After 1880, the exertions of Count Kalnoky again established a fairly good understanding with Russia, as was shown by the meetings of Francis Joseph with the tsar in 1884 and 1885, but the outbreak of the Bulgarian question in 1885 again brought into prominence the opposed interests of Russia and Austria-Hungary.
But after the abdication of Alexander, Count Kalnoky stated in the Delegations that Austria-Hungary would not permit Russia to interfere with the independence of Bulgaria.
In May 1895 Count Kalnoky had to retire, owing to a difference with Banffy, the Hungarian premier, arising out of the struggle with Rome.
In these positions he acquired a great reputation as a firm and skilful diplomatist, and on the retirement of Count Kalnoky in May 1895 was chosen to succeed him as Austro-Hungarian minister for foreign affairs.
Petersburg, and from 1883 to 1888 he worked at the Foreign Office in Vienna under Kalnoky, with whom he formed close relations.