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Managing Macedonia: British Statecraft, Intervention and ‘Proto-peacekeeping’ in Ottoman Macedonia, 1902-1905

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Political violence in Ottoman Macedonia in 1902-03 prompted the European powers to impose stronger reform measures on the Ottoman Empire. This study analyzes British policy toward Macedonia during the Balfour administration from 1902 to 1905 through a detailed examination of diplomacy, domestic politics, and events ‘on the ground.’ The main contention is that the British maintained a proactive and solution-oriented policy within the framework of the multilateral reform process. Importantly, they sought to calm the violence through the establishment of a prototypical peacekeeping force. In many respects, the British approach to events in Macedonia was a successful exercise in crisis management. Preemptive measures to mitigate and prevent a crisis helped prepare the British government for the crises that occurred. When events escalated during the Ilinden Uprising in the summer of 1903, British officials were able to respond effectively and even opportunistically, using knowledge and pragmatism to navigate through the crisis. The British government positioned itself to recover from the crisis in the short term and play a more prominent role in the fledging Mürzsteg Reform Program. The British became convinced that the deployment of European military attachés or soldiers was the key to bringing peace to Ottoman Macedonia. Their ideas for this ‘peacekeeping’ force and a stronger reform mandate was influenced by previous interventions in the Ottoman Empire, local observations in Macedonia, and knowledge gleaned from imperial rule. Under the terms of the Mürzsteg Reform Program of 1903, a contingent of European officers deployed to train the Ottoman gendarmerie and undertake peacekeeping tasks. The relative success the British officers enjoyed convinced British officials to lobby for a more robust deployment and mandate. Although the Mürzsteg Reform Program was short-lived, it stands as an intriguing chapter in the conceptual history of peacekeeping, and suggests that early peacekeeping was the product of an imperial genealogy.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Gerolymatos, Andre
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