Treaty of Bucharest, 1913

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The Treaty of Bucharest was concluded on August 10, 1913, by the delegates of Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and Greece. As Bulgaria had been completely isolated in the Second Balkan War and as she was closely invested on her northern boundary by the army of Romania on her western frontier by the allied armies of Greece and Serbia, and in the East by the Turkish Army, she was obliged, in her helplessness, to submit to such terms as her victorious enemies chose to impose upon her. All important arrangements and concessions involving the rectification of the controverted international boundary lines were perfected in a series of committee meetings, incorporated in separate protocols, and formally ratified by subsequent action of the general assembly of delegates.


By the terms of the treaty, Bulgaria ceded to Romania all that portion of the Dobrudja lying north of a line extending from the Danube just above Turtukaia to the western shore of the Black Sea, south of Ekrene. This important territorial concession has an approximate area of 2,687 square miles, a population of 286,000, and includes the fortress of Silistra and the cities of Turtukaia on the Danube and Balchick on the Black Sea. In addition, Bulgaria agreed to dismantle all existing fortresses and bound herself not to construct forts at Rustchuk or Schumla or in any of the territory between these two cities, or within a radius of 20 kilometers around Balchick.

Serbia's gain in territory

The eastern frontier of Serbia was drawn from the summit of Patarika, on the old frontier, and followed the watershed between the Axios and the Strymonas rivers to the Greek-Bulgarian boundary, except that the upper valley of the Strumnitza remained in the possession of Bulgaria. The territory thus obtained embraced central Macedonia, including Ohrid, Monastir, Kosovo, Istib and Kotchana and the eastern half of the Sanjak of Novi Pazar. By this arrangement Serbia increased her territory from 18,650 to 33,891 square miles and her population by more than 1,500,000.

Greece's gain in territory

The boundary line separating Greece from Bulgaria was drawn from the crest of Mount Belashitcha to the mouth of the Nestos River on the Aegean Sea. This important territorial concession, which Bulgaria resolutely contested, in compliance with the instructions embraced in the notes which Russia and Austria-Hungary presented to the conference, increased the area of Greece from 25,014 to 41,933 square miles and her population from 2,660,000 to 4,363,000. The territory thus annexed included Epirus, southern Macedonia with Salonica and Kavala, and the Aegean coast as far east as the Nestos River and restricted the Aegean seaboard of Bulgaria to an inconsiderable extent of 70 miles, extending from the Nestos to the Evros River, and giving access to the Aegean at the inferior port of Dedeagatch. Greece also extended her northwestern frontier to include the great fortress of Ioannina. In addition, Crete was definitely assigned to Greece and was formally taken over on December 14, 1913.

Bulgaria's gain in territory

Bulgaria's share of the spoils, although greatly reduced from the First Balkan War, was not entirely negligible. Her net gains in territory, which embraced a portion of Macedonia, including the town of Strumnitza, Western Thrace, and 70 miles of the Aegean coast were about 9,663 square miles, and her population was increased by 129,490.

Appraisement of the treaty

By the terms of the Treaty of Bucharest, Romania profited most in proportion to her sacrifices. The unredeemed Romanians live mostly in Austro-Hungary and Russia and therefore the Balkan wars afforded her no adequate opportunity to perfect the rectification of her boundaries on ethnographic lines.

The terms imposed on Bulgaria were due to her own impatience and intemperate folly. The territory she secured was relatively circumscribed; she had failed to conquer Macedonia, which was her avowed purpose in entering the war; she lost the districts of Ohrid and Monastir, which she especially coveted; she was assigned only a small line on the Aegean, with the poor port of Dedeagatch; and she was obliged to forfeit her ambition as the leader of the Balkan hegemony.

Greece, though gaining much, was greatly dissatisfied. The acquisition of Thessaloniki was a triumph; she was assigned the port of Kavala and the territory eastward at the advice of Eleftherios Venizelos and contrary to the insistence of the King and the army who wanted northern Thrace as well; in the northwest Greece encountered the opposition of Italy to her claims to Northern Epirus; in the assignment of the Aegean Islands she was profoundly dissatisfied and she still claimed 3,000,000 unredeemed conationals.

The fundamental defects of the Treaty of Bucharest were that

  1. the boundaries which it drew, in some cases, bore little relation to the nationality of the inhabitants of the districts affected
  2. the punishment meted out to Bulgaria, while perhaps deserved in the light of her great offense in bringing on the Second Balkan War, was so severe in her eyes that she could not accept the treaty as a permanent settlement.

However, it should not be forgotten that their action at Bucharest was in large measure due to the settlement forced upon the Balkan States by the great powers at the London conferences.


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  • Anderson, Frank Maloy and Amos Shartle Hershey, Handbook for the Diplomatic History of Europe, Asia, and Africa 1870-1914. Prepared for the National Board for Historical Service. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1918.