The two Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 are often considered the precursors of World War I. In 1912 a coalition comprising Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro defeated the Ottoman Empire in Thrace, Macedonia and the territories which currently correspond to Kosovo and Albania. In 1913 disagreements over the division of Macedonian lands sparked a second war between Bulgaria and its former allies. The crisis was accompanied by a diplomatic confrontation involving Austria-Hungary and Imperial Russia, thus multiplying the rivalries among great powers and accelerating European militarisation. This text provides an effective description of the Balkan context between 1878 and 1912 and the complex setting in which the two wars transpired. The strategic and diplomatic features of the hostilities are illustrated, along with the dramatic impact they had on the civilian populations, especially on Muslims in European Turkey. The events had enduring consequences for the political and cultural relations among Balkan states, the symbols and memories of which continue to weigh upon the region's current experience of European integration.
Egidio Ivetic teaches Eastern European History at the University of Padua.