How to Get a Breakthrough in Ukraine
The Case Against Incrementalism
THE five Balkan nations which emerged from the greatest of wars--begun, be it noted, by the shot of a Balkan fanatic--were alike in one thing if in nothing else; all required a peaceful interlude for the development of agricultural and manufacturing arts if their citizens were to become sufficiently prosperous and contented to resist the demagogic leaders who were sure to seek in new wars, civil or foreign, the opportunity of furthering their private fortunes. They have enjoyed such an interlude in varying degrees of completeness and for varying periods of time. They have sometimes trusted themselves to leaders who placed the interests of a particular class or faction above the interests of the country at large, but it may fairly be said that the men who have ruled the destinies of the Balkan states during the past five years have been neither more nor less scrupulous than their colleagues in Western Europe.
People seldom realize that even from the physical point of view the Balkan states are far from insignificant. The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, known better perhaps as Jugoslavia, has an area of 96,134 square miles and over twelve million inhabitants. Rumania is even larger; its area, including the former Russian province of Bessarabia, is 122,282 square miles (that is, some ten thousand square miles larger than Italy) and its population is over seventeen millions. Bulgaria, as a result of the Treaty of Neuilly, finds her territory reduced to 39,824 square miles and her population to something less than five millions. Greece today has a total area of about 49,000 square miles and a population, counting recent fugitives from Asia Minor, of a good deal more than six millions. Albania, the smallest and most backward of the Balkan states, covers an area estimated at 17,000 square miles and has a population of about 830,000. In all, then, the states of the Balkan peninsula contain over forty million souls and cover over three hundred and twenty thousand square miles.
The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes has enjoyed a fair degree of domestic tranquillity and has been at formal peace with its neighbors since the signature of the peace treaties which marked the end of the Great War. There was some desultory fighting between Jugoslavs and Austrians along the Slovenian frontier early in 1919, but the springs of this dispute dried up after the peaceful Klagenfurt plebiscite and the subsequent resumption of profitable trade between the two peoples. In the vicinity of Fiume there were frontier incidents which often threatened complications of a most serious nature with Italy; and in Macedonia the activities of Bulgarian komitadji bands have nullified the efforts of various Jugoslav and Bulgarian statesmen to strengthen the affinites which, despite bloodstained rivalries, still connect these two essentially Slavic nations. But in neither case have the regular forces of the state been formally engaged. With Rumania, Greece and Hungary the relations of Jugoslavia have been increasingly satisfactory.
The improvement in the international situation of Jugoslavia dates from the signature of the Italo-Jugoslav agreement at Rome last January. It is not too much to say that this treaty opened a new era in Balkan politics. By it was ended Italy's disastrous controversy with the new state which, even before the armistice, she saw rising to leadership across the Adriatic,--a state which she feared might prove as dangerous a military rival as the Austro-Hungarian Empire had been and which she imagined would interfere with her ambitions for both political and economic hegemony in the Balkan peninsula. As a matter of fact, Italy's course through the successive phases of the "Adriatic Question" did not prove profitable, either as a means of strengthening Italian diplomatic prestige or broadening Italian channels of commerce. The influence which the Balkan states were naturally disposed to grant her at the cessation of hostilities in 1918 was wiped out when it became evident that she intended exacting the exorbitant territorial benefits promised by the Treaty of London; and with it died the dominant commercial rôle which in the usual course of events would have been hers.
But if quite evident benefits have accrued to Italy through a settlement of the Adriatic question (and the settlement of 1923 gave her specific benefits to which I have not referred, notably the annexation of Fiume), Jugoslavia has profited also. True, she has lost Fiume, and with it the only existing port equipped to handle her commerce toward the west, but even this loss is better for her than to have the old dispute with Italy pending; now she at least knows that Fiume is not to be hers at present, and she can turn energetically to the task of preparing a substitute port and connecting it by rail with the back country. And in the realm of foreign affairs she finds herself greatly strengthened. Before the conclusion of the Italo-Jugoslav agreement there was not much secret about the encouragement which Italy's representatives abroad were giving the governments hostile to Jugoslavia. Especially was this tendency noticeable in Sofia and Budapest. Not only has Italy loyally carried out her agreement to cut off her semi-official support of Bulgaria and Hungary in their plans against Jugoslavia, but she has expelled from Rome the little band of former adherents of the late King Nicholas of Montenegro who were engaged in fruitless but noisy efforts to stir up trouble. As a result, anti-Italian feeling is dying out in Belgrade and even in Zagreb, and now that an Italo-Jugoslav commercial treaty has been negotiated, much closer trade relations will undoubtedly grow up between the two countries, whose natural products complement each other excellently and are not competitors in any foreign market. Fiume itself will probably continue to languish; the Jugoslavs seem unable to bring themselves to establish a foreign city permanently as the chief commercial portal of their country. But the gradual extinction of Fiume is in line with Italian desires, for Italy has always worried more about what a foreign-controlled Fiume might do to the trade of Trieste than about the personal fortunes of its few thousands of citizens of Italian blood.
The economic condition of Jugoslavia also reflects the improved international situation resulting from the agreement with Italy. Today there is a balance between Jugoslav exports and imports. The receipts from state monopolies, customs and railways are steadily increasing,--a fact of importance, as they are to be the guarantee for the new Jugoslav railway loan soon to be floated in the United States. The currency, while tending slightly upward, is fairly stable. In Belgrade, Zagreb, Susak, Skoplje, and other cities in widely separated parts of the country which I have visited within the last few months, there is great building activity. More important, however, is the building which is taking place in the country districts. New farmhouses and farm buildings, new cooperative marketing centers and exchanges, are springing up, showing that the peasantry, which makes up over eighty percent of the country, counts on enjoying the novelty of an era of peace and is setting to work to win its share of the accompanying prosperity.
In internal politics the country has not been so happy. Had it not been for the general increase in prosperity, the propaganda of Raditch, the leader of the Croatian peasants, would undoubtedly have assumed a more anti-dynastic color and received much wider and more aggressive support. But even so it was successful enough to give Raditch a group of about 65 deputies in parliament, the total membership of which is 314. After much debate, the Pashitch government last May agreed to the confirmation of the mandates of the Raditch deputies. By July the latter had come to terms with one wing of the Democrats under Davidovitch, with the Slovenes under the Roman Catholic priest Koroshetz, and with the Bosnian Mohammedans under Spaho, which elements proceeded to overthrow Pashitch and set up a coalition.
Raditch, one of the most interesting figures in European politics, has as his primary characteristic inconsistency. During the war he was an effusive admirer of the Hapsburgs. Lately he has talked menacingly about a Croatian Peasant Republic, though usually in the same breath denying any traitorous designs against King Alexander and sometimes even praising him. He has managed to hold the support of well-to-do tradesmen and politicians in Zagreb even while off in Moscow being entertained by Chicherin. His varying poses have interfered less with his popularity than might be expected, because they have been accepted as unimportant manifestations of a notoriously erratic character, and because they are known to have no real connection with his essential and only unvarying demand--that a federalistic system be substituted for the centralized system of government now in force. To this the Democrats under Davidovitch were willing enough to consent. But they found it difficult to meet Raditch's demand for a special Minister for Croatia, because such action would necessarily be only the first step in the appointment of similar ministers for all the different provinces--Macedonia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro, etc. In such a cabinet the will of Serbia would soon become entirely negatived. Davidovitch, himself a Serb, liked that idea as little as Pashitch would. And while he was willing to give much wider autonomy to local authorities, he wanted some form of decentralization which would not recognize the frontiers of the old historic provinces.
Though anxious for power, Raditch avoided taking his natural share of regular seats in the cabinet. The Democrats were anxious to divide responsibility, and suggested allotting the Croatian Peasant Party four seats. This was acceptable to the King, who stipulated only that the Prime Minister and Raditch should beforehand sign a protocol specifying the terms of their cooperation and laying down a legislative program. One of the conditions advanced by Raditch was that the army should be cut in half. To this the King refused to agree, and the Minister of War resigned his portfolio in protest that the proposal should even have been entertained. Raditch thereupon withdrew his support from the government, and the cabinet fell on October 15. At the moment this is being written, news comes that the crisis has been met by giving Pashitch a mandate to take office until a general election can be held in February, thus justifying his fixed belief that his opponents are so diversified that all he need do when they unite against him is simply to wait until their innate disruptive forces operate to return him once more to power.
But even if Pashitch is victor at the polls an extension of local administrative authority seems bound to come, and would come better from Pashitch than from the opposition. The first necessity of the politically heterogeneous nation that came into being after the war was the establishment of a strong central government capable of whipping dissident elements into line and presenting a firm front to attacks from without. But it cannot be denied that Pashitch pressed the unification process too fast and too far, and that there were not enough trained officials to run the complicated centralized machine which he set up. He now would be wise to concede something, though taking pains not to allow the devolution of authority to be used by ambitious local leaders to keep alive memories of pre-war geographical divisions. If this is done the importance of Raditch will disappear.
If Pashitch has seemed obstinate, Raditch has been obtuse. The Croatian leader is shut up in his historical enclave. He can think only of a federative state on Austro-Hungarian lines. He does not see the impossibility of giving precisely the same autonomy to Slovenia, where nearly every peasant can read, and to Bosnia, where a large percentage are illiterate. Slovenia, again, is compact--one race, one religion--whereas Bosnia has three racial sub-divisions and three religions. Even if Slovenia or Croatia is ready for complete autonomy, Bosnia or Macedonia may need a bureaucracy. Many Croatians fear Serbian imperialism--which does not exist. Many Serbians fear Croatian separatism--which does not exist. There are individual Serbian imperialists and individual Croatian separatists, but the masses do not follow either. Since the Serbians have had more political experience, theirs is the responsibility for showing the lead in conciliation. If they do so, I feel sure they will find sensible men in the Croatian peasant group with whom they can work, and who will forget the pet projects of Raditch in accomplishing the larger task. That is why I say that provided due wisdom is now shown the importance of Raditch will come to an end.
An important aspect of the Raditch movement has been its relation to affairs in Bulgaria, and above all in Macedonia. The connecton between Raditch and the Macedonian komitadji leader Alexandroff, recently assassinated, has not been clear. Alexandroff maintained diplomatic agents in many European capitals and one of his associates told me of his plans to visit the United States this winter to collect funds. Just before his death he was in negotiation with Raditch regarding the organization of Jugoslavia as a loosely federalized state, in which Bulgaria should eventually be merged and in which autonomy should meantime be given Macedonia, Croatia and other component parts. While these negotiations were under way Raditch fled from Zagreb to Vienna, and later went on to Moscow. It seems as though for a moment he dreamed of attempting to cast his Croatian Peasant Party in a communist mould, of persuading Alexandroff to do the same with his komitadji organization, and of then joining forces under the aegis of Moscow to overturn the Pashitch government in Belgrade and Zankoff's military government in Sofia.
In this plan Raditch met two insuperable obstacles. In the first place, however bitter his well-to-do supporters in Zagreb may be against their commercial and political rivals at Belgrade, they are not inclined to support a movement savoring of social revolution. In the second place, the Croatian peasants, though eagerly lapping up Raditch's talk of a peasant republic free from taxes and military service, want nothing to do with the abrogation of personal property rights. Alexandroff, for his part, probably never entertained illusions as to the possibility of following any such course in Macedonia. If he did, he soon found that his peasantry were as little favorable to communism as the peasantry of Croatia. This was the end of the great dream of a rising of the peasants north and south of Serbia to crush the alleged tyrants at Belgrade. Some of Alexandroff's followers, however, had come wholly under the influence of Moscow, and these, when they saw the failure of the Raditch plan, assassinated their former leader. Others say the assassination was planned by the Bulgarian Government in retribution for Alexandroff's dickering with their agrarian and communistic enemies. But the former theory seems far more likely.
Though menaced from time to time along her Russian border, Rumania has maintained peace abroad since her troops relinquished Budapest in 1919 after their overthrow of Bela Kun's communist régime. Internally, though there has been discontent, especially in the former Russian province of Bessarabia and the former Hungarian province of Transylvania, there has been no serious bloodshed.
The Bessarabian problem has already been discussed in FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Vol. II, No. 4, p. 662). It has grown rather less menacing to the peace of Europe during the past few months. The Soviet Government is still intent on forming a "Moldavian Republic" out of the Russian provinces adjoining Bessarabia,--in several of which provinces, by the way, there are only a handful of Moldavians,--the obvious intention being to provoke envy among the Moldavian (Rumanian) inhabitants of Bessarabia, where a vigorous communist propaganda directed from Moscow has been aided by a none too gentle Rumanian administration and by unsettled economic conditions. But the "Moldavian Republic," like other units in the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, would be a paper state; nor are conditions in the regions that would constitute it such as to attract the inhabitants of Bessarabia, even those of them who are opposed to the present régime because of the "state of siege" or unsatisfactory economic conditions. As a matter of fact, Soviet propagandists seem to be devoting less attention to Rumania just now than they did a few months ago, perhaps because (as recently reported from Moscow) they consider Bulgaria and Poland to offer more fruitful fields.
Rumania, though momentarily perturbed by Jugoslavia's willingness to resume diplomatic relations with Russia, has stayed on excellent terms with her two partners in the Little Entente. It will be remembered that just after the armistice there was heated argument between Bucharest and Belgrade regarding the division of the Banat, and "frontier incidents" were of frequent occurrence. The Allied commission handled this problem skilfully, however, and both sides ended by accepting a fair settlement. In December, 1923, a convention was signed between the two countries, according to the terms of which three Rumanian communes with a majority of Jugoslavs were exchanged for a town of some importance inhabited mainly by Rumanians. This regulated the last remnants of the dispute. There now seems every likelihood of continued friendship between the two peoples, whose history has never been marred by armed conflict. The marriage of King Alexander to the daughter of the Rumanian sovereigns was designed to strengthen these good relations and has doubtless served its purpose, though Queen Marie of Jugoslavia has not shown herself as active in identifying herself with the life of her adopted country as her English mother did when she became the wife of Ferdinand of Rumania.
The Rumanian Government is dominated by conservative elements in which a certain military faction is prominent. The granting of fuller rights to the Jews, as to the minority racial groups included within the new frontiers, was not undertaken very willingly, nor have the rights always been fully safeguarded. This has augmented the bad feeling between Rumania and Hungary, as there are many Magyars in Transylvania. But Rumania's title to that region cannot be attacked on the principle of nationality; the compact body of half a million Magyars (the so-called Szeklers) about whom Hungarian publicists talk a good deal inhabit the southeast corner of Transylvania and could not have been left to Hungary unless the far greater number of inhabitants in all the intervening country, who are preponderantly Rumanian, were retained under the Hungarian yoke. In view of her sound ethnic claims, Rumania would have done well to pay a bit more attention to keeping her record scrupulously clear as regards fair treatment of the Magyar groups inevitably coming under her sovereignty, thus making certain that Budapest should have no shadow of legitimate complaint regarding the execution of the peace settlement. In general, the lot of the Rumanian peasantry has been improved since the war, and when (as seems inevitable) the Transylvanians secure fuller participation in the government at Bucharest no doubt what discontent has been evident in that province will tend to disappear. A fuller execution of the law dividing up the large estates will also benefit the peasants throughout the country.
In the Dobrudja Rumania has a dispute with Bulgaria about which little has been heard so far but which may easily become ugly. The Dobrudja is the bare and monotonous region stretching south from the mouths of the Danube and presenting to the Black Sea a marshy and inhospitable coast. The southern part of the Dobrudja, with a population about equally divided between Rumanians, Bulgars and Turks, was alotted Rumania in 1913 following Bulgaria's defeat in the Second Balkan War. A difference has now arisen over the property of its inhabitants who are of Bulgarian blood. Bulgaria asserts that the new Rumanian authorities are intent on seizing the property of the Bulgarian peasants and that they are using as an excuse the fact that the latter are unable to produce freehold papers dating from the time when Bulgaria (including this part of the Dobrudja) obtained freedom from the Turks, nearly half a century ago. Apparently the Bulgarian Government used to admit the fact of undisputed possession at the time of independence as proof of land ownership, and no title deeds were ever issued. Bulgaria thinks it unfair that peasants unable to produce title deeds which were never considered necessary should now be dispossessed in favor of Rumanian settlers coming from north of the Danube; and failing a direct settlement the government intends bringing the dispute before the League of Nations as a violation of minority rights guaranteed in the treaties of peace.
The American Government has also had its difficulties with Rumania, resulting in the recent recall of the American Minister from Bucharest to report to the State Department on a Rumanian mining law which in some of its provisions seemed to indicate a hostile feeling toward foreign enterprise. In the effort to retrieve Rumania's vast petroleum resources from the foreign concessionaire, this law required that more than sixty percent of the stock and more than two-thirds of the personnel of foreign companies desiring to continue doing business in Rumania must be Rumanian. Our Government contended that many legitimate foreign mining and oil companies would in consequence be forced out of business. There were other American grievances, such as the passage by the Rumanian Government of legislative acts which made it almost impossible for foreign creditors of Rumanian citizens to collect their debts, even though they might have a legal judgment and their debtors were solvent. Latest reports are that the Rumanian Government is showing a more conciliatory attitude than it did last spring, and that the American Minister at Bucharest will shortly renew his efforts to prove to the Liberal Government now in undisputed control that Rumanian prosperity and economic independence will best be served not by driving out foreign capital and foreign enterprise but by utilizing them under restrictions universally recognized as just and proper.
The name "Liberals" as applied to the political followers of the Bratianu brothers is rather misleading, as their policy is frankly reactionary in comparison with the programs of the more important opposition groups. The latter are unable to come together for concerted action, even on the grave financial difficulties which in ordinary circumstances might be expected to make it impossible for the present government to remain in office. Last spring the Peasant Party and the Transylvanians came to an understanding which for a time seemed to threaten the supremacy of the Bratianus, but disagreements arose and it now is likely that the Liberal Party will remain in power at least until the end of the present session of parliament.
A word about the present status of the Little Entente. Under the skilful guidance of Dr. Benes, the Czechoslovak Minister of Foreign Affairs, this alliance between Rumania, Jugoslavia and Czechoslovakia has been a factor in affairs of general European moment. Its raison d'être, however, is a comparatively limited one. At the end of the war the three Danubian states which had profited by the break-up of Austria-Hungary found themselves in a most precarious relation towards their ex-enemies. They realized that they must stand together, or fall prey to combinations made against each of them in turn. The Little Entente's object was the preservation of the peace treaties intact, and in particular the prevention of attempts to restore the Hapsburgs to power either at Budapest or Vienna.
By the terms of the Little Entente each member state is left free to determine its own attitude toward Russia. When the Democrat cabinet came to power in Jugoslavia last summer the new Minister of Foreign Affairs took pains to renew his acquaintance with his Czechoslovak and Rumanian colleagues, and following a series of conferences with them during the last week in August announced his intention to keep intact and strengthen the Little Entente. The Little Entente must, indeed, have the support of any present Jugoslav cabinet, of whatever party. But towards Russia the new Jugoslav Government showed a more conciliatory attitude than had previously been adopted by M. Pashitch. The agreement which it was proposed to sign with Moscow was purely economic, however; and as the pre-war economic relations of Russia and Serbia were nil, the treaty, even if put into effect at a later date, need not be expected to produce any great alteration in the status of the Little Entente. Rumania, who is on tenter-hooks over Russian propaganda in Bessarabia, has vigorously urged Jugoslavia against any sort of dealings with Moscow. But she cannot go further than argument, and when M. Davidovitch announced his intention of opening negotiations with the Soviet Government the Bucharest papers hastened to point out that the actions of Jugoslavia were after all of no concern to Rumania, who was proclaimed as being quite content as long as Russian troops refrained from crossing the Dniester.
The theory that the Little Entente is at the beck and call of France has been rather over-played. A year ago the British and German press were full of angry denunciations of what was pictured as a barefaced attempt by France to utilize the Little Entente nations in her supposed schemes for the military domination of Europe. The treaty negotiated between Czechoslovakia and France in the closing days of 1923 was seen as the first of a series of similar agreements which would end by France becoming dominant at Bucharest and Belgrade as well as at Prague. Italy was particularly irritated at the prospect. That it induced moderation in Mussolini is shown by the fact that the next meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the three member states, held in Belgrade on January 10, 1924, witnessed the collapse of the French project for a close formal alliance with the Little Entente, and that soon thereafter the Italian treaty with Jugoslavia was consummated. The truth is that the interests of the Little Entente states in regard to France, just as in regard to Russia, are by no means identical. In so far as France will assist them to keep Vienna and Budapest in order they will work with her and support her in her somewhat similar difficulties with Berlin. But economically their interests are not those of France, and even if Jugoslavia and Rumania now proceed (as seems likely) to make individual economic or political alliances with France, it will not be correct to say that the Little Entente, as such, is a French catspaw.
Several of the more important problems facing Bulgaria on her different frontiers have already been discussed. Some idea has also been given of the complexity of the situation in Macedonia, where the activities of bands of Bulgarian sympathizers have several times brought the Jugoslav Government to the verge of launching a military demonstration which, once started, might easily have sucked in Bulgaria, loath as its government would be to risk new conflicts in its present undermined and dispirited condition.
Just before the Bulgarian military overthrew Premier Stambuliski in 1923 signs of a Serbo-Bulgar rapproachement gave promise of a better era in the Balkans. Stambuliski's murder, precipitated as it was by his advocacy of a Pan-Jugoslav federation, reawakened misgivings in the minds of Bulgaria's neighbors, and in Macedonia itself the bands which the peasant premier had held more or less in hand began new aggressions which tried the patience of Belgrade and which the new Zankoff Government at Sofia was powerless to control. The relations of Zankoff and his colleagues with the revolutionary Macedonians were peculiar. While secretly blessing Alexandroff's effort to maintain Bulgarian nationalistic feeling in Macedonia at fever heat, they wished to be free to meet complaints from Belgrade by saying that trouble in Serbian Macedonia was a domestic matter for Jugoslavia to adjust as best she would, and that while they in Sofia were of course distressed to hear of it they categorically disclaimed any part in fomenting it. Alexandroff has now been assassinated by communist sympathizers who were angered by his refusal to put the Macedonian revolutionary organization at the disposal of Moscow for a country-wide communist rising. The Zankoff Government, with one eye cocked at Belgrade, is under the necessity of speaking publicly of the murder of Alexandroff as a good riddance, whereas actually they consider him a patriot and a martyr. His service to them has indeed been greater than he knew, for his assassination has angered the peasants against the communists and made impossible, for the moment at any rate, the rising against the present régime which seemed inevitable three months ago.
It has been claimed that the communist peril in Bulgaria was drummed up by Zankoff in the hope of securing a remission of certain disarmament and reparation provisions of the peace settlement. That was not the impression I received in Sofia. The government naturally seized on the communist propaganda to buttress up their argument that Bulgaria needs to be allowed a larger army to maintain domestic order. But they did not create that propaganda; nor could they control it, until the murder of Alexandroff threw Moscow and all its works into disfavor.
Thanks to skilful representation at Angora, Bulgaria has been able to arrange better relations with her late allies the Turks than have most of the other states of southeast Europe. When she deals with Greece, however, she has always before her the hope that ere long the Powers who shut her off from the Aegean may relent and restore to her a port, or at least fulfil their undertaking to secure her proper railway egress to the Aegean. Any transfer of territory would of course be done at the expense of Greece, who now holds Western Thrace. No love is therefore wasted between Sofia and Athens, and negotiations which on several occasions have been begun for Bulgaria to enjoy commercial rights in some Aegean port (for example Kavalla or Dedeagach) similar to those enjoyed by Jugoslavia at Saloniki, have proved abortive.
Bulgaria's role now must be one of peace. Her neighbors have not forgotten the events that began that night in 1913 when the Bulgarian troops turned suddenly on their Serbian allies in the hope of annexing by force of arms the territorial prizes accruing from the Balkan War which had proved difficult to secure by negotiation; nor have they forgotten the heart-breaking negotiations of 1915 and 1916 between Sofia and London and Paris, and their own frantic efforts to make the gullible British and French agents realize that Tsar Ferdinand, for all his polite declarations, had already determined to cast in Bulgaria's lot with the Turks and the Central Empires. If Bulgaria's neighbors are wrong in thinking of the Zankoff Government as merely a stalking horse for a revived and aggressive Bulgarian nationalism they can only be shown their error by an exhibition on Bulgaria's part of unceasing sincerity and peacefulness. That is Bulgaria's retribution for having guessed wrong in the days when the lines were drawn in Europe and two great groups of powers were bidding against each other for her favor.
Whatever sense of national unity pervades the inhabitants of the rocky mountains, low-lying coastal marshes and baked river beds of Albania is sprung from the necessity of their struggling continually to keep out invaders who would annex this or that district, rather than from strong racial, religious or cultural bonds. In Albania such bonds are indeed far from strong (apart from that of language, which is however spoken in a variety of dialects), as is shown by the wars between tribes and sects which are usually in progress whenever some external danger does not compel them momentarily to close their ranks. The history of the Albanian tribes since they ceased to be under Turkish rule does indeed seem to authorize them to look on every neighbor as a potential enemy and on the promises of the chancelleries of the Great Powers as worthless even before uttered. Nevertheless, it is this feeling of insecurity which in part at least is responsible for their remaining a nation in even the rather limited sense which is true at present.
At the instance of Austria, Albania was given independent statehood at the London Conference of 1913, after the First Balkan War. There followed the phantom reign of William of Wied, who fled the country in September, 1914, when the Powers who had placed him on his uneasy throne found more important things to occupy them than the disputes of the Albanian clans. After the war the Albanian delegates who appeared at Paris secured promises for the continued territorial integrity of their country. This was no mean feat. In the north the Jugoslavs claimed Scutari, which would furnish a convenient Adriatic terminus for a railway from Old Serbia; in the south Greece claimed Northern Epirus, and gave the claim a showing of plausibility by putting down as Greeks the inhabitants of that district who belong to the Greek Orthodox Church; and Italy had landed troops at Valona and pressed her occupation inland over a wide radius. In 1920 the Italian troops were forced to withdraw from all except Valona proper, after several unfortunate engagements with the Albanian tribesmen. But although since that time Albania's territorial integrity has been maintained, there have been rumors of various hostile designs in which Italy has usually been credited with playing the leading role. There is ground for believing, for example, that about a year ago Mussolini reopened with Jugoslavia the proposal to divide Albania along the lines discussed at Paris (a proposal then rejected by Jugoslavia), except that under the new plan Greece (who has awakened Italian dislike as a probable trade competitor in the Levant) was not to profit from the division. Simultaneously Mussolini was to give his blessing to the seizure of Saloniki by Jugoslavia, a proceeding which would leave Greece in quite a minor position. This summer M. Nintchitch, the Jugoslav Minister of Foreign Affairs, gave me explicit assurances that no such projects were being entertained by his government, and that the present arrangement in Saloniki is satisfactory. All reasonable Jugoslav statesmen, in fact, were utterly opposed to the Mussolini scheme, which almost surely would have resulted in a general outburst of fighting throughout the Danubian and Balkan countries. In this stand they doubtless had the heartfelt support of their Czechoslovak colleagues. The League of Nations, of which Albania is a member, may also be credited with having acted as a deterrent factor. The tale of the proposal is recorded here more as a reminder of the temptations which would be offered by a continuation of Albania's present uncertain and disturbed condition than as the basis of an attack on the policy of either Italy or Jugoslavia.
As a matter of fact, a case for the partition of Albania has been made out by a number of observers, not all of whom are propagandists for one or other of the possible beneficiary states. In 1917 Dr. Rizoff, then Bulgarian Minister at Berlin, published an argument for assigning southern Albania to Greece, northeastern Albania to Serbia, and constituting central Albania, which is chiefly Mohammedan, into a neutral autonomous region. Others have favored a continuation of Albanian independence in the form of a tribal confederation. Advocates of this plan foresee a continued reluctance on the part of the various Albanian tribes to submit to the authority of a central government at Tirana, and draw a parallel, which is hardly justified by the facts, between the success of the Swiss Confederation and the success which they hope would attend the introduction of a similar arrangement in Albania. The revolution of last summer indicated how unstable things are at present in Albania. This condition does not suit the wishes of England and France, who would dislike intensely to lose the influence which they at present exercise in Balkan politics on account of their indirect control over Albania's future, any more than it pleases Jugoslavia and Greece, who profess to see in Albanian disorders a constant threat to their own security and the integrity of their frontiers. A way to avoid partition (which would perpetuate the old disputes and probably eventually bring war) might be found in the incorporation of Albania in the federation between Jugoslavia and Bulgaria which some day, it is to be hoped, will solve the chief problem of the Balkans.
The Greek people have had a difficult time deciding under what form of government they wish to live. They have now chosen that Greece is to be a republic, and there is no indication that they will again change their minds.
The dispute between royalists and republicans has marred the domestic peace of Greece and wrecked her international policy ever since the 1915 Venizelist coup d'état which drove King Constantine into exile, established Venizelos at Athens, and in due time led to his appearance at the Paris Peace Conference as Greece's accredited representative. In Paris Venizelos became the most popular of any of the delegates from the smaller states, and proved the most successfully acquisitive of them all. Not even an outline can be given here of the intrigues which led Constantine (following the political defeat of Venizelos late in 1920) to undertake a new war with Turkey in the effort to enforce the execution of the Treaty of Sèvres. The plebiscite which restored Constantine to the throne, though it undoubtedly registered the will of the Greek people at that time, was never accepted by Britain and France, nor by the United States. A military catastrophe followed the desertion of Greece by the same European statesmen who had urged her into the adventure in Asia Minor. Constantine was again expelled, this time for good, and died in Palermo, January 11, 1923. George, who became King on his father's abdication, was tolerated for a time, but on December 19 quit Athens "on leave of absence" at the demand of the Officers' Union. The wisdom of his action was confirmed at the national plebiscite on April 13, 1924, as a result of which Greece definitely became a republic. Venizelos, for his part, seems to have lost less of his hold on the affections of Greece than seemed likely immediately after his signature of the Treaty of Lausanne, which swept away much of the grandiose Greater Hellas which he had constructed at Paris, and though he found he had not the physical strength to retain the personal direction of the government his friends are still in the saddle at Athens, with every prospect of remaining there.
As might be expected, these political convulsions, most of them accompanied by fighting and assassinations, and one of them by a wholesale "execution" of former royalist cabinet officers, have left their mark in Greece today. There are signs, however, that the blood feuds of the past few years are gradually being forgotten and that the country is getting forward towards some degree of political stability and strength. No little credit for this is to be given certain of the more moderate adherents of the former Glücksburg dynasty, who are working quietly to secure the whole-hearted acceptance of the present régime by all the former monarchists. They know that only through seas of blood could they bring back King George (for whom, in any case, they have little personal enthusiasm), and that even if they succeeded Greece would meanwhile have vanished.
Paradoxically enough, progress is being more helped than hindered by the all but overwhelming influx of refugees from Asia Minor. For the moment, it is true, food is expensive, housing in the cities is very short, social conditions are upset, and the number of those needing state aid (food, medicine, seed, implements, etc.) lays a terrific burden on the resources of the government; but to compensate for this many sparsely populated districts are being settled with hard-working agricultural colonists, and industries which the Greeks of Asia Minor used to carry on at great profit in their old homes have been transferred to Greece proper. Commercial activity is meanwhile increasing. The Greeks have always been great traders. Before the war the Greek merchant marine totaled about a million tons. War losses cut the tonnage to less than a third of that figure, but today it again reaches nearly a million tons and the Piraeus has become the third mercantile port of the Mediterranean, ranking only after Marseilles and Genoa. The plans for enlarging the port at the Piraeus were shown me last summer. When I heard that a million passengers had been disembarked there during the preceding twelve months, and when I compared its animation with the all but deserted aspect of Constantinople and Smyrna, I realized its great future and that if the Turks hope ever to restore their ports so that they can again compete for the Levantine trade they will have to change very radically their present system of red tape, discrimination and interminable delay.
The refugees have brought with them, in addition both to their agricultural and manufacturing arts and their demands for physical relief, a social problem which last summer assumed threatening proportions. Among them there is a considerable radical element, chiefly Armenian and Circassian, which naturally is looked upon with little favor by the already distracted Greek authorities. The refugees have settled mainly in and about Saloniki, the crowded cities and arid hills of Old Greece promising less of a reward for their toil than the war-worn but fertile plains of Western Thrace and Macedonia. Those were precisely the regions where the Greek Government least wanted radicals to show themselves, and after the discovery of several intrigues between refugees and communist Macedonian leaders they began shipping all suspects down to the Peloponnesus where they could not cause trouble. It seemed ruthless to uproot several thousand Armenians and others who had just commenced cultivating their new Macedonian holdings, and transplant them to still a new scene, but in view of the magnitude of the whole refugee problem and the difficulties of the Greek position in all the lands north of the Aegean the Greek Government cannot be blamed for acting more arbitrarily and heartlessly than might be considered proper in normal times. At any rate, America, despite her magnificent private charity, is not in a position to throw the first stone.
The friction developed between Greece and Turkey over the exchange of populations provided for in the Treaty of Lausanne has been less than anticipated. The Mixed Commission has been defied on several occasions by Mustapha Kemal; in particular, their decision that Greeks living in Constantinople before October 30, 1918, were not subject to the exchange arrangement and could not be expelled has not been accepted by the Turks, who in October proceeded to the promiscuous arrest of all Greeks found in Constantinople and stated that they intended to deport them to Greece forthwith. In view of the protests of the Mixed Commission, however, and following the appeal of the Greek Government to the League of Nations, numbers of the arrested Greeks were released and the dispute now seems in way of being settled without violence and without a break in Graeco-Turkish relations. A hopeful note has recently been introduced into these relations by the commencement of informal discussions between the two governments regarding the possibility of arranging a "naval holiday." A wholesome desire to cultivate better relations with Turkey is noticeable in Athens, and if the exchange of populations can be carried through without too much bad feeling there might really be a chance for the naval proposal, in which the influence of M. Politis is discernible.
The Balkan equilibrium, being altogether physical, is very sensitive. It is not based on moral factors; live and let live has never been a Balkan rule. To attain the happy condition where each recognizes his neighbor's rights the passage of time is necessary,--time, bringing not only new generations who have not suffered outrageously in the violence of recent years, but also better economic conditions, more general prosperity, more general education. It is far from a forlornly hopeless outlook. The Balkans are not hopeless. Following five centuries of subjugation the Balkan peoples have had only half a century of freedom for experiment in nationhood,--a half-century, too, which has been distracted by the plots and counter-plots of foreign statesmen who professed altruistic friendship but who saw in the lesser European states merely useful pawns in a larger game. If the last fifty years of almost unbroken Balkan war could now be crowned with even ten years of real peace a new picture would not be slow to appear on the old botched and disreputable canvas. It is encouraging that today there seems less likelihood of new armed conflict than at any time since the armistice.