The Serbs, Greeks, Bulgarians and the Montenegrins saw the Turks' war with Italy as an opportunity to right many territorial and sectarian wrongs. Despite the Balkanites history of internecine territorial and historical disputes, the four nations formed an alliance, the Balkan League. The league's objective: evict the Turks from Europe.
Montenegro triggered its Albanian attack while its allies and the Turks were still mobilizing their forces. Montenegro had a modest war aim: seize the Albanian city of Shkoder (Scutari). The other Balkanites had larger goals. Landlocked Serbia wanted Kosovo and an Adriatic seaport. Greece and Bulgaria coveted Salonika and various slices of Thrace. Salonika gave Bulgaria access to the Aegean. Greece wanted southern Albania (Epirus). Bulgaria, with its large and well-equipped army, eyed Adrianople (Edirne) and the biggest prize, Constantinople.
On Oct. 17, Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria declared war on the Ottomans and launched multiple attacks on Turkish positions in Kosovo, Macedonia and Thrace. Pressed in all sectors, Turkish forces were defeated, virtually everywhere, losing Edirne to the Bulgarians and Salonika to the Greeks. Fortifications outside Constantinople finally halted Bulgaria's offensive.
Attempts to mediate the war resulted in a ceasefire, which collapsed in February 1913, after a military coup jolted Turkey. The First Balkan War ended officially in May 1913. Bulgaria, however, was dissatisfied with the division of the spoils. The Second Balkan War erupted June 16, 1913. The fuse leading to World War I continued to burn.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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