THE BALKAN POLICY OF COUNT GYULA ANDRASSY
BURNS, CHARLES KELLAR, JR.
Doctor of Philosophy
The thirty years from 1848 to 1878 witnessed several events which significantly affected the history of the Habsburg empire. This period saw the Habsburgs deprived of their hegemony in Germany and dispossessed of their Italian provinces. The demonstrable weakness of the Austrian state resulted in a major change in its form of government in 1867, with the result that the Hungarian half of the realm achieved a large voice in determining the country's foreign policy. One result of the Magyars' enhanced influence on foreign policy was the appointment of Count Gyula Andrassy as foreign minister in late 1871. Andrassy brought to office a distinctly Magyar point of view about the Dual Monarchy's proper foreign policy: he was anti-Russian and pro-Turkish, favored the maintenance of the status quo in the Balkans, and was resolved to protect the Dual Monarchy's prestige as a Great Power in order to maintain the Magyars' privileged position within Austria-Hungary. He regarded Russia as the greatest danger to his countrymen's favorable status. Initially Andrassy sought to combat the Russian menace by forming an alliance with Germany or Great Britain against Russia; however, when he was unable to do that, he chose to cooperate with Russia in an effort to moderate any ambitious schemes which St. Petersburg might envision. Andrassy's tactics succeeded admirably until the Balkan crisis of 1875-1878 when the Russians' sympathies for their fellow Slavs put increasing pressure on St. Petersburg to take action in the Balkans. Andrassy was able to retain the initiative in Balkan diplomacy until late 1876. Then, when it became apparent that Russia was on the verge of war against Turkey and that Austria-Hungary would not resort to military actions to prevent that conflict. He negotiated the Budapest Conventions, which safeguarded Austria-Hungary's Balkan interests by limiting Russia's gains in southeastern Europe and by ensuring that the Dual Monarchy acquired Bosnia-Hercegovina. However, at the end of the Russo-Turkish War, St. Petersburg did not honor its pledges to Vienna. The Treaty of San Stefano, imposed by Russia on Turkey, posed a real threat to Austria-Hungary's continued existence as a Great Power since it deprived the Dual Monarchy of Bosnia-Hercegovina and established a large Bulgarian state which would have dominated the Balkans. Andrassy recognized the danger which the Treaty of San Stefano posed to the Dual Monarchy and strove to negate that treaty. Ultimately it was set aside by the Congress of Berlin, and the territorial changes resulting from the Russo-Turkish War were adjusted in a manner favorable to Austria-Hungary. While the Dual Monarchy did make gains as a result of the Congress of Berlin, those advantages cannot be attributed primarily to Andrassy's policy. They were due far more to the facts that British and Austro-Hungarian Balkan interests largely coincided and that Russia retreated before the threat of British military action than to anything done by Andrassy who, because of his country's weakness and irresolution, saw himself forced to play a passive and impotent role by the end of the Balkan crisis.