Russo-Austrian Agreements on the Balkan Question

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Russo-Austrian Agreements on the Balkan Question


The 1897 agreement, a secret document regarding the maintenance of the status quo in the Balkans, was formalized by an exchange of letters between the Austro-Hungar-ian minister of foreign affairs A. Gołuchowski (letter of Apr. 26 [May 8]) and the Russian minister of foreign affairs M. N. Murav’ev (May 5 [17]). The reason for the agreement was the inability of either power to intervene actively in Balkan affairs. As a result of the exacerbation of contradictions among nationality groups, Austria-Hungary was experiencing serious internal difficulties. Russia was preoccupied with the Far East. Both governments promised to maintain the status quo in the Balkans. The agreement specified that in case this proved impossible, both sides would later conclude a special agreement. However, because of their “eminently European character,” the issues of Istanbul (Constantinopole), the Black Sea straits, and adjacent territories were not to be covered in any special agreement between the two powers.

The Russo-Austrian Agreement of 1907, signed in Vienna on Sept. 15 (28), was a continuation of the Mürzsteg Agreement of 1903, concerning the implementation of reforms in Macedonia (for example, administrative and judicial reforms and the appointment of Russian and Austro-Hungarian civil agents to supervise Turkish authorities). The reasons for the conclusion of the 1907 agreement were the exacerbation of the situation in Macedonia and Great Britain’s reaction to the Macedonian reforms. The 1907 agreement between Russia and Austria-Hungary was formalized in an official communiqué on the meeting of the ministers of foreign affairs. Both powers agreed that Macedonia should be pacified, the implementation of the Mürzsteg program should continue until 1914, and for this purpose, Turkey should extend the powers of the European military and civilian officials in Macedonia for another seven years.

In 1908, Turkey and Austria-Hungary concluded an agreement regarding the construction of a railroad from Sarajevo across the sanjak of Novi Pazar and Macedonia to Salonika (Thessaloniki), thus in effect nullifying the Russo-Austrian Agreement of 1897. On Sept. 2(15), 1908, Russia and Austria-Hungary reached a tentative, verbal agreement on the Balkan question at Buchlau castle in Bohemia. The agreement was prompted by the desire of both powers to strengthen their position in the Balkans, in the wake of the Young Turk Revolution of 1908. Austria-Hungary promised to support Russia’s efforts to gain from Turkey the right to bring individual naval vessels through the Black Sea straits. In return, Russia agreed to the annexation of Bosnia and Hercegovina by Austria-Hungary. However, Russia believed that the Bosnian question and other Balkan problems could only be resolved by a conference of European states. This proposal displeased the Austro-Hungarian government. Relying on Germany’s support, on Oct. 7, 1908, Austria-Hungary announced the annexation of Bosnia and Hercegovina, giving rise to a serious international conflict (the Bosnian crisis of 1908–09).

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