The political alignment of the great powers prior to the war was as follows: On the one side was the Triple Alliance, including Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy; while on the other was the Triple Entente, comprising Great Britain, France and Russia. As the event proved, the uncertain element in this line-up was Italy, which had a real grievance against Austria in the latter’s possession of the former Italian territory known as the Trentino, and which was not consulted by Germany and Austria prior to the outbreak of hostilities. She therefore declined to enter the war as a member of the Triple Alliance, but was later found in the field against Austria, and thenceforth rendered powerful aid to the cause of “the Allies,” as the members of the Triple Entente and their supporters soon came to be known.
It was in the Balkans, long regarded as the zone of danger to European peace, that the war-clouds gathered and darkened rapidly. For generations Austria and Russia had struggled diplomatically for the control of Balkan seaports, with the Balkan states acting as buffers in the diplomatic strife. Servia acted as a bar to Austria’s commercial route to the AEgean, by way of the Sanjak of Novi Bazar to Saloniki, while Russia was Servia’s great ally and stood stoutly behind the little Slav kingdom in its opposition to Austrian aggression.
AMBITIONS OF SERVIA
Then came the recent Balkan Wars, and their outcome was viewed with alarm. Austria uneasily watched the approach of Servia to the Adriatic and the Aegean. The formation of the new new autonomous state of Albania, between Servia and the Adriatic, was all that prevented Austria from attacking Servia during that crisis. The terms of peace left the situation, as it concerned Austria and Russia, practically as it had been. Austria made no further progress toward the sea, and Russia remained the ally of Servia. Bulgaria had failed in its efforts to reach Salonica.