The Auckland Star: WITH WHICH ARE INCORPORATED The Evening News, Morning News and The Echo.
MONDAY, MARCH 20, 1909. THE HONOUR OF KINGS.
«■ .'■■■■' *i. v For the cause that lades aestatonce. For the wrong that needs resistance, For the future in the distance. And the yood that toe oa» do. MONDAY, MARCH 20, 1909.
j The crisis in the Near East lias lasted now for many mouths, and it hus produced a great many startling situations; but it lms been reserved for Russia to provide the most sensational of all the extraordinary developments on which the attention of European diplomacy ]ias been concentrated so long. -So far, it has been generally understood that Russia has been acting in close co-operation with England and France over the Balkan question. The Czar's Ministers have repeatedly stated that Russia intended to see " iair-play," that she would not accept Austria's annexation of the disputed provinces as an accomplished fact, and that sho would insist upon an interna'tionaJ conference to deal with the status of Bosnia and Herzegovina and their relations witJi Servia, Austria and Turkey. But suddenly, and without the slightest warning, Eussia has changed hor tone. A few days ago M. Jsvolsky was assuring England and France that Russia would maintain Turkey's right to raise the whole question of tho annexation at the coming conference. To-day we learn that M. Isvolaky has given Baron yon Aohronthal his official nssurance that Russia recognises Austria's sovereign rights in Bosnia, and Herzegovina; and the only question of any importance left for a conference to discuss is, therefore, the amount of compensation that Austria ought to pay to Turkey as indemnity for tho tribute o-f the " protected" provinces. It appears that this astonishing development became known in the Russian capital only through foreign sources of information; and wo are not surprised to learn that its announcement has roused intense excitement and 'heated criticism in the Itussiun newspapers. For accustomed as the world is by this time to the cynical and shameless lying in which most diplomatists indulge, there is something peculiarly revolting in the brazen effrontery of the "right nbout face' , movement which M. Isvolsky hn.s just executed. However, we need hardly waste time over tho morals of "high politics."' The most interesting question just now is how faj Russia's treachery is likely to modify the immediate course of international affairs. And in this connection, the most nottnvorthy fact is the proof of a close diplomatic relationship between Russia and Germany. Ever since Austria struck out nn independent line of action in the Balkans, it has been suspected that Germany was pulling the strings in the background. The Kaiser ami his Ministers have, of course, denied that Germany prompted Austria to annex the protected provinces and to tear up the Treaty of Berlin. But it k well known that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand visited the Kaiser and revealed Austria's intentions to him before they were formally announced to the world, and it is at least a highly suspicious circumstance that Baron yon Aehventhal from the outset has insisted that Austria was acting wiTii Germanj''s ful'. knowledge and consent. Recent cv ;nts have tended strongly to confirm I the convictions that Aiwtrj* hua been
J. backed by Germany all along j and now we find Germany, after , repudiating , all complicity with- Austria,, bringing such heavy pressure to beat upon Ttussia., tlia-t t&e Czar has. apparently decided to ' ignore his responsibilities to England and France and Turkey and take his L clianpe with Germany and Austria in r the "rush for the spoil." g The conduct of Russia at this pare ticul&r~ juncture may help us to estimate i the value of the diplomatic assurances , r of sympathy and friendship for England ;' that led up to the signing of the Auglor Russian Convention. We do not Maine 3 Russia for regarding iier- national interests as of paramount importance. But it would be futile to blind ourselves to the palpable fact, that M. Isvolsky's J protestations of goodwill toward England are not nceqs,sarily worth more than the pledges and promises of which Russian Foreign Ministers have been so lavish in the past. In the diplomatic world self-interest is the one omnipotent motive, and deceit, treachery, and falsehood are merely fine points in the game. All this is, of course, the merest truism; but in view of our new-found confidence in Hussia. it would be wise to recall our unfortunate experiences of Russian foreign policy before her conversion into a declared friend and a possible ally. , The other most important aspect of the I present situation is the revival of Ger- ! man diplomatic influence at St. , Petersburg. Ever since Bismarck's f infamous "reinsurance" treaty, by r which he secured a promise of aid ? from Russia against .Austria, the Czars have been inclined to bejieve that their • interests lie in the direction of friendship with Germany. At the same time, the 5 existence of the Dual Alliance, th.reu.ten- > ing Germany on her two vulnerable i frontiers, at once has afforded them an easy means of applying pressure to Ger- , mai?,y whenever the necessity has arisen. The collapse of Pvussia in the recent t war relieved German} , for tho time from • the need of conciliating the Czar. But , the revival of Russian prestige, the Tee newal of her alliance with France, and 3 her establishment of friendly relations I" with England have combined to warn the ; Kaiser that Russia is once more a powerful factor in international affairs. J Hence her anxiety to make terms with Russia in such a way as to alienate her from England and France; and the "Times" is obviouely correct in regarding Russia's sudden reversal of attitude as a genuine diplomatic triumph for Germany, which may yet prove a serious menace to the world's peace.