Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

so far, at least, as regards a portion of her lost kindred in Macedonia. On the reply to this request depends her attitude towards the present war, and, strangely enough, that of Rumania also; for Rumania, rightly desirous of union with the cognate race in Transylvania, is ready to throw in her lot with the Entente Powers if Bulgaria will do likewise. The question is thus of the utmost importance, for, apart from the considerable aid which the two States can render to the Allied cause, their military action would almost certainly be followed by that of Italy, and the war would be shortened by many months. Rumania, which hopes to annex a region with 4,000,000 inhabitants, has now abandoned the doctrine of Balkan 'equilibrium' propounded with so much unction by the victors in 1913; she is now willing to consent to concessions to Bulgaria in Macedonia, and even to restore to her a portion of the territory of which she deprived her in that year. That an injustice has been done to Bulgaria has been publicly admitted by M. Take Jonescu, the most brilliant of contemporary Rumanian statesmen, who recognises that she has been wronged in Macedonia.

Bulgaria is willing to leave the whole question between herself and her former allies to the eventual decision of the Powers, and to maintain a strict neutrality. In return for her neutrality she has been promised by the Entente Powers the whole of Eastern Thrace as far as the Enos-Midia line laid down by the Treaty of London, together with considerable concessions in Macedonia. This promise, it is understood, will be fulfilled at the end of the war. For her active and timely aid she has been promised larger concessions in Macedonia. But in return for this she desires the present cession of at least a portion of the district, now in Servian occupation, lying south of the line laid down by the Serbo-Bulgarian Treaty of 1912. Beyond this line Servia pledged herself 'not to ask for anything'; and the region in question is, or rather was, inhabited by a compact Bulgarian population.

In short, Bulgaria asks for something in band as the price of her military co-operation. She defends her position on two main grounds. In the first place she can no longer place any confidence in international

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

contracts. Without questioning for a moment the sincerity of the three Powers, she cannot feel sure that their promises will be realised even in case of their success. She has seen three solemn compacts torn up to her disadvantage-the Serbo-Bulgarian Treaty, signed by the sovereigns of the two countries and approved by Russia; the protocol of Petrograd, prepared by the ambassadors of the Powers; and the Treaty of London, drawn up by Sir Edward Grey and sanctioned by Europe. She has seen, she might add, the reoccupation of Southern Albania by Greece in violation of the convention of Corfu, and the German onslaught on unhappy Belgium. How can she trust any more to scraps of paper'?

Secondly, the continued persecution of her kinsfolk across the frontier involves her in serious internal trouble and exposes her to dangers which can only be removed by their liberation. If, to quote the words of the Carnegie report, the methods of assimilation and extermination applied by the Greeks display 'encore plus de rigueur systématique et encore moins d'humanité' than those adopted by the Servians, the condition of the Bulgars in Servian Macedonia has, in consequence of the war, become apparently worse than that of their brothers in misfortune under Greek rule. All the men of military age have been taken for the army--to fight for their enemies; the cattle, the furniture, the clothing of the family are sold for the payment of increased taxes; and in many cases soldiers, gendarmes and even brigands are installed in the defenceless households. Only those who have witnessed the misery of the ill-clad and often starving refugees, who, at the risk of being shot down by the frontier guards, daily make their way in hundreds across the snow-clad mountains into Bul. garia, can realise the horror of the situation or fully grasp the truth of the principle that one Balkan race must not be allowed to rule over another. Unless life had been made intolerable to these people, they would not have left their homes. Many of the fugitives, especially the children, succumb to cold and privation during this terrible pilgrimage. The survivors must be maintained by the Government; they swell the great host of Macedonian exiles, whose exasperation increases daily. This sentiment is sedulously played upon by

German and Austrian emissaries, who swarm at Sofia and preach an anti-Servian crusade in subsidised journals in the hope of compromising Bulgaria with the Entente Powers.

By the irony of fate Bulgaria, humiliated and despoiled, is now in a position to control the action of her neighbours; and the Entente Powers, anxious to secure her co-operation and that of Rumania, have undertaken to urge the desired concessions on Servia. M. Pashitch, if he were a free agent, would doubtless comply; it is obviously in Servia's own interest to help her allies to shorten the war; and the concessions will in any case have to be made at its conclusion. But the military coterie which surrounds the Prince Regent will not hear of them. It was the officers who insisted on the repudiation of the treaty of 1912; among them are some of the conspirators who placed the present dynasty on the throne. Their calculation is that the Entente will win in the end and that no concessions will then be necessary; but they leave out of account the sacrifices which their policy will impose on their allies and on Servia herself owing to the protraction of the war. The Prince, accordingly, has countered the proposals of the Powers with a proclamation promising constitutional rights to the Macedonian Bulgars—he describes them as sons of the Servian conqueror Dushan-thus indicating the resolve of Servia to retain them under her rule. Everyone must admire the heroism with which the Servians have defended their country against enormous odds, but, in this instance at least, they cannot be congratulated on political wisdom. The true expansion of Servia lies in the direction of Bosnia, Northern Herzegovina, and Southern Dalmatia, with the ports of Metkovich, Spalato and Sebenico. When she obtains these regions she will more than double her territory. Whether Catholic Croatia will join her is a question which might be left to its inhabitants. The extreme south of Dalmatia, with Gravosa and Cattaro, should go to Montenegro.

In urging both Servia and Rumania to refuse all concessions to Bulgaria, Greece has acted against the interests of the Entente. Her policy is due in part to hostility to Bulgaria-the hatred of the Greek for the Bulgar is something phenomenal, surpassing in bitterness all other race-hatreds of the world ; in part to the military considerations which dominate the court of Athens-Bulgaria, it is urged, must not receive any accession of territory, for her military strength would thereby be increased; in part to the fear that a precedent may be created for concessions on the part of Greece. Such concessions, however, will be inevitable if at the end of the war the Entente Powers carry out their declared intention to vindicate the principle of nationalities; the regions of Kastoria, Florina, Yenidjé-Vardar, Vodena, Kukush, and Drama should go to their rightful owners. Kavala, hitherto mainly a Turkish town, should also be handed over to Bulgaria it is inconceivable that this promising seaport should be cut off from its hinterland. Greece should seek her legitimate expansion in the twelve islands now occupied by Italy (that Power obtaining compensation in the Trentino) and on the western coast of Asia Minor, where the Hellenic element is strong. Greece should withdraw from Southern Albania in accordance with the Corfu Convention; and the Albanian State should be restored under a new ruler, receiving Ipek and Dibra in the north.

[graphic]

The Emperor William, who telegraphed to his Rumanian cousin that the Treaty of Bucarest was • definitive' and who fought like a lion' to obtain

a Kavala for his Greek brother-in-law, will find that his family policy, more suited to the Middle Ages than to modern times, was a blunder. Nothing but an arrange

a ment based on the sound principle of nationalities will ever bring peace to the Balkan Peninsula. A durable peace in South-Eastern Europe, followed by a revival of the Balkan Alliance, will, it is to be hoped, be among the beneficent results of the present calamitous war.

[ocr errors]

Art. 7.—THE ATTITUDE OF ROUMANIA.

6

ROUMANIA is neutral. She declared her neutrality during the life-time of King Charles at a Crown-Council'—a political court improvised for the occasion. Subsequently she explained that this neutrality did not involve any departure from the line of policy she had hitherto pursued, which was recognised as the one best suited to her situation. Though discussions went on well into the autumn of 1914, and were characterised by a good deal of excitement on the part of that section of the public which delights in rowdy demonstrations, and by the urging of violent measures by individual groups such as the Universitaires' of Bucarest, they bore only on the question, under what circumstances military intervention might be either permissible or advantageous. The result was that Roumania, well aware of what she has owed of recent years to German · Kultur,' with no illusions as to her own strength, and uninfluenced by sentimentalism, romance, or sympathy with the Latin race—that race to which she herself belongs-made up her mind that she would not go to war to swell the triumph of Austria-Hungary. That this decision should have been approved by almost the entire nation, points to the fact that it was based on weighty considerations. We propose to lay these considerations before the British people, which has shown hitherto but a half-hearted interest in the affairs of Roumania ; for it is important that the attitude of a country which remains neutral should be thoroughly understood.

In no country did the ultimatum, with its amazing terms, which the Austro-Hungarian monarchy thought fit to address to Servia, bidding that country to identify herself with the perpetrators of an abominable crime, and to proclaim the fact not only before her own army but before the whole of Europe, provoke graver apprehensions or a franker expression of disapproval than in Roumania. In the first place, there was no doubt that the ultimatum emanated from Budapest. For, though it was felt that Germany had a strong motive for provoking a European war at this particular moment, instead of waiting till her enemies had time for preparation, the haughty feudal spirit, the lordly contempt, and

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »