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International developmentsThe policy of the Metaxas regime in the Balkans
The new European balance of powers

The laxity of the inter-Balkan cooperation

The collapse of the Balkan security system

International developments

Notwithstanding the preservation of Greece's Balkan orientation by the Metaxas regime, Greek foreign policy was compelled to take into account the dramatic developments in the wider European region; developments which presaged equally dramatic alterations on the level of alliances and could aggravate the division of the European states into two opposite blocs.

Already since September 1935 the Italian invasion of Ethiopia resulted in the closer cooperation between Britain and France in the context of the League of Nations with the intention of imposing economic and political sanctions upon Italy for her aggressive behaviour. The strengthening of the ties between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany started with the initially neutral and then friendly attitude of the latter towards the Italian expansionism in Africa. It is not coincidental that in the autumn of 1936, that is only a few months after the conquest of the Ethiopian capital Addis-Abeba (May 1936), Mussolini spoke for the first time of the Rome-Berlin Axis as a political constant in the European system.

For her part, Nazi Germany had taken advantage of the atmosphere of upheaval which was caused by the Ethiopian crisis, in order to achieve the unilateral removal of the last restrictive condition of the Versailles Treaty still in force in 1935, namely the demilitarisation of the Rhineland, by stationing German troops in the area. The crisis in Abyssinia created an interrelation of powers in the Mediterranean that was obviously negative for Britain in the extent that it marked the above-mentioned critical developments.

Therefore, it is not strange that the then Greek government had serious reasons to worry about the emerging escalation of the expansionist ambitions of the European fascism and that it explored its possibilities of disengaging from the nuclei of possible clashes.

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