During his ministry he developed the rapprochement of France with Russia - visiting St Petersburg with the president, Felix Faure - and sent expeditions to delimit the French colonies in Africa.
The one bright side of this gloomy and sordid period was the rapprochement between the Scandinavian kingdoms during the revolutionary wars.
But no rapprochement was effected, and reconciliation became daily more and more difficult.
After the second of these insurrections, Bethlen attempted a rapprochement with the court of Vienna on the basis of an alliance against the Turks and his own marriage with one of the Austrian archduchesses; but Ferdinand had no confidence in him and rejected his overtures.
Turkey now sought for a rapprochement with France, and endeavoured to bring about her intervention in return for concessions as regards the holy places.