How successfully did Britain secure its Interests in the Eastern Question from 1856-1902?
Between 1856 and 1902 British aims were to secure trade routes, maintain the balance of power in Britain’s favour, have naval control of the Mediterranean and to safeguard India and North Africa against threatening powers such as France and Russia. These aims were fundamental to Britain at the time and heavily influenced British foreign policy including British involvement in the Eastern Question. Britain’s aims in the Eastern Question were to maintain the integrity of the Ottoman Empire as a buffer to Russia, to encourage the reform of the Ottoman Empire, to prevent Russian penetration of the Balkans and contain the Russian Navy, to prevent
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The aim to restrict Russian expansion and maintain the balance of power was further threatened by the creation of a new Romania, which was another failure for Palmerston as it had been agreed at the treaty of Paris that the Danubian Principalities would be protected jointly by Russia and Europe, not just by Russia. It was also agreed at the Peace of Paris that the existing rights of Christians living within the empire were to be guaranteed by the Sultan, which, if it had happened would have helped in achieving Britain’s aim to encourage the reform of the Ottoman Empire. However, very little if anything was done to improve the treatment of Christians and this directly led to the Balkan crisis in 1885 so again Palmerston had yet again failed to secure British interests in the Eastern Question in the long term. Palmerston had also failed to resolve all of the Crimean wars causes including the Holy Places Dispute and the Ottoman Empire was still a target for Russian expansion, which meant that Palmerston had failed to meet the aim to maintain the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. Overall, although at a glance Palmerston appeared to have some success in securing Britain’s interests in the Eastern Question, most of what he achieved was either short lived or backfired on him horribly. Therefore, it must be