Congress and Treaty of Berlin - Encyclopedia

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BERLIN, CONGRESS AND TREATY OF. The events that led up to the assembling of the congress of Berlin, the outcome of which was the treaty of the 13th of July 1878, are described elsewhere (see Europe: History; Turkey: History; Russo-Turkish War). Here it must suffice to say that the terms of the treaty of San Stefano (3rd March 1878) ,by which the Russo-Turkish War had been brought to a conclusion, seemed to those of the other powers who were most interested scarcely less fatal to the Ottoman dominion than that Russian occupation of Constantinople which Great Britain had risked a war to prevent. By this instrument Bulgaria was to become a practically independent state, under the nominal suzerainty of the sultan, bounded by the Danube, the Black Sea, the Aegean and Albania, and cutting off the latter from the remnant of Rumelia which, with Constantinople, was to be left to the Turks. At the same time the other Christian principalities, Servia and Montenegro, were largely increased in size and their independence definitively recognized; and the proposals of the powers with regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina, communicated to the Ottoman plenipotentiaries at the first sitting of the conference of Constantinople (23rd December 1876), were to be immediately executed. These provisions seemed to make Russia permanently arbiter of the fate of the Balkan peninsula, the more so since the vast war indemnity of 1,400,000,000 roubles exacted in the treaty promised to cripple the resources of the Ottoman government for years to come.

The two powers whose interests were most immediately threatened by the terms of the peace were Austria and Great Britain. The former especially, refusing to be bribed by the Russian offer of Bosnia and Herzegovina, saw herself cut off from all chance of expansion in the Balkan peninsula and. threatened with the establishment there of the paramount power of Russia, a peril it had been her traditional policy to avert.. On the 5th of February, accordingly, Count Andrassy issued a circular note, addressed to the signatory powers of the treaty of Paris of 1856 and the London protocol of 1871, suggesting a congress for the purpose of establishing "the agreement of Europe on the modifications which it may become necessary to introduce into the above-mentioned treaties" in view of the preliminaries of peace signed by Russia and Turkey. This appeal to the sanctity of international engagements, traditional in the diplomatic armoury of Austria, and strengthened by so recent a precedent as that of 1871, met with an immediate response. On the 1st of April Lord Salisbury had already addressed a circular note to the British embassies refusing on behalf of the British government to recognize any arrangements made in the peace preliminaries, calculated to modify European. treaties, "unless they were made the subject of a formal agreement among the parties to the treaty of Paris," and quoting the "essential principle of the law of nations" promulgated in the London protocol. By Great Britain therefore the Austrian proposal was at once accepted. Germany was very willing to fall in with the views of her Austrian ally and share in a council in which, having no immediate ,interests of her own, Bismarck could win new laurels in his role of "honest broker." In these circumstances Russia could not but accept the principle of a congress. She tried, however, to limit the scope of its powers by suggesting the exclusion of certain clauses of the treaty from its reference, and pointed out (circular of Prince Gorchakov,. April 9th) that Russia had not been the first nor the only Power to violate the treaties in question. The answer of Lord Beaconsfield was to mobilize the militia and bring Indian troops to the Mediterranean; and finally Russia, finding that the diplomatic support which she had expected from Bismarck failed her, consented to submit the whole treaty without reserve to the congress.

On the 3rd of June Count Munster, in the name of the German government, issued the formal invitation to the congress.. The congress met, under the presidency of Prince Bismarck, at Berlin on the 13th of June. Great Britain was represented by Lord Beaconsfield, Lord Salisbury and Lord Odo Russell, ambassador at Berlin; Germany by Prince Bismarck, Baron Ernst von Billow and Prince Chlodwig von Hohenlohe-Schillingsfurst,. ambassador at Paris; Austria by Count Andrassy, Count Louis Karolyi and Baron Heinrich Karl von Haymerle, ambassador at Rome; France by William H. Waddington, the Comte de Saint-Vallier, ambassador at Berlin, and Felix Hippolyte Desprez, director of political affairs in the department for foreign. affairs; Russia by the chancellor, Prince Gorchakov, Count Peter Shuvalov, ambassador to the court of St James's, and Paul d'Oubril, ambassador at Berlin; Turkey by Alexander Catheodory Pasha, minister of public works, Ali Pasha, mushir of the Ottoman armies, and Sadullah Bey, ambassador at Berlin.. The bases of the conferences had, of course, been settled beforehand, and the final act of the congress was signed by the plenipotentiaries mentioned above exactly a month after the opening of the congress, on the 13th of July.

The treaty of Berlin consists in all of sixty-four articles, of which it will be sufficient to note those which have had a special bearing on subsequent international developments. So far as they affect the territorial boundaries fixed by the treaties of Paris and San Stefano it will be sufficient to refer to the sketch map in the article Europe: History. By Art. I. Bulgaria was "constituted an autonomous and tributary principality under the suzerainty of H.I.M. the Sultan"; it was to have "a Christian government and a national militia." Art. II. fixed the boundaries of the new state and provided for their delimitation by a European commission, which was "to take into consideration the necessity for H.I.M. the Sultan to be able to defend the Balkan frontiers of Eastern Rumelia." Arts. III. to XII. provide for the election of a prince for Bulgaria, the machinery for settling the new constitution, the adjustment of the relations of the new Bulgarian government to the Ottoman empire and its subjects (including the question of tribute, the amount of which was, according to Art. XII., to be settled by agreement of the signatory powers "at the close of the first year of the working of the new organization"). By Art. X. Bulgaria, so far as it was concerned, was to take the place of the Sublime Porte in the engagements which the latter had contracted, as well towards Austria-Hungary as towards the RustchuckVarna Railway Company, for working the railway of European Turkey in respect to the completion and connexion, as well as the working of the railways situated in its territory.

By Art. XIII. a province was formed south of the Balkans which was to take the name of "Eastern Rumelia," and was to remain "under the direct military and political control of H.I.M.the Sultan,under conditions of administrative autonomy." It was to have a Christian governor-general. Arts. XIV. to XXIII. define the frontiers and organization of the new province, questions arising out of the Russian occupation, and the rights of the sultan. Of the latter it is to be noted that the sultan retained the right of fortifying and occupying the Balkan passes (Art. XV.) and all his rights and obligations over the railways (Art. XXI.).

Art. XXV., which the events of 1908 afterwards brought into special prominence, runs as follows: "The provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina shall be occupied and administered by AustriaHungary. The government of Austria-Hungary, not desiring to undertake the administration of the sanjak of Novi-Bazar,. .. the Ottoman administration will continue to exercise its functions there. Nevertheless, in order to assure the maintenance of the new political state of affairs, as well as freedom and security of communications, Austria-Hungary reserves the right of keeping garrisons and having military and commercial roads in the whole of this part of the ancient vilayet of Bosnia." By Art. XXVI. the independence of Montenegro was definitively recognized, and by Art. XVIII. she received certain accessions of territory, including a strip of coast on the Adriatic, but under conditions which tended to place her under the tutelage of Austria-Hungary. Thus, by Art. XXIX. she was to have neither ships of war nor a war flag, the port of Antivari and all Montenegrin waters were to be closed to the war-ships of all nations; the fortifications between the lake and the coast were to be razed; the administration of the maritime and sanitary police at Antivari and along the Montenegrin littoral was to be carried on by Austria-Hungary "by means of light coast-guard boats"; Montenegro was to adopt the maritime code in force in Dalmatia, while the Montenegrin merchant flag was to be under Austro-Hungarian consular protection. Finally, Montenegro was to "come to an understanding with Austria-Hungary on the right to construct and keep up across the new Montenegrin territory a road and a railway." By Art. XXXIV. the independence of Servia was recognized, subject to conditions (as to religious liberty, &c.) set forth in Art. XXXV. Art. XXXVI. defined the new boundaries.

By. Art. XLIII. the independence of Rumania, already-pro May 22 claimed by the prince (June 3 1877), was recognized. Subse quent articles define the conditions and the boundaries.

Arts. LII. to Lvii. deal with the question of the free navigation of the Danube. All fortifications between the mouths and the Iron Gates were to be razed, and no vessels of war, save those of light tonnage in the service of the river police and the customs, were to navigate the river below the Iron Gates (Art. LII.). The Danube commission, on which Rumania was to be represented, was maintained in its functions (Art. LIII.) and provision made for the further prolongation of its powers (Art. LIV.).

Art. LVIII. cedes to Russia the territories of Ardahan, Kars and Batoum, in Asiatic Turkey. By Art. LIX. "H.M. the emperor of Russia declares that it is his intention to constitute Batoum a free port, essentially commercial." By Art. LXI. "the Sublime Porte undertakes to carry out, without further delay, the improvements and reforms demanded by local requirements in the provinces inhabited by the Armenians, and to guarantee their security against the Circassians and Kurds." It was to keep the powers informed periodically of "the steps taken to this effect." Art. Lxii. made provision for the securing religious liberty in the Ottoman dominions.

Finally, Art. LXIII. declares that "the treaty of Paris of 30th March 1856, as well as the treaty of London of 13th March 1871, are maintained in all such of their provisions as are not abrogated or modified by the preceding stipulations." For the full text of the treaty in the English translation see E. Hertslet, Map of Europe by Treaty, vol. iv. p. 2759 (No. 530); for the French original see State Papers, vol. lxix. p. 749. (W. A. P.)

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