Courtesy Reuters

Belgium's Position in Europe

I WELCOME this opportunity of describing to careful students of international problems the general trend of Belgium's foreign policy as it has developed since the war. The outstanding characteristic of such an account ought to be preciseness. In my description of negotiations and in my examination of treaties, then, I ought to quote texts, compare them, interpret them and, to some extent, touch on the technique of international law. In view of this care for clarity, the reader will perhaps forgive me if parts of my account are rather dry.

At the end of the war the Belgian Government was faced with a double duty: to find a new basis for the country's security, and to regulate the financial consequences of the war -- reparations, war debts, the monetary crisis.

Before the war the international Statute of Belgium consisted of three treaties signed in London on April 19, 1839: the first between Holland on the one side and Austria, France, Great Britain, Prussia and Russia on the other; the second between Belgium and Holland; the third between Belgium and the five Great Powers mentioned. The treaty between Holland and Belgium determined the frontier between these two countries; Article 7 provided that Belgium should form an independent and perpetually neutral state. The treaty also provided for the status of the rivers, especially the Scheldt. These provisions were guaranteed by the five Great Powers in the third treaty.

The attack of August 1914 destroyed this system. Two guarantors of Belgian neutrality, Germany and Austria-Hungary, violated this neutrality, and another guarantor, Russia, later failed in her engagements. Belgium was forced into the war in spite of the treaties of 1839, and with the aid of her faithful guarantors defended herself against her aggressors.

Would it be necessary, after the war, to restore Belgium's perpetual neutrality? That was one of the most serious problems facing the government that had fled to Le Havre. After most careful study, the Cabinet became convinced that the system of 1839 could not possibly apply, and

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