Елена (ljwanderer) wrote,

Bessarabia, Congress of Paris,Congress in Berlin

...The correction of the frontier line decided at the Congress of Paris was not in the least aimed at restoring Moldavian historic rights or answering to Moldavian national claims.

The only motive was the desire of the western Powers to keep away Russia from the Danube outlets... It is worth noticing that Russia placed herself in the same perspective. In other words she did not attach to the territory (and to the people living thereon) any value more than did French and British diplomacy. To avoid the loss Russian representatives in Paris did not make any use of arguments related to linguistic and national links possibly existing between southern Bessarabia and Russia. In that case to the traditional Russian discomfort in opening discussions of this kind added the knowledge on how little Russian was at the time the region in question.. ...After the 1877-78 war an European Congress convened again, this time to deliberate about the results of a Russian victory, that is the peace treaty of S.Stefano. In it, among many other changes in the Balkans detrimental to Turkey, was contemplated the restitution of southern Bessarabia, although in an indirect way. Russia imposed to Turkey a huge contribution for war expenses refund...
By the same article 19a, however, Russia reserved to herself the liberty to offer the Dobrudgja to Romania, as reward for her services to Russia during the war, in exchange for the territory that the Principality of Moldavia (since 1864 part of Romania) had received by the Congress of Paris in 1856.

The Congress in Berlin strongly altered the S. Stefano Peace Treaty and stripped away many advantages Russia had ensured to helself and to the Slavs in the Balkan. Also in regard to the clause referring to Bessarabia pressures were made on Russia: the Powers pretended not to understand why Romania’s integrity had to be infringed upon. It was moreover problematic to speak of a restitution. The holder of the disputed territory was no longer Turkey but an ally, which had just fought and won the war on the side of Russia.

The Russian Plenipotentiary in Berlin defending the provision stated that “la question de Bessarabie” was in Russian eyes “une question d’honneur”. Would this question be left unresolved “il serait impossible d’établir entre la Russie et la Roumanie les bons rapports necessaires à la consolidation de la paix en Orient”. The objection of the Romanian delegate according to which Bessarabia was “un pays roumain” that could not lawfully be taken away from Romania as it could not in 1812 did not prevent the Powers from deciding in favour of Russia. As the French delegate put it “… il est opportun de ne point prolonger un état de choses qui engage l’amour propre d’un grand Empire”. The same delegate however pointing to the fact that the Romanians had been treated “un peu trop durement” invited the Russians to give a sign of generosity and to agree on the concession of an additional strip of land to Romania towards the south (that is at the expence of Bulgaria). The Russians gave their consent. Quite unexpectedly they declared to adhere to the territorial rectification “vu la présence d’éléments roumains” on the envisaged area.
The ethnic principle resorted to in order to justify the handing over of Bulgarian soil did not apply to Bessarabia. In that case Russian “amour propre” was decisive.

Just few years after the celebrations for the union of 1912 Bessarabia, in a dramatic succession of events, became first a democratic federative republic in the framework of demoratic Russia (2 December 1917), then an independent state (24 January 1918), and finally got united with the Romanian Kingdom (27 March 1918).
This last passage, although sanctioned by the vote of the only regional authority in place at the time, the Sfatul Tari (Country Council) was made questionable by the fact that in the meantimethe Romanian Army had occupied Bessarabia, taking advantage of the collapse of Russian power.
According to later Soviet propaganda Romanian occupation had prevented Bessarabians from freely making use of their right to self-determination, the only ground on which the Soviet Union was ready to acknowldge secession. Bessarabia joined Romania unconditionally and ceased to exist as an individual political entity.


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