The Auckland Star: WITH WHICH ARE INCORPORATED The Evening News, Morning News and The Echo.
TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 1909. THE PAN-SLAV PERIL.
Tor the came that lacks ateietanoe. Tor the wrong that needs retUtanoe, For the future in the distance. And the good that toe can do.
So far as can be judged from our fragmentary cable dispatches, Austria having gained her end in the Balkans, is endeavouring to conciliate the States chiefly aggrieved by her new policy. It seems possible that Montenegro may at last Becure the prize lor which she has hoped and waited so long. After the HussoTurkish war of 1878 the treaty of San Stefano practically trebled the territory and doubled the population of Montenegro, and gave her direct access to the sea. By the Treaty of Berlin, which the Powers forced 'Russia to accept, not only were the Montenegrin frontiers seriously contracted, but the port of Spizza, which commands the bay of Antivari, was handed over to Austria. This particular grievance the MontenesTina hixve never forgotten, and no concession could be more acceptable to Prince Nicholas or better calculated to soothe the wounded feelings of his people than the offer now made by Austria to surrender this coveted seaport. No doubt the object of this suggestion is to detach Montenegro from Servia; and the Servians themselves, we are told, are to be "encouraged" to complete the railway which would bring the Austrian system down to the Adriatic coast. Clearly it is from the Austrian standpoint highly advisable to conciliate Servia at least for the time, but the reappearance of this much-discussed railway in the Balkan problem has a very ominous suggestiveness about it. For everybody ought to know that it was Austria's attempt to secure from Turkey a railway concession that would have made her the dominating Power in the Balkans that precipitated th« present crisis. As to the special railway project to which our cables have referred, this is not the Sarajevo-Mitrovitza line that originally caused all the trouble. It is the extension of the Servian system in the direc- ■ tion in which Russia has proposed to build * railway in co-operation with Servia, at right angles to the Austrian line, so as to bring Servia within reach of the Adriatic coast, and to counteract the predominance that the Austrian line would have secured for the Dual Monarchy in those regions. It is thus easy to understand with what indignation and resentment these efforts on the part ol Austria to disarm the hostility of the Balkan Slavs will be received in Russia.
So far as we can judge from the evidence hitherto supplied, there is no need for any special action on Austria's part to aggravate the bitterness of feeling stirred up in Russia against the Germans and Austrians by the recent course of events. Just now, Austria is carefully observing the courtesies af diplomatic life by formally requesting Russia and the other Powers to acquiesce in her annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and. the German official Press has done its best to assure the Russians that they are completely mistaken in imagin-l ing that Germany ever employed threats and menaces during the negotiations! about the Balkan difficulty. But the Russians, and more particularly the peo-, pie of St. Petersburg, refuse to bo hqod-| winked. The "inspired" efforts of German newspapers and diplomats have signally failed to effect their purpose. The Russian Press, we are told, is crying out loudly against German "brutality," wMle the populace of the capital is exasperated almost beyond control by the humiliation to which their country has submitted, and the Czar has decided to omit Germany from the programme of official visits that he contemplates during his forthcoming tour of the Continent. The Russians, though keenly sensitive to changes of political temperature in their own country, do not generally display much interest in foreign affairs, and this outburst of hostility to Germany and Austria shows how keenly they feel and how fiercely they resent the application of the "mailed fist" by which the Kaiser has forced the Czar and his Ministers to accept as an "accomplished fact" the treacherous and unprincipled aggression by which Austria is now profiting at the expense of their brethren in the Balkans.
Perhaps the most significant item of Russian news that has reached us since the Kaiser coerced the Czar into submission is the rumour that the PanSlavist societies have organised a congress to discuss the Balkan situation and to arrange for the defence of Slav interests against foreign enemies. It might be easy to exaggerate the importance of this movement so far as present possibilities are concerned. It is true the Slav nationality is extremely numerous and widespread, covering Russia, East Prussia, Bohemia, Galicia, Bulgaria, Servia, Montenegro, Croatia, Dalmatia, and the greater part, of Southern Austria. But there have always been insuperable difficulties that prevented the effective union of these nations for purposes of offence or defence. No one of these Slav States would tolerate the authority or ascendancy of any other. The Slavs of Bohemia and Moravia could no more endure to submit to the leadership of Russia than the Servians and Bulgarians, so long bitter hereditary foes, would amalgamate into an orderly and peace-loving community. Political rivalries and religious .controversies have so far combined to hold the various branches of the Slav race asunder, and ti»# result 1. that
j to-day Pan-Slavism, unlike Pan-German-ism, is simply an inchoate and disorderly movement, without funds to support it or organisation to direct its efforts. But, while Pan-Slavism so far has been mainly a figure of speech, there is no doubt that enormous possibilities are involved in it, and that these may emerge into practical facts under a 'favourable concurrence of circumstances. It is more than forty years since the last great Pan-Slav conference was held, and the prospect of formal union between the Slav States seems as distant in 1909 as it was in 1867. But, in spite oi the lack of cohesion and co-operation that has so far stunted the growth of this great national movement, the phrase itself embodies a splendid conception that might well command the energies and kindle the enthusiasm of all the mil- I lions of Slavs scattered over Central and Eastern Europe. The world has already had an earnest of what such an inspiration might effect in the case of Russia itself. The extraordinary intensity of conviction and fervour of zeal that have urged the Russian nation forward in its resistless expansion southward and eastward toward the sea may well suggest that Pan-Slavism properly directed would easily develop into a worldpower of the first magnitude. The Rus-so-Turkish War of IS7B, one oi the greatest national efforts of Russian history, was the direct outcome of the PanSlav propaganda; and, though Russia's main purpose failed, what she achieved might well have secured for her the acknowledged leadership of the Slav peoples. And that leadership would undoubtedly have been hers long since if misgovernment and internal corruption had not brought her to the verge of ruin. But Russia is still a factor to be reckoned with in world politics; and it would be a striking illustration of the Nemesis that sometimes follows on I treachery and falsehood, even in the diplomatic world, if the reckless and I unprincipled ambitions of the PanGermans of Vienna and Berlin should give life and form to Pan-Slavism, and i thus array against Pan-Germanism the 'mightiest enemy that it could ever have to face.