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Treaty of San Stefano March 3, 1878

Russia and Turkey signed at Adrianople on January 31, 1878, a document (See Appendix I, 13) which combined with an armistice the " preliminary bases for peace," and provided for an autonomous Bulgaria, with a national Christian government and militia; the independence of Montenegro, Ronmania. and Serbia, with increases of territory; autonomy for Bosnia and Herzegovina; reforms in other Christian provinces of Turkey in Europe; an indemnity to Russia; and an understanding to secure the rights and interests of Russia in the straits. On February 5, 1878, the Austrian Government proposed a conference at Vienna of the powers signatory to the treaties of 1856 and 1871. Baden was substituted later as the place of meeting, and on March 7 it was proposed that not a conference but a congress be held, and that the place be Berlin. Bismarck announced, in a speech to the Reichstag on February 19, that he proposed to act as an " honest broker, " with no partiality in favor of any country.

Russian and Turkey agreed on a " preliminary treaty of peace " at San Stefano on March 3, 1878, which set forth, with annexed maps, new boundaries for Montenegro and Serbia. Bulgaria was laid out extensively, including all areas which were believed to contain a majority of Bulgarians. The plan proposed at the conference of Constantinople for the organization of Bosnia and Herzegovina was to be put into effect. Improvements and reforms were to be provided in Armenia. An indemnity of 1,410,000,000 rubles was to be paid by Turkey to'Russia, but in lieu of 1,100,000,000 rubles of this sum the Dobrudja and the districts of Ardahan, Kars, Batnm, iintl Bayazid were to be ceded. Ratifications were to be exchanged within 15 days. This treaty proposed an arrangement very favorable to Russian and Bulgarian interests. It was, however, as regards its disposition of tho Balkan peninsula, much more nearly conformable to the principle of nationality than was the Treaty of Berlin. While it has often been considered an attempt to "tie the hands of the Congress", it became very serviceable to that body in exact conformity with its denomination as a " preliminary peace."

There was a sharp exchange of views between the British and Russian Governments as to the extent to which this treaty should come before the congress for discussion, which was settled by Prince Gortchakoff conceding " full liberty of appreciation and action"' to all the powers to be represented. Gen. Ignatieff was sent to visit the European courts, and is supposed to have offered Bosnia and Herzegovina to Austria. The Hapsburg power, however, was not pleased with the blocking of the road to Salonika by the interposition of the great Bulgaria, and asked special rights in Serbia and Montenegro, with control of Bosnia and Albania. Apparently it was this attitude of Austria that caused Russia to yield full discussion of the treaty.

Lord Salisbury issued a circular note on April 1, 1878, proposing modifications of the Treaty of San Stefano, in the direction of removing exclusive Russian advantages, protecting British interests, and securing, without impairing Turkish sovereignty, improvement in the position of the subject peoples of Turkey. Prince Gortchakoff answered this on April 9, asking for specific proposals, and adding comments in an annex. Russia's armies in Turkey were losing effectives rapidly. She was not prepared for a general war, nor was any ally in sight in case one should break out. She was therefore ready to make considerable concessions.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:29:28 ZULU