1867-1893 World War I

Austria, 1893-1914 : Foreign Policy

Germany, after Bismarck, continued to stand to its alliance with Austria-Hungary, in what historians call NIBELUNGENTREUE; the alliance would last throughout World War I. When Germany permitted its reinsurance treaty with Russia to lapse in 1890, Russia rethought its foreign policy and entered into an alliance with France (1894), an alliance now directed against Austria; now Russia openly supported the various Slavic political groups in the Double Monarchy in their claims for self-government or more.
The interests of Austria and Russia collided on the Balkan peninsula; Rumania had joined the Triple Alliance in 1883; with this alliance, Austria hoped to contain Russian influence on the Balkans; Russia turned from a Bulgarian alliance to a Serbian alliance. The Austro-Russian NEAR EASTERN ENTENTE of 1897 was only a temporary measure, giving Russia free hand in the Far East.
Austria-Hungary participated in the international effort to suppress the Boxer Rebellion (1900) and, in the aftermath, was granted a concession in TIENTSIN, with extraterritorial rights; it was the beginning of a colonial policy which never really took off.
In 1908, Austria-Hungary annexed BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA - a territory it only reluctantly had occupied in 1878, then with the intention to return it to Ottoman rule. The annexation was undertaken to prevent a possible annexation by Serbia, as the Ottoman Empire showed signs of disintegration. The step infuriated Serbian nationalists who wanted to see Bosnia-Hercegovina annexed into the Serbian state (the area has a significant Serbian population element). Early in 1909 Austria (foreign minister AEHRENTHAL) even contemplated a preventive war against Serbia.
In 1912 the FIRST BALKAN WAR broke out, the Allies (Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro and Greece) defeating the Ottoman Empire and partitioning most of its European territories. Unwilling to concede Albania to Serbia, Austria together with Italy exerted diplomatic pressure. An independent kingdom of Albania was created (the Serbs agreed grudgingly). In 1913 the SECOND BALKAN WAR reduced Bulgaria.
For the last decades the Austrian foreign policy pertaining to the Balkans had been to prevent the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, as Austro-Hungarian politicians were aware that the moment the Ottoman Empire's European possessions were divided up, Austria-Hungary itself would take over the role of the SICK MAN OF EUROPE. This situation had appeared in 1913, with Serbia the element most dangerous for German stability, as it had old bills to settle. Both Serbians and Rumanians had an interest in destabilizing Austria-Hungary, as considerable numbers of Serbians (Bosnia, Croatia, Banat) and Rumanians (Transylvania, Bukovina, Banat) lived in it.

Philip R. Abbey, Treaty Ports & Extraterritoriality in 1920s China , scroll down for Tientsin
Deutsche Zollgeschichte : Oesterreich, from Deutsche Zollgeschichte, postcards with German comment
DOCUMENTS Arbitration Convention Between the United States and Austria-Hungary; January 15, 1909, from Avalon Project at Yale Law School
Friedrich Graf Szapary, Das Verhaeltnis Oesterreich-Ungarns zu Russland, from H-net
Friedrich Graf Szapary, Aus den Krisenjahren 1908-1913, from H-net
Italian ex-premier Giolitti on a planned Austrian invasion of Serbia 1913, from Mt. Holyoke
The Efforts of the Powers to Prevent the Outbreak of the First Balkan War (1912), posted by Mt.Holyoke, much on Austrian policy
REFERENCE National Awakening in the Habsburg Lands (pp.778-785); Mass Politics and Nationalism : Austria-Hungary, 1867-1914 (pp.950-953) in : John Merriman, A History of Modern Europe, NY : W.W. Norton 1996
The Years of Confusion : From Taaffe to Badeni, 1893-1897 (pp.169-184); Hungary after 1867 : Koloman Tisza and the Magyar Gentry (pp.185-195); Democratic Pretence : The Indian Summer of the Habsburg Monarchy, 1897-1908, (pp.196-213); Solution by Violence, 1908-1914 (pp.214-232), from : A.J.P. Taylor, The Habsburg Monarchy, 1809-1918, Chicago : UP (1948) 1976
Paul Kennedy, The Position of the Powers, 1885-1918 : Austria-Hungary, pp.215-219 in : Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, NY : Vintage (1987) 1989

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on May 9th 2005

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