The two principal problems that caused outright conflict involved Morocco and the Balkans. The militarism of the chief countries of Europe was prompted by a growing sense of international hysteria, which was, in turn, increased by military preparations. The crisis in Morocco in 1905 almost precipitated war. More serious still were the Balkan crises brought about by the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary in 1908, the Italo-Turkish War (1911–12), and the Balkan Wars (1912–13). The trouble between Austria and Serbia reached a peak after the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand in 1914, and World War I resulted.
Italy's interests had long been more or less divorced from those of the Triple Alliance; as early as 1902 a Franco-Italian accord on North Africa had been reached in a secret treaty. With the outbreak of the war, both Italy and Romania refused to join the Central Powers. The Triple Alliance formally came to an end in 1914 when Italy issued a declaration of neutrality. After much secret negotiation, Italy in 1915 joined the Allies, and the next year Romania did likewise. Germany and Austria-Hungary gained new support in the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) and Bulgaria. The war ushered in a new diplomatic period, with new diplomatic alignments, and both the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente receded into history.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.