The assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary represented the pretext for the outbreak of the first world conflagration between two main political blocks: the Entente and the Triple Alliance. In reality, the factors that generated the conflict are a lot more complex and heterogeneous. Among them are Europe’s political development, diplomatic implications, alliance networks, fragmentary governing, etc.
This paper does not attempt to analyze all of them, but limits itself to a discussion basis regarding the implication of economic and financial aspects. Finances represented a very important interest for the two belligerent sides, as it was an open door for recruiting new allies, raising liquidity, and for new markets. The states in Southeastern Europe benefited from the high investments of the Great Powers. England financed the Ottoman Empire, and France contributed mainly to Russia’s economic growth as well as to the financial aid for Serbia, Romania, Greece, and Bulgaria. This different financing by the French determined Germany in 1912 to declare itself as a potential creditor of the Balkan countries. The new political and financial arena, seen dichotomously, made Romania’s and Serbia’s situations insecure. France perceived the tendency of the Romanian and Serbian spaces towards the Triple Alliance and became cautious in granting new capitals. In Bulgaria, initially, there was a financial parallelism of the French and the Deutsche Bank. Finally, the government in Sofia tended towards the Triple Alliance. In the Ottoman space functioned an economic dualism, French and German, until 1911, when France conditioned new loans by the granting of the French monopoly. After refusing the new requests that came from Paris, Constantinople became Berlin’s permanent ally. Finally, after some long and intense debates, the French financial capital was drawn back from Romania and Bulgaria, and the German aid was retracted from Serbia and Greece. After an individual analysis of the Balkan states in financial regard, the author remarks that theoretically, in the summer of 1914, the competition for attracting the Southeastern European states seemed to end: besides Romania, the Triple Alliance had Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire on its side, and the Entente was supported by Serbia and Greece. However, the mission of the European Powers did not end merely at the theoretical level.