WI: The Ottoman’s “Enver-Leontiev Treaty” came to pass?

Stenz

Monthly Donor
So, according to McMeekin’s The Ottoman Endgame, on the 5th August 1914 M N Leontiev the Russian Military Attaché in Constantinople paid a visit to Enver Pasha the Ottoman Minister of War. What Enver proposed was staggering.

According to McMeekin (referencing diplomatic notes and diary entries of those involved, going by his bibliography) Enver offered the Russians a deal to secure Ottoman neutrality in the coming European conflict. It doesn’t seem that a complete diplomatic document has survived, but the main terms were apparently a defensive alliance of 5 or 10 years and a “new Balkan settlement at the expense of Vienna”.

The settlement (hashed out between the Ottomans and the Russians, but none of the other nations) involved Turkey regaining Western Thrace from Bulgaria and several Aegean islands from Greece (not listed, but I assume the ones over the mouth of the Dardanelles). In compensation, Bulgaria would receive “parts of Macedonia” from Serbia and Greece would receive Albania. Finally, Serbia would receive Bosnia-Herzegovina from Austria in return for the Macedonian territory ceded to Bulgaria.

The Ottomans would withdraw the IX and XI Corps of the Third Army from Eastern Turkey, allowing the Russians to redeploy their Army of the Caucasus to Europe against the Austrians and Germans. If agreed, the German Military Mission to Constantinople would be expelled by the Ottomans and presumably replaced by a Russian one or simply none at all.

Over the weekend of the 7th-9th August the finer details were negotiated between the Russians and Ottomans and the proposal was keenly supported by Said Halim Pasha (the Grand Vizier) and Talât at the Ottoman Interior Ministry once they learned of Enver’s machinations. On the Russian side, the deal was supported by Ambassador Girs who advised Sazonov to accept the terms as agreed.


It all seems to have come to naught and followed the OTL path we all know due to the arrival of SMS Goeben at the Dardanelles and Enver’s decision to allow Souchon past the forts into Marmara. That and Sazonov was advised by Yanushkevitch at the Russian War Ministry to break off the talks to avoid “looking weak” in Central Asia.


But what if St Petersburg had agreed to Enver’s proposal? Would the additional Russian troops in Europe have made enough of a difference and would fighting only on the Eastern Front allowed the Russians to perform better? Would it have changed the Balkan Theatre to an Austrian curbstomp, or removed it completely if the Serbs, Bulgarians and Greeks had agreed to what was offered to them in the absence of Russian support? How would it have affected the path of WWI?
 
The problem here is why would Bulgaria accept this offer instead of just seizing Macedonia from Serbia when the time is right? Furthermore, it was known that Italy had desires on Albania, promising it to Greece could push Italy to the Central Powers. I don't see the Entente going this far to accommodate the Ottomans unless they actually declare war on the Central Powers.
 

Stenz

Monthly Donor
The problem here is why would Bulgaria accept this offer instead of just seizing Macedonia from Serbia when the time is right?
Well, up until this point they haven’t been able to and very recently (2nd Balkan War) were attacked by a combination of all their neighbours to prevent such a thing from happening. The 2BW seemed to prove Serbia was more ‘popular’ than Bulgaria amongst the Balkan Nations and the backing of a Great Power would be needed to overturn the new status quo. This would offer them two Great Powers (Russia and the Ottomans) to achieve just that. Otherwise, the OTL option of Austria (who didn’t lift a finger in 1912-13 to help them) and Germany securing Ottoman benevolence is all they would have, which didn’t come until later. Here, the Ottomans are ‘neutralised’, the Russians will have supported their gains (fellow Orthodox Slavs) and presumably conflict isn’t required to achieve the goal, allowing longer to recover from the Balkan Wars.

Furthermore, it was known that Italy had desires on Albania, promising it to Greece could push Italy to the Central Powers. I don't see the Entente going this far to accommodate the Ottomans unless they actually declare war on the Central Powers.
Italy cannot join the Central Powers in belligerence if Britain is in the Entente. Italy was completely dependent on British shipping and coal to function, shipping and coal the CP cannot provide. There’s a reason Italy went Entente OTL and it wasn’t just antagonism with the Austrians. Still, there’s nothing to prevent an “alt-Treaty of London” to offer Austrian alpine and littoral lands to Italy to keep them onside.

Also it should be stressed this isn’t the Ottomans negotiating with the Entente, this is a Russian-Ottoman deal with implications for the Balkans. The French and British aren’t involved in the process.


Could the Greeks even digest the totality of Albania?
Albania would be a Trojan horse. They're going to fight that.
That’s something to consider further down the line. The Greeks wanted Albania, that much is known (they wanted a huge chunk of Anatolia too and only found out they couldn’t digest it after they took a bite) who knows what Greece could manage with Russian/Ottoman tacit support and presumably the goodwill of Serbia and Bulgaria?
 
That’s something to consider further down the line. The Greeks wanted Albania, that much is known (they wanted a huge chunk of Anatolia too and only found out they couldn’t digest it after they took a bite) who knows what Greece could manage with Russian/Ottoman tacit support and presumably the goodwill of Serbia and Bulgaria?
Greece would be a quarter Albanian.

It'd be difficult to digest to say the least.
 

Stenz

Monthly Donor
Greece would be a quarter Albanian.

It'd be difficult to digest to say the least.
True, but Albania as a nation was only 2 years old in 1914. Who’s to say, given the “flexible” nature of ethnicity in the Balkans, that Albanians don’t become “Epirotes”, “Chaonians” or “Molossians” again in a Greater Greece after a few decades?

It’s far more likely it becomes a running sore for Athens to deal with, but it isn’t necessarily a decade-long guerrilla conflict.
 
True, but Albania as a nation was only 2 years old in 1914. Who’s to say, given the “flexible” nature of ethnicity in the Balkans, that Albanians don’t become “Epirotes”, “Chaonians” or “Molossians” again in a Greater Greece after a few decades?

It’s far more likely it becomes a running sore for Athens to deal with, but it isn’t necessarily a decade-long guerrilla conflict.
Albanian nationalism was much older than Albanian statehood, and had widespread support of local elites.
 
That’s something to consider further down the line. The Greeks wanted Albania, that much is known (they wanted a huge chunk of Anatolia too and only found out they couldn’t digest it after they took a bite) who knows what Greece could manage with Russian/Ottoman tacit support and presumably the goodwill of Serbia and Bulgaria?
Did the Greeks want all of Albania or only southern Albania? I thought it was southern Albania (northern Epirus) that they desired. From the original post I presumed that this was what was meant by the Enver-Leontiev negotiations.

EDIT: At most I can't see Greece desiring more than Northern Epirus, Vlore/Valona and much of coastal Albania up to the Shkumbin river which seems to have been the northern most point of any Greek minorities found in Albania at the time (though some of those "Greeks" might have been Serbs because in the Ottoman census system, religion was the main identifier rather than language and ethnicity, so identities were a bit less concrete in the early 1900s):

 
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So, according to McMeekin’s The Ottoman Endgame, on the 5th August 1914 M N Leontiev the Russian Military Attaché in Constantinople paid a visit to Enver Pasha the Ottoman Minister of War. What Enver proposed was staggering.

According to McMeekin (referencing diplomatic notes and diary entries of those involved, going by his bibliography) Enver offered the Russians a deal to secure Ottoman neutrality in the coming European conflict. It doesn’t seem that a complete diplomatic document has survived, but the main terms were apparently a defensive alliance of 5 or 10 years and a “new Balkan settlement at the expense of Vienna”.

The settlement (hashed out between the Ottomans and the Russians, but none of the other nations) involved Turkey regaining Western Thrace from Bulgaria and several Aegean islands from Greece (not listed, but I assume the ones over the mouth of the Dardanelles). In compensation, Bulgaria would receive “parts of Macedonia” from Serbia and Greece would receive Albania. Finally, Serbia would receive Bosnia-Herzegovina from Austria in return for the Macedonian territory ceded to Bulgaria.

The Ottomans would withdraw the IX and XI Corps of the Third Army from Eastern Turkey, allowing the Russians to redeploy their Army of the Caucasus to Europe against the Austrians and Germans. If agreed, the German Military Mission to Constantinople would be expelled by the Ottomans and presumably replaced by a Russian one or simply none at all.

Over the weekend of the 7th-9th August the finer details were negotiated between the Russians and Ottomans and the proposal was keenly supported by Said Halim Pasha (the Grand Vizier) and Talât at the Ottoman Interior Ministry once they learned of Enver’s machinations. On the Russian side, the deal was supported by Ambassador Girs who advised Sazonov to accept the terms as agreed.


It all seems to have come to naught and followed the OTL path we all know due to the arrival of SMS Goeben at the Dardanelles and Enver’s decision to allow Souchon past the forts into Marmara. That and Sazonov was advised by Yanushkevitch at the Russian War Ministry to break off the talks to avoid “looking weak” in Central Asia.


But what if St Petersburg had agreed to Enver’s proposal? Would the additional Russian troops in Europe have made enough of a difference and would fighting only on the Eastern Front allowed the Russians to perform better? Would it have changed the Balkan Theatre to an Austrian curbstomp, or removed it completely if the Serbs, Bulgarians and Greeks had agreed to what was offered to them in the absence of Russian support? How would it have affected the path of WWI?
Here's a rough attempt to map it out by the way:

upload_2019-9-19_9-14-54.png
 
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Stenz

Monthly Donor
Albanian nationalism was much older than Albanian statehood, and had widespread support of local elites.
Did the Greeks want all of Albania or only southern Albania? I thought it was southern Albania (northern Epirus) that they desired. From the original post I presumed that this was what was meant by the Enver-Leontiev negotiations.

EDIT: At most I can't see Greece desiring more than Northern Epirus, Vlore/Valona and much of coastal Albania up to the Shkumbin river which seems to have been the northern most point of any Greek minorities found in Albania at the time
There would still be an albania, Greece would only really want northern Ephirus which had a Greek majority at the time
I can’t say for definite, as all I have to go on is McMeekin’s references. I know about the Greek claims on Northern Epirus, but the book simply says “Albania”.

Saying that, given the chance to have it backed by Russia and the Ottomans, would the Greeks refuse the option of having all Albania including the port of Durrës, for example?
 
I can’t say for definite, as all I have to go on is McMeekin’s references. I know about the Greek claims on Northern Epirus, but the book simply says “Albania”.

Saying that, given the chance to have it backed by Russia and the Ottomans, would the Greeks refuse the option of having all Albania including the port of Durrës, for example?
Italy already occupy Vlore and the surrounding zone, plus she consider Albania to be too strategical important to let someone else get control of it so; while letting the Greeks get north Epyrus is perfectly ok, the rest is out of question
 
Italy cannot join the Central Powers in belligerence if Britain is in the Entente. Italy was completely dependent on British shipping and coal to function, shipping and coal the CP cannot provide. There’s a reason Italy went Entente OTL and it wasn’t just antagonism with the Austrians. Still, there’s nothing to prevent an “alt-Treaty of London” to offer Austrian alpine and littoral lands to Italy to keep them onside.

Also it should be stressed this isn’t the Ottomans negotiating with the Entente, this is a Russian-Ottoman deal with implications for the Balkans. The French and British aren’t involved in the process.

That’s something to consider further down the line. The Greeks wanted Albania, that much is known (they wanted a huge chunk of Anatolia too and only found out they couldn’t digest it after they took a bite) who knows what Greece could manage with Russian/Ottoman tacit support and presumably the goodwill of Serbia and Bulgaria?
It would hardly be the first time the Entente or its member states promised someone something and then pretended they had no idea what they were talking about when they came to collect.
 
Cool PoD!

I do have to wonder about Bulgaria though. In this scenario they would have to trade acces to the Med for landlocked Macedonia. I can imagine that they put a premium on uniting with their kin but it still sounds like a pretty bad deal.
 

Stenz

Monthly Donor
Italy already occupy Vlore and the surrounding zone, plus she consider Albania to be too strategical important to let someone else get control of it so; while letting the Greeks get north Epyrus is perfectly ok, the rest is out of question
The Italian occupation of Vlorë was in October 1914, wasn’t it? These negotiations took place in August, before that happened.

It can’t be out of the question, as the proposal actually happened. Also, would Italy stand against both Russia and the Ottomans as well as the Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbs, who I assume would support all aspects of the deal? Maybe they can be bought off further down the line with offers of Austrian territory?

It would hardly be the first time the Entente or its member states promised someone something and then pretended they had no idea what they were talking about when they came to collect.
Again, this isn’t the Entente negotiating, this is Russia and the Ottoman Empire. At the time (5th-9th(?) August 1914) the Ottomans weren’t in the War and neither were any of the Balkan nations, bar Serbia. This is Russia securing their flank before committing totally to War with Austria and Germany and the Ottomans gaining a return of strategic territory in return for staying out of the War. The Balkan adjustments I assume are a bundle of compensations to allow everyone to gain something in exchange for another gain by someone else - dominoes or a round robin of territorial exchanges, if you will.

Cool PoD!
Thank you. It struck me as a perfect AH divergence when I read it. It actually occurred (the offer, that is) it was sufficiently supported (on both sides) that it might have happened and it seemed to be in the realm of possibility. The effects of it are intriguing are quite possible to discern.

I do have to wonder about Bulgaria though. In this scenario they would have to trade acces to the Med for landlocked Macedonia. I can imagine that they put a premium on uniting with their kin but it still sounds like a pretty bad deal.
That’s true. But OTL Bulgaria expended a lot of effort over many years in attempts to gain Macedonia, so the question being what is more important to them? They still have a Black Sea coast I assume and presumably cordial relations with the Ottomans and Russians if they go along with the deal, so access to the Mediterranean via the Dardanelles would be possible?
 
The Italian occupation of Vlorë was in October 1914, wasn’t it? These negotiations took place in August, before that happened.
It can’t be out of the question, as the proposal actually happened. Also, would Italy stand against both Russia and the Ottomans as well as the Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbs, who I assume would support all aspects of the deal? Maybe they can be bought off further down the line with offers of Austrian territory?
Just a couple of months, it's not that if the Greeks try to advance in Albania, Rome will let them do it without reaction...and yes, Italy will stand against Russia and the Ottomans, after all what they can do? Sending us a strong worded letter? The Serbs are at the moment occupied in keeping the Austrian out of their country, the Greeks have better thing to do than try to engage directly a Great Power and same for the Bulgarian.

Regarding Italy not align herself with the CP due to the UK supply of coal...well, while is an important factor, it's not that important, if we had counted only in what the UK sent us in term of food and coal during the war at the moment we were all speaking German here.
 

Stenz

Monthly Donor
Just a couple of months, it's not that if the Greeks try to advance in Albania, Rome will let them do it without reaction...and yes, Italy will stand against Russia and the Ottomans, after all what they can do? Sending us a strong worded letter? The Serbs are at the moment occupied in keeping the Austrian out of their country, the Greeks have better thing to do than try to engage directly a Great Power and same for the Bulgarian.
The Italians can get men via sea to Vlorë sooner than the Russians or Ottomans can but not quicker than the Greeks, surely? The Greeks aren’t engaging a Great Power on their own, they’re doing so with the support of two Great Powers and the other Balkan nations.

Regarding Italy not align herself with the CP due to the UK supply of coal...well, while is an important factor, it's not that important, if we had counted only in what the UK sent us in term of food and coal during the war at the moment we were all speaking German here.
It’s incredibly important. Any financial study of the Italian economy lays it bare that Italy cut off from British supplies and finances would collapse. Italy quite simply couldn’t afford to oppose Britain.


All of this considered, the obvious solution would be to modify the agreement by offering Italy the Albanian region surrounding Vlorë and possibly more of the north, whilst “allowing” Greece to gain the rest.
 
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