Bosnia and Herzegovina on the Axis of Empires

(In-Person and Online Conference)

International University of Sarajevo
Bosnia and Herzegovina
 27-28, 2022

About Conference

The geopolitical and geostrategic importance of the Balkans and its multinational characteristics has made this region the center of attention and the target of attacks from outside. The Balkans became a place that the Ottoman and Habsburg Dynasties definitely wanted to reign because of its geopolitical and geostrategic sphere of influence. As a matter of fact, the Ottoman intrusions towards the West and the Habsburgs towards the East contributed towards meeting of the West and the East in the Balkans. These empires had diplomatic representation, permanent ambassadors and consulates in important cities of the Ottoman Empire which spread over three continents.

The Ottomans demonstrated respect for ethnic, religious and fundamental rights and succeeded in bringing the entire Balkans under their domination in a relatively short time.

Bosnia and Herzegovina was located in the geography where the kingdoms and great powers competed around it, such as the Eastern and Western Roman Empires before the Ottoman rule, then the Ottoman Empire-Austria Kingdom, the Hungarian Kingdoms and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Bosnia-Herzegovina's co-existence with the Austro/Austrian-Hungarian Empire for centuries and over 400 years post-Ottoman era and later 40 years of Habsburg domination has led to an important area of ​​military, commercial, cultural and political struggle between the two empires.

Austria, which started to have representations in different provinces of the Balkans, especially after the Berlin Treaty of 1878, took steps to increase its control and influence in the region. In this context, the number of consulates in the Balkans increased its multi-faceted presence and interests in trade, education and military. Thus, the Habsburgs archives are the most important source on the Balkans.

In comparison of the knowledge and documents of the Austrian and German archives on the Balkans, it can be said that Austria is far ahead. Because Austria saw these places as their future lands and recorded everything from agriculture to trade, from underground resources to surface resources, from education to military, from ethnic affiliation to religious affiliation, from churches to mosques, from schools to barracks, from culture to art and from politics to media. The Austrian archives (Haus,-Hof- und Staatsarchiv) are a treasure waiting to be discovered, unearthed and evaluated properly not only for Bosnia and Herzegovina but also for the whole Balkans.

At the same time, the Ottoman State archives reveal the history of Bosnia-Herzegovina and that both Bosnia-Herzegovina and European historians can benefit from.