The Berlin congress of 1878 had both positive and negative effects on the history of Europe.


The treaty led to the preservation of the Turkish Empire. This was because it checked the Russian imperialism or influence in the Balkans. Russia had imperialistic interests which aimed at dismantling the Turkish Empire as enshrined in the treaty of San Stefano of March 1878 but the Berlin congress of 1878 revised this treaty of San Stefano for the sake of preserving the Ottoman territorial integrity. For example, the state of “Big Bulgaria” which was supposed to be under the care of Russia was dissolved and the Southern part of this state was restored to the Ottoman Empire. The other areas though became semi-autonomous were required to recognize the sovereignty of the sultan.

Britain and Austria-Hungary also benefited from the Berlin congress of 1878. This was because they got additional territories. For example, Austria – Hungary acquired Bosnia and Herzegovina, a desire she had wanted to be fulfilled for a long time. Britain got Cyprus Island in the Mediterranean Sea and this became the basis of maintaining and promoting her economic interests in the Mediterranean Sea. This was also to act as a base to monitor Russian imperialism in the Balkans.

Similarly, Russia made territorial gains from the Berlin congress of 1878. For example, it was allowed to annex the state of Bessarabia from the Ottoman Empire. This therefore enabled Russia to expand as an empire in Eastern Europe but this also contributed to the break up the Ottoman Empire.

The Berlin Congress of 1878 maintained peace in the Balkan region for some time. The territorial arrangements that were peacefully made at Berlin in 1878 saved the Balkans from revolutions and wars among the Great Powers until the outbreak of the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 which was a period of about thirty years.  For example, Turkey regained the state of Macedonia which it had lost to Russia and once again she had a continuous territory stretching across the Aegean to the Adriatic Sea. Britain had also acquired a valuable island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea without war. Russia had on the other hand regained Bessarabia and a territory on River Danube. Similarly, there was no danger of further massacres because the sultan had promised better treatment to his Christian subjects. Thus, the Berlin Congress of 1878 was an instrument of peace in Europe.

Out of the Berlin congress of 1878, the German influence replaced Russian influence in the Ottoman Empire. This was because Germany under Otto Von Bismarck started influencing the events in the Ottoman Empire. The German influence in the Balkans was positive because Otto Von Bismarck always wanted to avoid conflicts in Ottoman Empire resulting from the Russia imperialism and this would have led to the destabilizing of peace in the region. Therefore, when Russian influence in the affairs Ottoman Empire was replaced by the German influence, this contributed to stability in the region. 

The congress also enabled Bismarck to isolate France from European affairs. During the congress, Bismarck secretly urged France to take over Tunisia in Africa as a colony from Turkey with a move to divert the French attention from European affairs. Bismarck’s calculation came true as France later occupied Tunisia in 1882. Although this contributed to the breaking up the Turkish Empire, Bismarck diverted France’s interest to Africa and he successfully isolated her from European affairs. Because of this therefore managed to achieve his aim of maintaining peace in Europe because when France acquired Tunisia, her attention was diverted from revenge on Germany for the loss of her two territories of Alsace and Lorraine in Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871.

The Berlin congress of 1878 elevated Bismarck’s name as a man of peace and also placed him at the centre of European diplomacy. He was the Chancellor of the new German Empire who chaired the discussions during the Berlin Congress of 1878. At the end of the congress, Bismarck had managed to resolve the conflicts in the Ottoman Empire between Russia, Turkey, Britain and Austria – Hungary. He therefore gained esteem or fame from 1878 as an international mediator which enabled Bismarck to dominate Europe until 1890 when he resigned from office.

The success of the congress turned Berlin into the centre of European diplomacy and the city was elevated to a centre of conflict resolution in the continent. Consequently, in the 1880s when European countries conflicted over colonies in Africa and Asia, Bismarck again summoned the Berlin conference of 1884 – 1885 where the European powers agreed to a peaceful settlement of the conflicts in the colonial field and the possibility of war was averted.   Such developments helped to increase the prestige of Bismarck and Germany as a whole

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