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THE FIRST BALKAN WAR (1912 - 1913)

The territorial division created by the Berlin Treaty did not solve the national problems of any of the Balkan countries. The reforms carried out in the Ottoman Empire did not lead to improving the plight of the Christians, Bulgarians included, in European Turkey. Attempts at revolution also failed. For that reason Bulgaria chose a military resolution of the national problem. Europe also faced war and the two military blocs (the Entente and the Central Union), in which European Great Powers were grouped, took the initiative of creating a coalition of the Balkan states. A Balkan Union (Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro) was founded for military action against the Ottoman Empire. The strategic mistake however was that no agreement among the participants was signed and the Bulgarian army took the responsibility to wage war alone on the Thracian Front while the territories for which the war was prepared were left to the allies to defend.

On 26 September 1912 began military actions between Montenegro and Turkey; on 5 October Bulgaria and the rest of the Balkan countries also joined the actions. Bulgaria managed to mobilize an army of about 606 636 people, a number higher than the united army of the rest of the allies. Bulgarians born in Macedonia and Ederne formed a separate volunteer detachment. In the fierce battles on 9 -11 October by the villages of Gechkenli, Seliolu, Eskopolos, Petra, Erekler and Raklitsa, the Turkish army clashed with the Bulgarian soldiers. After crossing the Strandzja Mountain, the Third Army under the commandment of General Radko Dimitrov captured the Lozengrad fortress, applying strategic surprise and the First Army of General Vassil Kutinchev turned to flight three corpses of the enemy between Ederne and Lozengrad. On 16 - 20 October Lyuleburgaz and Bunarhissar also fell in the hands of the Bulgarians. The front moved at about 40 km off Istanbul, near Chataldzha. On 14 November the whole corps of Yaver Pasha was captured Merhamla. Wounded, Yaver Pasha admitted before a Russian correspondent: "The fastness of movement and attacks is impressive. This is a hurricane".
Seventh Rila Division reached Thessalonica. The allies also had their victories in Macedonia and Albania. The Turkish government of Kyamil Pasha asked the Great Powers to intervene and put an end to the war. But on 10 January 1913 the Committee of the Young Turks performed a military coup, the government was overthrown and the negotiations that had started in London stopped. On 21 January military actions were renewed. In the battles that followed the Turkish armies attacked unsuccessfully Bulgarian positions at Chataldzha. The battle of Bulair and the landing at Sharkyoy were also not successful for the Turks.

The greatest victory of the Bulgarian army however was the capture of the Ederne fortress on 13 March 1913. It was so well fortified that, according to the German military specialist von der Goltz, even the famous German army would have run against its wall for at least six months. Bulgarian soldiers broke the resistance of the fortress within 30 hours with a frontal attack during the night. It was no accident that military specialists from Europe and even from Japan arrived in Ederne to study the Bulgarian operations. There was something to be seen since in this attack were applied all novelties known in modern art of war. The French newspaper "L'aero" described the most important of them: "Europe witnessed the first attempt at bombing a besieged town like Ederne from the air".

Negotiations in London were renewed. On 17 May 1913 a peace treaty was signed by Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro, on one side, and the Ottoman Empire, on the other. The Ottoman Empire yielded the possession of the territories west of the line Midia - Enos and the Isle of Crete. The territory occupied by the Bulgarian army was 83 000 sq km. 35 000 Bulgarian soldiers and officers were killed.

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