor Turkish state finances,French directors played a major role: their policy begrudgedevery Turkish pound diverted away from debt repayment. LikeBritish investors, French investors forced their government tobalance competing interests.

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