The new Servia which emerged from the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 was an object of anxiety and even of alarm to the statesmen of Vienna and Buda-Pesth. The racial and national aspirations already astir among the South Slavs of the Dual Monarchy were quickened and intensified by the great victories won by their Servian brethren over both Turks and Bulgarians and by the spectacle of the territorial aggrandizement which accrued from those victories to the independent Kingdom of Servia. Might not this Greater Servia prove a magnet to draw the kindred Slavs of Bosnia, Herzegovina, Dalmatia, and Croatia away from their allegiance to an alien empire? The diplomacy of Vienna had indeed succeeded in excluding Servia from the Adriatic but it had neither prevented its territorial aggrandizement nor blocked its access to the Aegean.
Access to the Aegean was not, however, as serious a matter as access to the Adriatic. Yet the expansion of Servia to the south over the Macedonian territory she had wrested from Turkey, as legalized in the Treaty of Bukarest, nullified the Austro-Hungarian dream of expansion through Novi Bazar and Macedonia to the Aegean and the development from Saloniki as a base of a great and profitable commerce with all the Near and Middle East.
Here were the conditions of a national tragedy. They have developed into a great international war, the greatest and most terrible ever waged on this planet.
It may be worth while in concluding to note the relations of the Balkan belligerents of 1912-1913 to the two groups of belligerents in the present world-conflict.
The nemesis of the treaties of London and Bukarest and the fear of the Great Powers pursue the Balkan nations and determine their alignments. The declaration of war by Austria-Hungary against Servia, which started the present cataclysm, fixed the enemy status of Servia and also Montenegro. The good relations long subsisting between Emperor William and the Porte were a guarantee to the Central Powers of the support of Turkey, which quickly declared in their favor. The desire of avenging the injury done her by the treaty of Bukarest and the prospect of territorial aggrandizement at the expense of her sister Slav nation on the west drew Bulgaria (which was influenced also by the victories of the Germanic forces) into the same group in company with Turkey, her enemy in both the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. Bulgaria's opportunity for revenge soon arrived. It was the Bulgarian army, in cooperation with the Austro-German forces, that overran Servia and Montenegro and drove the national armies beyond their own boundaries into foreign territory. If the fortunes of war turn and the Entente Powers get the upper hand in the Balkans, these expelled armies of Servia and Montenegro, who after rest and reorganization and re-equipping in Corfu have this summer been transported by France and England to Saloniki, may have the satisfaction of devastating the territory of the sister Slav state of Bulgaria, quite in the divisive and internecine spirit of all Balkan history. The fate and future of Bulgaria, Servia, and Montenegro now depend on the issue of the great European conflict. The same thing is true of Turkey, into which meanwhile Russian forces, traversing the Caucasus, have driven a dangerous wedge through Armenia towards Mesopotamia. Roumania has thus far maintained the policy of neutrality to which she adhered so successfully in the first Balkan war - a policy which in view of her geographical situation, with Bulgaria to the south, Russia to the north, and Austria-Hungary to the west, she cannot safely abandon till fortune has declared more decisively for one or the other group of belligerents. The only remaining party to the Balkan Wars is Greece, and the situation of Greece, though not tragic like that of Servia, must be exceedingly humiliating to the Greek nation and to the whole Hellenic race.
When the war broke out, Mr. Venizelos was still prime minister of Greece. His policy was to go loyally to the assistance of Servia, as required by the treaty between the two countries; to defend New Greece against Bulgaria, to whom, however, he was ready to make some concessions on the basis of a quid pro quo; and to join and co-operate actively with the Entente Powers on the assurance of receiving territorial compensation in Asia Minor. King Constantine, on the other hand, seems to have held that the war of the Great Powers in the Balkans practically abrogated the treaty between Greece and Servia and that, in any event, Greek resistance to the Central Powers was useless. The positive programme of the King was to maintain neutrality between the two groups of belligerents and at the same time to keep the Greek army mobilized. Between these two policies the Greek nation wavered and hesitated; but the King, who enjoyed the complete confidence of the general staff, had his way and the cabinet of Mr. Venizelos was replaced by another in sympathy with the policy of the neutrality of Greece and the mobilization of the Greek army.