Austria-Hungary was a European great power, with a great interest in Balkans. Serbia had gained independece from Ottoman Empire, and wanted to help Serbs and other Slavic people in areas occupied by Austro-Hungary. So there was a clear conflict of interests. Serbia had fought for independence from the Ottoman Empire since about 1804 and gradually enlarged its territory. In 1878, the European great powers made the contested and potentially very explosive area of Bosnia-Herzegovina an Austrian protectorate, in the hope of keeping the area out of harms way.