Did the Congress of Berlin create a more unstable Europe?


Congress of Berlin meeting to resolve the Russo-Turkish War

The Congress of Berlin was a gathering of the representatives of the Russian Empire, Great Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, Italy and Germany, the great powers in Europe and the Balkan states; Greece, Serbia, Rumania and Montenegro. and the Ottoman Empire. The Congress was hosted by the German Chancellor Otto Bismarck. The aim of the Congress was to resolve territorial and other disputes in the Balkans after the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-8. It also sought to ease tensions in Europe, because other great powers feared that Russia was growing too strong and was upsetting the continent’s balance of power. The Congress also sought to restrain Pan-Slavic nationalism. The Congress actions ultimately sacrificed long term stability in favor of a short term easing of political tensions.

The Ottoman Empire was in terminal decline and since the start of the 19th century it had been in retreat in the Balkans, which it had once dominated.[1] However, it still retained control over large areas of the southern Balkans. The region was very unstable. The population of the Balkans was made up largely of Slavs and many of these wanted the creation of a single Slavic state in the region, this ideology was known as Pan-Slavism. The nationalist ideology of Pan-Slavism was very hostile to the Ottoman Turks, but generally support Russian influence in the Balkans, as it was considered a Slavic nation. Russia considered itself to be the defender of the Christian Slavs against the Muslim Ottomans.[2]

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