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Balkan troubles cartoon


Cartoon depicting the European great powers — Britain, France, Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary — struggling to stop the conflict in the Balkans from boiling over into something much bigger and much worse, 1912-1913. Crises over the Balkans were not new — they had been a semi-regular occurrence in European diplomacy since the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s began the slow process of eroding Ottoman control over the region.

The resulting power vacuum encouraged Russia, Austria and other great powers to try to move in to fill it either by supporting the creation of new states like Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria or taking territory directly (such as Bosnia-Herzogovina, annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908). But equally important was the need of the European great powers to try and stop each other from gaining too much influence or power in the region as the Ottomans withdrew. Balancing these two often conflicting goals required very delicate diplomacy and was not helped by the emergence of the new Balkan states, like Serbia and Bulgaria, which were quite capable of turning the tables on those powers who sought to manipulate them as regional clients.

By the first decade of the new century many European leaders and diplomats were convinced that the next major European war would begin in the Balkans. The outbreak of the Balkan wars seemed to many observers in the press to be the much-predicted spark that would cause a wider war.

How to cite this page

Balkan troubles cartoon, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated