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Eastern QuestionEastern Question, in European politics, primarily, the question of the fate of the dominions of the Sublime Porte after the fall of that power. Though the Turkish Empire was considerably encroached on by Russia and Austria in the 18th century, the modern Eastern Question may be said to date from the battle of Navarino (q.v.) in 1827 and the conflict between Turkey and Mehemet Ali, the Viceroy of Egypt, in 1833, during which Russia and Turkey bound themselves in the treaty of Unkiar Skelessi (July, 1833) to a close mutual alliance - Russia, however, binding herself not to make any present demand for aid to Turkey, and the Porte in return undertaking to close the Dardanelles, should Russia be at war, to ships of all other nations. This treaty was set aside, however, through the intervention of the Western Powers. In 1844 the Czar Nioholas visited England to sound Ministers as to what was to be done, seeing that, in his own phrase, the Porte was "a sick man who cannot live long." In 1853, on the occasion of the disturbances in connection with the Holy Places which led to the Crimean War (q.v.), he suggested a partition of Turkey. The formal restoration of Turkish power by the Treaty of Paris (1858) after the Crimean War unfortunately kept the question open. Among the chief crises in the history of the question since 1859 are: - the union of the Danubian principalities in 1859; the occupation of the Lebanon by France in 1860; the rising in Crete (1864-66); the "tearing up of the Black Sea Treaty" (preventing Russia from maintaining warships there) by that power in 1870, during the Franco-German war; the Russo-Turkish war in 1876-78; the Treaty of Berlin in 1878; the union of Bulgaria and Eastern Roumelia (1885); the fall of Prince Ferdinand (1886), and the threatened war between Greece and Turkey in the same year; the Armenian atrocities (1895); the Greco-Turkish War (1897). From the time of the Crimean war the question has become complicated with the alleged designs of Russia on the British Empire in India and her progress in Central Asia.
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