Carnegie Endowment for International peace
Report ... to inquire into the causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars
Why this inquiry?
Why this report, this inquiry? Is it necessary after so many other reports and investigations, after so many eloquent appeals made in vain, - appeals to pity, indignation and revolt, ringing at one and the same time from all countries,. and from all parties, uttered by the voices of Gladstone, of Bryce, of Pressense, of Jaures, of Victor Berard, of Pierre Quillard, of Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu, of Denys Cochin, and how many more great hearted men of world wide authority? It seems as if all this had gone for nothing. The facts that face us today are a tragic and derisive denial that any good has come of all this eloquence and feeling. Would it not be better for us to remain silent, and let things go?
We have been silent, we have let things go long enough. From the beginning of the first war, and in the terrible uncertainties of the following days, I denounced that one amongst the Balkan rulers, who took upon himself,-he being the only one who had nothing to lose by it,-except the lives of his subjects!-to precipitate the war. But that being done, we could only wish for the triumph of four young allied peoples in shaking off the domination of the Sultans of Constantinople, in the interest of the Turks and perhaps of Europe herself.
Let us repeat, for the benefit of those who accuse us of "bleating for peace at any price," what we have always maintained:
War rather than slavery;
Arbitration rather than war;
Conciliation rather than arbitration.
I hoped that this collective victory, heretofore considered impossible, of the allies over Turkey,-which had just concluded peace with Italy and which we still believed formidable,-would free Europe from the nightmare of the Eastern question and give her the unhoped for example of the union and coordination which she lacks.
We know how this first war, after having exhausted, as it seemed, all that the belligerents could lavish, in one way or another, of heroism and blood, was only the prelude to a second fratricidal war between the allies of the previous day, and how this second war was the more atrocious of the two.
Many of our friends urged us from that time to organize a mission, charged either to intervene or to become a witness in the tragedy. We refused to authorize any such premature manifestation, which could only be unavailing. As a matter of fact, none of the interested governments could admit, in the train of their armies, spectators who were independent judges. But peace at last
accomplished, our caution had no further excuse. Our American friends understood this when they asked us to act, and we have not hesitated to respond to their insistence. The Americans, unlike Europe, do not approve of resignation, silence, withdrawal. They are young, and they can not endure an evil which is not proved to them to be absolutely incurable. Not the slightest doubt can be cast upon their impartiality in regard to the belligerents, the United States being the adopted country of important rival colonies, notably of an admirable Greek colony. For my part, I should not have accepted the responsibility of organizing a mission of whose disinterestedness and justice I had not been fully assured.
I love Greece. The breath of her war of independence inspired my youth, I am steeped in the heroic memories that live in the hearts of her children, in her folk songs, in her language, which I used to speak, in the divine air of her plains and mountains. Along her coasts every port, every olive wood or group of laurels, evokes the sacred origin of our civilization. Greece was the starting point of my active life and labor. [See footnote, page 3] She is for the European and the American more than a cradle, a temple or a hearth, which each of us dreams of visiting one day in pilgrimage. I do not confine myself to respecting and cherishing her past. I believe in her future, in her eager, almost excessive, intelligence. But the more I love Greece, the more do I feel it my duty in the crisis of militarism which is menacing her now in her turn, to tell the truth and to serve her by this, as I serve my own country, while so many others injure her by flattery.
I presided over the famous Chateau d'Eau meeting on February 13, 1903, and came forward as a politician for Bulgaria and all the oppressed populations of the Balkan peninsula.That was a splendid year of agitation for great causes, for justice, liberty and peace; it was the unofficial but popular beginning of the Anglo-French entente cordiale.Generous year of 1903!My friends and I responded without any hesitation to the noble effort of growth and progress, of the material, intellectual and moral culture of Bulgaria.
As for Servia, whom we have never held responsible for the sufferings she has undergone, I count among her diplomats, more than colleagues, friends, men of the finest character who have impressed themselves upon the esteem of the political personnel (staff) of all Europe.
In Montenegro, where my duty as a Member of the International Commission appointed after the Berlin Treaty (1879-80), took me formerly to settle the boundaries of its rugged frontier, I knew some excellent men. I refrain from naming them, if they still live, for fear of compromising them, and I may say that I pitied them from the bottom of my heart, less for the heap of stones out of which fate made their country, than for the government that rules the stones. When European disagreements suspended our
labors, I profited by them to travel in solitude through High Albania.I crossed the sad and fertile country from Scutari to Uskub, allaying the suspicions of Ypek, of Djyakoo and of Prisrend, then in full anarchy. I shall never forget the impression of sadness and astonishment that I carried away from this adventurous expedition. All these countries, not far from us, were then, and are still, unlike Europe, more widely separated from her than Europe from America; no one knew anything of them, no one said anything about them. I scarcely dared at this epoch, to publish, unsigned as a matter of professional discretion, a sketch of the ineffaceable impressions produced on me. [Mach. Recit de moeurs de la Haute Albanie par P. H. Constant. Revue des Deux Mondes, 1 mars 1881. See in the same Revue several studies on Provincial Life in Greece, and under this same title a volume in 8°, Hachette 1878, id. Dionitza 1878; Galathee, Ernest Leroux, 1 vol. in 18 Paris 1878; Pygmalion, 1 vol. in 18; A. Lemerre, Paris, Les Trois Soeurs, text from a popular Greek tale, published in the Annual of the Association for Greek Studies; id. L'lle de Chypre; Lettres inedites de Coray; Superstitions of Modern Greece, Nineteenth Century, 1880, London.] And nevertheless, all this horror will not cease to exist as long as Europe continues to ignore it. These peoples, mingled in an inextricable confusion of languages and religions, of antagonistic race and nationality, Turks, Bulgarians, Servians, Serbo-Croatians, Servians speaking Albanian, Koutzo-Valacks, Greeks, Albanians, Tziganes, Jews, Roumanians, Hungarians, Italians, are not less good or less gifted than other people in Europe and America. Those who seem the worst among them have simply lived longer in slavery or destitution.They are martyrs rather than culprits. The spectacle of destitute childhood in a civilized country is beginning to rouse the hardest hearts. What shall be said of the destitution of a whole people, of several nations, in Europe, in the Twentieth Century?
This is the state of
things which the Americans wish to help in ending. Let them be thanked
and honored for their generous initiative. I have been appealing to it
for a long time, since my first visit to the United States in 1902. We
are only too happy today to combine our strength, too willing to raise
with them a cry of protestation against the contempt of the sceptics and
ill-wishers who will try to suppress it.
[Back to Index]