Britain achieved a diplomatic success, when the Cyprus convention was signed between Turkey and Britain. Three months earlier, when the Russo-Turkish war ended with the Russian victory, the Treaty of San Stefano was signed. According to the treaty, Georgia and Armenia received the lands lost earlier to Turkey. Bulgaria became a self-governing principality, and the Christian population of Bulgaria was granted civil rights. Serbia also became independent. Montenegro became twice as large by incorporating some territories of the Ottoman empire.
Two years earlier, when Turkish irregulars suppressed the April uprising in Bulgaria, killing up to 12,000 people, the European countries were shocked by this massacre and even Disraeli supported the Russians in the war against Turkey. By words, of course. When Russia was one step from her old dream of occupying Constantinople, the home of the Orthodox church, the British position changed to the opposite. The growing influence of Russia in Southern Europe was too dangerous. On the other hand, the independence of the new Slavic states threatened the stability of the Habsburgs empire. The other oppressed Slavs could revolt against them.
Britain sent the fleet to the Dardanelles to protect Constantinople from the Russian occupation. After some diplomatic maneuvres, Russia agreed not to enter the city. However, the results of the war defined by the Treaty of San Stefano did not suit the European empires. Britain concluded the following secret agreement with Turkey:
If Batoum, Ardahan, Kars or any of them shall be retained by Russia, and if any attempt shall be made at any future time by Russia to take possession of any further territories of His
Imperial Majesty the Sultan in Asia, as fixed by the Definitive Treaty of Peace, England engages to join His Imperial Majesty the Sultan in defending them by force of arms.
In return, His Imperial Majesty the Sultan promises to England to introduce necessary Reforms, to be agreed upon later between the two Powers, into the government and for the protection of the Christian and other subjects of the Porte in these territories.
And in order to enable England to make necessary provision for executing her engagement, His Imperial Majesty the Sultan further consents to assign the Island of Cyprus to be occupied and administered by England.
Ten days later, the Congress of Berlin was started, which was initiated by Austria and Britain. The Congress reviewed the Treaty of San Stefano. Strangely enough, the main winner of the Russo-Turkish war became Austria. A large part of Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina were occupied by Austria. Russia only got Southern Bessarabia in Europe and three cities in Causasus: Batoum, Ardahan and Kars.
(23 May Old Style)
A new Pallada-class cruiser was laid down at the New Admiralty shipyard in St.Petersburg. The construction works were directed by engineer K. Tokarevsky. The ship was launched 24 May (11 May Old Style) 1900 and was named Aurora. If only Tokarevsky knew, what will happen at the ship 17 years later…