Balkan Wars

EARLY 20th CENTURY – Balkan Wars

As deep as the mutual hatred between the Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbs had grown the previous 30 years over the ‘right’ to Macedonia, beginning in 1911 negotiations were underway for a united effort to expel the ‘sick man’ from Europe. Although the Bulgarians were adverse to a geographic partition of Macedonia, they agreed with Serbia to divide Vardar Macedonia between them. Serbia was to get about 40% of the northern part and Bulgaria the rest. However, knowing Greek ethnic claims were much stronger in the rest of Macedonia, it would be difficult to limit Greek claims prematurely. Instead they would hope to conqueror as much land as possible during war. The Greek- Bulgarian Treaty of 1912 was merely a military cooperation treaty.

On October 5, 1912, Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria declared war on the Ottomans. With the Turks on the retreat, the Balkan ‘Little Entante’ moved to fill the vacuum as fast possible. Almost immediately, the Serb-Bulgarian partition agreement was negated by Italy and Austria Hungary who prohibited the Serbian advance toward Albania. Serbia then redirected its army toward Macedonia and captured the entire Vardar region up to the southern town of Monastiri.

The Greek army liberated Thessaloniki on Oct 26, only a few hours before the Bulgarians arrived. This may have been the reason they didn’t propose a pre-war partition agreement with Greece; They planned to steal Thessaloniki and as much of Macedonia as they could in battle. The post war treaty in 1913 left Bulgaria as the clear loser, gaining a small part of Macedonia (Pirin). Unsatisfied, Bulgaria declared war on Greece and Serbia immediately. This began the Second Balkan war on June 16, 1913. Bulgaria was quickly defeated and by the Treaty of Bucharest in August she further lost the Dobrudja region to Romania.