From the founding of the Bulgarian Exarchate (1870) up until the Balkan Wars (1912-13), the Eastern Question went into its last and most intricate phase. The issue of who was to inherit the Ottoman Empire's European provinces was virtually identical with the fate of Macedonia. In addition to Russia and Austria, the old contenders for the area, the newly formed Balkan states of Bulgaria and Serbia vociferously claimed from Greece what she considered to be her historic heritage.
Greek partisans being supplied at Roumlouki
At this time, the dynamic introduction of European capital into Macedonia (in a quest for raw materials and remunerative investments) unavoidably linked European economic interests with the preservation of Ottoman domination, clashing with the emerging nationalist movements.
Meanwhile, the strengthening of nationalist sentiments in Macedonia, first Greek and then Bulgarian, was unshakeably connected with social and demographic change and with the growing prosperity of Macedonia's farming community, which Europe itself desired as a market for her products.