The Case for Greece and Bulgaria: Greece

By Solon S. I. Vlasto
(Ex-Arch-General of the Greek orthodx Church)

[The Independent; October 18, 1915]

The present crisis in Greece, culminating in the resignation of Venizelos, is due to the dissension between the King and his Prime Minister as to the proper policy for Greece to follow in the present war. Rumors that the King is pro-German are absolutely without foundation. Above everything else the King and Queen are Greek, and they would certainly do nothing to endanger the dynasty or to antagonize the popular feeling of Greece, which for historical reasons could not be otherwise than with the Allies. To England, France and Russia we owe, our independence.

The real cause of the controversy seems to be that, contrary to the Constitution, Venizelos permitted the landing, of the French and British, troops at Salonica without submitting the matter to the Chamber and asking for authority. His protest was made after troops had been landed, tho he had been notified in advance. If a protest was to be made it should have been made before.

But Greece has repeatedly declared that she would give Serbia material and financial help if she should be attacked by any of the Balkan states, tho the treaty of alliance between Greece and Serbia unfortunately ceased to exist from the moment that Serbia, without consulting Greece, offered Bulgaria a considerable part of the territory cpnquered during the last war.

Greece mobilized her army to protect her own frontier against any Bulgarian attack, and the policy of armed neutrality, which is supported by all the four former prime ministers who are in the new Cabinet, seems to me to be the proper policy for' the safeguard of Greek interests. Greece cannot afford to go to war with Austria and Germany, and if French or English troops were to go to Serbia they could have been sent without violating Greek neutrality.

From the new ministry, with Zaimis at its head, Venizelos has been left out, altho he has a majority in the Chamber and is the most popular man in Greece. Today we do not know where we stand. Venizelos refused to the last moment to state what his foreign policy was going to be. The new ministry will probably make a declaration about the course which Greece will pursue.

Bulgaria's claim to a part of purely Greek Macedonia was only a pretext for mobilization in order to cast in her lot with the Central Powers. Bulgaria has no right whatever to Greek Macedonia or Thrace. They are Greek by tradition as well as race.

Yet Greek aspirations for national unity are not as wild as some are trying to represent them. Our Greek population in the former European and present Asiatic Turkey is between eight and ten millions. The coast of Asia Minor, from the Syrian Gulf to Constantinople, is Greek, and the interior for a distance of 500 to 800 miles from the coast is mostly inhabited by Greeks. Venizelos's dream was to unite all these Greeks.

The Asiatic shore, it is true, was offered us by the Allies. But to appease Bulgaria they asked Greece to surrender Kavala and the adjacent territory to Bulgaria, and to do so immediately. Public opinion in Greece is unalterably opposed to such a cession. The Allies promised to give us territory—Turkish land—some time in the future. They asked us to give up something we hold now—Greek land. Who could say whether tomorrow they would not ask us to give up Asia Minor also?

Greece must defend herself against Bulgarian aggression. Further than that, in spite of her friendliness for the Allies, her best interests lie in neutrality, at least for the present.

© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013



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