Short Essay on the Criticism of the Treaty of Berlin 1878


The treaty of Berlin was merely a compromisse and like all other compromises, it contained several future troubles stored in it.

The Treaty of San Stefano had made Russia very powerful and increased her influence in the Balkan Peninsula but the treaty of Berlin made her quite weak and dissatisfied. The Congress of Berlin dispersed after the treaty of Berlin was signed.

England was greatly benefited by this treaty. Hence Queen Victoria bestowed rare titles and honours on Disraeli and Salisbury. Disraeli was so much overwhelmed by the treaty of Berlin that he proudly declared that he had returned honourably by making peace with, honour.


Disraeli was undoubtedly an able politician who conducted the foreign affairs of England very wisely and efficiently but he lacked commonsense, otherwise the treaty must not have contained the seeds of future wars and the Balkans must have been saved from the crisis of 1912-13.

Disraeli boasted of having returned with peace and honour but in fact, he brought neither peace nor honour. Turner observes:

“Disraeli boasted of having secured a peace with honour for there was again the Ottoman Empire in Europe and the Eastern interests of England were not firmly preserved, but in fact, all that he had done was to prolong the process and the pain of her extinction.”

It was a wrong estimation of Disraeli that Turkey would make reforms to improve the condition of the Christians. Soon the Baikal powers began to quarrel between themselves. In fact the treaty of Berlir created more problems than it actually solved.


It left the European powers more dissatisfied than before and thus made the outbreak of the Balkan war and the World war inevitable.

The following points of this treaty need special attention to evaluate it properly:

1. It disintegrated the Turkish Empire. The states of Serbia Montenegro and Rumania were separated from her. The kingdom of Bulgaria was also in the nominal control of Turkey

2. The politicians involved in this treaty worked for their selfish ends. They divided the Turkish empire among themselves Principle of looting was kept in mind while awarding Bessarabia to Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina to Austria and Cyprus to England.


3. Principle of nationalism was violated in this treaty. The dissolution of greater Bulgaria was done in accordance with this principle.

Principle of same race was also not kept in mind at the time of incorporation of the states into one another. It dissatisfied Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Macedonia and Rumania.

4. It was a fundamental mistake of politicians to leave Macedonia in the control of Turkey. People of Macedonia were not prepared to be ruled by the cruel Turkish government. The Macedonian issue later on became the chief reason of the outbreak of Balkan war.

5. To give Bosnia and Herzegovina to Austria was a fundamental mistake of the politicians of Berlin Congress. It inspired Austria to take great interest in the Balkan affairs and created further troubles in the long run.


The issue of Bosnia and Herzegovina was the chief reason of discord between Serbia and Austria. It later on made the outbreak of the First World War inevitable.

6. Rumania began to treat Russia as her enemy because the province of Bessarabia was given to Russia which was ruled by Rumania.

7. The partition of Bulgaria was unnatural. Later on, the parts were joined again.

8. The outstanding result of the Congress of Berlin was the estrangement of Russia from Germany, because Bismarck supported Austria on the issue of Bosnia and Herzegovina which alarmed Russia.


9. San Stefano created enmity between Russia and Austria but the treaty of Berlin made Russia and Germany enemies of each other. Russia being horrified at this situation concluded a treaty with France in 1894 and broke her isolation.

10. Congress of Berlin was convened to localize the power of Russia but this aim too could not be achieved as Russia got Bessarabia and anchored her ships in the Black Sea.

11. The policy of England remained very indefinite. She first declared herself to be the guardian of Turkish independence but she kept mum when Russia invaded her. England also failed to keep her words regarding the independence of Turkey at the time of Berlin Congress and captured the island of Cyprus. Thompson has written about it:

“That Turkey’s friends should thus despoil her territory so much more than her ‘enemies’ was a warning, she was to remember.” Hazen has also observed:

“The Treaty of Berlin was not a final solution of the Eastern Question.”

But even after 1870 the Sultan of Turkey did not affect the promised reforms in the non-Muslim provinces which enhanced the discontent­ment.

It turned even England into her enemy. England began to think that perhaps so far, she was supporting a wrong nation. Germany took advantage of this situation and tried to establish her sway in Turkey.

Thompson has remarked about the Treaty of Berlin:

“The settlement reached at the Congress of Berlin had the remarkable outcome that it left each power dissatisfied and more anxious than before International tension was increased, not eased, by the events of these years.

The new balance of power, now clearly centred on Germany was destined to preserve the peace for another whole generation. But it was doomed to be a most uneasy and unstable peace subject to recurrent crises and threats of war.

The next general European Congress met forty years later, not in Berlin but in Paris and at it there were to be no representatives of the Dreikaiserbund.

To sum up the criticism of the Treaty of Berlin, we may very well quote Dr. Gooch who observes:

“The treaty provided no permanent settlement of the tangled problem of the Balkans and most of its signatories left the German capital smarting under a sense of disappointment or humiliation which boded ill for the tranquility of Europe.

Turkey had lost half of her European dominions. Rumania resented the restoration of Bessarabia to Russia; Bulgaria brooded seriously over spacious boundaries assigned to her by the defunct treaty of San Stefano. Montenegro though doubled in size dreamt of still more generous provisions of the same charter.

Serbia lamented the transfer of Bosnia from the nerveless grasp of Constantinople to the tighter grip of the Hapsburg (Austria); Greece contrasted the nebulous recognition of her claims with substantial awards to her Balkan rivals; and finally Russia saw the precious fruits of her struggle and sacrifices turned off from her by Bacons field and Andressy with the assent.

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