Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Time Travel to Versailles: December 1912

The Versailles Journal - December 1912

"Unsettling times

The Balkan question catches more than never in our times the attention of the whole world and it stretches out even more every day, extending until anxiety. It's what the universe feels; it's what we all feel: that in a few days it will take such a turn that everyone will know if the outcome is peace or war.

The situations, like we have already expressed it before, are particularly delicate and the conference that will open between the belligerents will come good only with the condition that the allies will not let themselves put off their road and their agreements and that they will firmly rule out every discussion that could divide them.

Europe finds itself divided in two camps.

In the first place, and more favorable to the allies, is the one of the Triple-Entente, which estimates that it merited with its perseverance, its energy, its patriotism and finally its success all the gain of the advantages reclaimed, which is the division among themselves, following a programme established in advance, of the territories conquered, which they had to take in accordance to the ethnic rights its three members possessed. The Triple-Entente finds, with reason and without a doubt, that it would be much better to leave to the Balkan states themselves, currently in a fast progress process, the care of civilizing those territories where their brothers of race already live than leave them to Turkey which, in 500 years of domination didn't know what to do in that respect and made them even more impoverished and barbarian than they were before the conquest.

The other camp is the one of the Triplice. We have said it already how Germany and Austria were surprised, like many others for that matter, by the success of the allies and that the campaign that is about to end would have as a consequence, if the demands of the winners will be satisfied, the complete reversal until further notice of the great expectations that they based on the progress of Austria, avant-garde of Germanism towards the Aegean Sea.

This one in particular, which held for a long time Serbia under its influence and made an effort of imposing its own economic decisions, sees slipping away the domination that it dreamed to exert over its little neighbor, in the same time as it notices how the Thessaloniki route closes down from the political, if not economic, point of view. Austria is afraid that the neighborhood and the example of a Serbia emancipated from the guardianship that it wanted to impose will constitute both a dreaded danger against the solidity of the Habsburg Empire as well as a constant cause of allurement for the many Slavic populations that it still keeps under its power.

In these circumstances, after giving courage to the numerous Turks set behind their formidable lines, Austria is arming itself in the long run at an incredible rate, which makes us wonder if it doesn't make such a sacrifice, if it borrows for example at 7,5% from America, simply and exclusively to stop Serbia from possessing other things in the Adriatic Sea than a merchant port, or rather to make up for the lost ground, deprive the Serbs of the benefit of their victories and take the profit, by enslaving them economically and politically at the same time, just like before.

If that is the way it is, we can firmly say that the peace in Europe is compromised. Germany, even if it followed until now a pacifying policy, at least in appearance, will fatally stand aside Austria and then we can all guess the rest: a general conflagration will follow.

However, the peace cause is not yet lost forever. One of the Triplices' nations doesn't have reasons for wishing the war; it has some serious motives to wanting to avoid it. As well as not wanting to run the risk of making itself odious to the Balkan peoples and to many others by taking sides against the same principle from where it drew its emancipation and its own resurrection, it cannot want to play into the hands of the Opposite Cursed Ally either, against its own pretentions over a part of Adriatic coast. Therefore it stays a peace factor in the circumstance and on the side of Triplice, just like on the opposite side France and England, just like Russia itself, not having other interest but to see the justice triumphing and not seeing either Constantinople or the Balkan Peninsula in the hands of such formidable powers like Germany or Austria.

Also, it is said that the belligerents' conference in London will be followed by another one in Paris. If this will take place in order to approve and consecrate the works of the first one it would be fine, but if it is because an accord couldn't be reached between the parties then all this becomes serious, taking into account that on the other hand an accord between the Europe powers doesn't seem to be reached either.

Whatever it may be and before the beginning of the difficult negotiations, let's make the wish that the close union between the allies will hold firmly. Their good agreement will be, we can say it, a precious pledge of a peace we all want in here, in all sincerity as we know it, but only under certain circumstances.

Henri Fontaine"

The Versailles Journal - December 1912

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