An analysis of British policy towards the Ottoman Empire : keeping the Ottoman Territorial Integrity and political independence 1870-1878
Yılmaz, Ayşe Kılıç
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One of the cardinal principles of the British foreign policy in the nineteenth century was to ··maintain the Ottoman territorial integrity and independence". The British had been assuming that, should Russia move into the Eastern Mediterranean it could have easily threatened not only the Imperial route and India but also the British mainland itself. For this reason, keeping the Ottoman independent existence on the Straits was formulated by Palmerston in 1833 as an integral part of British foreign policy. This interest was so vital for Britain that it not only fought Russia in the Crimean War for its achievement but also announced any attack on the Ottoman Empire casus belli in the Treaty of Paris of 1856. However, since 1870 the European balance created by the Treaty of Paris began to be shaken by the establishment of a united Germany. Britain. which had imposed the policy of isolationism from the Continent since 1865, remained completely isolated in Europe when the Three Emperors' League was formed by Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia in 1873. When a peasant revolt began in 1875 in Herzegovina, British guarantee for the Ottoman integrity and independence remained intact. However, spread of the revolt to Bulgaria and the Ottoman use of irregulars to supress the Bulgarian revolt caused immense reaction in the British public. As a social phenomenon, the Bulgarian agitation had a deep impact on British foreign policy, and resulted in British refusal to fight for the Ottoman existence in the RussoOttoman War of 1877-1878 despite its commitments in the international agreements declaring any attack on the Ottoman Empire casus belli. The purpose of this study is to analyze the emergence and evolution of this well-known British policy and to explain whether Britain abandoned its guarantee to the Ottoman Empire after the Eastern Crisis of 1875-1878.