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THE CONCILIATORY SPIRIT OF GREECE

Those principles, thanks to the conciliatory spirit of Mr. Venizelos, the prime minister, and the steady support of King Constantine, who was also commander-in-chief, were loyally followed in Greece. A few days after the declaration of war against the Ottoman Empire, into which Greece was precipitately hastened by the unexpected action of Servia and Bulgaria, the Greek foreign minister addressed a communication to the Allies on the subject of the division of conquered territory. He traced the line of Greek claims, as based on ethnological grounds, and added that, as he foresaw difficulties in the way of a direct adjustment, he thought the disputed points should be submitted to arbitration. But months followed months without bringing from Bulgaria any clear reply to this just and reasonable proposal of the Greek government. Nevertheless, Mr. Venizelos persisted in his attitude of conciliation toward Bulgaria. He made concessions, not only in Thrace but in Eastern Macedonia, for which he was bitterly criticized on the ground of sacrificing vital Greek interests to Bulgaria. He recognized, as his critics refused to do, that the Balkan question could not be settled on ethnological principles alone; one had to take account also of geographical necessities. He saw that the Greeks in Thrace must be handed over to Bulgaria. He demanded only the Macedonian territory which the Greek forces had actually occupied, including Saloniki with an adequate hinterland. As the attitude of Bulgaria became more uncompromising, as she pushed her army of occupation further westward, Mr. Venizelos was even ready to make the River Struma the eastern boundary of New Greece, and to abandon to Bulgaria the Aegean Httoral between the Struma and the Mesta Rivers including Greek cities like Kavala, Seres, and Drama. But these new concessions of Mr. Venizelos were in danger of alienating from him the support of the Greek nation without yielding anything in return from Bulgaria. The outbreak of the war between the Allies saved him from a difficult political position. Yet against that war Mr. Venizelos strove resolutely to the end. And when in despite of all his efforts war came, he was justified in saying, as he did say to the national parliament, that the Greeks had the right to present themselves before the civilized world with head erect because this new war which was bathing with blood the Balkan Peninsula had not been provoked by Greece or brought about by the demand of Greece to receive satisfaction for all her ethnological claims. And this position in which he had placed his country was, he proudly declared, a "moral capital" of the greatest value.



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