Bosnian Crisis of 1908–09

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bosnian Crisis of 1908–09


an international conflict provoked by the annexation by Austria-Hungary on Oct. 7, 1908, of Bosnia and Hercegovina, provinces inhabited by Serbs and Croats and placed under Austro-Hungarian occupation in accordance with the decisions of the Congress of Berlin of 1878. By annexing these provinces, which had until October 1908 remained nominally under the sovereignty of the Turkish sultan, the Austro-Hungarian ruling circles were endeavoring to deal a blow to the growing national liberation movement of the South Slav nations of the Hapsburg monarchy. Before the crisis an agreement had been reached on Sept. 16, 1908, in Buchlau (Austria-Hungary) between A. P. Izvol’skii, the Russian minister for foreign affairs, and A. Aehrenthal, minister for foreign affairs of Austria-Hungary, under which the tsarist government promised not to protest against the Austro-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia and Hercegovina, in return for support for the Russian plan for the opening of the Black Sea straits to allow the passage of Russian naval vessels. Turkey, after unsuccessfully protesting the annexation, renounced, by agreement with Austria-Hungary on Feb. 26, 1909, its sovereignty over Bosnia and Hercegovina in return for a payment of 2.5 million pounds sterling and for the evacuation of Austrian troops from the sanjak of Novi Pazar. Serbia, which regarded Bosnia and Hercegovina as part of a future South Slav state, strongly protested the annexation, relying primarily on Russian assistance. The tsarist government, having failed because of British and French opposition to put into effect the arrangement it had reached at Buchlau in reference to the straits, expressed its strong disapproval of the one-sided actions of Austria-Hungary.

However, having been weakened by its defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05, Russia endeavored to solve the Bosnian crisis by diplomatic means. With this end in view, the tsarist government called for the holding of a conference of the states which had signed the Treaty of Berlin of 1878. On Mar. 22, 1909, with Austria-Hungary in a state of military preparedness, the German government, acting in support of Austria-Hungary, made a demand, in the form of an ultimatum, that the tsarist government immediately recognize the annexation of Bosnia and Hercegovina, intimating at the same time that a refusal would lead to an Austro-Hungarian attack on Serbia. The tsarist government was compelled to accept the German demand on the very same day. On Mar. 31, 1909, the Serbian government also announced its recognition of the annexation of Bosnia and Hercegovina and the cessation of the anti-Austrian agitation inside the country. In April 1909 the annexation was recognized by Great Britain and France.

The Bosnian crisis not only worsened relations between Austria-Hungary and Serbia but accentuated the differences between the Entente and the Triple Alliance; it proved to be one of the steps that led to World War I.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.