Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy formed the Triple Alliance. In 1882, they
signed a document that promised they would give each other military support in case
of a war. The Alliance agreement stated it was 'essentially defensive and conservative' with the aim of stopping anyone who 'might threaten' the three nations.
The alliance formed between Germany and Austria-Hungary had strong ethnic ties.
Germany and Austria-Hungary shared borders and (in many regions) the German language,
as well as a desire to add to their territories. Austria-Hungary specifically wanted
The German Empire had only been officially created out of smaller German-speaking
nations about twenty years before the Alliance was formed, and had quickly gained
great influence over the older, fading Austro-Hungarian Empire. By co-operating
rather than competing, land could be taken over by either empire without conflict
Italy wanted more territory in parts of Greece, Turkey and the Balkans. It also
wanted protection from attacks from its northern neighbour, France. Finally, Italy
still disputed land with Austria-Hungary. An alliance could turn out to be more
effective in negotiating this land back, and stop Austria from taking any more land
in a war. However, Italy still did not entirely trust Austria-Hungary, so made a
secret treaty with France after the joining the Triple Alliance.
A conflict involving any one of the Triple Alliance countries could, by the
terms of the treaty, bring in the other two. Rather than acting as a deterrent,
the Treaty could be used as a bullying tactic. If a small nation was threatened
by one of the Triple Alliance, the Triple Entente would have to ignore the
situation or face a major conflict with Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy