Explain why relations between the European states were so full of tensions in the early years of the twentieth century.

Published: March 19, 2017

The following are the factors responsible for tensions among European States in the early 20th century:

  • With the passage of time, the spirit of nationalism was getting intensified. The unfulfilled national aspirations were resulting into continuous conflicts like the aspirations of Serbians.
  • There were imperialistic and colonial rivalries. As Britain, France and Russia had built up huge colonial empire in non-European world whereas Germany had been left with small non-European possessions. This is why Germany was unsatisfied and the Moroccan Crisis of 1906 & 1911 were result of the same.
  • Naval race between Germany and Britain.
  • France lost to Prussia in Franco-Prussian war and lost Alsace-Lorraine and the alliances of Bismark kept France in isolation.
  • The rivalry between Germany and Britain’s capitalists rose with rise in German economic might as the German economy was growing to a large extent at the cost of Britain.
  • The mismanagement of Bismark’s system of alliances which resulted in formation of armed camps and division of Europe. This was because the alliance treaties were kept secret and this resulted in suspicion among the European nations and they started looking for safety in the strength of arms.
  • The Austrian-Hungarian empire were anticipating serious threat to itself by watching the growing strength of Serb-Slav nationalism.
  • In the first Balkan War 1912, Serbia, Greece, Montenegro and Bulgaria launched attacks on Turkey to gain more land. Turkey was weak and was considered as Sick Man of Europe. Serbia was not happy with the gains as it wanted Albania to have access to the sea but Austria along with Germany and Britain prevented this to happen.
  • The second Balkan War 1913, Bulgaria was not satisfied with its gain in the first Balkan war and attacked Serbia. But Greece, Turkey and Romania supported Serbia. Bulgaria was defeated and by the treaty of Bucharest they surrendered the gains of first Balkan War. Germany and Britain were successful in controlling Austria as it was ready to go war with Serbia by supporting Bulgaria.
  • In 1908, Bosnia was annexed by Austria. There were 3 million Serbs in Bosnia and the annexation was a serious blow to Serbia as they were looking to take it. The annexation was opposed by Serbia.
  • After annexation, a Serb terrorist assassinated the Austrian Prince in Bosnia. Since Austria was assured full support of Germany without any condition, Austria imposed severe conditions on Serbia and when these conditions were not met, Austria used this opportunity and declared war on Serbia.
  • After losing to Japan, Russia wanted to gain its respect back so it supported Serbia when it asked for it.

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