chapter  VI
57 Pages

THE BULGARIAN SETTLEMENT AND THE RUSSIAN EVACUATION (January–April 1879)

DURING THE first weeks of the new year little improvement appeared to be taking place in the Bulgarian question. Nevertheless the very seriousness of the situation, and the approach of the critical date, 3 May, forced on the powers the necessity for definite agreement or disagreement, and a more constructive note soon began to appear in the discussions. No doubt now remained as to the isolation of Russia, although Germany continued to avoid as far as possible any identification of herself with the antiRussian group in the day to day details of the Balkan settlement. But Bismarck received the French and Austrian ambassadors at Friedrichsruh in January, and in both cases advocated friendship with England. He told Szechenyi, the newly-appointed Austrian ambassador, that he viewed the growing alliance between England and Austria with favour and sympathy because itwas not only a guarantee of peace in Turkey, but also a guarantee for the general peace of Europe, of which Germany stood so much in need.1 In conversation with Saint-Vallier early in January he commended the Anglo-French understanding with a warmth which both pleased and surprised the French ambassador; and when Odo Russell mentioned the chancellor's remarks to Biilow, the foreign minister, after a little prompting, ' smiled and whispered:- " He thinks Russia will renew her attempts again and again to make an ally of France and that England alone can prevent it, so that Germany has the greatest interest in a strong and lasting Anglo-French Alliance, which excludes, while it lasts, the

possibilityofaFranco-RussianAlliance".'2Bismarckappears tohavebeenmorealarmedbyobscureRussianattemptstofind alliesinTurkey,FranceandItalythanbyfearofanyimmediate waroverthetreatyclauses,andmoreinterestedthereforeinthe ultimatethanintheimmediatecomequencesofthe'Balkansettlement.HetoldSaint-Vallierthathehadnoreasontodoubtthat thetreatyofBerlinwouldbecompletelyandfaithfullycarriedout, 'eventhoughRussiamightlingertothelasthourinTurkeyand exposeherselftohaveherearspulledbyEnglandwho,tohis mind,showedatendencytopullthemmoreroughlythanwas exactlyconducivetothere-establishmentofintimaterelations betweenthosetwoPowersforsometimetocome.'3Although heprofessednottohavealteredhisviewssincetheBerlinCongresshenowgaveexplicitassurancesofsupportinTunis,andit wasobviousthatanyseriousrapprochementwithRussiawould beunprofitabletacticsforFrance.4TheBritishgovernment, assuredofAustriansupport,wasequallyanxioustokeepFrance outofthearmsofRussia;butinspiteofhisaccommodating attitudeintheRoumanian,Tunisian,andEgyptianquestions, SalisburyfoundFrenchpolicyintheNearEastasourceofsome anxietythroughoutthewinter.WhiteatBucarestwasstruck bythefriendlyrelationsbetweentheRussianandFrenchministers.FourniertoldtheSultaninJanuaryinemphaticlanguage toabandonthehopeofeveragainexercisingauthorityinEastern Roumelia,andhefoundhimselfinconstantdifficultieswith Layardovertheprotectionofnon-CatholicChristianandpoliticalcommunitiesbytheFrenchgovernment.5Healsoadvised theSultantoappointaforeignerasgovernor-generalofEastern Roumelia.Francetookuponherselftopressthecauseofthe Greeks,andtheGreekchargeinLondonreportedon14March thattheBritishgovernmentdidnotceasetorecommendthepress toavoid,asapatrioticduty,speakingonGreekaffairs.6Salis-

buryalsofearedthatFournierwouldopposeBritishpolicyinthe setdementoftheCypruslandquestion,butthiswassettledonthe 3Februarywithoutdifficulty.ThePortewastoreceivefive thousandpoundsannuallyincommutationofrightsreservedin ArticleIVofthe'Cyprusconvention.'7