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Balkan Wars two consecutive wars fought from 1912 to 1913 among the countries of the Balkan Peninsula for possession of European territories held by the Ottoman Empire The Balkan Wars severely damaged European alliances and helped kindle the volatile conditions that led to the outbreak of World War I 1914-1918At the close of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 the Treaty of Berlin signed on July 13 1878 provided for an autonomous principality of Bulgaria The remaining Bulgarian province called Eastern Rumelia was placed under the control of the Ottoman Turks In 1885 a revolution broke out in Eastern Rumelia and the province was joined to Bulgaria proper That voluntary annexation led to trouble with RussiaThe tsar withdrew all Russian officers then serving in the Bulgarian army and King Milan of Serbia thought it a good time to realize his territorial aspirations On November 14 1885 Serbia declared war on Bulgaria In a campaign that lasted less than five months Serbia was defeated but was saved from absolute destruction by the intervention of Austria A series of conspiracies followed The Bulgarian ruler Prince Alexander I of Battenberg was abducted by Russian and Bulgarian conspirators but was recaptured in a few days He was forced to abdicate and left the country in September 1886 Prince Ferdinand I of the house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha succeeded Alexander as ruler a year laterAustria played a conspicuous role in these Balkan disturbances The Austrian foreign ministers tried to establish internal discord between the Slav countries Bulgaria and Serbia and the non-Slav ones Greece and Romania War almost broke out again in 1908 when Austria annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina a step bitterly resented by SerbiaThe Balkan states saw in the Turkish revolution of 1908-1909 and the Italo-Turkish War of 1911-1912 an opportunity to retaliate against the Turks their former oppressors In March 1912 Serbia arranged a treaty of alliance with Bulgaria Greece concluded a military convention with Bulgaria the following May Tension increased
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