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THE ATTITUDE OF ROUMANIA

The Treaty of Bukarest marked the predominance of Roumania in Balkan affairs. And of course Roumania had her own reward. She had long coveted the northeastern corner of Bulgaria, from Turtukai on the Danube to Baltchik on the Black Sea. And this territory, even some miles beyond that line, Bulgaria was now compelled to cede to her by the treaty. It is a fertile area with a population of some 300,000 souls, many of whom are Turks.

The claim of Roumania to compensation for her neutrality during the first Balkan war was severely criticized by the independent press of western Europe. It was first put forward in the London Peace Conference, but rejected by Dr. Daneff, the Bulgarian delegate. But the Roumanian government persisted in pressing the claim, and the Powers finally decided to mediate, with the result that the city of Silistria and the immediately adjoining territory were assigned to Roumania. Neither state was satisfied with the award and the second Balkan war broke out before the transfer had been effected. This gave Roumania the opportunity to enforce her original claim, and, despite the advice of Austria-Hungary, she used it, as we have already seen.

The Roumanian government justifies its position in this matter by two considerations. In the first place, as Roumania was larger and more populous than any of the Balkan states, the Roumanian nation could not sit still with folded arms while Bulgaria wrested this preeminence from her. And if Bulgaria had not precipitated a war among the Allies, if she had been content with annexing the portion of European Turkey which she held under military occupation, New Bulgaria would have contained a greater area and a larger population than Roumania. The Roumanians claim, accordingly, that the course they pursued was dictated by a legitimate and vital national interest. And, in the second place, as Greeks, Servians, and Bulgarians based their respective claims to Macedonian territory on the racial character of the inhabitants, Roumania asserted that the presence of a large Roumanian (or Vlach) population in that disputed region gave her an equally valid claim to a share in the common estate.

In all Macedonia there may be some 100,000 Vlachs, though Roumanian officials put the number much higher. Many of them are highland shepherds; others engage in transportation with trains of horses or mules; those in the lowlands are good farmers. They are found especially in the mountains and valleys between Thessaly and Albania. They are generally favorable to the Greek cause. Most of them speak Greek as well as Roumanian; and they are all devoted members of the Greek Orthodox Church. Yet there has been a Roumanian propaganda in Macedonia since 1886, and the government at Bukarest has devoted large sums to the maintenance of Roumanian schools, of which the maximum number at any time has perhaps not exceeded forty.

Now if every other nation--Greek, Servian, Bulgarian--which had hitherto maintained its propaganda of schools and churches in Macedonia, was to bring its now emancipated children under the benign sway of the home government and also was to annex the Macedonian lands which they occupied, why, Roumania asked, should she be excluded from participation in the arrangement? She did not, it is true, join the Allies in fighting the common Moslem oppressor. But she maintained a benevolent neutrality. And since Macedonia is not conterminous with Roumania, she was not seeking to annex any portion of it. Yet the rights those Roumanians in Macedonia gave her should be satisfied. And so arguing, the Roumanian government claimed as a quid pro quo the adjoining northeastern corner of Bulgaria, permitting Bulgaria to recoup herself by the uncontested annexation of Thrace and Eastern Macedonia.

Such was the Roumanian reasoning. Certainly it bore hard on Bulgaria. But none of the belligerents showed any mercy on Bulgaria. War is a game of ruthless self-interest. It was Bulgaria who appealed to arms and she now had to pay the penalty. Her losses enriched all her neighbors. What Lord Bacon says of individuals is still more true of nations: the folly of one is the fortune of another, and none prospers so suddenly as by others' errors.



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