To-day the Balkan nations are the pawns of the Great Powers who are directly responsible for the deplorable conditions that now exist among them. Yet in a very real sense their present tragic situation is the nemesis of the political sins of the Balkan nations themselves. These sins are those of all undeveloped political communities. Even the most highly civilized nations may temporarily fall under their sway, and then civilization reverts to barbarism, as the terrible condition of Europe to-day actually demonstrates. But the acute disease from which Europe suffers is more or less chronic in the Balkans, where elemental human nature has never been thoroughly disciplined and chastened in the school of peaceful political life and experience. Each for himself without regard to others or even without thought of a future day of reckoning seems to be the maxim of national conduct among the Balkan peoples. The spirit of strife and division possesses them; they are dominated by the uncontrolled instinct of national egoism and greed. The second Balkan War, alike in its origin, course, and conclusion, was a bald exhibition of the play of these primitive and hateful passions.
The history of the world, which is also the high tribunal of the world, proves that no nation can with impunity ignore the rights of other nations or repudiate the ideal of a common good or defy the rule of righteousness by which political communities achieve it—justice, moderation, and the spirit of hopeful and unwearying conciliation. In their war against Turkey in 1912 the Balkan nations, for the first time in history, laid aside their mutual antagonisms and co-operated in a common cause. This union and concord marked at least the beginning of political wisdom. And it was vindicated, if ever any policy was vindicated, by the surprise and splendor of the results.
My hope for the Balkan nations is that they may return to this path from which they were too easily diverted in 1913. They must learn, while asserting each its own interests and advancing each its own welfare, to pay scrupulous regard to the rights and just claims of others and to co-operate wisely for the common good in a spirit of mutual confidence and good will. This high policy, as expedient as it is sound, was to a considerable extent embodied in the leadership of Venizelos and Pashitch and Gueshoff. And where there is a leader with vision the people in the end will follow him. May the final settlement of the European War put no unnecessary obstacle in the way of the normal political development of all the Balkan Nations!