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fices upon its trade and industries.



X. FOREIGN POLICY.

Phe foreign policy of Czechoslovakia is directed by Dr. Eduard
Benes, who during and since the war sprang into prominence as the
chief collaborator of President Masaryk. Dr. Benes is considered as one
of the ablest statesmen, not only of Czechoslovakia, but of all Central
Europe. Born in 1884, he studied at the Universities of Prague, Paris
and Dijon where in 1908 he took his degree as Doctor of Laws. Upon
his return to Prague he was appointed teacher of economics at the Czech
Academy of Commerce, and in 1912 he became lecturer in sociology
at the Czech University.

A year after the outbreak of the war, Dr. Benes escaped to France,
where he, in collaboration with Professor Masaryk, developed great
activity on behalf of the Czechoslovak independence. He became secre-
tary of the Czechoslovak National Council, which was later recognised
as the provisional Government of the Czechoslovak State. After the de-
claration of Czechoslovak independence in October, 1918, Dr. Benes be-
came Minister for Foreign Affairs. Together with Dr. Kramaf he repre-
sented Czechoslovakia at the Peace Conference in Paris, where his
abihties as a statesman made a great impression, and secured for his
country the conditions essential to its existence.

The aim of Dr. Benes's foreign policy in the last three years has
been to create the necessary stability in Central Europe, and to lay
the foundations for the real tradition of Czechoslovak foreign policy.
That is why he systematically endeavoured to dispose rapidly of the
separate conflicts with which he met, and to solve the questions which
still awaited solution. And that is also the reason why Dr. Benes con-
sistently furthered the establishment of relationships with the individual
neighbouring and remoter states, such as Austria, Jugoslavia, Italy and
Rumania, and that loo is why in every possible way he encouraged the
conclusion of commercial and economic agreements.

This policy led to the formation of Ihe so-called Lillle Hnlenle be-
tween Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia and Rumania. The Lillle Entente at
first consisted of a political and military alliance between Czechoslovakia

35 3*



and Jugoslavia, and an understanding with Rumania. On April 23rd,
of this year, however, this understanding between Czechoslovakia and
Rumania had assumed the character of a definite political and military
treaty, the conclusion of which formed the logical and definite comple-
tion of the Little Entente.

This alliance between Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia and Rumania is
not only a political one, but it has also a great economic importance
in view of the fact that it constitutes an economic area which is almost
self-supporting from both agricultural and industrial points of view. As
a matter of fact these three States supplement each other admirably.
While the Czechoslovak Republic is predominantly an industrial State
which needs foreign markets for its products, both Jugoslavia and Ru-
mania are, on the other hand, almost exclusively agricultural States
exporting grain, cattle and raw materials.

The Little Entente has already played a great part in frustrating
the projected Royalist coup in Hungary which took place at the end of
March this year. Immediately on hearing of Karl's return, the Czecho-
slovak, Jugoslav and Rumanian representatives at Budapest demanded
an explanation from the Magyar Government, and the immediate ex-
pulsion of Karl from Hungary. Later on Dr. Benes, on behalf of the
Little Entente, informed the Magyar Government that unless the ex-King
at once left Hungary, united action was contemplated by all the States
concerned. Karl at once decided to leave Hungary. Thus the Little En-
tente has proved that it was a powerful organisation, and that it would
be a difficult task to restore the ramshackle Empire on whose ruins the
Little Entente is built.

Just before ex-King Karl's coup, the relations of Czechoslovakia
with Hungary showed a tendency towards a genuine rapprochement.
In a speech made on January 27th of this year, Dr. Benes stated expli-
citely that the Czechoslovak Government was "ready to discuss all urgent
questions with the Magyars". He suggested that the Magyars should
cease to carry on their insensate propaganda against their neighbours
and that any Magyar tendencies towards democratic principles would
considerably facilitate the desired rapprochement between the two States.
He ended by dwelling upon the necessity of such proceedings from an
economic point of view. "We cannot", he declared, "live in perpetual
enmity with the Magyars. There are questions of communications, trans-
port and exchange which it is urgent to adjust for the purpose of con-
solidating Central Europe and resuming normal economic activities".

Soon after Dr. Benes made the above quoted speech, a meeting
took place between him and Count Teleki, then Magyar Premier, to
discuss the resumption of economic intercourse. It was decided to trans-
form the diplomatic missions into normal diplomatic representations, and

36



to convene a conference of experts to conclude the economic negotia-
tions. However, owing to Karl's escapade these negotiations were held
up, but lately they have been resumed.

The transformation of Hungary remains, however, an essential con-
dition for the relief of Central Europe. The present militarist, absolutist
and terrorist system prevailing in Hungary, by which all political liberty
is rendered impossible, forms a serious obstacle to such a transformation.

Czechoslovakia's relations with Austria are assuming a friendly cha-
rakter. The Czechs are fully disposed to forget their former wrongs, and
instead of indulging in recriminations are prepared to consider the ne-
cessity for economic co-operation. In accordance with the Allied policy
the Czechoslovaks have shown a sincere desire to help Austria in her
economic stress to the best of their ability. In this connection the visit
of Dr. Renner, former Austrian Chancellor, to Prague, as well the recent
meeting of President Masaryk with the Austrian President, Herr Heinisch,
will be remembered. Czechoslovakia has also concluded a commercial
treaty with Austria.

The outstanding questions connected with the liquidation of the
former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy were dealt with by the conference
of the "succession" States held in Rome. Other questions regarding the
resumption of normal economic intercourse among the Central European
States are to be dealt with by another conference. Czechoslovakia from
the very beginning was in favour of such economic conferences. Already
on March 8th of this year Dr. Benes declared that it is by this means
that transport communications will be restored to normal conditions, and
that the exchange of goods and the general economic activities of the
Central European States will be facilitated.

Czechoslovakia and Poland as immediate neighbours have many
common interests, both political and economic. Not only are the German
aggressive schemes not yet extinct, — a fact which induces or should
induce the Czechoslovaks and Poles to act together, — but both these
Slav States have great common economic interests. Czechoslovakia as
a pre-eminently industrial State, and Poland as mainly agricultural are
in a great many respects dependent on each other. That the Poles and
Czechoslovaks are not yet on friendly terms is owing to the dispute they
had over the Teschen district, to which both the Czechoslovaks and the
Poles laid claim. This dispute, it will be remembered, was settled in July,
1920, by the Ambassadors' Conference at Paris. But although the deci-
sion of the Ambassadors' Conference was just to both sides, and in spite
of the signed declaration issued by Dr. Benes and M. Grabski, then
Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs, stating that they had decided to
accept a final settlement of the Teschen dispute by the Ambassadors'
Conference, the differences between the two Slates have not altogether

37



disappeared. "The starting point of truly cordial and friendly relations
between the Pohsh Republic and Czechoslovakia" which the above de-
claration was assumed to be, has not as yet been reached. In this con-
nection it should be pointed out that while the Czechoslovaks have re-
solved to sink all their possible differences with the Poles, and to inau-
gurate friendly relations, the Poles on their part have appeared somewhat
reluctant to follow their example, although it is lately becoming evident
that they are at last realising the necessity for friendship with Czecho-
slovakia.

It is certain that this Czecho-Polish friendship would not only benefit
both Slav States immediately concerned, but it would also greatly con-
tribute towards ensuring peace and stability for Central and Eastern
Europe. An agreement between the Poles and Czechoslovaks would be
welcomed not only in France, but indeed by all the Allies.

The relations between Italy and Czechoslovakia have always been
friendly. Already during the war Italy as well as France showed great
interest in the Czechoslovak movement for independence, she equipped
the Czechoslovak legionaries who fought side by side with the Italians,
and finally she accorded generous treatment to those Czechoslovak le-
gionaries who returned from Siberia via Triest. These considerations of
sentiment have been reinforced by economic relations and commercial
treaties which were concluded in Rome as a result of the visit of Dr.
Benes to the Italian capital. Moreover, an agreement was arrived at
concerning the use of Trieste, which is admirably adopted^ for Czecho-
slovak commerce, and serves as the Czechoslovak outlet on the Mediter-
ranean, similarly as Hamburg serves Czechoslovakia as an outlet to the
North Sea. Before Dr. Benes's journey to Rome it was believed in some
circles that Italy would join the Little Entente. But there was only a
question of common and analogous views on Central European affairs
between Italy and the Little Entente. Italy, like the Little Entente, is
interested in preventing the restoration of the Habsburg Dynasty, whether
in Hungary, or in Austria, in maintaining the treaties of St. Germain
and Trianon, and in restoring normal commercial relations in Central
Europe.

As regards the relations with Germany, Czechoslovakia desires them
to be established on good neighbourly terms. They are conditioned by
the geographical proximity of the two States, and by the economic inter-
course which Czechoslovakia has inherited from the Austrian period.
There would, perhaps, be no circumstances tending to estrange these
two States if they were not artificially created. Unfortunately, there is
a certain group of pan-Germans who Ihrougii Germany and tiie German
Press are doing their utmost to damage the Czeciioslovak State, to lower
its prestige, to misrepresent the conditions prevailing in Czechoslovakia,

38



and thus to exert upon her a certain international pressure. Consequently
the Czechoslovaks are bound to watch the inner development of that
country and its progress towards democracy. They are endeavouring to
find out what the relations between Germany and the Western Powers,
as well as Poland and Russia, are likely to be in the future.

Czechoslovakia's relations with Great Britain and France are of the
best, and it is hoped that they always will be so. Both England and
France will always be important factors in Central European politics and
European stability, and hence it is a question of great importance for
the Czechoslovak State to have English and French sympathies. The
same moreover applies to America.

An important factor in the stability of Czechoslovakia, and indeed
the whole of Central Europe, is the attitute towards Russia. This que-
stion will be especially difficult as long as Russia is still not united and
consolidated. The Czechoslovaks, though convinced that the Communist
regime will ultimately fail, never set any particular hopes in Koltchak,
Denikin or Wrangel. They never attached any decided importance either
to their victory or defeat, or to whether Denikin and Wrangel were re-
actionaries or not. From the Czechoslovak point of view, the problem
always was whether Denikin and Wrangel were people capable of rea-
lising what it means to build up a State, and whether they realised the
spirit of modern democracy as applied to the problems of Russia. Dr. Benes
therefore adopted a far-sighted attitude towards Russia. He opposed in-
tervention, and was in favour of restarting trade, though he was always
sceptical as regards the possibilities of doing much trade with the Bol-
sheviks. It is, however, certain that affairs in Central Europe will not
achieve permanent stability until the whole of Russia is newly established
under a democratic regime. Then, too, a definite tendency for a Slavonic
policy will be indicated.

There is another important factor which the Czechoslovaks do not
forget. It is the League of Nations. The Czechoslovaks are well aware
that the Central European States in their own interest must apply all
their energy to the idea of the League of Nations, and must support it
with the utmost determination. This will supply them in advance with
the fundamental tendency of their policy, — an endeavour on behalf of
European peace. The idea of the League of Nations, and the policy which
will consistently be based upon the principles of the League, will be
one of the great factors which will contribute so essentially towards
consolidating and stabilising the Central European States. To pursue a
common policy with the League of Nations, to cherish sympathies for
the League of Nations, and in general to arouse public opinion to a large
humane movement on behalf of the principles of the League of Nations,
will represent an extraordinarily powerful asset to the Czechoslovak

39



State in its international situation. To have the certainty that the League
of Nations is advancing will decidedly be one of those factors which will
enormously strengthen the stability of the Czechoslovak State, and in-
deed, all the Central European States.



BIBLIOGRAPHY.

Xhe following comprises a selection of the most important books
which may be recommended to the reader for further information.



Benes, Eduard:
Broz, Alexander:

Broz, Alexander:

Butter, 0. et Ruml, B. :
Capek, Thomas:
Capek, Thomas:
Capek, Thomas:
Cisaf , Pokorny, Selver
Denis, Ernest:
Denis, Ernest:
Denis, Ernest:
Liitzow, Count:
Masaryk, T. G.:
Monroe, W. S. :
Nosek, Vladimir:
Rivet, Charles:
Selver, Paul:

Selver, Paul:

Selver, Paul:

Seton- Watson, R. W. :



Bohemia's Case for Independence, London, 1917.

The Rise of the Czechoslovak Republic, London,

1919.

The First Year of the Czechoslovak Republic,

London, 1920.

La Republique Tchecoslovaque, Prague, 1921.

Bohemia under Habsburg's Misrule, Chicago, 1915.

The Slovaks of Hungary, New York, 1906.

Bohemian Bibiliography, 1919, New York.

The Czechoslovak Republic, Prague, 1920.

Les Slovaques, Paris, 1917.

La Fin de ITndependance Boheme, Paris, 1890.

La Boheme depuis la Montague Blanche, Paris, 1903.

Bohemia: an historical Sketch, London, 1919.

New Europe, London, 1918.

Bohemia and the Czechs, Boston, 1910.

Independent Bohemia, London, 1918.

Les Tchecoslovaques, Paris, 1921.

Anthology of Modern Bohemian Poetry, London,

1912.

Anthology of Modern Slavonic Literature, London,

1919.

Modern Czech Poetry, London, 1920.

Europe in the Melting Pot, London, 1920.



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Online LibraryAles BrozThree years of the Czechoslovak republic, a survey of its progress and achievements → online text (page 4 of 4)