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BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA: بوسنه و هرسك [Bosna ve Hersek / Bosnia and Herzegovina]



An Ottoman report on Bosnia and Herzegovina, published in the crucial year of 1908, when Austro-Hungary withdrawn from Novi Pazar in exchange for being given permanent sovereignty over Bosnia.


8°, 15 pp., original blue wrappers with lettering (minor water-staining, old annotations on the cover, wrappers with light staining, small tears in margins and old mounted paper label on the top of the cover).

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This rare report in Ottoman language was published in 1908, when after a 30 year conflict with the Ottoman Empire, Austro Hungary was given permanent sovereignty over Bosnia. It was written by a sultan’s official inspector Faik Bey from Thessaloniki.

The conflict over Bosnia between Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire goes back into the 1870s.

During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-8, the Russians and their Balkan allies utterly throttled the Ottomans, with only the last-minute diplomatic intervention of Britain and France preventing them from taking Istanbul.  At the Congress of Berlin (June 13 – July 13, 1878), that ordained the postwar settlement, Serbia and Montenegro gained their full independence from the Sublime Porte, while Bosnia & Hercegovina placed under Austro-Hungarian rule (although it would remain a de jure part of the Sultan’s realm), with Vienna being given vague rights to place military garrisons in the Ottoman Sanjak of Novi Pazar.

Novi Pazar was the ‘keystone’ of the Southwestern Balkans, as it was wedged between Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.  Critically, Austro-Hungarian control of the district would prevent Serbia and its brother state Montenegro from forming a physical union.  This would contain Serbia (an Austro-Hungarian rival), while preventing Russia (Serbia’s prime foreign sponsor) from gaining direct access to the Mediterranean, through control of a Montenegrin port.  Critically, this was in line with one of Britain global priorities, keeping Russia in check as part the “Great Game’.

During the period between the summer of 1878 and the spring of 1879, the situation in the Southwestern Balkans was tense, as the Ottomans felt threatened by Austro-Hungarian intentions in Novi Pazar.  Any wrong move, or even innocent misunderstanding, could lead to war, a point not lost on either side.

To clarify matters and to ease tensions, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman emissaries met to agree upon the Convention of April 21, 1879.  By this accord, Austria-Hungary would inform the Sublime Porte in advance of any movements of their troops into Novi Pazar and would promise to post only a pre-arranged number of troops at mutually agreed locations.  Concurrently, the Ottomans could post an equal number of troops, likewise at pre-arranged garrisons.  The Austrians vowed not to interfere in the Ottomans’ civil governance of the sanjak, while both sides agreed to remain in constant contact to avoid misunderstandings.

Beginning on September 10, 1879, pursuant to discussions with the Ottomans, the Austro-Hungarians deployed 4,000-5,000 troops to various posts in Novi Pazar.

Fortunately, this inherently awkward arrangement was made viable due to the presence of Ferik Suleiman Pasha, the local Ottoman military commander.  He was a strong but mild-mannered figure, blessed with superlative diplomatic skills.  He formed a stellar rapport with the local Austro-Hungarian commanders and both sides succeeded in ensuring that the environment was calm, if not amicable.  The Austro-Hungarians would maintain their military presence in the region until 1908 when they agreed to withdraw from Novi Pazar in exchange for being given permanent sovereignty over Bosnia (which proved fateful, as the World War I would be sparked in Sarajevo!).  Novi Pazar and Kosovo would be conquered by Serbia during the First Balkan War (October 8, 1912 – May 30, 1913), so ending over 500 years of the Ottoman presence in the region.

Worldcat lists approximately two examples in libraries worldwide (Universitätsbibliothek München, Princeton University Library), the others appear to be electronic copies.

References: OCLC 780211927; ÖZEGE; 2534 – TBTK; 6732.

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