The Balkans eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 396 pages of information about The Balkans.

Rumania’s claims to Transylvania are not of an historical nature.  They are founded upon the numerical superiority of the subject Rumanians in Transylvania, that is upon the ‘principle of nationality’, and are morally strengthened by the treatment the Transylvanians suffer at the hands of the Magyars.  By its passivity, however, the Rumanian Government has sacrificed the prime factor of the ‘principle of nationality’ to the attainment of an object in itself subordinate to that factor; that is, it has sacrificed the ‘people’ in order to make more sure of the ‘land’.  In this way the Rumanian Government has entered upon a policy of acquisition; a policy which Rumania is too weak to pursue save under the patronage of one or a group of great powers; a policy unfortunate inasmuch as it will deprive her of freedom of action in her external politics.  Her policy will, in its consequences, certainly react to the detriment of the position acquired by the country two years ago, when independent action made her arbiter not only among the smaller Balkan States, but also among those and her late suzerain, Turkey.

Such, indeed, must inevitably be the fate of Balkan politics in general.  Passing from Turkish domination to nominal Turkish suzerainty, and thence to independence within the sphere of influence of a power or group of powers, this gradual emancipation of the states of south-eastern Europe found its highest expression in the Balkan League.  The war against Turkey was in effect a rebellion against the political tutelage of the powers.  But this emancipation was short-lived.  By their greed the Balkan States again opened up a way to the intrusion of foreign diplomacy, and even, as we now see, of foreign troops.  The first Balkan war marked the zenith of Balkan political emancipation; the second Balkan war was the first act in the tragic debacle out of which the present situation developed.  The interval between August 1913 (Peace of Bucarest) and August 1914 was merely an armistice during which Bulgaria and Turkey recovered their breath, and German and Austrian diplomacy had time to find a pretext for war on its own account.

’Exhausted but not vanquished we have had to furl our glorious standards in order to await better days,’ said Ferdinand of Bulgaria to his soldiers after the conclusion of the Peace of Bucarest; and Budapest, Vienna, and Berlin have no doubt done their best to keep this spirit of revenge alive and to prevent a renascence of the Balkan Alliance.  They have succeeded.  They have done more:  they have succeeded in causing the ’principle of nationality’—­that idea which involves the disruption of Austria—­to be stifled by the very people whom it was meant to save.  For whilst the German peoples are united in this conflict, the majority of the southern Slavs, in fighting the German battles, are fighting to perpetuate the political servitude of the subject races of Austria-Hungary.

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The Balkans from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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