- The Map of the Balkans changed
The Map of the Balkans changed
The end of the operations of the short Second Balkan War laid again on the table the question of the distribution of disputed territory in the Balkans. This time, the lands were to be detached primarily from Bulgaria and focused mostly on acquisitions of the first Balkan war. Concerning the border demarcation between the Balkan states the conference of peace was held in Bucharest attended by representatives of the belligerent countries besides the Ottoman Empire. However, this time also, the negotiating agenda was set by the representatives of the Powers.
Essentially, the conference was spent in solving the Greek-Bulgarian border, given that the definition of the boundary line of both Serbia and Romania with Bulgaria did not encounter any particular difficulties. Greece and Bulgaria appeared on uncompromising demands in eastern Macedonia. The two countries sought the annexation of the city of Kavala and the surrounding area in their territory. Venizelos thought that Greece had lead since Greek military forces already controlled Kavala.
This time, also, the intervention of the Powers was decisive. Their conflicting interests were depicted with the support of Greek or Bulgarian claims. Their differences were irreconcilable to such an extent that the Conference of Bucharest was the prelude of the First World War that broke out a few months later. Austria and Russia supported Bulgaria. England and Italy were rather neutral. The Greek positions advocated by France and Germany. The support of the latter was unexpected and aimed at the inclusion of Greece in their allied blocks in view of warfare in Europe, especially after the accession to the Greek throne of the pro-German King Constantine. Something similar could not be pursued by Germany to Bulgaria, given that its relations with Russia were timeless and indestructible.
With the Treaty of Bucharest (July 28/ August 10, 1913) and the bilateral agreements that were signed afterwards a new reality created in the Balkans. Greece constituted a considerable force in the region with highly upgraded its international position. The feeble Greek kingdom was giving way, after a war effort of ten months, in a strong state with twice the territorial area (120.308 square kilometers of 63.211) and its population increased by 80% (4.7 million inhabitants compared with 2.6).
In Greek territory incorporated Kavala and the wider area between Strymon and Nestos, Halkidiki and the eastern Aegean islands except the Dodecanese, Imbros and Tenedos. The express waiver of Bulgaria from any claim on Crete, which was included in the Treaty of Bucharest, followed by the finalization of the union of Crete with Greece with the Treaty of Athens (November 1/14, 1913). A month later, on December 1st, took place in Chania the official ceremony of the union of Crete with Greece in the presence of King Constantine and Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos.
With the end of the Balkan wars the Greek national claims had advanced significantly, but not entirely fulfilled, since outside the Greek territory were still important areas with a strong presence of the Greek element. Beyond its territorial expansion and the concomitant increase in population, the Greek state incorporated areas of particular geopolitical significance, cities with robust economy, major fertile land and new sources of wealth. The prospects for the development of national economy and further upgrade of the military power of Greece were favorable and the new opportunities arising utilized effectively. At the same time, was imperative the smooth integration of populations of newcomers and refugees who took refuge in the Greek state from unredeemed areas. The coexistence of heterogeneous populations was a new reality for a country that had no relevant experience.
Already by the end of the First Balkan War the Turkish domination in the Balkans had passed permanently to history and the once mighty empire was confined to a part of eastern Thrace. As for the other Balkan countries, Bulgaria, despite the crushing defeat suffered and the loss of territory it had conquered during the First Balkan War, took control of western Thrace, keeping an exodus to the Aegean. Instead, Serbia, which greatly increased its area and population, had no longer an exodus in the Adriatic. Romania has increased its territory and its population and obtained recognition of religious and educational privileges to the Vlach villages of Epirus and Macedonia that had come under Greek control.
Undoubtedly, in the new reality that stood in the Balkans, Greece's position was upgraded. Within four years since his first ascent in Athens, in nearly three years as Prime Minister, Venizelos, with his strategic choices, his diplomatic insight and his modernizing vision had created a new Greece. Hereinafter, Greece was a new major regional power. A state with role and position in the international political life, who had won, on the battlefield and in the diplomatic arena, the respect of the other countries of the Balkans and the Great Powers. The huge territorial and population expansion was accompanied by widespread reforms within the Greek state, that had entered on the path of recovery and modernization.