LETTERS ON THE BALKANS IN 1914.
THE BULGARIAN AND SERBIAN TREATY BEFORE THE WAR OF 1912.
November 2nd, 1914.
Great Britain declared war on Germany because of a broken treaty, and by so doing has gained eternal honour. In 1913 Bulgaria was forced into a war with Serbia because of a broken treaty. Are the treaties of Great Powers more sacred than the treaties between small nations ? Since the Treaty of Berlin, that crowning iniquity of modern European statesmanship, the freedom of small nationalities has been treated as of little importance, and the promises made to them of no account. Military power and the greed of territory have brooded over the councils of Europe. When Germany annexed Alsace and Lorraine, a future war between France and Germany became a certainty. If the Treaty of San Stefano had not been interfered with, a large Bulgaria would have proved the value of what Mr. Gladstone called " the free breasts of a free people " as a bulwark against the aggression even of more powerful neighbours. When the Treaty of Berlin put back the Christian population of Macedonia, almost entirely Bulgarian, under the Turkish yoke, and divided the remnant of the Bulgarian race into two small States, it once more placed the Balkans at the mercy and intrigues of its two powerful neighbours, and rendered war between Austria and Russia merely a matter of time and opportunity. Great Britain, who took the leading part in that Treaty, incurred a heavy responsibility in the separation of the Bulgarian race, a responsibility which rests to this day more heavily on her than on any other Power in Europe.
The war in the Balkan States against Turkey commenced as a war of liberation ; it ended as a war of subjugation. Before that war commenced a definite treaty was made and signed between Serbia and Bulgaria. That treaty divided Macedonia into two portions. The larger southern and eastern portion was acknowledged to be rightly Bulgarian, an undisputed zone. The smaller north-western portion, a disputed zone, was left to be settled after 'the war, with the proviso that if Serbia and Bulgaria could not come to an amicable settlement, it was to be submitted to the arbitration of the Tsar of Russia. Before the second war commenced Serbia had shown her determination not to abide by this treaty, by closing Bulgarian schools, by arresting Bulgarians, by expelling Bulgarian priests and bishops. When the Russian Minister at Belgrade, the late Monsieur Hartwig, before the second war, was asked to use his influence to bring together Serbia and Bulgaria, in the interest of the Balkan States, he blurted out: "I care nothing for the Balkan States ; I am working for my country. Serbia must be strong. Bulgaria has been coquetting with Austria, and cannot be trusted. Bulgaria must give way all along the line." Such were the lines on which Russian diplomacy was conducted during the second war. Roumania was permitted to invade Bulgaria without a particle of justification, and to seize from her the richest portion of her territory, the Dobrudja, not only in defiance of her national rights, but in flagrant defiance of a solemn agreement entered into at Petrograd, in which all the Ambassadors took part, the ink of which was scarcely dry. The Treaty of Bucharest was wrung from Bulgaria bleeding, deserted, betrayed, and was called a peace. A peace founded on two broken treaties. The Concert of Europe, founded, I presume, on the Treaty of Berlin, has of recent years been chiefly occupied in breaking it. Its labours have ever beenmarked by the defeat of all straightforward diplomacy by the opposing intrigues and the rival ambitions of Powers armed to the teeth. Its last futile breath was used before the Balkan War in the declaration that no matter what the issue of the war might be, neither side would be allowed to reap the fruits of victory in any territorial gain.
The Concert filled their waste paper basket of Europe with the fragments of broken treaties—the Treaty of Berlin torn up by Austria, by Italy, by Roumania, and by the Balkan States ; the treaty made between Serbia and Bulgaria before the war with Turkey ; the solemn agreement made between Roumania and Bulgaria at Petrograd. Little wonder that the Treaty of London followed the others into the waste-paper basket, torn in twain ! Little wonder that Turkey regarded the strongly worded protests of the Powers with the contempt which they deserved ! But, in all seriousness, I ask : Has the world ever seen a more humiliating spectacle ?
Wordy, empty protests from the Powers called Great. The bravest, most liberty-loving, most progressive, most tolerant race in the Balkan Peninsula attacked by her treacherous allies, aided by a quondam friend. Deserted by the great Slav Power, compelled to demobilise, and thus left defenceless, friendless, with her wounds still gaping, to treat as best she could with her old enemy, Turkey, to secure for herself some few fragments of the Treaty of London, so insolently torn up and flung in the face of Europe. The Powers of Europe stood by and watched. To reap man sows. That which he sows he reaps. The Concert of Europe has sown, now it reaps.— Yours, etc.,
St. Patrick's Orphanage,
23, Rue Gladstone,